Idol Chatter

elistonepicforic.jpgAt the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, the networks trot out their new and returning shows for the press. Days of Q & A are followed by nights of working parties.
Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo of “Dancing with the Stars” led a cha-cha lesson. Everyone from Hugh Laurie to the cast of “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” played on the Santa Monica pier for the FOX party. AMC drama “Mad Men” opened up its set for the critics to visit a working show. ABC, NBC, and CBS hosted parties, which created the odd experience of having 90210 alum turned reality star Tori Spelling in the same room as White House reporter David Gregory.

ABC presented its returning drama “Eli Stone.” Johnny Lee Miller plays Stone, an attorney whose strange visions have a pesky way of coming true, with serious consequences for his well-ordered life. The show has spiritual overtones, but nothing that can be attributed to any one faith. Creator Marc Guggenheim confirmed that this was the intent: “We wanted to contribute to a larger discussion of spirituality and we wanted it to be completely inclusive,” he said. “I always semi-joke that this show is sort of the religious show for atheists. Our mission in that area was to just make it as big a tent as humanly possible. That’s one of the reasons why we kept it about spirituality versus religion which has a different connotation.”
“Secret Millionaire,” a FOX reality show, features real-life millionaires who move into poverty-stricken areas and live on minimum wage. As they live incognito, they meet hidden angels already serving the community. At the end of the show, they reveal their identities and present their angels with checks of their own money.
Myles Kovacs is the owner of a custom car empire who spent time in Watts, California. “It changed our lives. It was a life-changing experience for everyone that was involved,” said Kovacs, “God blessed us with a lot of abilities and talents. But genuinely, all the millionaires, all the producers, everybody did this show for the right reason. It’s because we’re all very caring people. We want to make a difference, and that’s really what it’s about.”
Zachary Levi, the star of “Chuck” gathered up his cast to take pictures in the surfing-themed photo booth at the NBC party. Levi, an outspoken Christian, took time to talk about faith in Hollywood.
“It’s no different than living out your faith in any other vocation,” he said. “Struggles are struggles and there’s only one answer and that is Christ in me.”
However, he is ambivalent about the idea of being called to Hollywood. “I think that word is really loosely thrown around,” he said. “You meet a lot of people who [say] ‘I really believe I’m called to be here.’ I don’t know about that. You always have to be really self-honest. Who doesn’t feel like they’re supposed to be a movie star? If someone comes up to me and says, ‘You know I think God is calling me to go to Kenya and be poor and serve water’ I would look at them and go, ‘You have a very good relationship with God’ because that’s something really difficult.”
NBC will air “Kings,” a contemporary drama based on the life of David. Although they did not make an advance copy available for viewing, the clips indicate the story line closely follows the Biblical story of David, King Saul, Saul’s daughter, and the soldiers they led. Although David is called “a man after God’s own heart” in Scripture, the creators were more ambiguous about the role of faith in the TV show. Creator Michael Green said David would have a “long and complicated relationship with faith and with God.” One could certainly describe the Biblical story that way as well.
“Kings” does not have a set air date yet. “Eli Stone” returns October 14 on ABC. “Secret Millionaire” will be a midseason show on FOX. “Chuck” will premiere on NBC on September 29.
—written by Rebecca Cusey, an L.A.-based entertainment reporter.

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