The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Mar 08, 2013

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

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Are the rumors of Jimmy Fallon taking over for Jay Leno true? How soon is this happening? I'll be honest -- I haven't watched a late night show besides Jon Stewart and Craig Ferguson in years. I checked out whatever Conan was doing on TBS, but quickly lost interest.

Good afternoon -- welcome to TV chat!

It's not surprising that NBC would be using the post "Tonight" timeslot to groom the next host of "Tonight" -- and that obvious fact was reported quite a while ago by NYT - not sure why it's being re-reported again like it's news, by other publications. The question is when will it happen and so far everyone seems to agree it will happen when Leno's contract is up in '14. Reporters Who Cover TV point to NBC's concern about Kimmel moving in to the 11:30 p.m. timeslot but, in truth, Leno's beating Kimmel among young viewers.

Hey Lisa, just wanted to know if I am wasting my time watching "Monday Mornings." Do you think the show will last?

When it premiered, "Monday Mornings" clocked just  1.34 million viewers, after an episode of "Dallas" which I think scored nearly 3 million viewers that night. Not sure why TNT decided to launch "MM" in the dead of winter, but the results were not promising.  

Fox seems to be doubling down on its "be like NBC" strategy by renewing New Girl and the Mindy Project. What's the logic here? The ratings in the key demos aren't exactly stellar and Zooey Deschanel and Mindy Kaling can't come cheap.

Fox is bound and determined to get into the scripted comedy business. These shows are as good as any -- along with "Raising Hope" which also got renewed. Oh, and I don't think anybody's selling a "be like NBC" strategy these days, what with NBC doing so poorly.

Oh Pookie, I need to vent. Ted Shackleford did not age well. That twit playing Emma is a ding dong. And don't even get me started with Judith Light playing Mitch Pileggi's mama! In real life, she is only 3 years older than him! Argh. Thanks, feel better.

You are welcome -- glad you're feeling better.

I think I've got the solution to NBC's ratings woes. I just need to know how much it would cost to buy the syndication rights to all the CSI's, NCIS, and The Big Bang Theory...

Or, they could hire someone from CBS program development team to develop shows for them -- and they need to develop another competition reality series to fill in the gaps in the calendar year when "The Voice" is resting.  Let's not forget NBC started this TV season in first place -- and fourth to first is an impressive jump. NBC accomplished it with football and two nights of "The Voice."

Any suggestions on where I can find the final season of Damages? And, while we are on the topic, any explanation as to why such an incredible show never found a network home?

"Damages'" final season will be available on DVD this summer. And, it did find a network home -- it ran on FX for three seasons. If you're asking why it never aired on a broadcast network? -- the answer is  likely Glenn Close's unwillingness to commit to 24 episodes a season (the show averaged 13 eps per season on FX and 10 on DirecTV), and broadcast networks' unwillingness to buy a show starring a woman in her 60's -- Kathy Bates got very lucky with David. E Kelly and Warner Bros selling her to NBC and, in fact that show ultimately was canceled even though it was one of NBC's most watched programs, because the audience skewed old). Broadcast TV: No Place For Old Women.


Hey Pookie: As Jeffrey Zucker continues to put his imprint on CNN, I wonder why he doesn't integrate more of CNN International's programs and anchors into the mix? I think if he stopped worrying about prime time ratings, got rid of a lot of the lifestyle and entertainment fluff that's on domestic CNN during the day and, instead, focused on adding more international news and trends, it could be a more compelling network to watch. Since DirecTV doesn't carry either CNN International or Al Jazeera English, I find myself going online to find both of these outlets to satisfy my thirst for international news that's relevant and interesting, too.

You're joking, right? Zucker's the guy who had all hands on deck (sorry I couldn't resist) to give us wall-to-wall coverage of the Poop Deck limping into port...

Two things - will Heidi's new judge job prevent her from her PR duties? And, who will revamp my wardrobe if What Not To Wear is finished? I have dreams that they'll turn frumpy old me into something special. Haha, yeah right.

Twinges of sadness that "What Not to Wear" is going away, but, it did seem to be on a loop....and I can't wait to see how Heidi does without a script on "America's Got Talent." Here's hoping Howard Stern eats her alive...

"Oh, and I don't think anybody's selling a "be like NBC" strategy these days, what with NBC doing so poorly." I think that was OP's point--Fox is choosing a losing strategy.

My point was that I don't think even Fox is going with that strategy.  At least I think it was -- if I had more coffee I'd know for sure...

Is the show over? I fear for its non-renewal.

Yeah, you should be afraid. It's not looking too good. I'm in denial too...

Where are all those great writers displaced by reality TV? Why is this show so bad?

This show is so "bad" because it's a premium cable series moved to a broadcast network. This was a Bob Greenblatt passion project when he was running programming at Showtime.  When he went to NBC, he took it with him. Had it run on Showtime, people would be talking about how good it is.... poor Bob.

I still remember the dreadful time last year I was trapped next to an airport CNN TV and couldn't escape their "news." I cried myself to sleep that night.

Surely there's a sports bar in that airport. Isn't that an FAA regulation -- that all airports must contain at least one sports bar per terminal? Next time, get thee to a sports bar, as Hamlet would say.

This show is just so cute and simple without being mindless. I think the casting is what makes it so watchable. I love the alien wife. I wished I liked the human teenage girl - I know it's not her fault that they make her surly. I just don't enjoy the stereotypical "rude teenage girl" role. Sigh, they can't all be Sue from The Middle. That girl deserves an Emmy.

 Julia Louis-Dreyfus stole Sue's Emmy for sure... And, in re "Neighbors": I got an email the other day from someone  who attends TV Press Tours -- or at least appeared to have access to the TV Critics' Association email list -- asking TV critics which among them would admit to actually liking "The Neighbors." Those critics were asked to contact the person, at which point he/shw promised to reveal what publication they were writing a "Neighbors" piece for... it was very funny.

Okay, I have to be honest - I've missed this show, and am looking forward to its return tonight. Am I just continuing my affection for lame ducks or does "Grimm" have a chance to come back for a third season?

Given how badly everything on NBC is doing in the first quarter, "Grimm" stands a good chance of being renewed for the next decade...

But what if you don't like all news channels AND sports channels?

Then you are my twin, separated at birth and you need to take with you to the airport a mobile device loaded with your favorite music, and a good book downloaded to your Kindle.... It's how I have survived all the back-and-forth I've been doing between Washington and Los Angeles these past several years.

Pookie, what have they done to this show? Okay, the Mark Valley add is yummy, but they've made Dana Delany into an action hero, and this week - exorcism, really? Please tell me it settles down...

Nope -- this is the new normal, as the show desperately tries to goose its ratings...

I started watching AI again last week; enjoyed the competition this week. I noticed a few tweaks to the formula that they should have done years ago -- the final groups of 10 guys and 10 girls were chosen by the judges, not the public. There were a few head-scratching choices in there (that Charlie guy), but seemed to me that the final 10 they ended up with included the 5 people I was thinking should definitely be there no matter what, or the show was not worth continuing to watch. Also no more "goodbye" songs from the losers, instead, the winners each sang a "victory" song. Makes a lot more sense! I like the judges, too, though Mariah Carey's cleavage-baring dress was so ridiculous all I could think was that she was handing Joan Rivers material for the next episode of "Fashion Police."

I am taking a mini-break from "Idol" now that I'm not recapping it any more. Have this week's episode in my DVR but have not yet watched. Sound like Mariah Carey is still the show's comic relief -- but what was Nicki Minaj wearing that the talking point is Carey's cleavage-dress?

I get that it's undoubtedly an expensive show and maybe an acquired taste for broadcast TV. What I don't get are the "important" characters swapped in and out at warp speed (shades of Bros. & Sisters), the inconsistent characterizations, and, the worst, turning at least half of the show into "Will & Grace Put on a Show".

You've summarized it well: they seem to toss out character development each week and start over, way too many characters, given how much time is being devoted to performing, blah, blah, blah.

My husband and I are perplexed as to why it seems every time we channelsurf through the news channels at night, we're seeing coverage of a murder trial involving someone named Jodi Arras -- Dr. Drew discussing Jodi Arias, Nancy Grace discussing Jodi Arias, Anderson Cooper discussing Jodi Arias. I gather she killed her boyfriend, but there are probably hundreds of cases like that all the time. From what we can tell, this is considered national news nowhere else but on these stations. Who the heck is she, what's going on with this coverage, and really, is this a sign that the so-called news industry can sink even lower than anyone had thought possible? Or have we not yet hit bottom?

Cable news networks aren't the only organizations trying to whip this case up into a national frenzy. The strategy is not unlike that of news organization trying to whip up some hysteria over a coming snowstorm -- it's all about ratings/web traffic, etc.

Pookster, are there any good explanations out there for why the demographic advertisers are after is young folks? I mean, we've got the bucks, no? Where's the love?

I assume by the wording of your question you're not a "young folk." Here's how it works: older people watch loads and loads of TV. No matter how much love TV networks do not show them. Young viewers do not watch so much TV (though they still watch plenty!) so networks make a special effort to reach them with their programs. Why? Because advertisers want to reach them. Why? Because older viewers have already decided what laundry detergent they like and never change their minds about anything (odd truism, since my dad has never bought the same car twice, but....). And, in conclusion, the people at the ad agencies who are dealing with a lot of the TV buys are -- you know it's coming, younger viewers. The End.

Would there have been more nudity and gore? Would Katherine McPhee getting crushed by a falling piano been shown in excrutiating detail?

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: "It might have been."

Were through Winter already! When is it back?

Hang on! It's returning March 31....

But Pookie! If we don't have your (sorely missed) recaps, this is the only place we can get your take on the show!! Please start watching so we can at least talk about it on Fridays.

'kay...will start now...

I know you hate seeing old stars decades later, Pookie, but Richard Thomas looks about the same as he did went he played John-Boy Walton.

scary, isn't it?

you said Smash was a great cable show- so this is what would happen to my favorite USA shows that I think are better than all the other trash on network? YIKES. keep my USA shows on USA please!!

USA makes great CBS shows, and the sad truth of it is if they were on CBS you would hate them, because they were on CBS...

Holy Moly, have you followed any of this? I was home sick for two days and got sucked in. This trial has everything! Very Kinky Sex, murder, Mormons, and a snarky defendent who has finally realized she is in deep doo doo. Who will play Jodi in the made for TV movie?

I've got my fingers crossed for Jennifer "Love to My Friends" Hewitt. Wouldn't that be a kick?

Alive, or Dead?

dead...maybe still running around with its head cut off and not knowing it's dead, but dead...

On the off-chance it would add a second expression to her repertoire, I'd be willing to give it a try.

You think she'd register what as she saw the piano approaching.... Shock? Horror?

Isn't she getting past the "sell-by" date for playing the curvy ingenue?

I know, but I can dream, can't I? Who are you hoping for -- Hayden Panettiere?

We finally found out what was happening back in the old hometown. And Carl and Micchone are getting along. Too bad about the hitchhiker

Thanks for the update....

I keep hoping to see a commercial of a couple in a car watching wild animals peacefully frolick in the distance. Meanwhile the couple in the car looks off in the distance mumbling never again, never again. Suddenly they flash back to their vacation last year on the cruise ship from hell with no food and poop oozing down the walls.

Didn't 'Saturday Night Live' already call "dibs" on that?

I don't understand what the issue is. Odd year summers are generally dead politically where congress takes all August off. Virginia is I think the only state with a governor to elect. I believe he takes off when they do their memorial day hiatus then returns after labor day break. They also usually have a break for 2 weeks around memorial day, 2 weeks around the 4th, and 3 weeks nin August/labor day.

There is no issue. Just an announcement. Usually Comedy Central airs eight weeks of original "The Daily Show" during the summer. This summer, however, Stewart will take off about 12 weeks to direct a flick based on a book he optioned; he also wrote the screenplay. Lucky John Oliver will fill in for Stewart during those eight weeks of original episodes. The big news here is John Oliver's lucky break.

It seems that right mix just interesting enough while just bland enough to be a hit I think.

Perfect CBS drama series...

When is it coming back?


Angelica Huston looks so bored and her acting is incredibly wooden (oil can! oil can!) ... this is an Academy-Award winning actress who is pretty awesome. She must be getting a good paycheck.

Can we all agree that, based on her bloodline and lifetime body of work, she will be the one who will get to push the piano off the mezzanine?

Why does Fox mix good shows like New Girl with lousy shows before and after?

Because nobody in Hollywood really knows what works adn why. Trust me, it's not deliberate -- they think these shows are going to be hits... or at least good...or, at the very least, not suck.

Makes an appearance on the shark tank looking for investment money to survive the chopping block?

Emily and I have decided you are asking what TV series should appear on "Shark Tank" to look for investment money to survive getting the hook. Okay, I confess, Emily figured it out and alerted me -- I was stumped but I blame the Doris Day  movie on TCM that kept me up all night, sapping me of any brain power this afternoon -- although she did a not-bad version of April in Paris and Ray Bolger played her love interest -- oh yes, he did!-- and  I can mention this in our chat because it's LOCAL -- that's right, set in Washington! (okay, and Paris). I think I'm digressing, if not babbling, but anyway, getting back to your question: Emily wins and gets to pick the show and she picks "Happy Endings."

The directing stuff is just cover; he's inked a deal with the Vatican to handle PR for the next Pope.

Wouldn't that be refreshing?

If only we could rewind her age a bit.

Yeah, still the age issue.. any other casting thoughts?

Thank god, I seem to have made it through the show's entire run without being nominated to be on it. What a relief!

I was thinking the very same thing when the announcement was made... My guess is millions of women around the country breathed a collective sigh of relief...

If Smash is doing so badly, why does it seem that all of your questions are about it? It must be like trying not to look at a car crash.


Like "The View" having a bunch of guest host to replace Rosie O'Donnell or Kelly Ripa having a bunch of different people after Regis Philbin left, seems "The Daily Show" would be better off having a bunch of different guest hosts then just John Oliver (I'm so-so on him personally) for eight straight weeks. Also as somebody who watched "The Daily Show" back in late 1990s, Jon Stewart seem to let the other folks do guest hosting more often (if you can find it, Steve Carrell guest hosting and doing an interview with Mark Harmon is SUPER FUNNY).

I take your point and thought the same thing when they announce and my guess is Oliver's being groomed for something...

Even though the current season is light years better than the snoozefest known as PR Allstars, I feel like the show has run its course. No Michael Kors, no compelling personalities among the designers to speak of, weak challenges (last night -- make a prom dress out of duck tape? Please).

Did they really make that a challenge because that's so been there/done that...

but if the Disney princesses (Gomez and Lovato) are trying to dirty up their images with the spring break movie, then why not this?

perfect...any age-ing Disney Channel starlet will do....

Kat Dennings with glasses?

She'd be perfect.

It turned out almost none of them went to prom when they were younger, so they "Auffed" the only designer who did! Jealous much, Heidi (or Idy Gloom as she pronounced it in the first Season)

that's so wrong....

My two (former) favorite reality shows -- American Idol and Project Runway -- are now officially terrible. I have abandoned them. What reality show should I be watching? (Please don't mention anything having to do with a diving board -- I don't understand how there are two celebrity diving shows....)

So easy: Duck Dynasty....seriously.

I'm seriously considering breaking up with IDOL. I've never been happy that the judges have pretty much no power after the Top 12 are selected, so this season they cede even more power? I haven't watched last nights ep yet, but if America picked ten 15 year olds, I'm done. On a brighter note, we finally upgraded to a 2-DVR household and the new models hold a lot more than the old one, so we have hours and hours of TV to catch up on this weekend.

Wait -- I thought the judges were getting more power this season, picking the semi finalists, to avoid the annual Scruffy White Boy w/Guitars parade...

There are certain aspects of this show that I like a lot, but the flash-forwards to the thirty-something "youngest commissioner ever" are laughable. Most people look pretty darn good in their mid-thirties, not graying and aged. The makeup on the erstwhile Mr. Pamuk is just terrible.

Yes, they do need to take it down a notch. Or, like "Seinfeld" , lose the gimmic entirely. Remember how "Seinfeld" used to open and end every episode with Jerry doing stand-up at a club on the topic that was the subject of that episode, until someone at NBC, or Castle Rock, which produced the show -- or maybe it was Seinfeld himself, or Larry David, said "this is lame"...

I'm glad Kristen won, but I am never watching that show again! Can it come back to DC for a couple more seasons?

If it does, would you watch it?

It was pretty awful. The central police det. is pretty much the worst cop and worst mother known to TV. Also we all know whatever big murder-mystery they are setting up, it won't get solved this season and that if it's like last season, the killer is totally random and committed the murder for some random reasons. Also the victime spends her last day of Earth setting up a zillion and one red herring for the police trying to solve her murder.

Wow, it's almost like you're an exec from a non-AMC network....what you're describing sound like a series that is pretty true to life....

Seth Did OK, but the Producers will never be let back?

you kidding?  Ratings went way up. They're heroes... Success  in TV industry is not based on TV critics' reviews -- it's based on ratings. 

Is America ready a Brit to lecture us on how silly our politicians and media figures are (see Piers Morgan). If I'm Comedy Central powers-that-be, I'd just move up Colbert Report to 11 o'clock, no?

If it's done cleverly with a sense of humor (see not Piers Morgan) then yes... my guess is Comedy Central has loads of focus group information showing them that their audience likes Oliver.

Wow, you're ambitious! I was merely hoping for a slightly less-blank stare.

yeah -- I'd settle for that too...

He has the most interesting show going on. Is C-SPAN going to renew it for next season?


Just have to say, I was disappointed when I clicked on the link. I expected the History channel execs to have made some awesome comment about "pillaging the competition" or something crazy, but it was just about how they counted the viewers? Letdown!

too bad...I enjoyed the TV critics' snark.... I'm out of time. Thanks for joining me -- hope you'll do so again 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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