The Latest in TV with Lisa de Moraes

Apr 19, 2013

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

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Hi Pookie, why are there so many "dead" weeks in a TV season, like I'm waiting forever for the next new Modern Family...

The official TV season lasts from mid September through late-ish May... But a TV show season order is typically about 22-24 episodes. So, networks tend to air repeats during the season and save originals for sweeps periods. It's better for reality series, like singing competition shows (Fox has X Factor in the fall and Idol in the spring, etc). Also there has been a trend to buy shows that  "share" a timeslot -- particularly if one of them is a heavily serialized show like "Lost" was, and like "Revolution" is -- because network have discovered they tank if viewers are subjected to reruns throughout the season -- better to save all the episodes and run them without rerun interruption.

In the great battle to report fast and accurate this week (plenty of things to practice on), which medium won--TV (old media) or Twitter, FB, Web (new media)?

I'm not sure how you define success.... Twitter, for instance, is very fast -- if it gets correct information out first but it's being lost in all the flotsam and jetsam of wrong reports, does Twitter win? I think the jury's still out but, because we love to crown someone a winner, I'm sure someone will make this decision sometime in the coming days. Look for the media critics for your answer...

Hi Pookster, Just wanted to say thank you for making me laugh. It's nice to read funny stuff in the paper while reading all the sad stuff.

You are welcome....

If there were an award for "Most Ponderous Show," Hannibal would surely win it. They're even making it difficult to enjoy watching my TV girlfriend, Caroline Dhavernas. I'm about --->this<--- close to DVRing it and fastforwarding it to the scenes that she's in. Don't think I'd miss much.

I think you have a good plan.... based on early numbers, you're in good company.

I always had a question about how advertisers are charged for commercials. If a program does an impressive rating, do advertisers have to pay more after the fact becuase more viewers saw the ad? I understand they buy blocks of advertising at up front proposals, but do they pay less if the ratings are low? How does it all work? Thanks!

There are two ways advertisers pay for ad time: the upfront market and what is known as the "scatter" market. Upfront ads are bought, up front. Scatter are buys throughout the season. Networks reserve some ad time for the scatter market and yes, the rates for those ads fluxuate depending on how successful a show is, ratings-wise...

Pookie, I keep getting a message at the top of my screen that says "this page is in Korean. Would you like to translate?" HA HA Are you on travel this week?

Please click "yes" and let me know how the Post translates what I'm writing "from" Korean into English... this is fun!

Is there an email address to which we serious students of television can write to you? I'm going to miss you terribly after you leave the Post. (signed) The Inventor of "Bandersnatch Cummerbund."

So glad to hear from you!

I will have an email address by the time I leave and will let you know. All suggestions for address welcome. Meanwhile, I had lunch with some PBS execs yesterday and told them about the reaction of Cumberbatch and Moffat to our having called the actor Bandersnatch Cummerbund in chat and column/blog -- which, I'm sure you remember, was not happy. They reminded me that the actor's rabid fans took to calling themselves 'Cummerbitches,' but forgot to add that he wants them to change their name to Cummerbabes... And in conclusion, both gentlemen need to lighten up.

Pookie, who do you think had a better reaction to the Boston bombings: Stephen Colbert or Patton Oswalt, or do you have an even better example?

Colbert's opening to his Tuesday show was the best by far of all late night talk show hosts and is hopefully the new bar against which all future responses on comedy shows to breaking horrible news will be judged.. Most importantly, he never said "I" or "me."

Okay, first Elementary, now Hannibal -- so is a Miss Marple procedural in the works?

I think CBS already did that show, only they called it "Murder, She Wrote." I'd like to see it re-done -- this time casting in the lead role:   Katherine McPhee? Wanda Sykes? Katherine Heigl?

True, though both aforementioned will still be gainfully employed next month.

I'm not sure I understand your point....

Now we now why Jeremy Piven quit that Broadway show - he can't act to save his life! It's almost comical. Love the show, but he makes it nearly unwatchable.

He does seem to be in a different production than the rest of the cast... it is comical...

Just thought I'd get it over with - keeping the streak going as it were

thank you....

...but I actually enjoy watching Gayle King on CBS This Morning. I like how she needles Charlie Rose. [Required Disclaimer: I do not work for CBS.]

Thanks for the disclaimer. I like anyone who needles Charlie Rose. Keeps him real...

this has probably been asked a gazillion times. so here's a gazillion and one.... What's the fate of Happy Endings? This show is so funny and perfect. It's that special harmony of the actors, the characters, and the writing all just syncing (or maybe sinking)...

ABC has not yet made a decision as to its fate --  but the network has started its own "save this show" campaign -- which reminds me of that scene from 'Blazing Saddle' in which the guy puts a gun to his own head and threatens to shoot himself... Anyway, things don't look good for the show returning next season.

Is it true a rerun of BBT beat AI last night?

Yes, it did, Mr. Lorre.... Congratulations!

Lisa, we will miss your writing, insight and wit. So as a fond farewell, I leave you with these words: "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." Best wishes!

Thanks, Chuckles!

Is he toast, yet? Will NBC give him his walking papers, or will they continue throwing female co-hosts under the bus until they find one who bounces out from under the tires? And will they ever repeat their "We passed Ann Curry over last time, so let's give her the job this time" colossal mistake?

Why they did not move Curry out of "Today" years earlier, before she became co-anchor,  when they could see how little chemistry she had with Matt, is a mystery. ..The problem with dumping Matt is that Savannah isn't hitting it out of the ballpark.

Combine it with Hannibal! I've long contended that Jessica Fletcher was a serial killer. After all, someone always dies when she's around.

Cabot Cove, Maine, was the murder capital of America for years....

I'm seeing trailers for a new movie with De Niro, Sarandon, Keaton, and-in small slices-Heigl. Being a junior member of an ensemble class seems a come-down. What happened to her bid to be Queen of the RomComs?

That did not work out well and I think, in part, her real-life harshness may have worked against her career.

We need to cast an actress who's had so much done to her face (plastic surgery, botox, etc.) that her expressions of SHOCK! HORROR! SADNESS! wont' be readily available just by looking at her.

Joan Rivers?

Well, it offered to translate. Do you have an opinion on getting rid of cable and using Hulu or other free-ish internet to view shows? We ordered a Roku but I'm scared of falling into a land where I stop watching tv. Cable is just so easy.

If everyone dropped cable, they'd unbundle....

(1) When and how are Vanderblt and Winkie to make the incrdible journey westwards? Can two east coast pooches find happiness in LaLaLand? (2) I'm sure you can't comment, but wherever you land, please leave bread crumbs behind for us to follow (nudge nudge wink wink say no more...)

Vanderbilt is already in Los Angeles and loves it -- especially going to the beach in Santa Barbara, to dig in the sand, chase seagulls, and eat/vomit seaweed. Winkie is a California native...I picked him up as a stray while there.

I've got to go and I just wanted to say that! Have a great Chat. Oh, and Bandersnitch Cumberbatch!


Boston, the Ricin scare, or West, Texas?

I am in no way condoning a reality series about bombing marathoners, or suggesting a dozen people being killed in an explosion in Texas makes for greast entertainment. But, if you're asking which of these events has been most impactful, TV ratings-wise, it's definitely Boston, because the story has had so much drama (and tragedy) for so many days....

Do you think Matt Lauer was bummed to be in Texas (to cover the horrific explosion), only to miss being involved in this morning's Boston-based activity? I don't think Matt was really seen until the 9:00 hour.

and Anderson, and.....

Will "Southland" be renewed? It may not be groundbreaking, but I it's good "cop" drama. "Game of Thrones" hasn't lost a step, but my geezer opinion is the ratio of nudity to violence is a little too heavy on the nudity side.

You mean you'd rather see more violence on "Game of Thrones" than nudity? Here's what you need to know: violence is expensive to produce. Nudity -- not so much. Both get ratings.

I have been catching bits of Mad Men this season (between watching Game of Thrones) and it has become one big cliche in the writing. Wow, the protagonist Don is a serial falanderer; what's in his childhood that might explain it? Wow, Roger Sterling is emotion-free and can't cry. But wait! He cries at the death of his shoe man (I think that's the one who set him off). To sum it up, I'd like say something to the creator of this series: Sorry, but your show is a soap opera with smoking and will always be a soap opera with smoking. YAWN

Yeah, Roger not crying over mom's death, and then losing it when his shoe guy dies -- you could see that coming from several blocks off.

Hey Pookie: In a week in which both the networks and the cable news channels have chased leads, real and imagined, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, I've lost a lot of respect for CNN and gained a lot of respect for CBS' Scott Pelley for reasons that became obvious to most viewers. And, of course, I praise Jon Stewart for his biting criticism of CNN the other night for essentially making up news that an arrest had been made in the bombings and, then, failing to take responsibility for their mistake. What can we learn from all of this and to whom can we trust?

I've noticed a lot of "we're not going to speculate" blah, blah, blah on the cable news networks since that embarrassing incident...I think the lesson of the coverage has been that you should not assume what's initially being reported on TV, and on the web, etc.,  is accurate...this is the shoot-first-aim-later information era...

Now that Talking Bad has the greenlight, I'm waiting for Talking Talking Dead to become a reality. (And lament the fact we never did get to see Rubiconversation).

I'm waiting for all other AMC shows to have after shows -- especially in their last seasons. "Talking Mad"?

Do you think The Americans will get Emmy or Golden Globe love along the lines of Homeland? I love the show and think it is really well done. Would love to see Felicity get some trophy recognition. She's pretty awesome.

Yes, I do.

The fact that it is unintentionally hilarious makes Splash the best hate-watch around. The show makes absolutely no sense and feels like a high school project. Please please let the finale include Anjelica Huston pushing that piano onto McPhee. Bombshell, indeed.

Fitting ending to the show for sure... And it could be Houston's "Emmy" episode... 

Watching Samantha Guthrie this morning really makes me miss Anne Curry. I hope NBC is kicking themselves for pushing her out. And it's almost poetic justice that Matt Lauer is stuck in Texas unable to report on the bigger story of the day in Boston. Those guys who ganged up on Anne should be ashamed of themselves. I do like Samantha its just that Anne is better at hard news.

Viewers ganged up on Curry too. Networks don't push out on-air talent if that talent is getting great ratings and focus groups say they love her.

Bandesnatch Cummberbund. So, I have decided that a pure google search on his name (real or our little modification) for material would be cheating. Not sure why, but it just feels wrong. Just going down his IMDB entry also seems wrong. However, I did use the person search function on my DVR (thank you Comcast - possibly the first and last time I will ever type those words) and found that he was in a movie about terrorists called Four Lions. So, here is the question, would the US film industry ever make a comedy (however dark) about terrorism from the point of view of the terrorists? If it somehow got approved, would actors hoping for mainstream careers want to be in it? Does it matter which part you played? I have recorded the movie, but haven't watched it yet. I will do so and report back next week.

Please do.

Courteney Cox and her botox-ridden cheekbones

Perfect casting!

And this: "violence is expensive to produce. Nudity -- not so much" is why you are so beloved and will be greatly missed....

thank you....

Contrary to popular opinion, cats shouldn't be fed too much fish; they can develop urinary tract infections (heavy metal stuff). NOT contrary to popular opinion: you and this chat will be missed by many two and four legged friends.

I'm sure this is extremely relevant to some comment made by somebody, but for the life of me I can't remember back that far... My late much-loved cat Emma loved Halibut. Does that count/matter?

AND: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.


I think Don Draper's pitch for that Hawaiian hotel was so over the top with the reference to James Mason's demise in "A Star is Born" that he IS going to take that leap out of the window one of these days. What say you?

A knife that is introduced in the first act MUST be used by the final curtain. I had exactly the same thought and I hope it's true.. I'd love to watch Don go all Norman Maine... it seems fitting, now that his wife is becoming a TV star, of sorts...

It's too difficult to put everything in one address. All I come up with is something like I still have a few weeks to work on this, right?

Yes, you do.. keep working on it...

(see, it could be worse)

my point exactly to the PBS people at lunch...

But everyone else is terrific. I am really enjoying it.

Too bad they had to cast Piven...Ooh -- Anderson Cooper is back in Boston... And CNN told him to lose the black T shirt and jeans action-hero look, and put on a suit and tie.  I don't know about you guys, but I'm loving watching The New CNN figure things out. It's fascinating.

Pookie -- This long-time follower (see topic line for random Idol reference you made several years ago) will truly miss you. You have led us through the mire of good TV and bad TV. From Monica Lewinsky hosting a dating show with men in masks to Homeland. Thank you! Thank you!

Thank you very much.

Some really dreadful promo's are running on OWN with Oprah and Tyler Perry for some new shows he is doing for them. Any word on what they are? Madea on Own?

He's doing an ensemble drama called "The Haves and Have Nots" and a comedy called "Love Thy Neighbor" -- debuting in May.

thanks for answering my question so clearly. I'll expect more nudity on "GofT" until the costs of producing violence drop. Live and learn . . .

I'm here to explain things... I'm also out of time. Thanks for joining me and putting up with the lags as I watched TV coverage of the Boston situation. See you next week!

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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