In a Hotel...you know the rest, Day 3

Today's cuppa: Beverly Hilton Hotel coffee -- with great company

I came in early this morning to have breakfast with a longtime acquaintance, Dr. Bob Brier, an Egyptologist and mummy expert who has done many series for cable, mostly TLC, on a variety of subjects dealing with mummies in general and Ancient Egypt in particular. His next special, for National Geographic Channel, is about a French architect's fascinating new theory of how the Great Pyramid at Giza was built (ramp on the inside, like in a parking garage, to haul up the blocks, not on the outside).

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing him to Jonathan Prince and Robert Munic, executive producers of the A&E series "The Cleaner." I had met them on a set visit (Prince I had met much earlier on "American Dreams"), and they were still in the hotel after their Press Tour session.

Watching him explain pyramid-construction theories to them and answer their questions, and watching Munic describe his own show about an extreme addiction interventionist back to Dr. Brier was one of those strange but cool Press Tour moments that might never happen anywhere else.

After Dr. Brier headed off to his flight back to New York, I settled in for yet another cuppa Beverly Hilton coffee when I got an email from an Animal Planet publicist. Within minutes, I was talking to Capt. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose efforts to prevent Japanese whalers from killing whales are chronicled in an upcoming Animal Planet miniseries called "Whale Wars," scheduled for November.

Apparently there were shots fired and grenades thrown...and not just at the whales.

Over lunch (and an Arnold Palmer, a lemonade/iced tea blend), I sat down with realtor and real-estate developer Kirsten Kemp Becker of TLC's "Property Ladder" and a late addition to the TLC lineup, Mike Holmes of the Canadian series "Holmes on Holmes," which used to air on Discovery Home (now reinvented as Planet Green).

Kemp Becker is now doing a new TLC show called "Hope for Your Home," premiering Aug. 9. It helps overextended and stressed-out homeowners whip their houses and finances into shape.

"Holmes on Holmes" episodes that aired on Discovery Home will now air on TLC, and new ones are in the works, helping homeowners recover from the ravages of dishonest and incompetent contractors. He's also working on building new homes in New Orleans, designing a line of work wear (like overalls with pockets for knee pads) and a bunch of other projects.

(BTW, in the press conference, I asked Holmes a question about getting permits for work, mentioning that I'd seen many problems in this area on his show. This caused one of my colleagues to look back at me with a grin and a nod, then to also ask a question, outing herself as a fan of the show. We happily shared our Holmes love after the session. It was a great bonding moment. And, neither of us owns a house, nor, in the Los Angeles market, are we likely to anytime soon.)

The most fun of the lunchtime conversation was listening to Kemp Becker, husband Darrell Becker (a custom home builder), and Holmes get to know each other and trade homebuilding and remodeling knowledge from their various perspectives.

Also, "Holmes on Holmes" fans may be interested to know that Corin "Pinky" Ames, the first female member of Holmes' crew, quit the team this week and headed back home to Canada. According to Holmes, the heat of a New Orleans summer just was too much for the Ontario native.

I know I promised "Sandhogs" audio clips yesterday and haven't delivered yet, so I'll just dig myself in deeper today by promising clips from today's interviews. I haven't written the stories yet, so it'll be hard to know what I'll need for print, but I'll hunt up a few good moments to share.

So, in one day, I went from Egyptology to saving whales to remodeling houses. And I thought I had a job writing about television.

As I'm typing, it's the last session of the day, a three-hour block for HBO. Ricky Gervais ("The Office," "Extras") is alone on the stage talking about an upcoming comedy special. When he came out he said, "I feel like Kofi Annan." He's saying that all his favorite comics are Yanks, from Laurel & Hardy to today, and that the most important thing in comedy is empathy, explaining, "I can't laugh at someone I don't like....Hitler had great lines, didn't make me laugh at all."

Later on, we'll be talking about "Generation Kill," a miniseries about U.S. recon Marines during the early days of the Iraq War (and apparently, Marines at Camp Pendleton approve). Believe it or not, there are some laughs there too.

Just finished one more cuppa BH coffee. Man, I need a cuppa tea! But they only have hot water here, not boiling water, so I'll have to wait until I get home. Some corners just can't be cut.

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