Blog Archives

Bosses, Medics & Comedy: The CBS Winter 2010 TCA Press Tour – Feature

Heading into the New Year, the essential motion of what has happened in terms of business over the past couple months reflects within television as a whole highlighting the keys in all. CBS continues as one of the more stable permutations on the network landscape.

Executive Session – Nina Tassler With the angle in the last couple days ensconced in the talk of Jay Leno possibly moving back to 11:30pm pushing Conan later, CBS, as evidenced by Craig Ferguson’s confident belying of the situation, seems stable on all fronts. Tassler says that the entire progression of the Leno debacle has proved that “10 o’clock is a great business for us” and that “we have a stable strategy” adding that “our business is thriving” and that “Leno was an experiment that did not work”. Another big entrance within the structure was Charlie Sheen’s arrest for domestic battery in Aspen over the holidays. Tassler responded in kind saying “we are very sensitive to the fact that this is a personal and private matter” but added that “Two & A Half Men” is “on its regular production schedule” keying in “that we taped a show last night”. “American Idol” despite the departure of Paula Abdul is still considered the “death star” even though they agreed to place “NCIS” up against it. Tassler highlights that, in the fall, they had more content than they had real estate for stating that they still have 18 episodes in the hopper for “Flashpoint” as well as 13 of Canadian series “The Bridge”. Despite CBS’ recent success, Tassler says that they are still “in an experimental phase” but says that “the numbers and reach have certainly put us in a good position”. She went on to admit that “Three Rivers” was officially cancelled saying that “we know enough that when we say ‘haitus’, it is code for something else”. In terms of blossoming daytime shows, she announces that “Let’s Make A Deal” with Wayne Brady is doing well, and comparatively better, she admits, than “Guiding Light”. It is making them look at daytime again as a whole different thing since “The Price Is Right” is getting all times highs with Drew Carey at the helm. When asked about the longevity of “CSI” since Laurence Fishburne came onboard, she only offers that he “is a powerful actor and a force to be reckoned with” and “as he is more comfortable with the team as his character, the more they are comfortable with him”. On another logical front, she stated that “Numbers” is still being considered for next year but that they had to make room for “Miami Medical”.

Comedy Showrunners Bidding reverence to the team which re-energized the three-camera studio sitcom in the form of “Two & A Half Men” and the breakout hit “The Big Bang Theory”, Chuck Lorre and his co-exec producer Bill Prady seems to get the way it works but even admit that everything is not always at effortless as it seems. In reference to “The Big Bang Theory”, Lorre says that the science has to be almost irrelevant but the key is trying to make the material work without completely understanding its basis of a technical level. He says the most fun is when they sit in the writers’ room and talk about physics because they fail on a regular basis. He says they might write about scientists but they are not scientific. It is purely a self-defense mechanism. He admits that everyone got choked up during the Penny/Sheldon Christmas scenes. Sheldon, as a character, is so alienated but once in a while something happens with him. In Lorre’s mind, Sheldon and Penny have become “so natural” on the show. For him, this translates into growing the characters without making them redundant. One of the ways, he says, they do that is by showing where Leonard and Sheldon come from in meeting their mothers. “What happened to us when we were put at 9:30pm was very interesting”, he says. He was first able to learn on the job when he did “Roseanne” and has been able to stick around for long enough to put it to good use. Returning to character, Lorre says that the fact that the other characters stay around Sheldon indicate that they love what he does. One of the things with Sheldon is that he decided not to play the sexual game. He is only interested in science and what George Lucas does. The reality is that you can’t run awry on a show where the ensemble is so strong. Sheldon, for example, as a character knows what is going on around him but chooses not to partake yet he is so passionate about what he does do.

Bill Prady follows up Chuck’s comments saying that one of the things with “Big Bang” from the beginning that they wanted to do was when the characters talked about their work, they wanted to keep it real. They do try to stay current with some stuff but the nerd references are all done in the writers’ room themselves. The questions abound. Where is Sheldon in the family of man? Would Sheldon take a person to the hospital? Absolutely! He would engage the Hero Paradigm (because he saw it in video games). For Prady, from a writing point of view, the story of Sheldon is very cool and fun to write to but so is the idea of Wallowitz having his first girlfriend. He says, in general, they have heard alot of thoughts from a whole spectrum of people in regards to the show. All of the characters, he thinks, have connected because they are on the outside looking in. He likens it to being on the other train in “Stardust Memories” in the analogy that “we are over here writing code but people over there are drinking great things”.

Undercover Boss This new reality show, premiering after the Super Bowl, has the heads of companies coming in and getting their hands dirty. In all actuality, it comes off more as a publicity stunt than a real “in-your-face” show. Exec Producer Stephan Lambert says that the reason that they pursued this idea is that there are so many shows set in the workplace but not the “real” workplace. He says that anybody who has had a boss in a company will understand the show. “Undercover Boss”, he highlights, is not mean spirited but it does place a person like a CEO in a situation that he can’t see back at headquarters. The challenge is coming up with compelling ways to show it. The CEO they used with Waste Management: Larry O’Donnell was going out on work routes before they even started the show. The question for him was how do you streamline the corporation and face reality.Every employee wants to show up and do a good job but they also want to have a voice. Some of their other upcoming bosses that they are featuring on the front lines include 7-11, Hooters and White Castle. Presenting a boss who doesn’t know what it is like on the front lines is a good principle. He says that they are particularly keen on focusing on front facing companies. The reason they started with Waste Management was that it was specifically residential.

O’Donnell, for his part as one of the CEOs being shown, says that one of the main reasons he did the show was to find out what some of the issues were out on the field. He found there was a time clock issue at one of the facilities which is one of the policies he had put in place which had caused problems. He says that for years he was trying to figure out how to improve their safety carriers and to be more positive. The reality he says us that the boss in this scenario has to be willing to show the faults of the company.

Miami Medical This new outlay from producer Jerry Bruckheimer takes the field of EMT medicine and places it in a tropical setting. Jeffrey Leiber, one of the exec producers, says that one of the show’s key themes is “it can happen to you”. Even though the show is set in Miami, a majority is show in shot in LA yet the cornerstone is based around Ryer Medical in South Florida. This center is one of only 3 trauma centers of its kind. Bruckheimer, when asked about his effect on television in terms of his ability to create a genre unto himself, said that it is hard to give an answer on the brand. He says their perception has never really changed. It is about the writing and finding the right actors to play these three-dimensional characters. He sees this series as another way of looking at a medical show by using a standard more of gallow humor.

Jeremy Northam, who plays the lead Dr. Matthew Proctor , says that the niceties between different kinds of network shows is sometimes lost on him because he likes to come “as present and loose as possible” though he does admit there is alot of “proppage and gurneys” in this particular show Steve Maeda, another one of the execs on the program, sums up this specific trauma unit which deals with only the first 60 minutes of a problem by saying it allows for both pacing acceleration but also a sense of foreboding.

Poisson, Brau & Fusion: The Cuisine Of Urban Pittsburgh – Feature


Food is the essence of inevitability, in the perspective of the ambience and the visceral nature it creates. Different areas create different initiatives in the status of where its focus lies. This permeates from the urban to the rural. While necessitating an almost ghostly intermediary, the intonation of the area of Pittsburgh and its surrounding countryside paints ironic and interesting pictures of the culinary and its winds through a thinly buried medium of culture. First the urban.

The South Side of Pittsburgh carries a vibe of irresistable inconsistency as the twinkling lights across the Three Rivers gives way to a stable of various visions of fusion, luxury dining and simple existences of comfort.


The warm auspice of Fathead’s combines the essence of a neighborhood bar with the laid back elements of a bistro. Initiating with a Great Lakes Blackout Stout from Cleveland, the French onion vista of the parmesan soup, chunky in its secrets with a wisp of tart, led way to a Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter from Harristown, PA. The Three Pepper Burger, as an ode to its local heritage combining the mild, the medium and the hot through the burn of the jalapeno as a light but smooth handpumped Uncle Teddy’s Bitter from Downingtown PA, angled a quiet lit walk down the vision.


Further down the South Side, cocktails can become in the early evening starting with a spot of vino at The Wine Loft which has an aura of warmness with a bit of the slick, specifically the Rasmait Tempranillo from Spain which tantalized with a sense of spice.


Across the street, the clamor of the Hofbrauhaus allowed for a clear breeze along the lake as the volume of the one liter Hofbrau Dunkel Lager from Munich, Germany served in the big boy’s glass was highlighted by the chatter of the girls’ night out the next table over.


The Yo Rita only steps away from Fatheads made the late night with low lights and its efforts of fusion to burn the soul. The Blueberry Mojto frigitized in a smooth purple hue with the glow of mint began the dawn accompanied by a cold cucumber and cilantro soup mixed with chipotle which tickled the tongue when paired concurrently with a vindictive shot of Corazon tequila. The jicama chopped salad existed in paradox to the soup with its combination of edamame, ghost cheese, melon and mint creating a radically cool sensation. The consumption of the final course proved undeniable with the crackling of a soft shell blue crab taco with its full bodied crustacean disappearing in full form with a gentle spicing of habanero and lime.

On the higher end at the Grand Concourse at Station Square, the old train perspective of a life captured in time leads out to a vista of one of the many bridges silently teeming over Pittsburgh proper giving credence to this “Golden Triangle” as almost a mini-geographic version of Manhattan.


Inside the deeply shadowed dining within a circle booth, the inception of the Blue Point Oysters flicker with a sliver of horseradish teased within the balance of a 12 oz. Penn Brewery Lager. But the sheer melting lightness of the parmeasan encrusted King Cove Sole topped with jumbo lumped crab offered veritable euphoria as a chorus of blackened shrimp sang its praises.


The climax within the chocolate molten cake topped with a Heath Bar encrusted scoop of ice cream was made all the more devilish by the inclusion of a Graham 20 Year Tawny Port that simply beautified the taste of eternity.

By comparison, almost straight up from the South Side atop the Duquesne Incline, which back over a hundred and fifty years ago miners used to traverse on foot, the panorama of the city comes into view. As shown by photographs and later art, the industry of Pittsburgh once covered it in a darkness of soot which has since been replaced by an almost cosmopolitan setting.

After traversing into the 40s era chandelier pretense of the bar at Lemont’s bathed in regality while sipping a Basil Hadyn Bourbon on the rocks, a short walk next door to Bella Vista provided a more comfortable and almost rustic ambience.


The crab filled heartiness of the portabello mushroom esconsced in a bit of cream allowed for a rich yet heartfelt progression to a similarly parmeasan encrusted cod, flaky in its irreverence, served over spinach.


However it was the double entendre of a soft biscotti cake mixed with amaretto in parallel to a tiramisu topped with an amaretto sauce that pushed the mind over the edge into brilliance.

A couple other tastes of Pittsburgh also existed within the city limits.


The Church Brew Works pertained the veil of irony having been converted into a microbrewery from St. John The Baptist Church. The brew kettles sit with reverence upon the altar as penitence is taken at the tables with an able pint.


The Oatmeal Stout began the proceedings with an able traditional of perogies, a filled potato and onion dumpling of Polish origin, both in its natural form but also attempted as a fusion of black bean with tomatoes and basil with limited effect.


As the taste moved into the award winning Pious Monk Dunkel Lager, the inflection of Risotto Lollipops in an upside down presentation mixed with mushrooms with pesto nicely crossed the aptly named BBQ Chicken Slaw Sandwich replete with bacon as the Confessional Pale Ale provided benediction.

The Strip of Penn Avenue provides a blooming potpourri of possibilities as villified by Burgh Bits & Bites which offers tours to the crevices of certain culinary pinpoints. Wholey’s Fish Market provides POS from which many of the city and countryside’s restaurants angle from. Andy from behind the sushi bar offers a special citrus sauce that is conducive to both fish and vegetable.

A plethora of tastes awaits in the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company which is, (again ironically) in majority, a cheese shop with over 500 different cheeses (many of which are also available online). From the mild Beemster Graskaas from Holland to the hard edged Fury Saros, a sheep’s cheese from Italy’s Sardinia Islands, to the dry richness of the Majorero, a goat cheese from the Canary Islands, resident expert Carol Pascuzzi amazes with her knowledge.

Around the corner, at Enrico’s Biscotti, the front shop gives way to a secret gated entrance where Larry, the owner, unfurls his just bottled, liquid gold Chilean table wine, a side product of the Carlos Garage Winery. Steps away at Bella Notte, the comfort progression of a simple but at times ravishing simple cheese pizza pie with a dark Yuengling duels in its relevance.


Breakfast in the city can be a bit more eccentric. Coca Cafe in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, ingrains with real life impressionism as a banana-blueberry soy milk smoothie sings in concert with a grilled jalapeno muenster polenta cake dancing with the runnyness of two poached eggs and garnished by apple smoked bacon and a wisp of guacamole.


In contrast at Oh Yeah!, the conception of belgium waffles topped by the aptly named Lebowski Kahlua Ice and sprinkled with the essence powder of Magic, Electricity and Cookie Dough gave poise to the sweet tooth.

In terms of multigenerational, the culinary stylings of a city needs to stand true to the balance of time as well as art. Two professed highlights of this heighten the senses.

The Carnegie Museum Of Art, barely caddycorner from The University Of Pittsburgh, offers an exceptional viscosity of meaning in terms of the breathe of its collection from local to European to simply modern.

The simple essence of having Van Gogh’s “Plains Of Augus” [1890], Degas’ “The Bath” [1890] and Renoir’s “Bathers With Crab” in one small room is quite impressive. Monet’s mural of “Nympheas” [1915] with its vibrant dreamlike reflections within the auspice of water lilies offers peace. Henri Le Sidaneer’s “Moonlight” [1913] creates a luminiscence and depth of field that is chilling while local Aaron Gorson’s “Pittsburgh At Night” [1920] offers a vision of darkness balanced with the essence of fire.

The modern side of the Carnegie Museum is also effectively motley in its presentation from Gerard Ritger’s energetic “612-I United” [1986] to Zao Wou-Ki’s subtle “Untitled” [1958] to Woljeich Fangor’s “MS-1969” which swells with a perception of loss also accented with the ode of the experimental in Jackson Pollock’s “Number 4” [1950] hanging only feet away.

In transitioning with the modern, the Andy Warhol Museum creates a sense of irony in a city he once shunned to move to New York. The conception of his life and his ideals on the definition of art flow with an element of paradox through the multiple floors. The top floor begins swirling with the filmed essence of The Factory dancing around sheet draped couches.

The essence of Nico from the Velvet Underground reigns about the floor in droves, both in photographs and performance art.

The actual paintings Warhol did in 1975 of Mick Jagger contains a would-be perception of color slipping and melting while two concurrent paintings of Michael Jackson and Prince in 1984 speak to their competition within pop culture.

Candid photos and portraits beneath glass (on subsequent floors) of Deborah Harry (aka Blondie) and Diana Ross (sans make-up) give way to a personal Polaroid of Warhol, John Lennon and Yoko Ono which brings chills to the spine. The Campbell Soup paintings (these two draped in orange and purple) allow progression to the famous Double Elvis while one of his screen tests, following an ingenue enamoured of his artistic perception, glances from the background with a tease nonetheless.

Pittsburgh, in its urban culinary inevitability, offers a mix of the generational and the inclined while still recognizing the needs for experimental and fusion which like its possibilities of art sufficed by the Carnegie and Warhol museums provides a sense of irony that gives this vision its identity.

%d bloggers like this: