The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Aug 03, 2012

The Post's TV columnist Lisa de Moraes discussed the latest in TV news - on and off the screen.

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TLC to debut 'Breaking Amish'


TV critics suspicious about Animal Planet's 'Finding Bigfoot'


Kelsey Grammer jokes about low 'Boss' ratings on Starz, takes phone call in the middle of panel


Aaron Sorkin meets his 'Newsroom' critics at TCA press tour


Tippi Hedren's Hitchcock flashback


Ethel Kennedy insists she did not set up her grandson, Conor Kennedy, with Taylor Swift


'American Horror Story' will become 'American Horror Story: Asylum' for second season


Anderson Cooper's talk show planning many changes for Season 2


Larry King talks CNN's low ratings: "They have a difficult problem, and I wish them nothing but the best."


Comedian John Fugelsang developing a primetime show with Current TV


Olympics clocks huge ratings while The Trashing of NBC becomes a popular sport


AMC sends in the zombies -- this time, in its fight against Dish Network [VIDEO]


'Homeland' producer says climate of fear in U.S. affects storytelling


'Daily Show's' Larry Wilmore filming comedy special for Showtime


ABC pulls 'Trust Us With Your Life,' hosted by Fred Willard, from the schedule


Jeff Probst on Jeff Probst


CW president explains lack of zombies, 'Battle Royale' on network


CW to air 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' in October


CBS's 'Face the Nation' makes one-hour format permanent


TV critics question bona fides of CBS Sherlock Holmes drama and ‘Partners’ comedy


Martin Sheen to help Charlie deal with ‘Anger Management’


‘Modern Family’ cast and producers settle differences, avoid a lawsuit


David Letterman dodges TV critics trophy show because ‘it’s the night I eat glass’


London Games Opening Ceremony clocks record ratings


Jimmy Kimmel prefers ‘fellow shallow Hollywood stars’ to White House correspondents


Bristol Palin to ‘Dance’ again, since media won’t leave her alone

Hi from Beverly Hills. It's the last day of Summer TV Press Tour 2012. Today's headliner is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is the subject of an ESPN bio....Anyway,  thanks for joining me at this unusual's  this week's TV Column/Blog reading material. Let's get started...

Hello Pookie! Thanks so much for your -- oh, 'scuse me. Phone call... Gosh, I have to take this. It's my son's lacrosse coach. You don't mind holding up the chat while I take a call? Actually, could you switch the discussion to 2 p.m.? That time would be much more convenient for me. Tks.

Hi Pookster. Sorry for the time change -- on the bright side, it's the last day of Summer TV Press Tour 2012 and we'll go back to our regularly scheduled programming starting next week.

Lisa, you are the queen of snark, hand's down. You've had some great one-liners this week; this one in particular made me choke on my water, re: Monday's "ABC Pulls "Trust Us With Your Life" - with this bit: "....where he was arrested on suspicion of driving with one hand." Marry Me?

Let's date first -- mind? Poor Fred Willard's TV show hosting days seem to be behind him. PBS drops him and now ABC....

Why did the CBS morning show replace Erica Hill with Gayle King? Other than being Oprah Winfrey's best friend, does Gayle have any credibility?

Well, technically CBS News replaced Erica Hill with White House Correspondent Nora O'Donnell, but I think you really want to know why Gayle King is Charlie's Rose's co-anchor on "CBS This Morning." The answer is that they believe she has a "following" in her capacity as Oprah Winfrey's BFF and host of syndicated radio show, blah, blah, blah. Kind of like how Discovery thought giving Oprah the Discovery Health network to turn into OWN was a good idea because she had a following.

Lisa: Have you seen this? They are advertising the heck out of it on BBC America in advance of the premiere date. I love the ads and the fact that it's from Levinson and Tom Fontana.

Any drama from Levinson and Fontana is worth checking out. The guy running BBC America was a programmning suit at NBC for many years, where he first worked with them. Levinson and Fontana came to Press Tour and talked at length about it being a showcase for very early forensics...sort of a pre-CSI...

I know the networks think it's great filler -- especially during the summer months -- but ratings have been anemic for a number of shows. CBS pulled "3" after just two episodes. Do you think we may be nearing the end of this cycle and can get back to an actual creative era that necessitates REAL, trained actors, writers and other creatives who work so hard to produce original scripted programming? Thanks, JEM on the West Coast

Nina Tassler, head of CBS entertainment, talked about this during her Press Tour Q&A.... seems the broadcast TV summer model -- reality and reruns -- is not working out so well this summer, though summer standards like "Big Brother" are doing okay. But yes, the new reality shows aren't launching well. Seems we're full up. That's one of the reasons CBS decided to order "Unforgettable" for next summer -- the series CBS dumped from its "in season" schedule... Looks like the broadcast networks are going to have to get more serious about original scripted programming in the summer. Good news for Canada, right?

I'm sure you are sick of this by now but I disagree with your column on this subject. I get that NBC didn't have a choice really because of the time difference, but I think the coverage they are showing is horrible. A lot of us can't watch live streaming at work and the app on my phone doesn't seem to want to work anyway. So I don't particularly mind having to watch at primetime because I want to see certain events, but the coverage is sloppy. What is Ryan Seacrest doing? I am all for Team USA but I'd like to see other countries too. I mean they say so-so messed from country X but what do I know if I can't see it? (Talking about gymnastics here.) And could they cut the sob stories or weepy back stories or cuts to weeping/yelling parents? Of course, perhaps people love all that and I'm in the minority.

I have missed most of the Olympics so far because it coincided with Summer TV Press Tour 2012 -- not great timing on the TV Critics Association's part though I'm guessing CBS, Fox, ABC and the cable nets are fine with it... Anyway, you're preaching to the choir in re NBC's longtime practice of focusing almost entirely on U.S. competitors, or competitions they know U.S. audiences love to watch and/or they think U.S. will take the gold... And the treacle backstories, weeping parents, overcoming long odds, etc. with U.S. Olympians. NBC does that because it has worked for them -- really well -- at past Games.. And recent London Games ratings would seem to suggest U.S. viewers still love it and that you and I are in the minority. But, I'm with you on this.. Ryan Seacrest is there because they're grooming him for a bright future at NBC/NBCNews/Today....

So yes, NBC's coverage sucks. Not once, in 3 days of mens gymnastics competition, did we see the US men on still rings, just to name one example. Their packaging has sucked. But even worse has been every other media outlet in the US that has seen no problems with putting spoilers on their webpages, on the tickers at the bottom of the pages, in their news braodcasts or on their twitter feeds BEFORE THEY AIR, WaPo included. Once they air, fair game. But seriously? Now that that's out of my system, are Nashville and 666 Park Ave going to be as good as they look?

Olympics performances and wins are, you know, news outlets are going to cover it... But I get that it's impossible to avoid hearing news about various competitions before you can actually see it on NBC in primetime, if you can't watch NBC's livestream...Darn this pesky age of instant information!... until  NBC convinces the International Olympics Committee that the United State is, in fact, the center of the universe and all future Games need to be held in U.S.-convenient time zones, you'll need to avoid all social media, all news web sites, all sports TV networks -- basically, you should duck under your bed covers until primetime each night, to avoid all those Olympics Spoilers.....or, you can take the position that we're part of a the world community and it's our turn to deal with the spoilers so those nice folks in London's time zone can get a break this time and not have to deal with all the spoilers... I know, that doesn't work for me either, much.

What's about the strangest Show that's about to be offered? Breaking Amish seems like a hoot if they're starting to put flames on the sides of their horse buggies.

How many of these shows about producers taking Amish kids to the "big city" do we have to endure? Apparently non-fiction producers, and networks, do not watch each other's programming. TV critics have seen this about four times already and they were pretty unimpressed withTLC's new version in particular because the network and producers called it a "documentary" at the Tour yesterday, though the producers recruited these kids and are, it appears, footing the bill for these young Amish  and Mennonite folks to spend some time in the Big Apple for our entertainment, oh, excuse me, I meant "illumination".... it's not "strange" for those of us who've watched all the other "Real World: Amish" shows. It's old hat....

Why doesn't NBC show the big events live in the afternoon and then replay them in prime time?

NBC is streaming everything live. .I think that's pretty good... it's the first time they've done this.. And yet, they're getting no love...

Any chance the wins by "Homeland" and "Game of Thrones" in the TCA Awards ill translate into Emmy wins?

No. I mean to say the TV Academy voters are not the same as TCA voters. There's more overlap at, say the SAG Awards, Writers Guild Awards, etc., because those trophies are also being handed out by people in the industry and there's overlap of membership.

So will Ryan Murray try to push this off as a Miniseries to the Emmys next year, too? Will Jessica Lange get a special award for Scenery Chewing?

It seems, based on what everyone involved is saying, that Murphy and FX will submit "American Horror Story" as a miniseries at any trophy competition in which the show so qualifies... It's much less stiff competition that going up against, say "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad," etc...And yet, Jessica Lange deserves an Emmy, a SAG Award, and a Peabody for scene chewing.. .Can't wait to see her playing the head of a Catholic asylum for the mentally ill in New England, given Ryan Murphy's position on the Catholic church, and, I'm guessing New England. Me, I'm getting kind of tired of being preached at by Murphy, even when I agree with his positions, which is often...

Has Showtime finally put Jeremy Irons out of his misery and canceled The Borgias? I mean, in every episode his voice sounds like he's stepping on something.

But that's his own particular area of excellence! And, now, Showtime chief David Nevins gave no indication when he was here at Press Tour that "Borgias" is going away soon..

Couldn't he have just used Cinemax or the internet at home like everybody else? What will they do with his character on "Modern Family"?

Somebody -- I'm too zonked from more than two weeks of press tour to remember who it was, but some well known person in the biz -- said they were going to get Willard The Internets for Christmas, or something like that... Maybe he's just trying to support a local small business. Tiki Theater....

I'm loving everything about this faux-Clinton show, except for Ciran Hinds' Accent. Any chance they'll do a "Phantom Edit" where they'll replace his scenes via CGI with Darryl Hammond?

Or, just let Ciaran use some other accent....

How is Longmire doing? I like that show. Never see any press on it though, which is worrying.

Its last original epsiode clocked 4.5 million viewers which was a series high. I think last week's episode was a repeat, right? or did I just dream that?....

Where is Al Michaels? I like him better than Costas.

Hey, how's Mr. Costas doing at this Olympics. Golly I have so many hours of Games coverage to catch up on when the Tour ends... Today!

Do you think Vertigo is better than Citizen Kane?

No. For starters, "Vertigo" was shot on a big budget, because Hitchcock was a big deal at that time. "Citizen Kane" was shot for peanuts. It was an astounding accomplishment...I'm not a fan of "lists"  because they dont' put anything in context...

Well sure they have killer ratings, people want to watch, but the only choice is NBC. Sure, I like the swimming and gymnastics, but if they will focus on medals, can we get some shooting and archery too? Sports that aren't televised in non-olympic years are interesting, handball anyone? How about the 78kg Judo gold?

Archery is on one of NBC's cable nets -- sorry I dont' remember off the top of my head which one and, NBC Sports suits said in a phoner yesterday, has been among the most popular sports on cable. They give credit to "Hunger Games" etc...

Is the live stream affecting ratings at all? I love it -- I take a little "lunch break" mid-afternoon at work and watch. The announcers are so much better, esp. for gymnastics, and I just tune in at night occasionally.

NBC's primetime numbers are hitting record highs, so it appears the live stream is not hurting the broadcast network's ratings...

I can't watch the live coverage during the day because of my job, so I'm complaining about tape delayed events. But I can't stand the commentary. Like the opening ceremonies, the coverage manages to be both cloying and bombastic at the same time. Is NBC so afraid that the athletes' performances won't keep the viewers' attention that it needs to alternate screaming outlandish superlatives with sentimental sob-stories about how an athlete has overcome extraordinary odds? I end up muting the sound. Doesn't NBC do any focus groups about its coverage?

This is the problem with big ticket events like this and not unique to NBC. It's only a matter of time before the network overproduces the coverage, tries to turn it into a showcase for their own talent, etc... American TV likes to overproduce. I'm told BBC coverage of opening ceremonies was much better. Less chatter, more footage...

I am kind of excited that a lot of shows are returning in August - but why are they? I can see NBC pushing Grimm (which I was really surprised I liked) when nothing else is on but ABC pushing Happy Endings....and I just answered my own question. Keen Eddie!

CBS and ABC are opening most of their shows in Premiere Week. NBC is launching most of its shows early to try to take advantage of its Games audience. Two shows are actually being launched late at night after Games coverage. Those broadcasts are running without ads and will be called "sneak previews" and Nielsen will not rate them...

I was looking forward to deciphering this week's chat, without the letter M or H, for example.

I put a little chicken fat on my "P" key and it seemed to help. Don't tell IT, okay?

Live streaming with buffers on a computer screen is not the same as watching on TV. People have TVs for a reason, right??

You mean all those press reports about how nobody watches TV on TV sets any more is just hogwash?

Is it me, or does just about every cable channel stuff its poremires on Sunday night. OI have True Blood vs. Falling Skies vs. Breaking Bad vs. Weeds vs. Episodes. vs. Black Dynamite vs. Political Animals vs. The Newrsoom vs. Olympics Coverage!! Please find a way to spread them around!

Not going to happen. They've spent so many years trainign you that "Sunday is Cable Launch Night" why would they mess with success? It's like teaching a dog that "sit" means they have to put their rump on the ground, and then telling pooch that "sit" means "roll over." .. and the reason they've spent so many years training you is because Sunday is the night of highest HUT level -- that's Homes Using Television. And the broacast networks are the ones who trained America to love watching TV on Sunday night, before starting their work week... so, really, they're to blame, right?

Perhaps they wouldn't have so many if they didn't schedule it the same week as the press tour!

Wish they'd had this year's Press Tour in London.

Is it true he's shorter than Tom Cruise?

It was hard to tell during his Q&A because he was up on stage with only one other person, his new syndicated show's EP.....

This soapy soap is my favorite Guilty Pleasure of the summer. How is it doing ratings-wise? Good enough for the CW?

This week it logged 440,000 viewers. Even CW can't be too happy about that, though, as CW's president Mark Pedowitz notes, CW has become The Aggregation Network, what with its shows doing such big numbers (relative to their numbers on CW, that is) on other platforms, like Netflix, CW's new app, etc...

Do you think that NBC's commercials during the Olympics for their new fall lineup of shows are helping or hurting in terms of attracting potential viewers? Me, I find myself already deciding NOT to watch a lot of them just based on the ads!

Well that's obviously not the desired effect, and NBC's promo department would be to blame... Over the years, the various people who have run NBC have learned that a lot of the Olympics audience is a "borrowed" audience -- people who love the Games but not NBC's 18-34-year-old targeting shows, people who return to ESPN and regional sports network viewing when the Games are over, etc... But this is a new bunch of people in charge at NBC, and there is a certain amount of learning all over again going on at NBC. That said, the programming distribution landscape has changed a lot even since last summer Games, and NBC has lost so much circulation in primetime over the years that it's worth giving a shot, as NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said at the Tour.. Because, even if only half a million people who are watching the Games decide to check out one of the new primetime series, these days that's a big ratings bump for NBC in some timeslots..

I am disappointed that they are not interviewing the seats upon which the crying parents of the USA Athletes are sitting upon. Oh, and actual games too!

ooh snap! Oh, and I'd watch that interview... so long as it was done by Seabiscuit and he dropped Kim Kardashian's name at least twice...

The commercials for this new show are confusing, alarming (are we nuking Pakistan??) and yet intriguing. Should I bother to watch?

It's kind of silly, creator Shawn Ryan notwithstanding, but I'll watch anything with Andre Braugher in it. 

Is it true that ABC is deliberately tanking GAA so that Katie Couric's numbers will look so much better when she comes on in the Fall? Are they pulling a Chinese Badminton Team here? Why didn't they just keep All My Children?

No, ABC News is not deliberately tanking "GAA." .....BET session at press tour is starting. I've got to go.. Thanks for joining me for this shorter-than-usual chat. See you next Friday!

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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