The TV Column Live

Apr 09, 2010

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes takes your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.

Take this week's poll:

Your Supreme Pookiness, Although I am a long-time fan of DWTS, I am at a loss to explain the increase in ratings this year, especially since I thought the show had jumped the shark last season.

Did "Jon and Kate Plus 8" really have that huge of a fan base? Are viewers that glad to be rid of Samantha Harris? Are the ramped-up dramatic "tensions" in the background pieces giving people a thrill? Or are the new graphics drawing them in? Inquiring minds want to know.

Hi. I credit the "sensationalized" casting: Pamela Anderson needs no explaining. Erin Andrews is much in the news and for tawdry-and-now-incresingly-creepy reasons (not of her doing but just sayin'). Shannen Doherty -- moment of silence. But, of course, most of the credit goes to America's Most Put Upon Mom, Kate Gosselin.  I can't help but wonder if someone at ABC "encouraged" Jon Gosselin to file this latest suit against Kate, claming she's an absentee mom because she keeps flying to LA to do "Dancing." That kind of publicity is pure ratings gold for "Dancing." And do not underestimate the lure of Kate's actual performances in the competition.  The Web is ablaze with video grabs of Kate's brilliant Agne DeMille-esque interpretation of Boris Karloff doing the paso double to Lada Gaga's "Paparazzi" this week? Not to mention the many imitations since  -- did you see Jimmy Fallon's interpretation of Kate's interpretation -- genius....

Guesses about "big Mike" - why voted off, why they saved him instead of Didi?

That one's easy. The judges sensed that America was tired of having to replace all their stemware every week Didi performed. We're still in a recession, after all. I think Mike has become too hysterical a performer for American tastes. He managed to chew up most of the sceners with his "Eleanor Rigby." 

Hey, I get what your poll is getting at, but keep in mind that she tried to build a career where she could be at work and be with her kids at the same time, and that good-for-nothing husband of hers ruined it. So she has to work apart from her kids, like most people do. Are we all bad moms too?

I'm just so in love with the idea that she's going to "roll up her sleeves" and help other people straighten out their lives and learn how to cope with their multi-tasking schedules. This is like asking Lindsay Lohan for  dating advice -- or Nic Cage for financial advice....

Lisa -- I watched the departure of D'onofrio and Erbe this week on "L&O: CI," which didn't do their long time on the show justice at all. I know there has been a lot of drama backstage, but it's never been clear to the general public just what has been going on. Any insight? Did they push D'onofrio out, or had he just had enough?

I think it's a combo of both. Don't forget the whole Dick Wolf Survival Model is to whack the stars of his shows every so often. It is a GREAT way to keep the costs down and when shows are pulling in the kinds of numbers his are these days -- and you're working for the Program to Margins Network -- it's really really important to keep your costs down.

Which one is Jimmy Fallon and which one is Jimmy Kimmel? I can finally tell Greg Ferguson from Greg Kilborn. Kilborn is the one who died.

Except, Pookums, it's Craig Ferguson and Craig Kilborn. I know, it's confusing this revolving door that is late night TV. Fallon is on NBC and Kimmel is on ABC.

Are "V" and "Flash Forward" done for? I guess they are okay shows but ABC could do better not to mention the ratings are absymal. What can replace "Lost"?

ABC needs to stop looking for "The Next Lost" so hard and just focus on looking for "The Next Great Drama." That is the problem...

Adam: louder

Siobahn: Like This?

Adam: Louder!

Siobah: LIKE THIS!!??

Adam: LOUDER!!

Siobah: LIKE THIS!!!

Adam: llloooouUUUDerrrRRRRRR!


I would watch it and enjoy it. Over and over.

Kate Gosselin is a fame-addicted harridan who ruined her marriage trying to become a celebrity.

You lost me with "who ruined her marriage"....I think there is plenty of blame to go around here. But yes, opening up your lives to cameras as your plan to support your family is a very bad financial model.

What's the story with "Better off Ted" and "Scrubs: The New Class"? Also, who's in charge of programming "The Office" and "Community"? I can't ever figure out when there will be a new episode or a repeat.

I'd also like to add that I really liked "Castle" from the start and that it's only gotten better since then. I think "The Unusuals" could have done the same if they had let it live a few more weeks.

The story is they are toast. And, are you asking who is in charge of scheduling the NBC network? The scheduler does not get to decide how many original episodes are ordered so he/she is never to blame. They just have to make the most of the hand they're dealt. On the bright side, it's only a few weeks until the May sweep starts, when you're sure to see original episodes....does that help?

Is it possible that Kate is the worst dancer in the world ??? I mean literally the worst dancer of any human being.

I think she has already won that competition. Hands down.

I don't think the poll says that Kate working outside the home makes her a bad mom. I voted for grief counselor because I would love to see how fast she can make somebody else's loss All About Me.

And I cheerfully confess, after hearing about her first week's "DWTS" performance, I tuned in to see the train wreck!

You and me both, pookie. I would pay good money to watch that episode. I see most of you are voting you'd like to see her try the job of being a mom for a day, follwoed by alligator wrestler. I sense a theme, but I'm not sure what it is...

Pookie, admit it! "My Boys" is never coming back is it? First it was fall 2009, than spring, than summer and now fall 2010. TBS is just leading us on aren't they? (on another note, serious product placement for the new camaro on "Human Target")

I absolutely refuse to even consider this as a possibility because my world would fall down around me. It is coming back in the fall of 2010. There' s no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home......

Hi! Just had to let you know what I saw on Tuesday night.

We have Dish Network. You can press a button to see an overview of a show.

Tuesday night I pressed it to see what the theme would be for American Idol. The only description was "Starring Ellen Degeneres and some other people."

I just about fell out of my chair laughing. Too bad there was no way to capture it somehow...

...and they even got Ellen DeGeneres's name wrong? Do you think it has something to do with the fact that DirecTV hailed from Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp.?  Will you let me know what the description is this week? Seriously, I'm fascinated.

As I was reading your description of her new show, the first thing that popped into my mind is that she doesn't want to be around her brood. Maybe she wants Jon to have full custody so she can do her thing.

If she doesn't have custody of her children, she's no longer an interesting commodity for Discovery Communications. Period. Her children are her job security.

Kate Gosselin will be living a day in the life of an "everyday person"? As opposed to her normal existence as a world-class cancer researcher and leading advocate for the world's desperately poor populations?

No, as opposed to her current role as America's Most Put Upon Mom...

How can Turk be in foreclosure on a half-million-dollar mortgage? How little did "Scrubs" pay its people, anyway?

Plenty to cover a half million dollar mortgage...that said, I have no idea what are his other financial obligations...

The Divine Ms. deM: I see Ms. Merkerson will be leaving at the end of this season, leaving Sam Waterson as the last "senior" member of the cast (aside from recurring judges and some "every other season or so" character actors).

How much longer before my still favorite (albeit OLD!) series bites the dust and goes into permanent reruns?

Just the opposite: It's the whacking of actors that will keep L&O shows going. It's all about keeping the costs down. Getting rid of actors and bring in new ones at a lower price point has always been Dick Wolf's business model. It makes a great deal of sense on his shows, in which we don't really get to know the characters' back stories. And now you know why...

It's one of the best things on right now. Is there a good chance for renewal? Are you watching?

Yes, there is a good chance -- especially since Fox is losing "24"....

I saw a few minutes of "Undercover Boss" and, once I finished scrubbing my eyeballs, wondered: how do the undercover bosses explain to their unsuspecting employees the camera crew following them around? It seems like that would be a hint that something was up, you know?

In the first episode -- the Waste Management episode -- the staffers were told a camera crew was following a new employee to do a docu-series on what it's like to be a new employee...I can see how they could pull that off for the first batch of shows but, given how popular this show is and how much is being written about it, how are they goign to be still duping employees at companies in, say, season No. 3?

So, after what was deemed a pretty great episode on Monday, what are Chuck's chances going forward to be renewed? Personally, I don't want to buy more Subway, but if that's what it takes, I'm up for it.

Well, normally I would say that a show that this week finished No. 4 -- ahead of only CW -- among all viewers and No. 4 in the network's target demo of 18-49 would not stand a chance of coming back. But this is not just any network -- it's NBC, so anything's possible. I would suggest you binge on Subway sandwiches -- unless they are no longer being advertised on the show...

How cruel that Fox should pit "Glee" against "Lost" at 9PM on Tuesday nite! Thank God for recording devices!

There's not much Fox can do about ABC scheduling "Lost" that night, but the network was well intended -- they simply want to give "Glee" an "American Idol" leadin...

Pookie, this is more logistics but is it possible to submit a question earlier than day of with this new snazzy (annoying?) live chat format? Sometimes I have a burning question which cannot wait! In the old format, you could!

Sure, as long as the page is built and ready to go, which is usually the Monday before the chat. You can find it here or here.

The old format had sooo many advantages over this one....Maybe my producer, the brilliant Paul, can explain how to submit a question earlier than "day of".... Paul?

When, oh when, will Kate get eliminated and end our long national nightmare?

Except America has fallen in love with the dancing train wreck that is Kate. And of course, her wonderful, self-pitying comments during rehearsals. And her fights with her dance partner, and on and on. She truly is America's Sweetheart...

Hi, Lisa - do you know what the premiere date of the new season is? The "Friday Night Lights" page on shows 2 dates: 4/30 and 5/7 - what's up? Also, do you know if shows are available online soon after air date? I have a primitive TV set up due to lack of funds, so taping (yes, still have a VCR ...and no cable!) is not a great option. Thanks!

It's "returning" on May 7 except, of course, the epsiodes have already been seen by DirecTV customers. But if you're so strapped you're using a VCR I'm guessing you're not a DirecTV customer. And I assume they'll be available on Hulu but I will check...

Ever since March Madness- there have been no new CBS episodes... at least of the good shows (things like "Survivor" don't count because that show is uber lame) ... and it stinks. Why do they do this?!?!

$$$$$$$$$$....and ratings. March Madness does a big number for the network.

How should I vote if what I really want to see Kate do is be Octomom's baby sitter?

I think that would fall under "mom" but I'm kicking myself that we didn't make this a category. Octomom nanny would be brilliant TV...

Would you talk to NBC and make sure that the new cast members are able to mirror Sam's mid-sentence pauses while they change the cue cards? Kthxbye

And here I thought he was just being moody in character --  or contemplative....

Craig Kilborn died? Did I miss this?

I think the person was just referring to his ratings performance on CBS in late night. That was a painful death for sure...

I have to ask why the producers didn't just let Izzie die off at the end of last season. Instead we got ridiculous storyline about her miraculous recovery from stage 4 melanoma that metastasized to the liver AND brain (!) and then had her wandering in and out of episodes with no real follow-through on said ridiculous story. It truly didn't serve the show to keep her around.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen her character die in a freak accident in which she was impaled by an Emmy statue that a well known primetime TV diva had accidentally dropped out of the window of her Malibu beach home just as Izzie, who was visiting Addison in Los Angeles, happened to walk under the window...

I confess I just never got her before; if anything, I kinda pitied her. But her stint on DWTS has been a revelation! She's really good at what she does! She actually pulls off the sizzle, and seems to have a certain sly self-awareness. She'll probably go home next: America hates sexy women.

Remember how she got her start on ABC in "Home Improvement"? So fitting she's trying to resurrect her career back on ABC...

Personally, I think the judges saved him out of fear for their own safety if they let him go home. That dude looked seriously angry to be in the bottom. And he's a bully.


It's ridiculous to have used it on Mike when Siobhan's going to wind up booted in a few weeks and she is far more talented... But I have gotten over this -- Siobhan has been on the show long enough that she can have some kind of recording/Bway performing/whatever career now... Happily, this show is no longer really about who wins. Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson are two cases in point...This is what I keep remiding myself when the voting results make me crazy...

I think she should have to be a personal assistant to a really evil reality TV star. Someone who is "put upon."

Another brilliant idea. Make her the personal assistant to Katherine Heigl!

It's thankfully already been renewed for a 3rd season-Fox announced the renewal in early March. My preferred bubble shows have been doing better than I expected, although I don't think there's any saving Better Off Ted. Hopefully ABC will at least air the remaining 2 episodes sometime...

Yes, Fox announced the renewal but I've seen Fox announce a numger of things that never actually happened over the years so I always take the I'll believe it when I see it approach to Fox's announcements.


I know shows usually have background "bibles." You may not know this, yet maybe you could find out someday: Did "Lost" begin with a background where they intended from the beginning to resolve the show in the manner in which it will be resolved, or did they realize the show was going to last longer than they one might have suspected when they were filming the pilot and they came up with this whole end story (whatever it will be) after the start of the series?

I'm sure they will insist they did but they are never going to get me to believe it. And, if this was the plan all along, they should be ashamed of themselves.. It's lame.

so just who is looking after the "plus 8" while Kate is dancing her life away all week? Are they better off without her?

I have no idea. I assume some very capable nannies...

Is this show's early (IMHO) departure mostly due to network execs moving it around the schedule so often?

I'm gonna miss Justin and Mark. For the record, I'm a straight male, but I found Justin's coming out to be incredibly touching and well done. It kinda shows how far we've moved when a character can do that in the manner he did.

Network execs are probably slightly ahead of lawyers, hedgefund managers, and cockroaches in terms of likeability... so I'm wondering if I'm biased to view any mistake they make as sounding the death knell for a series. I do recall Ugly Betty getting good ratings for the first season or so...

I think this is another example of a show that lost its way creatively. That saids, it never got a whole lot of support from the network in terms of great timeslotting, etc. It always had to struggle to find its audience -- no "Dancing" leadin for this one...

So what's going to happen now that Christopher Meloni is leaving? That's the one show in the Law & Order-verse that's had the same main cast (save the DA) since the beginning.

Then it's long overdue for an overhaul. It's the ONLY way to keep a show's costs down.

OK, our girl came back big (by singing small) last week, and I think sealed the deal with her answer to Simon's question. But now that they wasted the Save on that clown, do you think she will make it to Top 5? (And yeah, I'd love to watch her and Adam scream it out.)

I hope so, but fear not...Next week, with Adam, could help her the most of any of the Idolettes, however. I think Adam Lambert is going to love her, and that will impress Idol fangirls...

Pookie - please tell me you have heard that they are doing something to the writing of this show to make it watchable.

This should be a watchable show. It has LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell for eye candy, but neither can seem to act their way out of a paper bag.

Is it them or the writing, why oh why? Weirdly, I love NCIS with Mark Harmon. I am not sure why, but the camaraderie is more believable and it is just more fun to watch. Do I have any relief on the way?

See, I had this GREAT answer and then I saw "Weirdly, I love NCIS" and my whole answer got torpedoed....We know Chris O'Donnell can act because we've seen him deliver some good performances -- starting way back with "Circle of Friends." LL Cool J -- not so much. I believe the writing on both shows re-defines "lame" but if you like one and not the other I don't know what else to say. Except that Linda Hunt is no David McCallum....

Ms. Pookie: Since Joan Rivers is already taken, could we please have your nomination for who should be the face of the Smithsonian for hawking the down-sized Hope diamonds on QVC?

This one is so easy. I'm hoping and praying it's Dame Edna....

They should make a movie sort of like Borat-in-reverse where they send Kate to a foreign country and she doesn't speak the language or understand the local customs and asks all kinds of inappropriate questions. I wouldn't watch this show, but I figure as long as she's out of the country, she's not our problem. Plus, there's a chance she could get lost and never come back.

You missed your calling. You should be running TLC...this is genius. Send her and her brood to Paris for a season. See if she survives.

If the survival mode is to whack a star now and again, can they PLEASE get rid of Hargitay on SVU?? Her wooden acting and annoying scripts have made me stop watching the show, and I'm a huge fans of Ice-T and Belzer!!!

But didn't she actually win an Emmy? Isn't she the only member of the  L&O Repertory Theatre to win an Emmy -- or did I just dream that?

On the next season of "Survivor," I would like for the winner of the immunity challenge to be given an actual vaccination. That would give the other contestants something to think about.

Instead of getting them all vaccinated before they start shooting the show? This is a very good idea. I would have to start watching again regularly if they did that...

Hey Lisa - is this the worse season ever of AI or at least the most boring? I think it's the 4 judges (Ellen/Randy saying the same things every week, Simon basically checked out and Kara, who cares?), the short list of songs they get to choose from and the fact that none of the contestants are very interesting (other than Siobhan).

I've been fastforwarding even more than ever, even through songs now (Against All Odds? No thanks). What do you think? I will say however that your write ups are getting more hysterical every week (the description of Siobhan's outfits being a particular highlight)

TO give credit where credit is due, Siobhan's outfits kind of write themselves... The chick needs her own Bravo fashion series. The problem with this season is that they were adamant they wanted all genuine rookies -- no Adam Lambert this season. Which begs the question "WHY?" given that he was by far the most interesting thing on "Idol" last season. It would seem to suggest that in the Fox Suits post mortem meeting on Idol, when they were trying to find out who, besides themselves, they could blame for the show's gradual ratings slide, they decided to point the finger at took most of them about four weeks to get over their sheer terror of performing on national TV, except Mama Sox, who started out very hip and cool, but recently has drunk the Koolaid and is now asking Miley Cyrus to sign her guitar and wearing stilettos. It's been sad to watch the Idol-ization of Crystal...

What does that buy you in LA? An efficiency apartment?

Half a million dollars buys you a house in a not great part of Hollywood, a small tract house in the Valley on the "wrong" side of Ventura Blvd, or a one-bedroom condo in Santa Monica...

Okay last week I said it was okay because I had the flu and got caught up... well, after last night, it's bad again. ARGH!!!! Just my 2 cents.

a case of squandered opportunity, right? It should have been great...

Pookie, no question, just wanted to say I'm literally laughing out loud regarding: "This is like asking Lindsay Lohan for dating advice -- or Nic Cage for financial advice..."

You made my day!

you are welcome....

As a cancer surviror, for all those people struggling with cancer and watching Law & Order, could S. Epatha Merkerson please leave the show without dying. All the years her character is on the show, there is very little talk of her even having a life outside of being a police lt. Now she has some horrible cancer that's not responding in the middle of "ripped from the headlines" fun stories. Please say she does not die.....

I have no inside knowledge but sadly I'm guessing she does, if only because they will want to give her that Emmy nominatable, heart-tugging death scene. Really, it will be with the best of intentions and I'm not being cynical, I'm being serious. Again, I have absolutely no inside knowledge of the plans...

Divine Ms. DeM, What were the writers of Bones thinking? Boothe declares his love for Bones because "he's a gambler," and she declines his love because she's a scientist and scientists "don't change"?! What kind of crap reasoning is that? Can I just go ahead and fire someone NOW?

You have to admit it was a new take on the "sexual tension" problem that nags all shows that try to keep viewing levels up by teasing that the chick and the guy are going to get together. Once they do (cough-Moonlighting-cough), the show is always over. In this twist, they flashback and let you know they already HAVE declared their love for each other, way back when. It reminds me of that scene from my favorite movie "Indiscreet" in which Cary Grant explains to his lover Ingrid Bergman's brother in law that the reason he has pretended to be a married man because no woman ever believes him when he says he's NOT the marrying kind but women always believe him and don't nag him about getting married if he tells them he's ALREADY married and can't get a divorce. Personally, I think it's pretty clever...

So if she is living the everyday life of a normal person shouldn't Kate go without cameras to do the job? After that they could re-enact what she went through based on her journal accounts (all the while secret cameras will be filming what really went on).

Kate does not exist without cameras. Can't be done.

Did you not see her in "Borat"? She definitely "got" the joke in that, too. Save Pam, vote for Pam on DWTS!!!

Good point. On the other hand, she was also in the sitcom "Stacked." I think maybe they cancel each other out...

I think Damages has been great this season. Do you think it will be back?

Apparently not unless FX can convince DirecTV to pull a "Friday Night Lights" again. This brings me to one of my pet peeves about covering TV -- all this hooey about shows being "hits" because critics want to think they are -- when they're not. "Damages" is a show critics love but viewers don't watch in large enough numbers to sustain it on FX. The network had been talking to DirecTV about whether it could work out something similar to its "FNL" deal with NBC to palm off some of the costs on the satellite provider. That said, the network could very well decide to go ahead with another season anyway.... I'm out of time but want to mention before leaving how thrilled I am that "alligator wrestler" has pulled ahead of "mom" among our poll options for what job you would most like to see Kate Gosselin tackle on her new TLC show. Bye!

In This Chat
Lisa de Moraes
Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites. de Moraes worked for a decade as the television editor at The Hollywood Reporter, the entertainment industry trade paper, where she was routinely on the receiving end of more shouting phone calls from TV suits than Paula Abdul's manager.

When she upgraded to The Washington Post in 1998, a well-known executive producer called to suggest she have someone else start her car, but her trenchant writing (and refusal to use words like "trenchant") earned her the following praise from the brilliant, handsome media observer at Slate: "She writes like a wicked bitch." Wikipedia has called her "a noted television columnist," but they're often unreliable. It's pronounced "deh more ICE."

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