The TV Column Live

Apr 30, 2010

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes takes your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.

I'm going to keep asking every week: Any news of the future of Southland?

And I finally have an answer -- TNT has picked it up for another season which I think is going to start in January....thanks for asking.

So Steve Carell says he's done with the show when the contract ends after next season. Is he telling the truth, or is it just the opening salvo in a Contract Negotiation?

Sorry for the lag time -- technical issues.

I think a good rule of thumb is that anyone who announces next season will be their last before this season has even finished is firing the opening salvo in a contract negotiation. NBC has so many holes in its primetime schedule and "The Office" is one of the "bright" spots, which, to be perfectly accurate, means that it does NOT do a broadcast sized audience but does particularly well with 18-49 year olds. So it's pretty much a given that NBC will want the show to come back after next season and of course it will not work without Carell, so there you have it: next spring's headline, all nicely laid out.

Now that Tim Urban is gone and viewers can no longer use Ellen DeGeneres' proclaiming him "adorable" as a cue to drink, I propose a game inspired by you: the new prompt is any Decency Police Moment.

Granted, this may be more subjective, but that makes the game even better. In my opinion, there were at least two such moments in Tuesday's show: Ellen's crack about "everybody aboard the Shania Twain" and Kara's comment that "bigger is not always better" (I think that was when she commented on Siobhan's performance).

There was of course, the whole business about Aaron Kelly changing the "making love" lyric because he was singing to his mother, but as you noted, that was kind of creepy. However, I think a drink was warranted in that case to try to block out that memory.

Excellent drinking game and I will get that underway next week with my blog. I did notice the eye rolling and guffawing over Kara's comment that "bigger is not always better." And I too felt an urgent need for a drink, or fumigation, when little Aaron was explaining he de-sexed that lyric in his Shanai Twain tune choice so he could sing that particular love song to his mother...

Pookie, your column about this was a marvelous piece of writing. I loved your line "...she explained, blondely." Absolute perfection. You should win some sort of award for this one. Thanks for the laugh. (You're so right--you can't make this stuff up.)

Wonderful column on the Oprah interview with John Edwards's  girlfriend. Once again you do the heavy watching so we don't have to. Any comments that didn't fit into the column? Thanks!

None that I can publish here. Let's not forget, my mother does show up occasionally...

Pookie -- Are NBC execs worried about continuing to air the Celebrity Apprentice given Bret Michaels's health? Seems to me that if he's a finalist, he won't be able to appear and/or possibly win.

BUT, if he's fired before the end of the season, and Trump says something mean, that could be problematic, too. Thanks!

Though I'm confident they would never admit it, I'm guessing they are dancing a happy dance in the privacy of their own homes. "Celebrity Apprentice" is not burning up the ratings these days and this is sure to bring lots and lots of people to the live finale....

The season finale looked like a series finale. Is it coming back?

When last I checked it was not looking likely... it's audience is very small and, as usual, prices tend to go up every year because everybody wants raises...

This one's so old I should probably be sharing it with Tom Shales but here goes: After the end of Sid Caesar's program, Carl Reiner wrote and starred in a sitcom pilot called Head of the Family. He played a comedy writer named Rob Petrie who lived in the New York suburbs and wrote for a variety series.

CBS thought Reiner skewed "too Jewish" and decided to recast the show. It had to decide between two actors with appropriate WASPy features (shades of Arizona!). In the end, the network cast, and named the show after, Dick Van Dyke.

There would be no sitcom stardom for the other fellow, a young Nebraskan named Johnny Carson.


No submission too old! I like this one a lot. We're still taking all TV Trivia entries -- send them to the chat or to @wapoteamtv on Twitter.

I see Baby Stan has quietly gone into that good night on Cougar Town. Does that mean the producers and writing staff ditched the mandatory seminar: "The Effect of an Infant on Series Television as Exemplified by Baby Emma on "Friends": Why a Monkey is Always a Better Character Than A Baby"?

Thank goodness they had sense enough to snuff Stan so quickly. REmember the "Murphy Brown" baby? Gak!

Who do you think will win the title of "American Idol," and which Idolette will have a better career by not winning?

I'm hoping Siobhan Magnus, since she was booted this week. I think she is enormously talented, hough she had not done well the past couple weeks -- but I think she got freaked when, week after week, she got bad notices from Kara and particularly Simon. He never had a nice thing to say to her, until the last week when he nicked her and gave her tepid praise at the same time. And don't get me started on Kara and her "I don't know who you are" nonsense...

or is GLEE really lame so far this season?

I was not a fan of the all-Madonna episode. I don't think they should have stooped to the gimic -- the show should have stood on its own. I have not yet watched this week's episodes, it's sitting in my DVR. I was hoping it was better -- you seem to be saying otherwise.

Dame Lisa -- I saw that former Hollywood "it" girl Winona Ryder scooted back to TV in what looked like a scenery-chewing performance in a made-for-TV movie last Sunday regarding Alcoholics Anonymous.

Here's to hoping she doesn't become a regular on the drippy Hallmark movie circuit -- e.g., Meredith Baxter, Markie Post. This seemed like a career low for Ms. Ryder.

Sad, isn't it? That whole alleged shoplifting craziness really took a bite out of her brilliant career....

I DVR American Idol each week and unless you write about something not to be believed (Seabiscuit's deranged shenanigans, etc), I delete the shows without watching them. Am I counted in the ratings because it's been DVR'd? (I'm not in the Neilsens).

Rest easy -- if you're not a Nielsen home, you don't matter. Sorry.

I am one of those people who is always singing the praises of the Amazing Race and insisting its the gold standard for a "reality" show can be.

And yet this season...not so much. I can't decide if the show has just run out of steam or if this batch of racers is just not worth watching, but for whatever reason it just feels lacking.

The real shame is that it was the first show my kids and I watched together (in contrast to the kiddie dreck I spent years sitting through). Guess we need to find a new family-friendly/genuinely enjoyable show. Any suggestions?

I have some friends who are parents of young children who told me they loved that they could watch "Glee" with their children -- until this season when they were horrified at all the hookups going on in these early episodes.  I'm a big fan of  Turner Classic Movies for family viewing, though you do need to know what movie you're about to see because I'm not sure some of the war flicks are appropriate for little kids. "Idol" is generally good for family viewing. And, of course, you'll need to stay away from sports programming  because the language can get vulgar  (I know, what am I smoking thinking someone's going to stay away from sports programming)

Lisa, loved your column on Rielle Hunter's Oprah interview.

(With Rielle Hunter, Oprah explores the depths of sex, lies -- and a videotape)

While I don't think much of Ms. Hunter, I had to agree with her that it seems likely that John and Elizabeth Edwards likely had a lot of problems in their marriage before she came along.

I don't buy the idea that Rielle Hunter is so special that she could break up a marriage unless it was going to fall apart already.

I agree she bears no responsibility for the breakup of the marriage because, with her or without her, Edwards was going to go out and seek his "truth." I'm guessing all her married chick friends are going to keep well away from her after watching her rationalization in re why she's the real victim here...

Really enjoy your work Lisa. PLEASE don't use "blonde" as shorthand for "stupid." In fact, isn't the Post supposed to have a policy on this? It's really offensive, and since it's not applied to men with blonde hair, also really sexist. Thanks.

I'd be delighted to apply it to men!...

Is this an April Fool's joke? Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes. Who thought they would be capable of pulling off those roles? It's a travesty.

Are you saying we could do a better job casting The Kennedys miniseries? In that case, I AGREE, so long as we can maybe cast Mandy Patinkin in some. I don't care much which role. He can play Jackie O for all I care.. or, he could play Frank Sinatra... Anyway, le'ts get started...

Pookie, your column makes me glad I did not watch this interview yesterday, because I would have been throwing things at my TV (and that would prevent me from watching "Glee" over and over on my DVR). Please tell me that Oprah at least tried to make Hunter look as dumb as she sounded.

Oprah was a master of restraint during the interview -- I was very very impressed because I too wanted to throw things at my TV here in my office. Unfortunately, the management of the Post frowns on breaking office stuff.

Lisa, I felt a twinge of sadness when Shania was the guest mentor on AI. She was as big a star as there was in the late '90s early 2000s, and now she is reduced to giving the Idols advice.

She's not rising like Adam Lambert or Miley Cyrus, and she's didn't reach sage proportions like Tony Bennett or Diana Ross. It really is striking that her ex-husband, Mutt Lange, was a big force behind Shania the superstar. Just a little bit sad to see her reduced to AI mentor at 45 years old.

Wait just a minute. Lady Gaga is going to be on "Idol" next week. Don't you love it: Lady Gaga performing during Frank Sinatra week! I hope she comes dressed as a young Angie Dickinson. But, getting back to my point, "IDol" mentoring and guest performing is no longer just for has-beens. And isn't it ironic that, now that the show is in its mature years and on the way down ratingswise,that all the hottest pop music celebs want to be on the show but when it was a young show and getting about 8 million more viewers they wouldn't get caught dead on it?

This past Wednesday, "Modern Family" introduced Phil's father--and he was played by Fred Willard. And earlier in the season, Shelley Long appeared as the mother of Claire and Mitch.

Both pieces of casting were perfect, but I have a weird theory as to why this is so and love you to tell me if I am crazy or not.

Fred Willard has made a career out of playing lovable goofballs, so when he shows up as the father of Phil--whose character is that of a lovable goofball--I felt I instantly understood why Phil is the way he is. And that's because his father is Fred Willard--not the guy Fred was playing, but actually Fred Willard. All my previous associations with Fred, from "Fernwood Tonight" onward, were wrapped up in his characterization.

Similarly, Shelley Long's most successful role as Diane on "Cheers" was inescapably linked to her portrayal as Claire's mother, of whom Claire said, "You know that voice inside your head that keeps telling you you are not good enough. Well, mine was outside my head, driving me to school." Which is exactly what I would think Diane would be like as a mother.

Do you think this played into the casting, or have I been watching too much TV for the past 50 years or so?

I too think the roles these guest actors are closely associated with informed the casting decisions of the "Modern Family" producers. It was clever but I would have preferred if they had not jammed in so many guest stars in the early episodes. It's too distracting. Typically in the first season of a series shows don't do  alot of guest-stunting because they want viewers to focus on getting to know and love the regular cast members. Once they've gotten you deeply invested in the regulars, the guest-casting begins -- particularly during sweeps periods...

Appropriate that they did a vampire-themed Ford commercial this week because they just drained all of the life from the show by losing Siobhan? Is there any doubt in your mind that, as raw a performer as she is, she will have a better career than anyone else left on the show?

I hope you are right. It would make me happy if she showed them up and got some great gigs....

I'm guessing having Sara spend most of this week's "Chuck" episode in her lingerie was an attempt to goose their ratings. Did it work? Or is it still scraping the bottom of the ratings barrel?

Too little too late. But I do think you have interpreted the episode correctly...

Will stations that carry "Oprah" be reluctant to have Kitty Kelley as a guest, hyping her Oprah book? Or, since Oprah is packing up and moving to her own network anyway, will those station be eager to have Ms. Kelly get in a few jabs before the big send-off?

Kelley said, I think on "Today," that she's having trouble getting TV bookings to talk about her new Oprah bio. I assumed that meant she was having trouble getting booked on, say, ABC programs since ABC has such a cushy relationship with Oprah.

Kelley did a chat earlier this week:

Kitty Kelley discusses Oprah bio

I want to love it. I really do. I'm trying so hard, because I love everyone - except Courtney Cox. Now, they have her hooking up with hot neighbor. Sigh. And "Modern Family" is so fantastic.

I actually like this show a lot better than I expected because I too am a Courtney Cox non-fan. But the director is making the most of her on the show and I recommend it.

Hi. Do the Reporters Who Cover Television get to see any pilots? When? Out of this year's crop, do any hold promise? As a die-hard James Garner fan, I'm excited/petrifed about the new "Rockford Files" - what's the word there?

Generally pilots are not dispensed until after the network has decided which ones it's going to greenlight to series. I too am filled with fear and loathing about the new "Rockford Files" On the other hand, haven't they cast Dermot Mulroney in the lead role? That seems like a pretty good bit of casting.

I watched the whole painful interview. There were times I wished I could have reached my hand through the screen and smacked her. The comment about people only hating her because their father cheated did it for me.

Yes, that was quite an interesting bit of  logic. I found all her Truthiness to be utterly fascinating...

He would be smart to facilitate an end to that show THIS season, not just next. Last night's episode was the worst ever, in a show that's been getting bad for years. Talk about out of ideas...

Yeah, I'm pretty over it too. It had a good run and it's always sad when a show does not quit while it's ahead. On the other hand, I'm sure NBC is throwing bags of gold at them to keep producing episodes since the network has such gaping holes on its schedule in various other timeslots...

Not usually a fan, but loved his turn as an FBI/flirt-interest on a recent "In Plain Sight." I know he's got another show, "Happy Town," but any chance they'll bring him back?

Safer potential relationship for the female lead because if she and her partner get together the show dies in the water (i.e. where can Pam and Jim go as charachters now that they're man and wife?).

I am a complete convert since seeing him in "Studio 60" on NBC. It was a revelation.

The worst thing about this show now is having four judges. When Simon leaves, they should just replace ELLEN, and keep it to three judges.

Ellen is the new Paula (Den Mother) and Kara is the new Simon (industry expert)...

Wow, I may go back to watching that horrifying show.

Yes, give it another chance, if only because they seem to have lost the baby along the way and we need to encourage this...

Did the producers originally hope to air "April 29, 2010" -- the day everyone saw in their visions -- last night, or did ABC's long hiatus mess that up?

You'd think, right? But that's the least of their problems with this show..How about the mis-casting? Now there's a huge problem!

OK, you're probably right, but I prefer to think/hope that (1) he wants to focus more on movies, where he's been doing pretty well, and (2) he has the Seinfeldian (or, more to the point, Gervaisian) sense to get out before the real decline. "The Office" still has plenty of great moments, but sometimes it feels like it's living on borrowed time and it has come perilously close the the water-ski ramp a number of times.

Yes, it would be wonderful of him to leave, thereby killing the show, saving it from one of those hideous dead-show-airing final seasons

Grr, pookie! Once again, AI ran past 9:00, cutting off the end of "Glee" for those of us who DVR'ed it. Right in the middle of Kristin Chenowyth's rendition of "Home" from "The Wiz." Why does FOX hate us DVR'ers?

I suggest DVR'ing the local news that follows for the rest of the season since "Idol" cannot seem to wrap on time.

I have to agree with the previous comment - Glee is really lame this season. There isn't any continuity between episodes (Schue and Emma are together, no, they've broken up because Schue is in a self-destructive pattern, wait, now they are together and she wants to be with him, etc.) and, aside from Sue Sylvester, there aren't any likeable characters. And Sue is only likeable because she's played by Jane Lynch.

I'm hearing from a lot of people that theyr'e starting to fall out of love with the show. Hopefully the producers are hearing from you too and will adjust accordingly....

Ms. Hunter apparently said something like: "In my experience you can't wreck a's already fallen apart."

My question is "How many homes has she not wrecked ?".

I too was left thinking that maybe this was not her first time in this kind of situation, after hearing her say that.


Trump is careful never to say anything mean to his celebrities unless they are total slackers or quitters. Bret has been hard-working, amiable and creative, so even if he's fired, rest assured Trump will be telling him how hard it is to let him go.

Happily, it seems that Bret will (slowly) recover, so it's not too creepy to watching the show. And Bret's been too likable to be a finalist. I predict a Holly/Sharon or a Holly/Cyndi final two, which offers maximum tension.

And, of course, they can always re-edit to take out any mean bits that might seem in bad taste while the guy's in the hospital...

The well-known psychologist Joyce Brothers was famous first as the '50s equivalent of a reality-show star. She appeared as a contestant on "The $64,000 Question" and won it all answering questions about . . . boxing.

excellent entry!

Do you mean they no longer mention the baby, or the storyline literally had him getting killed? Fer real? Well, fer made up?

I confess I have not watched the last couple episodes yet -- also lounging in my DVR -- but if they killed a baby in the show I'm thinking it would rule out being nominated for a best comedy Emmy. My guess is the chatter simply means that all trace of the baby has disappeared which was definitely the case in the epsiodes I have seen most recently...

I see that that series (whatever it is) that stars David Spade is still on. My question is, "Why?"

Because it skews young compared to most of CBS's primetime and it's a good utility player. As to why that is -- we'd be here all day talking about the decline of civilization, what photos David Spade has of top CBS suits, etc...

I wanted to like it too, but get kinda skeeved out looking at that lady's alien plastic surgery and puffy lips.

Wow -- what show are we talking about here?

C'mon, that's just mean! Sincerely, Ted McGinley

sorry pookster but I'm an equal opportunity offender.

You think Dermot Mulroney is good casting?!? I don't think I've ever disagreed with you before. But I simply cannot watch the man.

Clearly you did not see his tour de force performance in "The Wedding Date" ....he had this Oscar-worthy scene in which he took his shirt off and ....oh, never mind!

George Clooney became famous as Dr. Doug Ross of "ER." Before that he also appeared as a regular on "Roseanne." But his first regular role occurred in the mid-'80s in a half hour comedy starring Elliot Gould. The name of that show: "E/R."

another good entry. thanks!

Although it wasn't great, the duet between Schuster and Kristen Chenowith on the mash-up of "One Less Bell to Answer" and "A House is Not a Home" was terrific and actually has me considering finally getting an iPod so I can download it!

You are Fox's dream viewer. It' s all those ancillary markets that have them so excited about this show.

The dad from "Modern Family" as JFK. Kinnear as Bobby (sort of the "Van Johnson in Sabrina" role). Lindsey Lohan as Jackie -- beautiful and a little vacant. Randy Quaid as Nixon. Patinkin as LBJ, if he'll stand in elevator shoes.

Do you mean the William Holden in Sabrina role? Anyway, I like your casting!

but Sibohan was as graceful as Ethel Merman. waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!! She will NOT be seen again.

Excuse me for living but Merman was a huge, huge, huge star....

Or, Fred Willard worked with Lloyd and Levitan (producers) on their last show (Back to You) along with Ty Burrell.

Oh you and your SIMPLE answers!

Dear Pookie- I just dont know who to ask about this, its just so upsetting. On Wednesday, I was watching Top Chef Masters and about 10 minutes before the end of the show, they ran a promo for next week's episode which showed the winner of the show I was watching competing in the finals! (This was the 10pm first showing of the show.) Why, why, would Bravo do this? Is it just carelessness? Do heads roll over this type of thing? p.s. Looove the chat/ column

That is some seriously sloppy promo department. Thanks for bringing this to my attention...

Rielle Hunter looked so different from the few pictures I saw of her prior to the Oprah interview. Plastic surgery? After watching the interview it became clear she and John are so selfish and icky. After hearing her flimsy excuses, I felt like I needed to get disinfected. Do you think they will just go away?

hahahaha ---- you are so cute and naive. Don't ever change.

So is "truth" the new euphemism like "shoes"?

you betcha!

I upgraded all the doorknobs in my house last weekend. If Bret Michaels dies, I'm going to dedicate the new doorknobs to him. The "Bret Michaels Memorial Doorknobs." That is all.

You are a sensitive and thoughtful human being, and you put to shame all those people like me, who are repainting their houses without even giving a thought to dedicating their newly painted front doors to Bret. 

Hi Lisa -- I definitely agree with the poster about "The Amazing Race." The challenges seem repetitive now, as are the couples (the good looking but vacuous models, the tough guys who cry when they're eliminated, the parent/child who fight like crazy then bond, etc. etc. -- oh, and I forgot the required gay person, a fixture on just about every season except the much-reviled family edition...what does that say about CBS?) Anyway, I think the same thing has happened to "Survivor," which used to be required viewing in my house. The machinations are entirely contrived and predictable, and there seems to be a hidden immunity idol under every palm tree now.

What it says is that CBS needs to assign someone else to cast this show.

Hi Lisa, I'm a big fan of Parks and Rec. How is it doing in the rating?

Not well...

Wai....What.....I watch Cougar Town, but haven't seen Baby Stan's "off'ing" Whud I miss?

Have you noticed any Baby Stan sighting?

Any idolette that dedicates a song to a parent is too young to be in the competition, and must be voted out immediately!

Yes, and where is Simon when you need him to point that out to the viewers so they vote the guy out.. Simon has definitely been neutered. I think it's important we find a way to break up his engagement before next week's episodes. We need our Simon back....

As a liflelong blondie, please, please PLEASE don't hesitate in any way to use "blonde" as euphamism for stupid. For me, that would be step up....look! shiny red ball!

Thank you for being a blonde with a sense of humor. If you only knew how difficult it is for all us brunettes growing up in a land of gorgeous blondes....

Everybody keeps referring to Glee "seasons." We're still in Season 1, by the way.

Yes, Fox is rolling out this show in kind of the Cable Way: season 1A and 1B. I think we're talking about 1B here...

I'll add to the Joyce Brothers bit. The sponsors of the quiz show (a consmetics company) wanted her off, because she was perceived as "not glamourous," but she kept winning and coming back the next week. So they threw her a curve by asking a question about a boxing REFEREE who judged a 1930s title fight. She identified him correctly and took home the big money!

Wow -- even better! And isn't it nice to know advertisers never change?

COUGAR TOWN: Courtney has weird stretchy face, but her friend has it worse: her lips are contorted from bad face lift! I get scared looking at her melty face.

Oh -- yes, the faces are a little scary...

Not the original poster, but I assume s/he means Cougar Town. The lead lady freaks me out, too.

Yes, they were talking "Cougar Town"...but, in fairness, shouldn't the star of a show called "Cougar Town" have had face work?

I loved her combination of new age psycho babble, self satisfaction and shamelessness. Her truth is everyone else's lie and Johnny's life of integrity is everyone else's disgrace. The Pentagon should hire her as Global Director of Truthiness.

Except that she has brilliant prospects in Hollywood which I'm guessing is her goal...

I have a love-hate relationship with Oprah, but there was one moment in that interview that made me just want to kiss her. When she asked about how "Johnny" reacted to the news of her blessed event, Rielle said "He was incredibly gracious." The look on Oprah's face was priceless. She kind of cocked her head to the side, bugged out her eyes, and you could almost read the "Come ON, Blondie!" thought bubble over her head.

I had the same reaction. I wanted to give her a medal. I want CNN to hire her to take over for for Anderson Cooper....

In a fairly recent episode, they were checking out the baby's private parts. I don't think it's gone away.

Are you telling me I've been led down a primrose path on this chat today? Drat!

I first fell in love with GC as George on Facts of Life...sigh. Yummy yum yum.

I'm hoping this is a trivia entry....

Wait, wait!!! Didn't someone say that "My Boys" is coming back?

Thank God! I was going to have to keep this chat going into the weekend if somebody didn't put up a "My Boys" question. Yes, "MY Boys is coming back to TBS, in July. I'm out of time. Bye.

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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