Zooey Deschanel is TV critics' New It Girl

If the gushing adoration of TV critics is any measure, then Zooey Deschanel — sister of “Bones” star Emily Deschanel and star of the new Fox comedy “New Girl” — is the small screen’s next big thing.

Then again, it may just be us.

“The word ‘adorable’ has gone out over Twitter more times than any other time in the history of Twitter,” one critic informed her midway through the “New Girl” press conference Friday.

“I mean, everyone refers to you as adorable. When did you first know you were adorable?”

After the laughter died down Deschanel said, adorably, “My mom told me when I get compliments to cover my ears.”

So what was the critic referring to? Well, in recent years almost every pop culture journalist on the planet has gotten a Twitter account and used it to live-blog such momentous occasions as the Emmys, the royal wedding and the bin Laden raid.

Live-blogging the annual summer gaggle of the Television Critics Association (aka TCA press tour) was a natural. It’s turned out to be a boon for TV fans who always wondered what was going on inside those palatial sanctums (aka hotel ballrooms) where TCA press conferences take place and where live audio and video have always been prohibited.

From my perspective, micro-blogging has had something to do with the resurgence in the TCA ranks following years of newspaper layoffs. The ballroom this week has been packed, with sites and pubs represented that I’ve never seen here before. The TV critic of the Washington Post, Hank Stuever, is here. So are the AP’s Frazier Moore and Todd VanDerWerff of the Onion AV Club. Jace Lacob of Newsweek/Daily Beast and James Poniewozik of Time are both here, and both tweeting heavily. The motives for their presence are as varied as their outlets, but surely this opening-up of the once secretive data collection methods of the TCA has helped lure more critics to press tour than at any time since the glory days of print.

All of which makes it curious that one of the networks that is a fixture at tour — CBS — has chosen to trash this development. For some time now I’ve heard reports of network’s publicity staff quietly carping about the level of snark emanating from TCA members’ keyboards.

To be fair, they have a point. Can we roll the clip?

@sepinwall: The all-day loop of CBS theme songs has accomplished the impossible: it's made me hate the Hawaii Five-0 theme.

@Zap2ItRick: Fairly certain "2 Broke Girls" EP Michael Patrick King was dressed differently when I passed him in the lobby about an hour ago.

@nprmonkeysee: We are getting a panel about CSI, because they've added Ted Danson, and they want critics to find out who that is.

@TVMoJoe: Ted Danson's character on CSI is named DB Russell. In case you cared.

@kateaurthur: Loud typing in the #TCAs11 room when CBS president Nina Tassler is asked her first Charlie Sheen question. That she's ducking well!

@TVGMDamian: sorry, #Discovery, you have Shark Week, but network panels are turning #TCAs11 into Snark Week!

This week, CBS went public with its unhappiness. Chris Ender, the network’s senior VP of communications, told Variety that TCA tour “has become more of a micro-blogging event with real-time coverage on the controversial issues that will generate Web traffic and less about covering the broader programming palette at each network.”

With all due respect to Chris — whose CBS team puts together the most consistently polished and useful press day of any network — that’s nonsense. TCA may have added a Twitter component, just as TV critics have added social networking to their existing responsibilities of writing for print and updating their blogs.

But c’mon. TCA tour is not remotely a “micro-blogging event.” It is what it has always been: an unparalleled occasion to gain access and insights into the upcoming television season for the benefit of consumers.

I polled some of my colleagues and took a quick dip into Nexis for stories written from February to July following winter TCA tour in January. They confirm what I suspected: that ink-stained tweeters like me are using our interview and transcript notes as much as ever.

But now, thanks to social networking, some of that data that used to go downstream and disappear has been effectively diverted into the Twitter mill. That has evidently contributed to public awareness of and interest in TCA. And that benefits everyone — including the honorable gentleman at CBS.

So lighten up, guys.

Fox’s Friday at TCA had many highlights, of which, unfortunately, the “X Factor” press conference was not one. Simon Cowell was beamed in by satellite, which cut off mid-panel, while the other judges and producers on stage seemed like they were off on another planet.

“Terra Nova”, the latest dino drama from Steven Spielberg, continues to divide critics, some of whom wonder about the long production delays. And when Jon Cassar, one of the show’s many executive producers, told critics that “If you don’t love this family after the first hour, it really doesn't matter how the dinosaurs look,” keyboards started clacking throughout the ballroom. (Most of us, it seems, did not “love” or even care two whits for the ordinary family at “Terra Nova’s” storytelling core.)

Saturday morning belongs to sister network FX, where its top executive John Landgraf has just announced that he’s picking up new episodes of three comedies, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Louie” and “Wilfred,” and explained how his years working on “Reno 911!” doing less with more informed his outlook to comedy. (Louis C.K. and the “Sunny” creators are both working for relatively little upfront money.)

Then on Saturday night, we’ll give out our TCA Awards. Winners will be announced around the web at 11 p.m. Central time. Unlike everything else that happens during press tour, the TCA Awards are a social event, not a working event. There will be no tweeting.