JUDY SLOANE'S FIRST REPORT ON THE FALL TV SEASON 2001, FROM THE TELEVISION CRITICS ASSOCIATION PRESS TOUR

Report by Judy Sloane
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Twice a year television journalists from all over the States converge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California, to attend days of press conferences where the networks and cable channels reveal their new programs. Here are a few of the best shows for this upcoming season:

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Smallville (WB):

"No tights, no flights," says Executive Producer, Alfred Gough of his new series, Smallville, which chronicles the teenage life of Clark Kent, aka Superman, as he matures in Smallville, Kansas. As an awkward teenager, Kent must deal with his emerging superpowers, making the transition from child to adult even more traumatic.

Official WB Smallville site

Clark's adoptive parents John and Martha Kent are portrayed by John Schneider (The Dukes of Hazzard), and, in a particularly interesting piece of casting, Annette O'Toole, who played Clark's teenage love interest, Lana Lang, opposite Christopher Reeve in the motion picture, Superman II.

"When the opportunity to work with Annette came up, we just couldn't resist," says Gough, "and certainly the Superman connection was great", he laughs. "I saw something online the other night (referring to Annette playing the role, that had Clark saying), 'It's my girlfriend. It's my mother. It's my girlfriend!'"

Gough acknowledges that, "the series is being done with the blessing and consultation of D.C. Comics. I think the great thing about Superman is that it's always been reinterpreted for every generation throughout the decades. And D.C. will be the first to tell you that the mythology in Smallville has been squishy at best."

Tom Welling, who takes on the coveted role of Clark Kent in Smallville, confesses that he consciously choose not to do research for the character. "I took it from a fresh standpoint," he says, "and it

Smallville's star Tom Welling © The WB

created its own image. There's really no comparison. It's really looking at these characters, showing you them in an age where you've never seen them before."

Although Gough insists that Welling will never don the Superman costume during the series, he does add, "One of the things that drives Clark is when he sees weird things happening in Smallville, and takes on the mantle and protects his friends and family. This is another part of learning how to be who he will become - Superman."

Smallville's leads - including Lex Luthor ©The WB
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Photos © 2001 The WB Television Network. Photo credit: The WB / David Gray.
Text by Judy Sloane © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction.