Lisa de Moraes on the TV Column

Aug 05, 2011

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes is ready to chat about all the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes!


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I have been been binging on The Larry Sanders Show thanks to Netflix streaming; I did not catch this series when it was originally aired 15 years ago. Although I enjoy 30 Rock, the older show, in my opinion, blows it out of the water as a behind-the-scenes look at a television series. The Sanders Show had a better supporting cast, better writing, and the show-within-the show was much more believable. Perhaps it is not a fair comparison as the Sanders Show seemed to be going more for realism and 30 Rock often goes more for over-the-top satire. Any thoughts?

Greetings from Summer TV Press TourSame subject -- two very different approaches. Plus, let's cut "30 Rock" a break -- it has to churn out 22-ish episodes a season, compared to "Sanders" 14-ish per season. Someone at Press Tour yesterday -- wish I could remember who, but it's all a blur at this stage -- said the broadcast networks are seriously looking at how to make 13-episode orders work with their financial model.

Just wanted to say thank you, and thank heaven, for the blog. Paul McCartney's collarless jacket routine was hilarious. I sort of understand why you had to cut it from the column, because it took a while to set up. Until the day that Ye Editors realize you should have twice as much column space during press season, we are happy for the blog.

Thank you. I like to think I'm performing a public service, bringing you the latest fashion updates from Summer TV Press Tour 2011. Meanwhile, since you are clearly a serious student of television, I hope you toook the time to pour through Sarah Michelle Gellar's thoughts on being called a 32-year-old at the Tour....

So I read somewhere that it will be on Monday when it returns. So up against Castle? Not happy about that. I watch so few shows, why are the ones I like always at the same time?

It will not be on at 10 on its night -- it will be the early show in primetime, leading into NBC's new midseason show "Smash" which is being called "Glee" for adults. And, I might add, for fans of musicals who like an actual storyline.... it's about the staging of a Bway musical about Marilyn Monroe and will star 'American Idol' non-winner Katharine McPhee

It's a shame that after having raised over two billion dollars over 50 years that Jerry Lewis is getting dumped from the MDA telethon. I suspect that after this year, the final curtain will go down on the telethoon...after all who is going to tune in on the Jann Karl telethon? Couldn't the Reporters Who cover Television have shown the man a little more respect?

Yeah, Press Tour Goad the Old Guy is not a game for the faint of heart...And it is a shame he's being let go by the MDA for its telethon -- but, I'm guessing some of the public comments he's made the past couple years have given the organization heart palpitations..

Hi Lisa, I have pretty much had a major-network free summer (minus So You Think You Can Dance). I mean how much Gordon Ramsey does Fox think we want to see? And don't even get me started on those "game shows" like Minute to Win It or whatever other stupid premise is on tv this summer. Luckily I've been enjoying things like Franklin and Bash and of course the return of Project Runway. What are your favorite summer series?

You are chatting with a gal who is about to be subjected to a Gordon Ramsey breakfast...I am sticking with scripted fare this summer -- both new stuff on cable, Burnoff Theatre on broadcast, and all the shows that are clogging my DVR because I could not get to them when I was blogging "Dancing with the Stars" and "Idol" from Jan through May... For instance, I'm catching up on the entire last season of  "Two and a Half Men,"  so I'm ready to cover its first Sheen-less season in a few weeks...

Admittedly, I'm asking you because there's no sports chat until Monday, but the game WAS on television so it qualifies. Why, oh, why, did Johnson put Matheus in to pitch? There were Clippard, and Storen, and so many others available. Matheus gave up 3 walks and 3 earned runs and cost us the game. I think Clip or Drew would have held them & given us another chance.

Ask anyone -- they'll tell you I'm a sport moron. But I'm here facilitate conversation about all things TV, so if anyone has an answer, can you please jump in? I'll post...

I thought I heard "Fear Factor" was coming back to NBC. I always liked that show, it made me feel better about myself when I'd had a crummy day at work. I see there's a similar show on another network, but the host annoys me too much to watch it. So is the real FF returning, or what?

Oh, I forgot to mention... Owing to last week's chat having been aborted, I'm going to answer some of the questions we got last week that never got answered. This is one of them:

You're in luck -- it's coming back in the fall, and millions of  Americans will feel better about themselves each week. Presumably, NBC is in so much ratings hurt, "FF's" ratings around the time they scrubbed it now look like good numbers.  And, unlike a scripted show, they didn't have the herculean task of trying to re-sign a whole cast and writers  -- just the host.. And yes, Joe Rogan is coming back.

Last week, Pookie, you stated that there have been "LOTS of shows that critics were sure stank up the room, but which actual viewers adored." But what about the people in charge, the decision makers who put together these shows and compile the little preview clips? Don't they cringe when they see previews of "Whitney", or do they actually think it's funny?

Yes, they actually think it was funny. That's why they clipped it.. Whitney herself was here a couple days ago -- or was it last week, I can't remember -- and she was asked if she was concerned that we have seen soooo many clips of her new NBC sitcom "Whitney" -- not to be confused with her new CBS sitcom "2 Broke Girls" -- that by the time it debuts people will already have seen the entire first episode... we were told that it's still worth watching the first episode because then you'll see all the gags in order, like the producers intended.. and all the other bits deemed not promo-worthy.... Meanwhile, I think I'm suffering from some kind of syndrome, like that one kidnap victims get... I've watched the pilot and have seen so many of the promos so often, I'm starting to think it's a good show. ..Evil, evil NBC promo department!...

I like "Wipeout". It makes my face hurt sometimes, but once I start watching, I can't stop. Do you know how the show covers contestants' injuries, or are they on their own? Just viewing the show is enough to make me crave a massage, or a Vicodin.

I can't wait for the spinoff -- "Animal Wipeout".....kidding... I think.  Golly, I hope no reality TV producer is on this chat...

I was reading about the "Whitney" commercial comments, and I felt sorry that there are probably some advertising executives being run over the coals because some yahoos in the DC area don't understand jokes. So, I decided to watch them and I would then explain the humor. I have nothing. What were these advertising executives thinking? I see they have a new commercial. The good part is it provides Whitney's character some more depth. But seriously, would you advertise that she punishes her boyfriend with her voice? That seems to suggest you are going to punish America with her voice over a 30 minute period once a week. In sum, the actors are photogenic, they seem to deliver their lines well, but the commercials are not delivery an effective message, in my opinion. I now understand the Whitney ad controversy.

Thank you for your de-whatever-it-is-ization of the commercials... I need coffee..

Pookie, Because you're so wonderful, you're the only one that I'd allow to be so snarky (and on target) about my future husband, Anderson. Are his dreamy blue eyes as dreamy in real life?

Super dreamy... particularly when showcased with tight black T-shirt and black jeans...

From the TCA's coverage, it seems to big a Big Scoop that CBS is killing off Charlie Sheen's Character in the first episode. How else were they going to make sure he never comes back? a-DOY!

Ah! But you're forgetting about flashbacks. Even Chuck Lorre can't make flashbacks go away in TV...

Can you set the scene? What exactly happens on summer press tour?

Couple hundred TV critics, reporters, bloggers and tweets shack up at Beverly Hills Hilton hotel. Camp out during day in big ballroom while networks take turns trotting out their suits and new show creators and cast members. The press ask questions, get an answer, then play Competitive Tweeting to see who gets the quote up first and who gets the most re-tweets, then they high five the winner....Up on stage, the stars look miffed that the reporters are all staring into their laptops and iPads, and not paying any attention to the Louboutin shoes the network has provded them, or how fabulous their Brazilian blow-dried hair looks in the stage lighting when they flip it around. Sarah Michelle Gellar in particular, who has not been to a Press Tour since her "Buffy" days, marveled/complained to the press about how "You all have computers now" like she meant it to sting....

Dearest Pookie, I am a big fan of Burn Notice, but they are about to lose me if they can't fix Jeffrey Donovan's hair. Bad wig? Bad dye job? It is so distracting that I can' follow the plot of any episodes this season. Is there a TV complaint hotline (other than your chat) where I can voice my concerns? Can we start one?

I've seen so much bad hair the past few seasons on TV, I'm assuming TV hair is another victim of the lousy economy -- less money for hair and makeup. WaPoTeamTV's Emily Yahr tells me some bloggers have suggested he's wearing a bad toupee on "Burn Notice. You are not alone, if that's any comfort. .

Conan's TBS show is HARRIBLE. What's going on? I mean it is tediious and boring and just not funny. I'm just wondering why nobody in the media is calling him out on it? Are too many media members too friendly with Team Coco?

He does seem to be not trying very hard... and I'm guessing those reporters who became  card carrying members of Team Coco during the whole NBC kerfuffle are not going to be pointing this out. Did you see he got beat in the ratings by Chelsea Handler's late night show a few times recently?

One of my Favorite Guilty Pleasures last year. Have they had their show yet? How is Maggie Q?

CW day was yesterday, sharing the day with Showtime and, owing to some satellite appearances by Showtime on-air talent -- like Paul McCartney -- they had to flip back and forth between Showtime panels and CW panels. Talk about your Odd Couple!...But at the Summer TV Press Tour, networks seldom do Q&A sessions with returning shows -- they have so many new ones to present.. The emphasis here is on the new programs joining the lineup in the fall. This event is all about trying to get those shows launched successfullly.

Will the Rose character be back on "Two and Half Men"? I can see her stalking Ashton Kushner as a replacement for her lost Charlie.

Good question -- to which I do not have an answer....

From the promotional posters, it looks like she's going to be exploring her bad side this year (starting with a tryst in a $7200 hotel room!). Did that seem to be an indication from CBS?

Well, how many seasons, realistically, did they think viewers would put up with her putting up with her husband,   even if he is Chris Noth....

Oh Pookie, of course he could. Entire cast is in a car crash that kills Sheen's character and gives the rest of them selective amnesia. "Hey, some guy died in the crash with us. Do you recognize him?" "Nope - oh well. Say, what are we going to do with this bedroom that no one is using, and whose clothes are these?" Done.

Hi Chuck! Welcome to the chat.....

I think Jimmy is becoming my fav late night. His musically gags are brilliant. How is he doing rating wise? He seems som much more current than Leno.

Pookie, who, in late night, DOESN'T seem more current than Leno.. Except Charlie Rose....Fallon's doing fine in the ratings and, so long as he stays away from doing interviews at a desk, the content is great too. Interviews are his weak point.....

How long before Mandy Patinkin leaves this series?

Mandy Patinkin is usually good for two seasons on a broadcast show before he decides to bail. But broadcast seasons are 22 to 24 episodes long and Showtime orders tend to be for 13 episodes. It's kind of like dog years -- you have to do the math. I'm guessing that means he's good for 3-4 seasons, which is a good run on Showtime. BTW, the show looks good....

I think people are more interested in how Charlie will be permanently written out of Three and a Half Men than they are in Ashton's backstory. Probably good they didn't make him into a shirt-tail relation so he doesn't have to feign grief.

Yes, Pookie, that's why CBS programming chief Nina Tassler gave out information at the Press Tour about Kutcher's backstory but NOT about Sheen's character's exit.. But she squandered a great oppty. She only told the press Kutcher's character name and that he was a broken hearted Internet billionaire.. and they started tweeting madly and the name Walden began to "trend." She could have filibustered for her entire time on stage parsing out useless information about the character and the press would have gobbled it up and begged for more. "I can reveal: he is left handed." ..."And, I know I shouldn't let you know but, because I like you I will reval that he is also lactose intolerant." You would have seen "left handed" and "lactose intolerant" trending through the roof that day... sigh...

When does the D.C. Squirrel get his own TV series?

I am a HUGE fan of D.C. squirrels because they are TV for my dogs when I'm at work. They watch them out the window for hours and I am grateful for the service they provide. I think the Post should take a page from PBS's "Nova" and train a Squirrel-Cam on a squirrel family a PBS is doing a Nova in which they plant a remote camera over some hawk's nest to watch the family...

What? "Fear Factor" is coming back? But we dismantled the "Fear Factor" set on Universal Hollywood.

Apparently they saved the bits in some warehouse somewhere....Yes, it's coming back...

As a professional researcher and writer with no connection to "History Detectives," I feel compelled to respond to the TWO (!) messages the other week re the program showing use of Wikipedia in one segment. While Wikipedia is certainly unacceptable for definitively sourcing research, it is often easier to read and more to the point, so can serve as a useful starting tool -- especially leading to the external sources it cites, which can then be evaluated own their own scholarly merits. I suspect the messages your received may just have been someone "flaming" the show in order to further their own agenda. There, now I feel better!

...and I do too for having presented both sides of the argument... Session starting at the Tour. I' have to sign off. Thanks for joining me...

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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