BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Adam Carolla yelled at me the other day.

I didn't lose any sleep over it that night.

What I learned from this little incident in the middle of the Television Critics Association press tour is:

— My memory sometimes fails me.

— Carolla hates critics in general (and me specifically).

— And, if I may be so bold, at least at that particular moment in time I had a better sense of humor than a guy who's supposed to be a comedian.

Carolla was making his second appearance before critics in three days. He'd already talked to us about his upcoming Comedy Central show "Too Late With Adam Carolla"; he returned to talk about "The Adam Carolla Project," a TLC "reality" show in which Carolla (a former carpenter) and some of his buddies rebuild his childhood home with an eye toward selling it for, he hopes, a profit.

I thought the clip they showed critics made it look both interesting and amusing. But I wasn't quite buying the whole angle that Carolla was taking a financial risk by doing this.

"Isn't the financial risk you're taking somewhat mitigated by whatever it is you're getting paid to do this (show)?" I asked.

"Yes," Carolla responded.

"So is there any financial risk?" I asked.

"What the hell do you think, genius?" Carolla replied. "Of course."

That was just before he called me "weisenheimer." Which I probably deserved, at least from his perspective. But my thought was that what looked like an otherwise entertaining "reality" show would be undermined by the whole financial-risk aspect.

He took it as an attack. Which I wasn't smart enough to pick up on immediately.

Carolla went on to explain that he wasn't being paid a lot to do the "Project" — that it was just something he really wanted to do. And I took him at his word.

Then I made a big mistake. I was flat out wrong. My memory failed me as I mentioned a failed sitcom I falsely believed Carolla had done years earlier. I confused him with someone else. Which I acknowledged.

"You don't work in the research department of the newspaper, do you?" Carolla threw at me — which I totally deserved.

At this point, I was still thinking this was all friendly banter. I was laughing at everything Carolla was saying. I responded with the absolute truth, "No. After 15 years you all run together." Which I meant totally as self-deprecation.

Apparently, it wasn't taken that way. And, to be fair, I can understand why.

"Listen, why don't you just go to the bar, write whatever (expletive) you're going to write," Carolla said. "Just write the (expletive) you're going to write. Just write the show sucks and I'm using my own money and just go write it now and leave me alone, would you?"

At this point, it dawned on me that this was not the humorous banter I thought it was. I didn't have an ax to grind, but Carolla obviously did.

"Write something (expletive) about the show and give the mike to somebody else, please. I don't care if any of you like the show. It's going to be a great show and you'll just be wrong."

At this point, we learned what this was really about.

"Everyone (critics) hated 'The Man Show' and everyone had a problem with 'Love Line.' Everyone has a problem with everything I do, but the shows are good."

What made this somewhat ironic was that the question I never got to ask was how it felt to have overcome earlier TV failures (which he had, just not the one I was wrong about) and bad reviews to become something between a cottage industry and a mogul. He's got multiple TV shows on multiple cable networks, plus his radio show.

In essence, I was trying to toss him a softball.

Instead, he got all hot and bothered. A few moments later, he even had to falsely assert, "I wasn't just yelling at critics."

So . . . the next time you hear Carolla say he doesn't care what critics write and he doesn't read his bad reviews, don't believe it. He hates critics in general (and me specifically) so much that he'll launch into a profanity-laden rant in the middle of what's supposed to be a press conference to promote his show.

Which put my dumbness over the non-existent sitcom in perspective.

As for me, well, the whole thing sort of reminds me of the time a UPN executive tried to get me fired a few years ago. I mean, it wasn't like an executive at a real network wanted me fired.

If, say, Bob Newhart had yelled at me, I'd feel bad.

Adam Carolla yelling at me? Not so much.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com