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It's a thin news day when Star Jones speaks

Notes and quotes from my first day at the Television Critics Association meetings:

Star Jones needs a new public relations adviser. On a day that Jones and her producer tried to sell how opinionated she'll be on her new Court TV daytime show, the former member of ABC's "The View" stonewalled on the subject that many critics were focusing on -- her much thinner appearance.

The former prosecutor has lost so much weight that some critics wondered if viewers who last saw Jones on the Barbara Walters gabfest will recognize her on Aug. 20, when her new cable show debuts.

After telling critics she'd tell it like it is on her new show on a variety of issues, Jones declined to explain her weight loss Sunday but said she would do so in a proper forum before the show premieres.

Naturally, this didn't go over too well with more than 100 journalists who believed a press conference was the proper forum for making news. One critic told Jones her stand was a public relations disaster and asked if she would at least explain where her story would be told. Eventually, Jones was persuaded to reveal she would explain everything in an upcoming issue of Glamour magazine.

That didn't appease everyone. A critic then cleverly asked her how she would handle someone on her show that refuses to answer questions about an obviously important topic. In essence, she was being asked to be put in the place of the journalists here.

"I hope to handle it with the same sort of gentleness you've handled me," she said.

Some critics laughed loudly -- and most likely went back to their computers and blasted her for not understanding the business of promotion.

Well, at least Jones lightened up a solemn Sunday morning that started with some very heavy questions about God that made one feel like he was in a house of worship.

It got so heavy that CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, the reporter on a series, "God's Warriors," about the impact of religious fundamentalism, was asked what she believed God would say about those who believe God is on their side. Amanpour, who recently was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen and is held in extremely high esteem, wasn't about to speak for God.

"I don't really have the way to say what God would say," she said, adding some pastors were asked about it. "Suffice it to say that there are a lot of people uncomfortable with the notion that a certain group, no matter how small or big, has a direct line to God."

The Amanpour session was followed by a depressing CNN session about an upcoming series, "Planet in Peril." But there was a moment of comic relief when anchor Anderson Cooper was asked how valuable wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin of the Discovery Channel was on the series.

"In the Amazon, we were repeatedly bitten by things, and Jeff could sort of identify them and tell us whether or not it was severe or not," said Cooper. "One of our cameramen was actually hospitalized after being bitten by a spider. The other one had a spider lay eggs inside him. So it's comforting when you have something growing in you to have someone like Jeff there."

Here's another example of how powerful Oprah Winfrey has become. Orlando Jones and Ali LeRoi, the creators of a new animated sketch comedy series on BET, "BUFU," said Oprah won't be a comedy target.

"We don't have a bit on Oprah. We are afraid of Oprah," said LeRoi. "We do have a bit on [Oprah's pal] Gayle King because we're not afraid of Gayle King."

Asked why they were afraid of Oprah, LeRoi started to talk about Winfrey's power and money before Jones interrupted: "Say nothing. We are afraid of Oprah because we are afraid of Oprah."

I'm not sure he was kidding.

Matthew Weiner, the creator of a new, stylish AMC series about advertising in the 1960s, "Mad Men," is a former writer for "The Sopranos." So naturally he was asked about the controversial end of the HBO series. And just as naturally, he avoided giving a real answer.

"It's been a month, and I'm still being asked about it," said Weiner. "I would say it worked the way it was supposed to."


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