Please: Call Us The Geezer Network

From Television Critics Association/Los Angeles

The Hallmark presentation is underway now.  One gets the feeling that the folks at Hallmark have a really good time doing what they do.  The event started off happily with a shot of President and CEO Henry Schleiff leaping on the big screen.  "I was jumping on a trampoline for that shot," quipped Schieff, "It’s why there aren’t a lot of Jews in Cirque du Soleil."

Veteran actor Tom Bosley took the stage momentarily accompanied by a friendly golden retriever.  "At seven years old, even in dog years, that would bring our demo down." joked Schleiff.

TCA presentations routinely begin with cheer-leading executive remarks and Schleiff was no exception.  He touted the network’s accomplishments.  He said the net will produce thirty original movies in 2008, which he claimed, makes the network the "single largest [television] producer of quality movies."  By this, he meant films with budgets larger than two-million.  "That will make us the largest producer out of any other cable network in the industry," said Schleiff.

"Our lonely, little tiny independent network with very little marketing and no cross-promotion was ranked 4th in prime time in Nielsen ratings last week and 9th year-to-date out of 69 cable nets measured by Nielsen," said Schleiff, "Hallmark’s consistent top rank and ratings shows the strong appeal of quality, family friendly programming, especially [among] middle age baby boomers across Middle America."

A newly trim Valerie Bertiinelli who plays a crime fighting clairvoyant in Hallmark’s Clair, is down twenty-eight pounds with a goal of fifteen more.  She pushed Jenny Craig. 

The whole Van Dyke family took the stage, Dick, his son (Barry), and his grandson (Shane).  The brood appears in Hallmark’s Murder 101 Mystery: If Wishes Were Horses. The ageless, irrepressible Dick looked fabulous - with thick white hair,  a brilliant smile and effervescent laugh. 

"I try to live as long as I possibly can…" said Dyke.   "One way to see my children is to give them work.  These young people have very busy lives.  I’m a great grandpa.  I just wanted to say that.  I’ve got…what?  Two?"  His son corrected him.  He has three.

"My career ended eight years ago, " said Dick Van Dyke, "I have a little quartet. We’ll go to children’s hospitals and things like that. Lots of fundraising and benefits.  I’m just having the time of my life.  I didn’t expect to live this long or feel this good, to tell you the truth."

What do you do outside of work, he was asked. "I just sit by the phone," he quipped immediately.  When the laughter died down he told the crowd, "I do computer animations.  I’m pretty good at it, too.  I do Seven Spielberg kinda stuff.  I’m good!

Per his famous pratfalls, said Dick, "I tried to tell Chevy Chase [how to fall correctly]. I exercise everyday.  Swim or treadmill.  Incidentally, I saw Valerie eating a piece of cake in there."  The room cracked up again.  "I exercise a lot and watch my diet and go to Jimmy Craig."

Next up was Ernest Borgnine who bellowed from stage left, "are they read for me?" as the panel came to a close.