Sometimes the Television Critics Association press tour is exactly as dull as it sounds: a lot of critics get together at a lovely hotel and lob softballs at beautiful people onstage, who gamely catch them between sips of bottled water.
But this summer’s tour has a real element of mystery.
Not just the usual mystery: Will any of the shows networks present this summer be around in a year? But new mysteries, about some of the biggest stories in television. They include: Will Fox announce a new leader? And will “True Detective” announce a new cast? And will all the networks take bigger risks that usual given that the landscape has so changed that NBC is now No. 1?
Here are just a few of the mysteries we hope TCA will solve, and the odds of them actually being solved.
1. Who will lead Fox?
Fox chief Kevin Reilly — the man who greenlit “Glee,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The New Girl” — stepped down on May 31, and it’s somewhat surprising Fox hasn’t named a replacement yet. So it’s a good bet the network will name one on or before it gives it TCA presentation on Sunday, July 20.
Odds of an answer: Good. Introducing its new fearless leader at TCA wouldn’t be a bad PR move by Fox, because whoever takes the job can face a room of journalists and say, honestly, that he or she doesn’t have specific answers to any of their questions. That’s what ABC’s Paul Lee did when he made his TCA debut a scant three days after taking over the network in 2010. “This is one of the premiere iconic storytelling brands, but I am super unprepared,” noted Lee, who said he was on vacation when he got the call to take over. “I’ve been on the job 36 hours. I’m looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting to work.”
2. Who will join “True Detective”?
Who will take over for Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the HBO noir’s second season is television’s biggest casting mystery. As TheWrap reported in June, the first script for Season 2 is in and it features one male lead and a male and female co-star. HBO could dominate the news cycle by revealing who they are at its presentation this Thursday.
Odds of an answer: Not great. Thursday is very soon, and HBO won’t rush any deals just to break some news at TCA. Also, let’s be honest: HBO will rule the TV news cycle whenever it makes its announcement. Still, just imagine the new actors walking out on stage. It would be the biggest surprise of the whole get-together.
3. What is the future of ratings?
Every year, network executives take the stage at TCA and say that Nielsen needs to come up with a better way to count the people who watch their shows — a method that factors in mobile viewing. This year, Nielsen will answer those complaints with a presentation Tuesday on mobile measurement as well as cross-platform trends.
Odds of an answer: The odds that Nielsen will tell us things we didn’t already know are very good — they’re Nielsen. That’s what they do.
4. Is Bryan Cranston‘s LBJ Coming to HBO?
Steven Spielberg is interested in adapting the Tony-winning play “All the Way” for the premiere cable network, and TCA would be the perfect place to announce such a prestige project. Bryan Cranston plays President Lyndon Baines Johnson as he tries to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Odds of an answer: Decent. If HBO gets the deals done, this would be a perfect time to announce.
5. How many Emmy nominees will celebrate their nods onstage?
The nominations will be announced Thursday, the same day Turner, El Rey, HBO and GSN make their presentations to the critics. HBO seems certain to have a nominee or two on stage.
Odds of an answer: 1-1. The only question is what the number will be.
Bonus: Will networks talk much about Aereo?
There will be no easier way for critics and reporters to brown-nose network executives than to ask them for their thoughts on the Supreme Court’s recent decision against Aereo. The networks sued the online service, accusing it of violating their copyrights, and networks will be in the mood to gloat over the Supreme Court finding in their favor.
Odds of an answer: Not only can we promise this will come up, we can promise execs will barely suppress smirks as they answer. We’re sorry to even include this among the mysteries. False advertising.