Winter TV Press Tour 2020: ‘Modern Family’ Final Bow, Paul Telegdy in Hot Seat and ‘LOTR’ Details at Last?

Read TheWrap’s burning questions for the latest multi-week Television Critics Association press tour

Is it January already? That must mean it’s time for another Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, with the broadcast networks, cable channels, streaming platforms, executives, studios and stars (plus TV reporters, of course) preparing to descend upon the Langham Huntington hotel in Pasadena, California, for two weeks of trailers, announcements and, yes, Trump questions.

We’ve got a few of our own queries that trend more toward the TV industry side of things than the Oval Office end. OK, so one of them is about the man up for reelection — but cut us some slack, because Hillary Clinton is coming on Hulu day.

Keep reading to see some of the other stuff we want answered amid the onslaught of panels, scrums, parties and one-on-ones to come. We think we’ve got a pretty diverse list for the next 13 days, which, of course, will also feature a ton of questions about the current status of diversity on TV.

Can Fox Keep the Ratings Momentum Going?

For the first time in a decade, Fox finished what Nielsen considers the “fall” TV season as the No. 1 network.

That victory even holds among the key adults 18-49 demo when counting entertainment shows only — so excluding the ratings it gets for sports programs like “Thursday Night Football” — thanks mainly to “The Masked Singer,” which premiered its second season in September, and the strong numbers for Season 3 of Ryan Murphy’s first-responder drama “9-1-1.”

See the current key demo rankings below.

Adults 18-49 rating (including sports)
1. Fox: 2.01
2. NBC: 1.81
3. (tie) ABC: 1.10
3. (tie) CBS: 1.10

Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier won’t be taking the stage for an executive session to answer our question about his plans to stay atop those rankings. We should, however, get a pretty good idea of what new ratings winners (and losers) Fox has coming based on the midseason programs it’s presenting when it kicks things off on Day 1: “9-1-1” spinoff “Lone Star,” Kim Cattrall dramedy “Filthy Rich,” John Slattery-led sci-fi series “neXt,” Stephen Dorff’s cop drama “Deputy,” and the Will Arnett-hosted competition series “Lego Masters.”

An Even More Modern “Modern Family”?

Long-running, beloved, well-rated and Emmy-hogging sitcom “Modern Family” is finally coming to an end this year after 11 seasons. ABC, which is currently tied for last place in ratings (see above) with CBS among the Big 4 broadcast networks, is really going to miss it.

Network chief Karey Burke has not been shy about acknowledging being somewhere between open to and dying for a spinoff — so will we get such news during “Modern Family’s” farewell press tour? And if so, what characters would it focus on?

Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) wouldn’t make much sense, since they’re really the leads of all those leads. Alex (Ariel Winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould) don’t really have enough going on, storyline-wise. Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and Luke together could make *some* sense, but there’s probably not enough there since they’ve already gone to — and in Luke’s case, dropped out of — college.

Haley (Sarah Hyland) and Dylan (Reid Ewing) have new twins, which feels like the classic setup for a spinoff, but we don’t get the sense that the audience is invested enough in those characters to justify an entire series.

Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) are fun, but he’s retired on the show and Vergara’s star seems to be moving away from network television. That pretty much leaves Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet), who would probably have the most life left in them. That’s assuming Stonestreet still wants to play the character and Ferguson, the new host of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” wants to be on two TV shows. Lily is still young enough to be on the show, but Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is not exactly ready for a bigger role in primetime.

And, no, we didn’t forget about Joe (Jeremy Maguire). He’s adorable and Maguire is a good little actor, but he’s also, like, eight. Maybe it will be all of the kids, or maybe it will be nothing. OR, hear us out: “The Gil Thorpe Show” starring Rob Riggle.

Will Paul Telegdy Get Questions That Don’t Contain the Words “Gabrielle” and “Union”?

It’s been a few years since NBC held an executive session, and this will be the first of any kind of public-facing performance for Telegdy, who was named the sole NBC Entertainment chairman last fall. It won’t be an easy gig, considering what’s going on with “America’s Got Talent.”

A quick refresher: In November, Gabrielle Union and fellow “AGT” judge Julianne Hough left the show, accompanied by multiple reports about behind-the-scenes clashes between Union and the show’s producers over what was described as a “toxic” workplace culture. In early December, Union and NBC met to go over her concerns, which she described as a “productive” five-hour meeting.

We haven’t heard anything since, and we expect Telegdy will have to spend most, if not all, of his session talking about it — except for the time he has to devote to fielding a couple Qs about “Saturday Night Live’s” vetting process following the Shane Gillis incident.

However, that’s still more than CBS will do — the network doesn’t typically hold an executive session during the Winter TCAs. But it’s still a shame, considering the network could really use that time to spell out how it won’t allow another Dan Spilo situation to happen again on “Survivor.”

How About This Apple?

Hi, Apple! Welcome to TCA! (Sorry about the played out “Good Will Hunting” reference).

After launching back in November, Apple TV+ will attend its first-ever TCA this month, joining streaming services Hulu, Amazon and CBS All Access, who have all presented at the event before. Netflix hasn’t been seen at the twice-yearly confab since summer of 2018, and Disney+ doesn’t appear to be part of ABC’s day. It’s probably still too early for NBCUniversal’s Peacock (which will get its own unveiling later this month in New York) or WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, both of which are months away from their debuts.

Apple is also anchoring TCA, so they’ll have to contend with a lot of extremely tired journalists. But they’ve been rolling out new shows monthly, and we’ll be interested in hearing how they think this whole streaming game has gone for them so far.

Speaking of HBO Max…

When, Exactly, Is HBO “Max”-ing Out?

We know HBO Max’s price (it’s the same as HBO). We know it’s launching sometime in May, but we don’t know exactly when that sometime is. TCA seems as good a time as any to fill in that blank. Along those same lines, any kind of idea of what HBO Max’s original slate will look like at the beginning would be nice. For example, we knew Disney+ would have “The Mandalorian” at the starting gate, just like Apple TV+ kicked off its existence with “The Morning Show.”

When we flip on HBO Max in May, what Max Originals can we expect to see?

Will “Snowpiercer” Get to Talk About Anything Other Than Its Behind-the-Scenes Drama?

After many starts, stops and a few derailments along the way, TNT (we mean TBS–er TNT again) is finally getting its long-gestating “Snowpiercer” adaptation on track. But will the drama, which was first ordered to series nearly two years ago, get to talk about anything other than its numerous issues behind the scenes? In case you forgot: These included the replacement of its director Scott Derrickson and showrunner Josh Friedman, the latter of which led to some hurt feelings.

Or another way of putting it: How many questions will it take until Friedman’s replacement, Graeme Manson, has to respond to being called a “vichy motherf—er”?

We Want the Deets

We figure it’s a good bet that AMC will tell us exactly when its third “Walking Dead” series, “World Beyond,” will premiere this spring, but an update on those Rick Grimes movies would also be nice. And, HBO, any casting you want to share about the fast-tracked “Game of Thrones” prequel (no, not that one) “House of the Dragon,” would be welcomed. And we’re not exactly holding our breaths, but maybe Amazon will finally say something on just what “Lord of the Rings” is about.

Hey, Hill: Gonna Endorse Someone?

Hulu’s got a Hillary Clinton docuseries coming out, and Hulu is supposed to have Hillary Clinton at TCA. Which means critics have about 25 minutes (we’re guessing the secret service is going to hamper any scrum opportunities) to pepper the woman who got nearly 3 million more votes in 2016 than Donald Trump with questions about the 2020 election. 

Like, “How do you beat Trump?” and “Can we get an endorsement?” We know, we know — it’s probably not the time nor the place, but we’re stuck in the place for 13 straight days, so we’ve got the time.

Below is the Winter 2020 TCA schedule.

For those following from the sidelines, wish us luck. To our fellow journalists and critics attending, pack sweaters.

Tuesday, Jan. 7: Fox
Wednesday, Jan. 8: ABC
Thursday, Jan. 9: FX
Friday, Jan. 10: PBS
Saturday, Jan. 11: NBCUniversal
Sunday, Jan. 12: CBS, CBS All Access
Monday, Jan. 13: Showtime, Pop
Tuesday, Jan. 14: Viacom, Britbox, Amazon, Starz
Wednesday, Jan. 15: WarnerMedia (HBO, HLN, TNT, TBS)
Thursday, Jan. 16: Discovery, Acorn TV, AMC
Friday, Jan. 17: Hulu, Freeform, Nat Geo
Saturday, Jan. 18: Lifetime, YouTube, BYU TV, Spectrum Originals, Oxygen, Epix
Sunday, Jan. 19: Apple TV+

Tony Maglio

Tony Maglio

TV Editor • • Twitter: @tonymaglio

Tim Baysinger

Tim Baysinger

TV Reporter • • Twitter: @tim_bays


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