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Wacky Start to TCA

1/10/2007 7:02 AM

To curse or not to curse … that was the question for comics from two different stand-up comedy shows showcased at TCA.

In one corner advocating clean, edited jokes is Bill Bellamy, who is hosting TV One’s competition series, Who’s Got Jokes?. He says a comedian who has a good premise and is funny doesn’t have to resort to cursing as many contemporary comedians do to get laughs. The show, which will crown a "jokes" champion from several amateur contestants, docks points from contestants for swearing and/or raunchy routines.

"I think what we love about being clean is challenging these guys to be creative with their premises because, when I first started as a comedian, if you come with a strong premise, you really don’t need to curse to be funny," says Bellamy.

On the other side is Doug Williams, host of Starz’s Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up, who says comics should be able to express themselves however necessary to be funny, even if the language is blue. Of course, it’s easier to say that when you’re telling jokes on a pay service like Starz.

TV critics have certainly heard their share of naughty language on the TCA stage from some of the celebrity presenters during the tour. One particular utterance of the "F" word came from none other than famed TV producer Mark Burnett.

When a critic asked if Burnett, as producer of reality show The Apprentice, has given any guidance to show’s star and multimillionaire Donald Trump regarding how he should handle his very public dispute with The View’s Rosie O’Donnell, Burnett quipped, "You think he’d f___ing listen to me?" A classic response … and very f___ing funny.

Bringing Football to Dancing
Retired pro football running back Eddie George couldn’t match up statistically with all-time National Football League rusher Emmit Smith on the football field, but the former Tennessee Titan says he could run circles around his former Dallas Cowboy adversary on the dance floor. That’s saying a lot, since Smith is the reigning champion on ABC’s popular Dancing with the Stars competition series.

“I would bust Emmitt’s behind,” said George, who is teaming up with his celebrity singer wife, Taj, for TV One’s new reality series, I Married a Baller.

George said future hoofers on the dance show couldn’t touch him and his wife once the music starts to play. “We usually slay other couples on the dance floor,” he added. “So Dancing with the Stars is not ready.”

Call of the Wild
National Geographic’s TCA presentation Wednesday was a howl … literally. Wolf behavior expert Shaun Ellis lived up to the billing of his new NGC documentary, A Man Among Wolves, when he audibly recreated two distinct wolf howls that he says helped him to live and communicate with a pack of wolves over an 18-month period. Ellis impressed critics, who are prone to do a little loud howling themselves after three weeks of network presentations.

Memorable Weather Moments
What do the Space Shuttle Challenger, the Stradivarius Violin, Hurricane Katrina and the 1982 New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins “snow plow” National Football League playoff game have in common?

They’re all one of The Weather Channel’s upcoming special The 100 Biggest Weather Moments. Huh?

The network gave writers an early glimpse at some of the finalists for its five-day countdown series, but several of those entries had critics scratching their heads over what criteria the network used to come up with its list.

Kaye Zusmann, vice president of programming for The Weather Channel, explained that more than 125 metorologists at the network picked the 100 events using a combination of factors ranging from the economic and cultural impact of such events to their ramifications on technology, geopolitical and climate.

“It either had to be something like you saw with the Challenger, where you can tie it to a precise moment in time, or it had to be something that started and the ripple effect years, decades, centuries and generations later could all be traced back to that one point in time," she said. "I think everyone is going to be really surprised.”

DeVito Was ‘Absolutely’ Drunk

You knew someone would ask. It was only a matter of time before a critic asked It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Danny DeVito if he was drunk while on stage during FX’s TCA presentation of its irreverent comedy show. Of course, the reference is to DeVito’s alleged drunken appearance on ABC’s The View last month that turned into a big hit on video-sharing Web site YouTube.

And without hesitation, DeVito answered the question with a resolute, “Absolutely!” which drew laughs from TV critics in attendance. In regards to The View appearance, DeVito explained that he was “kind of tired” after being up pretty late the night before his infamous View stint, but he took all the jokes and criticisms in stride. “I don’t get upset about stuff like that,” he added.