Mar 04, 2011

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

Happy Friday -- busy week!

Charlie Sheen, took the country by storm with his  Scorched Earth Media Tour and became a Twitter phenom,  though his campaign seemed to go off the rails towards the end of the week

"American Idol" held its very first finalists-unveiling-cum-costume-party this week -- judge Steven Tyler's pirate shirt won, hands down. And, in a shocking twist, they unveiled 13 finalists... Take our Who Got Robbed Poll (it's at the bottom) and let's discuss.

"Better with You" is horrible; it's downright evil of ABC to *force* it on us as we anxiously await "Modern Family." When will it go away? Why can't they bring "Better Off Ted" back? Who in the WORLD thinks "Better with You" is any good, and how the hell did someone like Debra Jo Rupp sign on for it? I'm not a big fan of "The Middle," but it has its quirky moments and can be bearable. "BwY" is just vile. Bad, bad TV show.

I too am of the '8:30 is the Creative Sinkhole in ABC's Wednesday Comedy Lineup' school of thought -- though I seem to think more highly of  "The Middle" than you do.  In re "Better w/You," it's  like the writers time traveled back to the 70s and plucked one of the worst sitcoms and brought it back with them.  Or, here's another theory -- okay, it was actually a dream I had the other night, but anyway, here goes:  Maybe "Bw/Y" was orginally developed for CBS as a companion show for the equally dreadful "Rules of Engagement," but then Chuck Lorre came to the CBS suits and said,  "I have a hankering to do a third sitcom for you guys -- one with a lot of fat jokes in it! It can't miss!"... and then CBS didn't need its  "Rules of Engagement" companion piece for Monday nights any more,  so it  let  the "Better w/You" producers take it out on the open market, and then the head of programming at ABC, who maybe knew he was on shaky ground over there at the time, decided he would buy it and foist it upon his employers as payback for the eventual whacking he sensed he was about to be on the receiving end of... Sadly, I have absolutely no facts to support this dream -- except, of course, it's true that the head of ABC entertainment exited the network not long after he'd unveiled the network's primetime schedule for this season... But it's such a tidy little dream...

For once, I watched the entire Oscar pre-game show on ABC. But it wasn't until the actual show that I noticed several stars (and their dresses) that I only saw when the audience was sitting down. One or two recently gave birth, and I usually expect the media to really focus in on them, especially when they looked amazing. Did some celebrities manage to avoid the Red Carpet, or did ABC choose to give longer interviews to fewer guests?

I can't believe ABC would deliberatly put fewer dresses into its red carpet coverage since that's the only reason to bother watching red carpet coverage and the suits at ABC are smart people and have figured that out. But, on that subject, I'd  like to say that  I,  for one, absolutely  loved Cate Blanchett's Givenchy gown and thought it stole the show.

I know we don't know the fate of "2.5 Men" yet, but if it is still on hiatus or canceled by the start of next season, how do you think CBS reorganizes its lineup? What becomes the tent pole comedy for them on Mondays at 9 pm? I figure they wouldn't want to mess with the success "The Big Bang Theory" has on Thursdays and "How I Met Your Mother" seems to skew more towards female viewers, while "2.5 Men" seems to favor male viewers.

Given how well "Two and a Half Men" repeats, in my dream they simply keep it on the Monday schedule -- maybe calling it "Two and a Half Men: Classic." One thing you can count on -- there will be a Chuck Lorre sitcom on Mondays at 9 on CBS next season. He also does "Big Bang Theory" and "Mike and Molly" which is performing surprisingly well after "2.5M" on Mondays...I assume CBS's hope isto get Sheen that help David Letterman and Donald Trump have determined Sheen so badly needs -- that was quite the converation on Letterman's CBS late night show the other night -- and  "2.5M" comes back with family intact and new episodes.

Lisa Dahlink, is this it for Charlie Sheen? I've always sort of admired him for his ability to, as we used to say, keep on keeping on. However it seems as if he really has gone off the deep end and the admiration has now turned to pity. Is there any chance that THM will ever return, with Charlie of course? Tonygcn

If you're asking me "Is he the next Robert Downey Jr. or the next Anna Nicole?" -- I wish I had an answer but I don't.  But won't the celebrity suck-up shows -- and NBC News and ABC News -- have a wonderful time covering every step of the story... And how accomodating of Sheen to have launched his Scorched Earth Media Tour in the middle of a sweep month.

If someone in MY family was spouting the same nonsense that Charlie Sheen is, we'd be working on getting him a nice, thorough evaluation in a psych unit. I haven't heard that he's threatened to harm himself, but he's sounded a little threatening to others. Are the rules for involuntary commitment different in California, or is his "Tiger DNA" protecting him? But I may have answered my own question: his show is so not-funny, there had to be something supernatural that's protected it from cancellation.

The "supernatural" thing that's protected "2.5M" from cancellation is called "boffo ratings"... it's the country's most watched comedy. Do you have any idea how hard it is to launch a comedy on broadcast TV these days? This show is a hugely important asset for CBS.  I have no idea what the rules are for involuntary "hold" in California but, given the frequency with which this comes up when covering the TV industry, I really should know this stuff.   I'll have an answer in next week's chat -- unless someone who has joined us on the chat knows the answer.  Any experts out there? Or some Los Angelino with personal experience?

I suppose that it was a ratings coup for ABC to broadcast the Charlie Sheen Trainwreck Show when Detroit 1-8-7 was on, but really, is ABC trying to kill this show? They rarely air new episodes and are obviously willing to punt new episodes at the drop of a hat. Is there any word on whether Detoirt 1-8-7 has been/will be cancelled? Thanks

"Detroit" has not been burning up the ratings and ABC saw an opportunity to goose the ratings in the timeslot with a Sheen interview. It kinda backfired because by the time they finally aired that 20/20 interview, Sheen had flooded the media firmament with interviews and this was became Nothing Special...

Media other than CBS are feasting on all the free coverage interviewing Charlie Sheen. They are truly Jackals Who do you think are bigger whoremongers: Charlie Sheen or the media who are covering his drug withdrawl/self destruction/career suicide?

This is such a tough question!... I'm going to go with --  "Charlie Sheen"!.... Did I win?

So I'm a week late with this question, but hope you'll still consider it. I'm a Modern Family fan and often wondered about when the absent ex-wife/mom character would appear. Well last week's episode was finally the one and who did the producers gave us? Shelley Long?? Quite a disappointment. Am I the only one who thinks that the only actress who should have even been considered for the role was Katey Sagal? She'd have been perfect.

Pookie, they were stuck with Long -- she'd played the mom in the first season. Yes, I hated the casting back then and I still don't like  it. They could have done a lot better, I think.  But it's the only casting mis-step I've seen to date on this show. But I disagree in re Katey Sagal. that would have been a gag -- not casting. And she's too busy playing a biker moll on FX to do a guest gig on this show....

Lisa, do you think Piers really thinks it's great for people to live like rockstars as long as they show up on time for work? Or was he just sucking up to Charlie to keep him talking?

Can't blame Piers for trying to gin up some press for his show. But I'm guessing even he would acknowledge that how a person behaves once they show up for work is also important. And if Sheen was talking on the set anything like he's talking now--  about the  show's exec producer Chuck Lorre,  and defending himself  "violently through violent hatred", etc. --  it was maybe not the greatest environment for the kid on the set.  Angus is 17...meanwhile,Sheen has acknkowledged he sometimes didn't show up for rehearsals during one of the interviews on his Scorched Earth Media Tour....and, didn't Sheen acknowledge that sometimes when he'd been on a bender and was on the set the next day shooting an episode,  he'd have to  move off his mark to lean against a chair and otherwise compensate, which he said was the mark of a real pro?... And, in conclusion, if, as Charlie Sheen suggests, he IS the "Two and a Half Men" brand, it's a sad truth that advertisers may start to get nervous about attaching themselves to him as his benders get more and more interesteing:  call girls locking themselves in the bathroom to protect themselves from him, winding up in hospital after particularly interesting night's activities , Aspen arrests on charges he threatened his wife, blah, blah, blah....Sadly for Sheen, even in Hollywood there appears to be a threshold over which people who are going to Be the Brand cannot cross without causing the corporations financing them to get the vapors. It would appear Sheen found that threshold and lept over it like a young gazelle in springtime...

So a repeat of "Two and a Half Men" was the top rated program on Monday night? How does Charlie Sheen keep on WINNING?!

Okay, here's where I jump in and say that SOME of the credit for this show's success must surely be owing to exec producers Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, cast members Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Holland Taylor, and Conchita Ferrell...

Lisa... I have a confession to make: "Perfect Couples" is actually starting to grow on me... I know that NBComcast will probably cancel it, so I'm being careful to stay relatively unattached, but does this make me a bad person? In particular, does it make me a bad twenty three year old heterosexual male? I value your opinion.

How do you tell the difference between this show and "Traffic Light" on Fox?  I've tried -- it's can't be done!

Hey, Pookie: I watched a delightful interview with Hugh Laurie on the "Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson" this week. Imagine, no interview notes and not one mention of "House"! ~ just a couple of old friends from the U.K. chatting and truly enjoying a bit of camaraderie. Reminded me of the days of Dick Cavett. Why don't we see more of this on late night TV?

Excellent question! Though, fact is, you do get more of it on Ferguson's show than elsewhere....that said, we should acknowledge Laurie just being on the show is plugging "House" which has a Very Special Storyline in the works..

Does anybody else remember when Charlie Sheen was doing all this atonement for his previous debauched lifestyle and embracing a "clean lifestyle" right around the time he landed the series lead on ABC's "Spin City" replacing Michael J. Fox? So weird to watch those older interview versus the current ones.

Hey -- I think you just solved CBS's "What are we going to put into the Monday 9 o'clock timeslot next season if Sheen doesn't re-enter the earth's atmosphere by then?" question! They could juxtapose old and new Sheen interviews....

Mike Huckabee might want to think twice about knocking Natalie Portman's baby. That thing's going to blow up the Death Star one day

Ah, the 50's -- good times I'm told.

Prediction right now that Jimmy Fallon will do his Charlie Sheen impression tomorrow on NBC's Saturday Night Live. 

I too am hoping he is written into some SNL Charlie Sheen sketch on the show because his impersonation is spot on...

Previously Craig Ferguson said he wouldn't do any Britney Spears jokes. Now he says he won't do any Charlie Sheen jokes. At least he's consistent.

I admire him for having standards...

Could CBS just take a page from CSI and launch a new show called 2 and a Half Men Seattle?

Or, they could replace Sheen with another actor playing a different character, like Sheen did on "Spin City." Granted the show didn't last a whole lot longer -- only a couple seasons -- but if  CBS could get a couple more seasons out of  "2.5M" I'm sure they'd be thrilled... it's already in its eighth season -- that's pretty old....

Why is it o.k. to call Charlie Sheen crazy? Are you a board certified, licensed psychiatrist or psychologist? All of these TV doctors giving their opinions should be suspended for dispensing advice without having examined the patient.

One of our live chats this morning was with a celebrity therapist.

I don't think I've called him crazy during this chat. And, in re my new producer's comment -- what the heck is a celebrity therapist? A therapist for celebrities, or a therapist who IS a celebrity?  Did we host Dr. Phil? Awesome!

I wish we had Dr. Phil on our live online lineup. Can anyone put us in touch? Maybe we can get Lisa to interview him?

You like this show? My wife and I are loving it, William H. Macy is a given for an Emmy, watch out Don Draper!

I can't watch's too depressing.

Unlike the previous poster, I am a heterosexual male that can't stand "Perfect Couples" and believes it is wasting the talents of the waitress from "It's Always Sunny." I assume if NBC cancels "Perfect Couples" it is a good sign Community will be renewed?

All bets are off in re NBC and I'm not making any predictions. New owners, new programming chief -- nothing on which to base educated guesses -- not that I ever really needed anything to base my guesses on. Heck, I'm answering questions based on dreams I had the other day...

I have to disagree here. I thought casting Shelly Long last season as Claire Dunphy's mom was genius for two reasons. #1, she actually looks like she could be Claire's mom and, #2, she perfectly embodies the type of person Claire referred to in that first episode: "Remember that little voice in your head when you were a kid, telling you you weren't good enough? Well, mine was outside my head driving me to school." For what it's worth, I also thought casting Fred Willard as Phil Dunphy's dad was genius.

Love Fred Willard. Not so sure in re Long...

I remember when he first started on "Spin City" and he hosted SNL. The "audience" peppered him with questions about drugs and hookers, and then Sheen paid a guy who actually saw the movie "Men at Work," which contained the immortal line: "I hate rent-a-cops, too!"

If NBC was smart, they'd re-run that episode of "SNL"...

What exactly amazed you (the questioner) about them? I know "amazing" is the only three-syllable word most actress types can pronounce, but do we have to hear it a hundred times a day? How about "beautiful," or "stylish," or "fabulous"?

Chatter who used "amazing" in that question -- you've just been smacked on the cheek with the yellow kid-skin glove. Your response?

I'm sorry, you liked that? Did it look better on video?

Great in photo, great in video. It was --  dare I say it -- an AMAZING dress! And I mean "amazing" in the "gorgeous,"  "refreshingtly different," "perfectly draping," "magnificently beaded," and "overall fab" sense...

May 18, 1992 was the date that Murphy Brown gave birth to her son that she named Avery. So he turning 19 years old this May. With all the Murphy Brown mentions this week over the Huckster's remark on Natalie Portman, maybe a TV ex should pitch the idea of bring back Murphy Brown as a secondary character where her son is journalist student/political blogger?

Played by Rob Lowe? Too old?

Pookie, I adore you, so PLEASE tell me you were joking when you asked how to tell the difference between "Traffic Light" and "Perfect Couples"! The former has likable characters, at least a few laugh-out-loud lines per episode and a light, breezy tone. The latter has grating characters and annoying stories that could just as easily be on "Better With You" (which you are spot-on about, I hasten to add).

Yes, it was a lame joke. I'm just struck by the incredible coincidence that two shows with virtually identical premises came on the air on two different networks at virtually the same time. Yes, one is executed well-ish and the other not at all..

So, Better Off Ted is better than Better With You, but Better With You is doing better than Better Off Ted?

"Better with You"  is doing better than "Better off Ted" because "Better with You" got the better hammock -- between "The Middle" and "Modern Family."... Poor "Better off Ted" had "Scrubs" for a leadin for a while. tragic...

Just check SNL Archives website, and an impression of Charlie Sheen hasn't been done in years. Last time was Mike Myers and before that David Koechner. Charlie Sheen guest hosted on 2001/01/13 during his whole atonment phase including a skit where he mocks himself for going to hookers before. 

OMG -- SNL would do a HUGE number if they re-aired that -- if they promoted it ahead of time...

I am having my DNA analyzed. If they find I have tiger blood, does that mean Charlie Sheen is my father?

Child support!... Lucky, lucky you!

Let's get to the important stuff... what about Idol?

No kidding! We need to discuss Ashthon. As in -- really? But I'm happy Jacob and Casey are in the finals, though there was never really any doubt, was there? Did everyone love, as much as I did, the his-and-her pirate costumes Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez wore on the show last night?

1. Clearly your family cares about each other. We have no such evidence for the Sheen family. (That's not to say they don't--we just don't know. But I will say the silence is deafening.) 2. It's very, very difficult to get someone committed in such a fashion and most states have strict laws about what a person has to be threatening before they'll allow that.

wait a sec, are you saying if sheen's family members aren't giving interviews -- see "silence is deafening -- it means they don't care? Can't SOME of this story play out in private?

Did you hear about last night's "Jeopardy!" where the category was animals whose names start with body parts, and a Double Jeopardy clue showed a small rodent along with the information that its fur is 30 times softer than human hair. The poor contestant couldn't think of the correct answer, er, question, so in desperation apologized then asked "What is a titmouse?" (which happens to be a bird, but never mind). Pookie, at that moment I did a spit-spray worthy of Danny Thomas! Can't you hardly wait to see SNL revive their "Jeopardy!" skit with a category like that?

Someone invite Ken Jennings on SNL, please. He doesn't even need to host. I think he's just funny.

Forget Jennings -- I want to see Watson host "SNL"... and I'm sorry I missed that titmouse classic. What was Trebek's response to that error? Surely he had something snarky to say...

The color was nice but the bodice seemed to put a big ring around her breasts.

I will not rise to the bait -- it was gorgeous.

> Played by Rob Lowe? Too old? I have a huge craving for more James Franco! Love you, divine one, and share your admiration for Blanchett's dress.

James Franco would do every scene staring at the cards, smirking, and refusing to make eye contact with anyone else in the scene... And then rush off to class. No thanks -- not for me!

Why all the hate for "Better With You"? I like the storytelling device, with it flipping between the three couples, and besides the scary idea of spending that much time with one's parent in adulthood think it's a non-terrible way to spend 21 minutes before "Modern Family" starts. It's not a great TV show, but it's not like the show is "According to Jim" bad.

It teeters towards "According to Jim" bad but is undeniably not as bad -- mostly because Belushi is not there to take his shirt off, like he was on "Jim"...I like to call "Better's" timeslot  the 'walk the dog' timeslot.... That's a joke. There's been a running battle in the TV industry for years as to who first coined the phrase...It's actually as old as the hills, so dont you let anybody tell you they invented the expression... But I digress. Where were we?

Where was all of his outrage when Bristol Palin got pregnant?

Hey -- I'm liking your thinking! Natalie Portman should go on "Dancing with the Stars"  to re-do her image. That is brilliant. And, dare I say it -- amazing!

Now that Simon is gone, they need to get Charlie Sheen as a guest mentor to completely traumatize this year's touring group.

You guys are programming geniuses....

Many thanks for pointing out the satellite characters on 2.5 Men -- I can't stand Sheen ever since I heard he's a 9/11 truther, but still love the show. Any ep with Holland Taylor is automatically one the highpoints of the season. Anyhow, a question: what the heck is the CW doing with putting Nikita & Vampire Diaries on hiatus until early April? Nikita's gone from being just an OK show to an excellent one, and it strikes me that they're killing any momentum it might be gaining in finding an audience.

Usually that tactic is employed when a network  only has enough original episodes for the May sweep... I didn't say it was smart tactic -- just the usual tactic...

Seacrest wasreally at his knife-twisting best last night, I thought. It seemed like for each contestant, when he had them up there, he took time to bring up some past criticism or screw up, to make them squirm as he asked "How were you feeling when that happened?" Classic Ryan.

The guy's a live-TV genius. Seriously. It's hard to do while keeping the train running on time...

No, you also have to have magic and poetry in your fingers.

yes, that would be another test you'd have to pass before child support money would be coming your way...

Did you see the jab he took at Sheen on Twitter? Saying he wouldn't be replacing Sheen on "2.5 Men" but that Martin Sheen had asked if Stamos could be his son?

See, I dont' think of it as a jab, so much as an elegant and witty response to Sheen having said, in one of his Scorched Earth Media Tour interviews -- honestly I've lost track of which interview he said what in -- that if Stamos were cast on "2.5M" as had been speculated, the show would "suck"....

was he wearing one of Paula Abdul's blouses last night?

No, silly -- it was his pirate costume! I think some clever wardrobe person working on the show found the Puffy Shirt from that classic episode of "Seinfeld" adn died it fuchsia and handed it to Tyler. It was vivid. I loved it. I have become a huge Steven Tyler fan.

I loved it too! I get it that not everyone gets it, but I think she and that dress were flawless.

The comments of support are pouring in. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone.

I think the very fact that the family is NOT commenting means they care. What, more publicity is going to make the situation better? Really?

You mean Michael Lohan is doing it all wrong?

I thought it was amazingly hideous.

....and some not in support....

What was up with the guy in the jacket with the roses? And it was a little painful to look at Naima with her big hair flower, blinding red lipstick, seashell neckalce and multi-colored dress. Does Idol just open a giant clothes closet for these kids and tell them "go nuts"?

Don't forget -- these are the "Before" outfits. Half the fun of "Idol" is watching their make-overs. Anyway, it amuses me and that's what counts when you're blogging a show for five months...

...has already come back to TV, as the mom of Cuddy on "House." Candice Bergen was both frightening and terrically funny opposite Hugh Laurie in her two episodes earlier this season. So to my question, what is the definition of stunt casting? Bergen was given high quality scenes which fit the tone and direction of the show quite well, so I don't put this into the stunt category at all. Shelley Long on the other hand...

I think it's like porn -- you know it when you see it....

A vote for "hideous".


Seriously, I need to pay more attention to the outfits. And I already deleted the episode from my DVR? I deliberately DVR'd the SD version -- did it need to be in HD for the pirate-ness to come through?

It was definitely more pirate-y in Hi Def but I think it coudl withstand standard def too. They don't post full Idol epsiodes, but I think Fox posts clips of the show on and I'm sure you can catch at least a fleeting glance at the Pirate Shirt... I'm out of time. Thanks for all the great questions/comments. See you next week...

What did Huckster say about Natalie Portman?? I must have missed that in all my Charlie Sheen overload.

Here is the information for those wanting to know...

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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