On Regis, Gervais at the Golden Globes, and Community: Lisa de Moraes' TV Column Live

Nov 18, 2011

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes chatted about the Fall television lineup. See below to see what questions readers brought up and what Lisa had to say about in response.

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I watched Katie Couric's Regis Philbin special last night. About half of it was about her. The ABC cameras following her around, bringing him coffee in the morning, talking about the "thing" he said he had for her, and on and on.

The wonder is it was only half about her... In fairness, have you ever watched a Barbara Walters special on some star -- watch Babs ride a motorcyle with Sylvester Stallone -- see Barbara dance the tango with Patrick Swayze...Di is cut from the same cloth...it's positively epidemic...

In your opinion, did Eddlie Murphy have a legitimate reason for bailing on The Academy Awards hosting duties, or was it a convenient excuse to get out of it? BTW, Pookie, I hope you and your dog have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!

He absolutely had a legitimate reason for bailing -- the producer who picked him quit. Brett Ratner "resigned" after having a candid talk with Howard Stern about the size of his family jewels, his prowess as a stud muffin, and after making a homophobic crack at a screening of his movie "Tower Heist" in which Murphy stars. Wish Murphy had waited another day before resigning, because one of the heads of the company that  produced "Tower Heist" -- Brian Grazer -- wound up replacing Ratner right after Murphy announced his resignation. Maybe he should have stuck around -- it would have been great exposure as he tries to mount a career comeback, and I think he would have been terrific. 

Hi Lisa, I had written in earlier about being disappointed in the new show New Girl and you told me to stick with it. I have and still didn't really see the charm until the Thanksgiving episode this week. I was laughing hard through the whole thing. I hope this is a sign that its finally turned the corner and I will love it from now on. Did you like the episode?

I've loved every episode -- even the ones that weren't quite right. Cute premise, well executed...I've even gotten over the cast change after just one episode, which was very weird...

TV doesn't seem to have a term equivalent to "Old Hollywood," but Regis represents a far different era for the medium. I hadn't known that he got his start on the pre-Carson Tonight Show as a page and later an announcer. I hear jokes about how Regis' broadcasting style seems ossified, but from my viewing, he owns the fact that he's "old television" and plays up to it when bantering with Kelly. Is that your impression?

And yet, have you ever seen a hair dye job like Rege's --  and those impossibly white teeth...There's a certain amount of old-guy-in-young-man's-medium insecurity going on there... And I hate to see you so pessimistic about the future of talk  show TV. There's lots of good talk-show hosting going on right now -- best in a long time... Fallon has been a revelation, and Kimmel's hitting his stride, Ferguson's unabashedly silly which is actually quite brave, etc...

(submitting early because I always forget on Friday). Have the late starts for CBS shows on Sunday night hurt their ratings? Seems like the NFL late game always runs over, pushing everything back by at least 30 min. CBS has some of its best shows on then, would seem like a bad time for a screwed up schedule.

You kidding? CBS prays for those overruns -- because they totally goose the network's primetime ratings. If you can get the football crowd to stick with you into primetime, you're golden...

Hi Lisa, last night was the first THM that did not rely on any Charlie references to get laughs. I thought it was pretty good. Jon Cryer carried the show and was great. Also very little AK helped a lot. How do you think the show is going so far?

The more important question is: how does the head of CBS think the show is doing so far. Yesterday, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves got interviewed at an industry lunch by Variety's brilliant and charming TV columnist/critic Brian Lowry and said Les was very happy with the show's ratings and happy with it creatively and happy with Kutcher with the notable exception of Kutcher's idiotic tweet about the Penn State coach..notice how Kutcher announced after apologizing for the tweet that he was turning over his twitter account to his publicist -- which is sort of the same as saying he's retiring from twitter...guess we now know why...

I heard an ESPN host lamenting the cancellation of "Prime Suspect" this morning. He really liked it, but I didn't care for Maria Bello's character, and couldn't watch it.

He may have liked it, but it wasn't "Prime Suspect." That's the problem with taking a well known franchise that starred a brilliant actress and totally gutting it.. By calling it "Prime Suspect" you're going to attract fans of the British original, which starred Helen Mirren. Then you've gutted it and paid no respect to the original so they're all going to be disappointed. Meanwhile, people who did not like the original will stay away... Net gain: 0...why bother paying for the rights to the franchise if you're going to gut it...it's a mystery to me.

Why, Lisa, why did NBC pull "Community" from its lineup?! This is clearly the darkest timeline.

They needed a timeslot for "30 Rock" which has been on the bench so far this season...they may have only ordered a half season of "Community"...NBC has too many comedies for its Thursday comedy block, so they have to learn to share the slots...

How bad has the writing become on Big Bang Theory? I barely made it through the episode two weeks ago when the women went on a bridezilla safari, but I couldn't take all of last week's episode in a single dose. I watched half and came back for more when I had nothing on my stomach. Have they totally rotated their writing staff--or do they just need to?

It would appear that when they moved the show to Thursdays to kick off a new comedy block on a new night -- no small task -- they decided they had to "broaden" out the show. What you're seeing is the result. I miss the old show too, but it's doing a good number, so you and I are just being quixotic...

I don't watch the morning infotainment shows, but Charlie Rose seems like a bad fit to me. What is CBS trying to achieve?

gravitas.... seriously. The newish CBS News chiefs have said they want their new show to be the antidote for the current rash of fluffy morning infotainment shows.

Are you talking about Damon Wayans Jr? Why was that weird? He was committed to Happy Endings.

It was odd that they did not simply re-shoot his scenes with the new cast member. That's how it usually is done when you have cast in the pilot someone for whom the show is their "second position" -- meaning they're on an existing show you hope will be canceled because if it isn't then they aren't actually available to do the new series.  Standard industry stuff...

I'm the first person to say Maria Bello is no Helen Mirren, but I was really enjoying the show. It's not gone for good is it? I'm still po'd at NBC for tossing away SouthLAnd to cable.

Gone, except for possible burned off remaining episodes...

What trash do you think will be taken out?

Excellent question -- you've been paying attention! NBC is doing so poorly you'd expect someone to get taken out there, but the network has a new owner,  so they'll probably be more patient... and it's too early for Fox to announce Steve Jones won't be back as host of "X Factor" next season -- I'll be sorry if they make that call. I've grown quite fond of Too-Tall Steve. He called Rihanna "You glorious, glorious lady!" last night.

Lisa, what's going on with the ratings of TBL? Jillian is gone and that tennis player is like nails on a chalkboard. I can't be the only one! Are there plans to replace her/efforts to bring back Jillian or are people tuning in no matter what?

Numbers not great on Biggest Loser -- series lows this season. NBC is hurting all over primetime...except football, of course...

Don't actors or hosts get new producers all the time? Forgive me if that's a dumb question, but if a producer quits, do other casts quit, too? And if he'd stayed, in what ways would it negatively affect him? In my work life, I've lost supevisors, managers, and directors, and it's just one of those things you learn to deal with. We at least give the newbie a chance.

This is a one-off -- a trophy show -- not a series. I think Murphy was comfortable with the idea of hosting because he trusted Ratner, but did not like the leap into the unknown once Ratner bailed. Plus, maybe you can take Murphy at his word that he wanted to give the new producer the opportunity to bring in their own person.  

What is she really up to and why the fluff part of the news? A segment that really does not need an on-air narrator. If she sits down with Brian Williams to introduce a story about puppies I'll hurl.

She's up to image promotion... She's going to "report" stories on people who are making a difference, or something like that...

I stopped watching in early 2011. Should I start watching again?

Golly yes. You just missed Rege signing off after 28 years. Your missing history sir -- or madam! And, this has been a good TV season to date.. unless you're NBC in which case it's been rotten.

Really? Chelsea? Ms. "I won't talk to the press" hired as a reporter?

oh,the irony, right?

Did you happen to see the Today show (4th Hour) when Kathie Lee was being driven to her show from saying goodbye to Regis? It was excruciating...Hoda had to run down the block outside of the studio with cameras because KL was late arriving to live TV. But, the best was a camera and mic in the car with KL...she was going on and on complaining about Gelman and the goodbye, not knowing she was being shown on the air live.

So sorry I missed that..What exactly was her complaint about Gelman and the goodbye -- not enough screen time? I need details!

That the mid-season replacement shows on NBC tank so that they bring back Community, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the most refreshing shows on TV?

Odds are in your favor, based on NBC's new-series performances so far this season...

Can networks just keep a rotation of brilliant but low-rated shows with small but rabid fan bases and low production costs on year round so there's always something (for me) to watch?

If everyone would agree to huge salary cuts, the networks could "afford" to do that little thing... the costs of series production these days are insane...

What will be the next show to be cancelled outright (rather than just put on "hiatus" until mid-season, or later)? And how long will NBC stick with talking heads in the time slot vacated by the season's early fatality, "The Playboy Club"?

based on ratings, it should be "Rock Center" -- and fast... Dipped as low as 3.4 million in its first weeks... how clever of NBC News to have managed expectations by holding a news conference phone call in which they said they expected the numbers to be lousy. And,they were right!

We had a discussion a few weeks ago about the kid that plays Luke on Modern Family. A chatter mentioned that he is really smart and you expressed skepticsm. However, this kid is brilliant. He is actively involved in Mensa and is a little braniac. I saw him on a talk show and was very impressed with him.

What talk show? I'd love to watch that epsiode...

Lisa, When is Cougartown coming back? Is it coming back? Thanks!

Don't have the date on me. but yes, it is coming back..

I know, I know, it's the "Divine" Ms. deM - not "Devine" (Channeling Andy Devine from my childhood?)

I am a firm believer in creative spelling....I'm very good at it myself...

So many great "network" shows seem to end up in the scrap heap due to low ratings (Community, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks) while cable networks churn out great stuff with much lower numbers and rack up the Emmys. Will "network" TV become a bastion of reality heck while cable/AMC/HBA be where quality TV goes to live?

FIrst: Community was not canceled an all you Community fanatics need to calm down....second, cable TV and broadcast TV are different beasts. If only broadast networks could pay cable rates for programming, rerun episodes to death, and tackle topics and use the kind of language, nudity, etc. that's so attractive to viewers -- and allowed on cable networks, but would result in hefty fines to broadcast stations --  then we'd have a level playing field and this would be a fair comparison. But none of the above is the case....

How much influence did NBC exert on the HFPA to get Ricky Gervais back as the host? As a non-Hollywood insider, I am delighted. I imagine the Hollywood egos are less than delighted.

Here's a secret: Hollywood couldn't care less about Gervais's cracks, within 24 hours of the show. What they care about for this year's Globe telecast is the following:

Will they be nominated

Will they get a good table

Will they be asked to be a presenter

Will they be assured an interview by Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet

Will that week's hot designer give them a gown

Will the show pop a big number in the ratings.

If the answer to all of the above is "yes" -- then the head of Parents TV Council could host and they'd deal with it...


why is he leaving his show? As I understand it, he is not retiring. I haven't watched a minute of the show in years, but when I was home with little ones I enjoyed it. Is it all about ratings? The send-off is kind of unseemly since the powers-that-be are forcing him out. Show biz is rough!

What has led you to believe he's being forced out? He may have decided to cash out during contract talks, but I dont' remember reading anywhere that he's being pushed out...

I'm a huge fan of Ricky's, but why do we have to go through this dance every year? Ricky hosts the show, some people act offended (I don't believe for a minute they are), he says they won't ask him back, then he says they may have him back, and then it's announced he will be back. Then he says that it will be his last year because he will host with no holds barred. Is this the year he really goes all in and gets fired for real? Somehow I doubt it.

You forgot that every year he says he doesn't want to host again because he's too hip and real for the room...anyway, yes it's all a silly game and hopefully they'll all stop pretending they don't all love it... The Globe hosting gig is the best thing that's happened to Gervais since the British version of "The Office" was brought to the U.S. -- before the NBC version...  

The Devine Ms. deM: Always being at the far, far, rear of the pack, I've watched a couple of "Modern Family" (s) and don't find it that funny, although I'm a big fan of Ed O'Neill. Does this mean I'm totally out of it?

Hi again Creative Speller Person. I wondered what your other comment was in re.... Anyway, it does, sadly, mean you're totally out of it, but it's okay because while yes this is a very popular comedy series, there are still tens of millions of other people who don't watch this show.

Do mid-season replacement shows normally have a better or worse track record of success than shows with a fall launch?

Once upon a time, a midseason start was considered a bad thing, a put-down -- like being the understudy instead of the star. These days, it's a plus because the network can devote all, or most, of its promo and marketing attention on your show that week -- as opposed to being part of the ridiculous clutter of Premiere Week. THE most buzzed about new show this season is NBC's "Smash" which is midseason -- held so as to follow the return of "The Voice." ...

What are the chances Community might go to another network? I know these things must depend on who owns the program, the contract clauses, the salaries folks are willing to take....

Well, until NBC cancels it, the chances are zero...where are you guys getting the idea it was canceled?

Maybe this is really for Celebritology, but didn't Katie's cheeks look awfully plump yesterday? She looked oddly unnatural, yet with enough little wrinkles around the eyes that it wasn't totally clear what, if anything, she's Had Done. (Perhaps that's the point?)

Are you suggesting she got a Greta Van S before starting her new gig?

Lisa, I love your column. I just wish I could tell from the website when a new one is published. (Producer, if you step in here and tell me to bookmark her page, like we're apparently supposed to do with every single Post writer we like reading, my head will explode. Also, please don't tell us Post.com is working to fix it because I stopped believing that about a year ago.)

Sorry you have had trouble with this.

There are a number of ways to get Lisa de Moraes' multitude of material without bookmarking this page. Twitter users will find that her blog content on the WaPoTeamTV Twitter account. The television page has all of our TV coverage including Lisa, Hank, and more. RSS readers  - here is the link to TV content. You can get a customized email every day with just Lisa's columns by signing up for a newsletter and clicking "Customize Today's Headlines & Columnists".

Thank you. And here is the answer ,  from my producer. ..

I watched this for the first time the other night and it's quite the ride. In the first place, by the end I still wasn't sure who was dead and who wasn't, as everyone seemed to be raggedy and blood-soaked and out to get each other. As there wasn't a time where it slowed down enough to have a moment of quite reflection on the subtler plot points (oh, wait...). I don't think I'll watch again. How's it doing?

FX is very pleased and it's popular internationally, which bodes well for the show. Yes, it's a wild ride and short on "subtler plot points" -- but I think Ryan Murphy is going more for the "Saw" experience than the "Vertigo" experience.

Angelina Jolie may still be angry at Ricky, but I saw Gervais and Johnny Depp on the Graham Norton Show the other night and Depp obviously has no hard feelings. In fact, he appears as himself in an episode of Gervais's new BBC show in which, behind a cigarette and dark glasses, he refers to the Golden Globes and says it didn't bother him because, after all, he's a huge star whose movies have grossed billions. Stammering, Ricky says, well, I write, produce and direct my own films, Depp smiles thinly and replies, "I'm sure that's every satisfying for you."

Hilarious...and,  almost as if Gervais had reached out to the people he nicked on the last GG broadcast. ..Maybe he's not the devil-may-care guy he purports to be.

I am appreciating American Horror Story for many reasons -- one of the main ones being Jessica Lange's scenery-chewing absolutely over-the-top performance. Is the show performing better than expected? Should she be dusting her mantle for an Emmy?

A Golden Globe for sure... and that's where she belongs, really...

I appreciate Melissa McCarthy. I really do. Bridesmaids was great. But Amy Poehler was robbed of that Emmy. Just saying ...

You are preaching to the choir, Truthteller.... McCarthy was great in Bridesmaids. In "Mike & Molly" -- not so much. I blame the material.. There's only so much you can do with humiliating fat gags...

Hi! Well, I gave the post-Carell The Office the college try, but I just don't care for the enhanced role of Andy. And it got me thinking - has there ever been a show where the replacement of the lead character/actor was actually better? In the haze of my mind I think there was at least one, but I'm having trouble seeing it clearly. :) Thanks!

Well, technically it's an ensemble, so maybe "Cheers" chick change counts? And how about husband on "Bewitched" going waaaaay back... We need a list...

After watching a few episodes of Up All Night, I've realized what sort of comedy Lorne Michaels specializes in: the unfunny kind. It's like they took Cougar Town, removed all of the funny parts and replaced them with the unfunny parts of 30 Rock. No one watches NBC because the shows are bad, but because no one watches NBC, bad shows remain on the lineup. It's quite the quandary.

I don't think the shows are bad -- they're just niche-y. NBC decided years ago to stop being a broadcaster and start being a cable network. Only problem is, they don't enjoy the content freedom -- nor the financial model -- of a cable network. Hence, the whole programming to margins push. And it's been downhill ever since. The new grand master of programming, Bob Greenblatt is a brilliant programming exec, but he's best known for having produced "Six Feet Under" and for the great job he recently did at Showtime...It remains to be seen if he can restore NBC as a broadcast network, attracting broadcast-sized crowds...

Pookie, Wednesday's column headline ("Southwest, the Kardashian of airlines, lands second reality series") made me snort Diet Coke all over my keyboard. My IT guys were not happy with me.

Thanks! Diet Coke's bad for you anyway -- and apparently bad for keyboards...can't wait for TLC's take on Southwest airlines. It's like a match made in heaven. Southwest can keep on booting celebrities and TLC will be there to catch the action. If I were a C or B-lister, I think I'd avoid flying Southwest for the duration...

Why do you call him too tall?

Because he's, like 6'7" or something like that. And the singing competition he hosts, "X Factor" accepts singers who are quite young -- as young as 13 is the cutoff age I think -- so he looms over some of the X-testants... I think Rachel Crow comes up to his waist... But, like I said, I have gone from being a Steve Jones skeptic to his biggest fan. Simply adore him!

What does Community getting "benched" mean for the shows long-term prospects? Is there any chance that the show gets a fourth season? Can a campaign by the fans to save Community have any impact? What is NBC going to replace Community with? From Jordan in Tacoma

Well, "30 Rock" has been "benched" in the fall for the past few seasons and I don't see NBC canceling that one...

I remember him when he had his local show in New York, and couldn't stand him then. It's amazing how people with seemingly no talent, personality, or looks can be so successful in show business. Philbin is like the curmudeonly uncle you cringe over when you have to see him on holidays. I'll be glad when the farewell brouhaha settles down and his mug goes away from every newspaper and magazine. Now if we could only get rid of the ads....

You'll live to regret this, because for the next 18 months or so Kelly Ripa's going to run amok, being the only star of the show.. Sure she'll have "guest" hosts but the show will be called "Live with Kelly" and that's something we never wanted to see happen...

I thought the Nov 16 Modern Family was one of the funniest I've seen. Unfortunately, every laugh instigated another coughing spasm. But was my perception off because of my narcotic cough syrup? The Middle cracked me up as usual, but my drugs did nothing for Happy Endings. It got no laughs or coughs, codeine or not. And before you question the quality of my cough syrup, I'm on three extra meds, so. I can watch anything on my DVR without fear of hacking up an organ!

I want to come over to your house to watch TV, if you're sharing.... Anyway, I can't remember which episode it was of Modern Family I saw the other day that I thought was one of the funniest things I'd seen in ages and ages - it was the one in which Cameron and Mitchell are given someone elses identical car by valet parking at a party and discover the mistake half way to their house. If this is the same episode, I laughed myself sick watching that one -- and without narcotics....not that there's anything wrong that that.

Is it me, or has the Today show become a snoozefest? The chemistry between Ann Curry and Matt Lauer is lacking. Natalie Morales and Samantha Gutherie are bland. So, I tuned into GMA one morning and was impressed -- the chemistry among the news team is great and the show itself is upbeat. Adding Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer was a good move.

Winkie has put his foot down, in re my watching morning infotainment programs. He would rather watch squirrels at the park hiding nuts. He says he finds the squirrels more thoughtful, and interesting. I tend to agree with Winkie....I'm out of time. Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving week. No chat that Friday -- see you in two weeks.

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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