Ricky Blitt, creator of "The Winner," the Fox series set in Buffalo, came up with one of the winning quotes during the recent press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Blitt, who doesn't drive a car, noted that he uses his share of limousines to get around Los Angeles.
"Every driver that I've used, I say, 'Who is the worst person you've ever met?' and it's always Faye Dunaway," said Blitt. Critics roared.
When I return home from Hollywood and am asked who I liked and didn't like, I feel a little bit like a limo driver making a judgment after very brief meetings with celebrities.
You go on superficial things, like how long actors are willing to stay around after news conferences and whether they act like they enjoy being interviewed.
With that in mind, my favorite actor in "Lost" is shaggy-haired Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer. It can be difficult interviewing actors at parties, where the music is turned up incredibly high and makes it almost impossible to hear yourself think. Holloway agreed to leave the noisy ABC party to be interviewed by a handful of critics outside the room. He was patient, cordial, entertaining and down to earth.
I'm also a fan of the guy who plays the mysterious Desmond. I met him on a breakfast line before a "Lost" session and jokingly referred to him as his character. Then I asked him if he minded. He said he didn't because people don't know his name. When I told him I did, he asked me to prove it. "Henry Ian Cusick," I said. He was impressed. He also was very cordial at an ABC party, agreeing to move away from the noise and be interviewed by a few critics.
The Faye Dunaway Award went to Evangeline Lilly, who plays Sawyer's love interest, Kate. She bolted from the "Lost" news conference immediately after it was over.
Then there was Ashton Kutcher, the movie star and producer of the CW reality series, "Beauty and the Geek." Surprisingly, he showed up at the CW party, stylishly dressed in a hat and scarf. He seemed amiable enough and willing to talk. But his publicist seemed more concerned about protecting his privacy than in granting interviews.
Eventually, she allowed critics to have private audiences with Kutcher for a few minutes, as if he were the pope. Before too long, he agreed to a longer interview with some critics who were more willing to test their hearing over the music than I was. Kutcher seemed like a good guy, but he's no Holloway.
The noisiest party is always held by Fox, which is more interested in showing its actors a good time than having them interviewed. However, I couldn't pass up talking to the President. D.B. Woodside, who plays President Wayne Palmer on "24," hasn't let his election go to his head. He patiently answered questions from a handful of critics. I learned he and the late President Ford have something in common -- college football. Woodside played football at Albany State before getting injured and deciding to pursue acting at the Yale Drama School.
He declined to answer one question -- whether he was old enough (35) to actually be president, even though we told him we didn't need to be Woodward and Bernstein to get the information. He smiled and said he wanted to make us work for it (he's 37). I've certainly seen presidents who treat the press a lot worse.
As a former correspondent on "The Daily Show," Rob Corddry is essentially a member of the press. The star of "The Winner," Corddry was extremely likable and comfortable discussing his career and his one visit to Buffalo as a performer in an acting company that performed Shakespearean plays at high schools. He has a couple of big movies coming out soon, but so far it doesn't appear like success has gone to Corddry's balding head.
Sometimes, interviews fall into your lap. My favorite cast member of "Heroes" is Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays genetics professor Mohinder Suresh. He was searching for a seat at a NBC party to eat a roast beef sandwich and asked me if the one next to me on a couch was vacant. I told him it was available and asked if I could question him while he ate. He enthusiastically said yes and seemed to want to talk. At the end of the interview, he actually thanked me for helping him find a seat.
The only other "star" who seemed as appreciative was a guy I didn't recognize as he sat next to me at the CW party. When he asked me where I was from, I began to wonder if he was a gate crasher. Then I realized he was one of Kutcher's "geeks" after he had his Hollywood makeover.
I laughed when he said his first name was Alan. We noted that we spelled our names the same way. It turned out he was a Harvard-educated guy from Montana who told his girlfriend that he didn't think he was geeky enough to be cast on the show.
"Oh, you are," assured his girlfriend. Thanks, honey. I asked him where he thought the beauty he was paired with rated on a stupidity scale of 1 through 10. "She's a 7.5," said Alan.
Stupidly, I asked Alan how he planned to use his Harvard education once he is free from his "Geek" publicity obligations. He said he wants to become an actor. I should have seen that one coming. If he beats the incredible odds and becomes an acting success, I'm hoping Josh Holloway is his media role model.