Celebrities Say the Darndest Things: Quotes from the TV Press Tour

Chatting at the TV press tour, Liam McIntyre and Lucy Lawless from Starz’s “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

It was a fascinating feast of celebrities and creativity, as more than two dozen networks trotted out their new and returning TV shows, movies and specials during the two weeks of the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour recently held at the Beverly Hilton.

I’ve been covering the TCA press tours for about 25 years now, and it never gets old for me — although some of the dialog does. During the 100-plus interview sessions, the stars, producers and studio executives were there to expound on the “great scripts,” “great cast,” “great chemistry,” “great production team,” and “great support from the studio,” that made their shows “the greatest.” But in the midst of the familiar sounds of well-rehearsed gushing, there were some who offered more originality. The following are a few memorable quotes from press tour.

Paul McCartney thrilled the TV writers as he talked to them via satellite from Cincinnati where he was doing a concert. The ultra-charming former Beatle was plugging the Showtime special The Love We Make airing Sept. 10. The documentary, filmed ten years ago, follows McCartney around as he prepares for his 9/11 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden.

McCartney’s interview session was like a comfortable chat with an old friend, and he said that New York is dear to his heart because of his original connection with The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and playing Shea Stadium. “When you talk to me about New York now, it’s the people, because I married a New York girl, Linda. And I’m about to marry another one. I love New York.”

McCartney also loves being on the road touring, and said his concerts have songs from Wings in the mix, “but the largest proportion is Beatles stuff. Because, you know, I try and give audiences what they want, and a lot of that is Beatles stuff. It’s not bad music.” He said that with a big grin.

Liam McIntyre is the hunky new gladiator playing the titled role in Spartacus: Vengeance, upcoming on the premium Starz network, and he said he gets into all the jaw-dropping blood and gore that’s a hallmark of the show. McIntyre admitted, “It’s weird, like being a big kid. Who doesn’t want to wield a sword and mete out that kind of justice? The violence doesn’t seem unusual in that world.” Co-star Lucy Lawless survived a massacre last season and will be dishing out the “vengeance” that’s in the title. Lawless said there will be “lots of vicious parlor games, which is where all the real punishment is meted out.”

Anna Paquin is married to her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, and said that doing bad things to each other on the very-adult HBO series does not put pressure on their real relationship. She said, “Our love in real life is fine. So I’m totally happy for our characters to be as sad and distraught and messed up and hating each other as they like. Let’s face it; it’s not interesting television if everything works out for [their characters] Bill and Sookie.” Moyer added, “I actually pitched to Alan Ball [producer-writer] that I was getting a bit bored with our life, and could he add somebody else to the mix.” To which Paquin chirped, “Thanks, babe.”

Jeremy Piven said the lines of reality have blurred thanks to his role as super-agent Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage, now in its final season. He revealed, “I have had actors that have told me they’ve fired their agent because they didn’t think they were enough like Ari. I’ve had to tell them that this is a fictional character,” Piven explained.

Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash are featured in the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey for PBS’s Independent Lens. Kevin said bringing Elmo to life started with the energy from his parents. “It’s my mom’s spunkiness, and it’s my dad’s creativity and sweetness. Those combinations came together in me, and then I brought it out in this little red monster.”

Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butt-Head, the animated series for the slacker-generation in the ’90s, said that MTV is bringing it back this fall. Now it will be the two dudes on a couch making fun of reality TV. The voice of both Beavis and Butt-Head, Judge said their world is different now, but they still “have not scored.”