Note: Tele-buddy Terry Morrow is reporting from the Television Critics Association.
BEVERLY HILLS — During a party thrown by BBC America for television critics, comic Chris Hardwick — host of the BBCA's "The Nerdist" talk show, host of AMC's "The Talking Dead" and the poster boy for the new face of nerds everywhere — showed another side of himself: his Tennessee roots.
He grew up in Memphis, and his brother lives in Maryville. Hardwick, 40, visits Maryville on occasion to see his brother and sister-in-law.
She's pregnant so Hardwick expects to be back in Maryville in the next few months.
He's had occasion to be in Knoxville on business, too. "I used to perform (stand-up comedy) in Knoxville," he told me. "It went pretty well."
Now his visits are strictly a no-business venture. When he's in Maryville, he does "the family thing."
An avid comic-book collector, Hardwick said he was encouraged by the number of comic shops in the Knoxville area.
The city itself has four shops that sell the latest comic books. Sevierville and Clinton have two more.
"That's encouraging," he said.
The BBC America party had a lively atmosphere, transforming the space at Cafe La Boheme into an Old West bordello, complete with dancing girls, card sharks and a string band playing tunes that would make a good soundtrack for Dollywood.
The Brits brought out their talent. Among the biggest was David Tennant, the former "Dr. Who" star. He's appearing in the BBCA movie "The Spies of Warsaw," airing later this year.
Though he moved on from "Dr. Who" in 2009, Tennant still watches the show, though he was a little concerned whether he should. "At first it was odd because it had been my life for a while.
"And, suddenly, I didn't know what was happening next.
"But, very quickly, I learned to enjoy it just like I did when I was growing up. I was worried I would (compare). I worried about that."
In "Spies," he plays a World War I hero who gets caught up in international intrigue just before World War II. "The role is much different than Dr. Who," he said.
Writer/ producer / director Tom Fontana was on hand to promote his latest project, an Old West adventure called "Copper."
Tom Weston-Jones stars as Kevin Corcoran, an Irish immigrant policeman working the historical Five Points neighborhood in 1860s New York City. He's searching for information on the disappearance of his wife and death of his daughter.
"I love the fact that we're doing a series where there's no cell phones," said Fontana ("Oz," "Homicide").
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or email@example.com.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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