TV CRITICS SEE PRIDE

The Television Critics Association meets twice a year in LA to screen new TV shows in advance and meet the stars involved. Aaron Barnhart at TV BARN writes about the presentation on NBC’s FATHER OF THE PRIDE:

The late Gene Siskel used to follow a rule of thumb when judging a bad movie: Would he rather watch a documentary with the filmmakers talking about their movie?I thought of that last weekend when NBC had us watch a screening of “Father of the Pride.” This is the network’s other new sitcom, the one not spun off from “Friends.” It features computer-generated likenesses of the Las Vegas animal tamers Siegfried and Roy interacting with the family of animated lions who live behind their hotel. I sat in the second row, directly behind Carl Reiner, the legendary comedian who voices one of the lions. Reiner roared on the screen and in his seat. His enthusiasm, and that of his co-stars, made up for the critics, most of whom sat through the screening stone-faced.Afterward, the cast assembled on stage and was about to take questions when Reiner, who had a wedding to get to, stood up and yelled into his clip mike, “I’m going to take that as an opportunity to say everything I want to say!” So he interviewed himself. “The question was asked many times before: ‘Why are you doing this?’ You know, I’m 83 years old. Why do I have to bother? … I have a feeling this is historic for television. If anybody disagrees with me here, you’re wrong!”As Reiner stepped off stage, John Goodman, who voices another lion, stood up and declared, “I have a bris that I’m late for.” But Goodman stayed. Squeezed into his chair, he mugged and shrugged and got big laughs from the critics. I know I wasn’t the only one wishing someone would televise him instead of “Father of the Pride.” (As it turns out, he’s also starring in a non-animated CBS comedy called, confusingly enough, “Center of the Universe.”)Later that day Keith Marder, an affable publicist at the WB network who also moonlights as a joke writer, joked “Who’s going to watch Siegfried & Roy? The tigers don’t even like them anymore.”