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Left Coast Bias: TCA -- Paula and Bubba and Katy, Oh My

The Television Critics Association has its annual awards recognizing highs in industry quality. And with the press tour now wrapped up in Pasadena, here are my own TCA kudos from last week's broadcast network presentations.

Most Shocking Event: You're not going to believe this, but there was an entire TCA session featuring Fox honchos Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice and not one single question about the departure of one of the most dynamic ladies on television from the cast of one of the best shows ever in its genre. Seriously: not a single query about Jillian Barberie/Reynolds leaving Fox NFL Sunday.

Least Shocking Event: Instead, pretty much every question to Reilly and Rice during the panel, as well as those posed in the post-panel on-stage scrum to Reilly, Rice, Mike Darnell, Tony Vinciquerra and the hotel's audio-visual guy, was about (possibly) former American Idol judge Paula Abdul.

Given all the hubbub, I feel like I have to weigh in on whether Abdul may return to AI, move to SYTYCD, or just go AWOL. And I'm going with another set of initials: WTFC.

American Idol is about Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest and the performers. Everyone else is there to set those three up to make great television each week. If Paula wants to pull a David Caruso-Shelley Long-type move, go nuts. Well, that's a poor choice of words.

Most Valuable Player: NBC's veteran late-night chief Rick Ludwin. After a morning session that did not go well, with NBC execs Angela Bromstad and Paul Telegdy stumbling over questions about Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, Ludwin took the stage that afternoon and was everything NBC desperately needed an executive to be: confident, honest and decisive. Ludwin calmly said the “King of Late Night” press release was a mistake and laid out why and how the network believes Leno's show will work. Best save since Caruso landed CSI: Miami.

Rookie of the Year: Fox's Peter Rice immediately won over the critics with his quiet confidence and forthcoming nature. There was no BS spin about Abdul leaving—he said there was no contingency plan in place and they would figure everything out. Very good showing for his first time out.

Journalists' Hero Award: President William Jefferson Clinton, for bringing our ladies home. The more cynical of you may say that his work to gain the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea just shows what distances he will travel to get two ladies alone on a private plane. Shame on you all.

Journalists' Nightmare Award: Where were you on Aug. 6 when Twitter went down for a bit? It happened to a room full of journalists at TCA and in the immortal words of Dr. Peter Venkman, it was cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. For what seemed like an eternity, the Television Media Twitterati could not breathlessly tweet to their followers (most of whom were in the same room) what was just said right in front of them. Yes, I still think Twitter's 15 minutes will run out. Sell that thing now, guys.

Worst PR Department: That would be the Fox television network. During Fox's TCA day, it was announced that singer Katy Perry would be a guest judge on Idol, yet the network failed to have her on hand. How is a respected journalist like myself expected to drool over interview the talented young lady if she is not there in person? Poor form.

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