Because there just aren’t enough debates in this election cycle — and because when TV on-air pundits cover presidential elections, it really is All About Them — two debates have been announced in the past few days that don’t involve the candidates.
On Tuesday, Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions and Bill O’Reilly’s Straight Talk companies announced that for just $4.95, you can live-stream a faceoff between the Comedy Central faux newsman and the Fox News Channel prime-time host, which will be Oct. 6 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium.
Stewart and O’Reilly — the Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler of TV political punditry — will argue about Obama and Romney for 90 minutes. If you’d like to attend in person, tickets for “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” are a mere $75 to $100 (except for a “limited number” of $25 student tickets) and — oops! Never mind. Looks as though the event’s already sold out.
Half the net profits from The Rumble 2012 will be donated by Stewart and O’Reilly to “a number of charitable causes,” Tuesday’s announcement said.
The Rumble is being held three days after the first presidential debate between President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. It’s also just five days before the debate between the VPOTUS candidates, Vice President Biden and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan.
It’s also four days after radio talk-show host (and new Dish satellite personality) Glenn Beck will square off in debate with Current TV prime-time anchor Eliot Spitzer. “War of the Words,” as Dish is calling it, will be the night before the first debate between Actual Candidates Obama and Romney — in the same city, Denver.
The Beck/Spitzer debate, Dish explained, will be an opportunity for the TV personalities “to discuss the first presidential debate” — before the presidential debate has taken place.
Dish’s debate announcement coincided with its announcement that you could purchase Beck’s the Blaze online video, and Current TV, on various Dish packages, a la carte, for just five bucks a month, starting later this month. The debate will be streamed live on Facebook.
Romney’s wife, Ann, may fill in for Robin Roberts one day next month on ABC News’s “Good Morning America” — and there’s still a slim chance that first lady Michelle Obama may pitch in, as well.
An ABC News spokesman confirmed to The TV Column that Ann Romney is a possibility to fill in for Roberts in the show’s 8 a.m. hour one day in October.
Meanwhile, “every effort is being made” to schedule the first lady to do the same, the rep said, though her appearance is very much up in the air.
Roberts exited the show temporarily Aug. 30 to undergo a bone marrow transplant, which is scheduled for this week. She revealed on the show in June that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease. Roberts underwent chemotherapy before the transplant, the Associated Press reported this week.
Ann Romney would join Comedy Central late-night star Stephen Colbert, the cast of the ABC comedy “Modern Family,” Rob Lowe, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer and others who are filling in for co-host Roberts.
The celebrities — and political wives — will be asked to co-host the show with George Stephanopoulos during that lighter hour of the morning infotainment franchise.
The “stunt-casting” of “GMA’s” co-host slot can’t be welcome news for NBC’s competitor “Today” show, which in April saw its 17-year weekly ratings winning streak ended by “GMA.”
“Today” reacted by replacing Ann Curry with Savannah Guthrie the next month, but without retaking its ratings lead.
“GMA” has snagged a bigger crowd than “Today” the past five weeks, and 10 of the past 12 — with “Today” taking the two weeks during NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics, when the show traveled to London.
NBC confirmed that R&B singer Usher and popster Shakira are going to fill in for judges Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera during the spring cycle of the network’s singing competition series “The Voice.”
The move will give Green and Aguilera a break from the show’s grueling schedule to focus on their “other” careers.
“The Voice” is one of few bright spots on NBC’s lineup, which is struggling to regain ratings. The network’s over-reliance on “The Voice” calls to mind the ABC of the late ’90s, when the struggling network hit a ratings jackpot with “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” At one point, three nights a week of “Millionaire” were also the country’s three most-watched prime-time programs. But through over-use, “Millionaire” began to collapse in 2001 and was dead as a prime-time broadcast series by the summer of ’02 (though a version lives on in daytime syndication).
NBC did not launch “The Voice” until the summer of 2011 — buying the Dutch format after losing out to Fox in a bidding war for Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” — but “The Voice” is already on its third cycle.
The fall cycle is, arguably, the most important, as it gives NBC a rare ratings magnet off which to launch new series. Last week, for instance, the time-slot debut of its new Matthew Perry comedy, “Go On,” launched Tuesday after “The Voice,” averaging nearly 10 million viewers and finishing in the week’s top 10.
And this past Monday, the unveiling of NBC’s “Revolution” right after another “Voice” auditions episode logged a healthy 12 million viewers, making it the top-premiering drama on any network in three years, and on NBC in five years.
Meanwhile, Fox’s new drama “Mob Doctor” — airing Monday in the teeth of “The Voice” — got gnashed, scoring just 5 million viewers.
In Tuesday’s announcement, NBC insisted that Aguilera and Green will return to the show “next year,” which presumably means next fall.
For more columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvcolumn.