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And so it begins . . . Summer TV "press tour" 2007

The Griffith Observatory at dusk Photo: Ed Bark

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- How's this for a scene-setter? Network TV's 2007 summer "press tour" began Monday night with a lengthy bus jaunt from the Beverly Hilton to the almighty Griffith Observatory.

There you could see Hollywood's brightest stars, all without facelifts, through some venerable high-powered telescopes. Cell phone service couldn't survive such heights, knocking out your friendly correspondent's regular Monday night radio segment on KMOX-AM radio in St. Louis just as it was about to begin.

PBS chose the site to tout its new Wired Science series, which premieres on Oct. 3rd. Assembled TV critics then partook of a Wolfgang Puck-catered buffet starring salmon and noodles.

Uncle Barky, paying his own way to see such splendors, cut costs with all-day connecting flights from Dallas to Denver to Palm Springs to L.A. That last plane flight sounded like a lawnmower with wings. And the temps took a mighty plunge, from 105 degrees to 71. Pretty cool.

Beginning on Wednesday, look to our special July TV Press Tour page for daily reports on this 18-day march from PBS to ABC. It's Uncle Barky's 28th straight life-shortener, so keep him in your prayers and please patronize his advertisers. Gotta run. Talk to you soon.