Things got off to a bit of a ho-hum start for a Friday the 13th and Day 4 of the Television Critics Assn.'s media tour at the Beverly Hilton.
That is, until CMT (Country Music Television) was up to introduce the latest installation of its reality competition, "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team."
At the end of the trailers, 12 of the 36 Dallas cheerleaders took to the stage and danced to the longest song in the history of the world.
Up and down and all around, the women performed what we learned later is "precision jazz-based dancing."
It finally ended when they all landed on splits, and Bob Kusbit, head of development at CMT, came back to the lectern and said two of the girls had pulled calf muscles and does anyone want to rub out their kinks?
All righty then!
Maria Elena Fernandez
'iCarly' invites viewer content
"This is the future of TV," Dan Schneider, creator and executive producer of Nickelodeon's "iCarly," told TV writers on Friday. The journalists, as inundated with new technology as anyone, were ready to believe it.
"iCarly" is a show-within-a-show that invites tween-age viewers to submit their own videos, a la YouTube, to be included in the show, which will premiere in September. Designed for kids who have grown up with a multitude of media, the show gives viewers specific assignments that relate to an upcoming show. They are then directed to a website to post their content.
The show stars Miranda Cosgrove as Carly, and Jennette McCurdy, Nathan Kress and Jerry Trainor as her friends Sam, Freddie and Spencer.
'Conchords' duo credits the Web
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the uncombed, droll, nerdy/hip/comic musicians of HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," credited their lightning-speed fame to YouTube.
After their first HBO special was downloaded 500,000 times, they said they became instant celebrities.
"A lot more people want photos of us now," Clement said. "It used to be families and birthday parties. Now it's strangers," McKenzie, looking depressed, added.
HBO executives said that while the show has drawn 1.8 million viewers on premium cable, it had 1.2 million on their website.
Part of the reason, they said, is that the show is designed so that each scene can stand alone, and the musical numbers can be used as short music videos.
Besides fame, Clement and McKenzie said they're also getting used to living in Los Angeles.
When they first arrived two years ago, they were staying on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland and decided to go to the Viper Room. "We walked for hours until we realized people don't do that here," Clement said.
Gandolfini defers to wounded vets
James Gandolfini faced a media mob for one of the first times since "The Sopranos" ended -- and nobody asked a single question about the landmark HBO show's controversial blackout ending.
The sobering reason? Gandolfini took the stage to promote his upcoming HBO documentary about wounded Iraq war veterans called "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq." The "Sopranos" star was joined on the panel by five veterans, who, as one of them noted, only had a dozen working limbs between them.
When asked how the experience of interviewing the wounded veterans changed him, a stern Gandolfini replied: "It's not about me.... I'm not trying to be antagonistic, it's not about me. Let's have a different question." The 55-minute documentary, which Gandolfini executive produces, premieres Sept. 9.
"Alive Day" is a soldier's reference to the day he or she survived a near-fatal wound.
HBO still talking about 'Sopranos'
The HBO three-hour panel session started off with a literal bang, a sound from the fictional "Medellin," starring Vincent Chase, the lead character of "Entourage."
"Medellin" is about a cocaine kingpin and even though it will never really hit the theaters, you can watch the trailer after Sunday's episode and it will soon be available at www.medellinthefilm.com.
From there, newly installed Co-President Richard Plepler took the stage with newly installed Michael Lombardo, president of the programming group and HBO's West Coast operations, for their first Q&A with the television media.
Among the revelations:
* No one at HBO has ever spoken to David Chase about a "Sopranos" movie, though the man who created the series is always welcome at the network.
* It is not clear if the two two-hour movies that will function as the "Deadwood" finale will ever be produced because creator David Milch has been busy toiling on his new series, "John From Cincinnati," and executives said they have not been able to talk to him about it. The reporters and critics kept pressing the "Deadwood" questions; one explained to Plepler and Lombardo that he keeps hearing from readers about it.
* Lombardo has read the "Sex and the City" movie script, and he says he can't wait to buy a ticket to see it. He said it shows the women in their 40s, pushing 50, and he's all for it. HBO is a producing partner with New Line Cinema on the project.
* "The Wire" will return for 10 episodes in early 2008.
* Asked to offer their interpretation of the ambiguous "Sopranos" finale, Plepler said that it demonstrated that Tony Soprano will reap what he has sown and will have to live his life always looking over his shoulder. Lombardo said, "I don't know because my TV went out."