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Reality, Non-Reality and Everything In-Between

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 22, 2005; 1:00 PM

Post TV Columnist Lisa de Moraes takes a look at what's on the tube in a fast-paced give and take about reality, non-reality, cable and you name it.

Join Lisa on Friday, April 22, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest on TV.

De Moraes has written "The TV Column" for The Post since 1998. She served as the TV editor for the entertainment industry trade publication the "Hollywood Reporter" for almost a decade.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Rockville, Md.: AI Question:
Who is voting for Scott Savol? I think he deserved to be in the final 12, but he should have been gone a couple of weeks ago.

As for Anthony, I don't think it is the 14-year-old girls voting for him, but rather the 50- and 60-year old females; you know, the ones that liked Clay Aiken all along.

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. Have you ever been to a Clay Aiken concert -- it's not 50-60 year olds. Not that I would know, because I've never been to a Clay Aiken concert. Never, ever, ever...I think Anthony looks just like an older, surviving member of one of those boy bands that 14 year old girls loved...


McLean, Va.: Sheesh. I'm getting fed up w/ all the reruns of Lost. They had a big buildup to a new episode this week. I raced home from work and tuned in late. I was momentarily disoriented when I saw the recently deceased Boone walking around until I realized it was actually a repeat of the Walt/polar bear episode. What gives?

Lisa de Moraes: What gives is that networks don't order enough episodes of a series to have originals for the entire TV season. ABC is saving the rest for the May sweep. Which is not far away...


Revelations: I think the funniest thing I have seen on TV this year is when the girl with the low riders and the fake tattoo gets hit by lightning, not once but twice. That'll teach her to try and look like Britney Spears!

Lisa de Moraes: I think that IS the first episode of the Britney Spears "reality" series. Can you say "Britney Spears" and "reality" in the same sentence?


Washington, D.C.: Any chance of the Nationals TV schedule conflicting with the last three episodes of Veronica Mars? If so, is UPN planning on re-airing the shows, or is my only option having someone out of state tape it? I'm hooked on the show and would hate to miss the big reveals.

Lisa de Moraes: My colleague John Maynard has given the all-clear on Veronica's last three episodes because, he says, WDCA has not scheduled any games on Tuesday nights....what a relief.


Maryland: Has Scrubs jumped the shark (or whatever the kids are calling it these days)? Suddenly, Janitor seems to have a starring role, and Dr. Cox is an old softie.

Lisa de Moraes: Can't you just see the focus group results:
Test Group A reports they love janitor and would watch the show more often if they saw more of him and learned more about his home life. Recommendation: Beef up Janitor role.

Test Group B reports Dr. Cox is too mean and they turn off the set whenever he's on screen because he makes them want to cry. Recommendation: Dr. Cox must be more loveable -- perhaps in very special May sweeps episode about date rape.


San Francisco, Calif.: How are "Numb3rs" and "Eyes" looking for next season? I'm rooting for "Eyes", but I want "Numb3rs" gone so I never have to see another promo for it.

Lisa de Moraes: Wow, are you in for a disappointment. "Eyes" is not doing well in the ratings and "Numb3rs" is...I suggest you avert your eyes when you see a "Numb3rs" promo revving up...


San Francisco, Calif.: In a column this week you asked "How do you explain a world in which the very talented, extremely charming and exceptionally well-dressed Anwar Robinson is voted out of "American Idol" while zeroes like Anthony Fedorov, Scott Savol and Carrie Underwood survive to compete another week?"

Different people have different tastes. I cannot explain why I enjoy reading your columns or why I loved hearing Scott sing "Everlasting Love" but people like me who voted for Scott this week helped him stay in this contest.

Lisa de Moraes: YOU VOTED FOR SCOTT???I'm intrigued!! Tell me more about you: your childhood, your teen years -- I want to know all about people who are voting for Scott. Seriously...


Washington, D.C.: Lisa, I love your "We Watch So You Don't Have To" columns, but take issue with your disdain for Bo. He's got an awesome voice and is much more sexy and talented than Constantine.

In Wednesday's column you wrote, "And Bo Bice, who added dancing to the growing list of things he can't do, continued working on dragging his microphone stand around the stage, the international sign for 'I'm actually a rocker, stuck in a '70s dance tune.'" I just wanted to point out that Constantine DOES THE SAME THING with the mircophone.

Also, my friends and I think Carrie and Bo are getting it on -- they're always touching each other.

And finally, I heard on the radio that there's a rumor about Paula having had an affair with one of the contestants -- have you heard anything about this? AND have you heard anything about Nadia and Scott as a couple? Weird.

Lisa de Moraes: So much to address here. Yes, Constantine also drags around microphone stand, but he does other things as well, like having sex with the camera with his eyes, and pouting his lips and putting on mascara. He's what you call a Renaissance Man. Grievously, all Bo can do is drag around the microphone stand. This does not an American Idol make. It's called American Idol, not American Microphone Stand Dragging Champion....Now, about Carrie and Bo, I have not noticed them touching each other a lot but you can be sure I will be all over that next week, thanks! And I hear Nadine denied vehemently having relationship with Scott and can you blame her...


Stephenie on Survivor: Is she not the greatest Survivor contestant ever? Well, I obviously think so ...

But don't you also think that this is one of the better Survivor episodes? This show lives and dies on its contestants, and I think they did a good job this season.

Lisa de Moraes: I miss Janu.

I'm hearing from lots of people that they think this is one of the better seasons on Survivor..


Brooklyn, N.Y.: As a Reporter Who Covers Television, are you expecting any real surprises at the May presentations by the networks? Anything we should be looking out for? Or are the execs going to parade more of the same and expect everyone to "ooh" and "ahh" over their innovative programming?

Lisa de Moraes: Big surprises in store: ABC is going to announce they will not have Monday Night Football any more! NBC is going to announce that they've sacked the executive producer of "Today"! CBS is going to announce a new Evening News panel of talking heads! Fox is going to announce they have a new head of entertainment division! I know, you're shocked right? No?


Glover Park, Washington, D.C.: Nicole knows what she did? Any clue?

Lisa de Moraes: I think she got engaged..And her own show. Who knows. Who cares. Does it really matter. And, while we're at it,why is Paris Hilton, a girl whose been seen having sex on the internet, so coy and prudish about telling people what Nicole did that got her knickers knotted...."she knows what she did" -- I mean, come on..


Still watching 'Survivor" in Alexandria: Am I being oversensitive or did it seem like Jeff Probst browbeaten Janu into quitting during last night's tribal council so Ironwoman Stephenie could get still more screen time?

Lisa de Moraes: Absolutely...


Washington, D.C.: Is it just me or did you sense some sexual tension between Ryan and Anwar?

Lisa de Moraes: There is so much sexual tension among all the various participants in American Idol the room positively crackles...


Washington, D.C.: Lisa,

Re: Softening up of tough characters = jumping the _________:

Do you see this happening to Dr. House? He's been doing a little too much reflecting lately -- but I suppose now that the nasty boss is gone he can get back to his old self.

I also like the way "House" spaced out the reruns throughout the season unlike Desperate Housewives where I lost interest during that long rerun stretch.

Lisa de Moraes: I hated that whole sidetrack thing on "House."...


Washington, D.C.: I just read online at MSNBC that ABC is planning an expose of AI. Can you say heavenly TV? I can't wait!

It seems the biggest break is the "judges relationship with contestants." I think I now know why they upped the age!

Lisa de Moraes: Apparently ABC News finally figured out they'd gone to the Michael Jackson well once too often and is going to save America from "American Idol"...I feel so much safer knowing they're on the case...


Metro Center: If you're still looking for a new phrase for "jumping the shark," how about referring to the moment that a show "moved to California"? Examples would be "Laverne & Shirley" and "Joey" (who, it should be noted, moved to California in the very first episode).

Lisa de Moraes: that's a very good one. I'll put at top of list...


Re: Scott Savol: Who is voting for Scott Savol? My mom for one. She votes for him because people talk about him not being an attractive guy. There are obviously a lot of folks like my mom. Scott definitely seems to be more popular amongst us black folk than with other Americans.

Lisa de Moraes: I think there is a certain amount of sympathy voting going on, and not just for Scott...


Survivor: Someone needed to browbeat that Janu woman ... what a wretched creature.

Lisa de Moraes: wretched creature -- but fun to watch...


College Park, Md.: FYI -
Carrie Underwood does not belong in the same sentence as Anthony Fedorov and Scott Savol.

Lisa de Moraes: Carrie has the voice, but no stage presence, bland personality and no understanding of what she's singing, as she herself said re MacArthur Park.She couldn't even be bothered to ask one of the vocal coaches to give her some insight into McAP so that she would know what the heck she was singing....


Moving to California: I actually think Joey is getting better. The first few episodes were disappointing, but the last few weeks have been quite funny.

Lisa de Moraes: They've given more material to his agent, and she's a stitch...


Sexual Tension on American Idol: Maybe Paula isn't on anything, and she's just really, really exhausted for the backstage activities?

Lisa de Moraes: an excellent theory....


Boston, MA: I finally figured out why I'm so let down with this year's American Idol -- I mean, aside from the fact that none of the singers have anything approaching a personality. Where are the celebrity judges? Did they blow the guest judge budget during the try-outs and have nothing left over for the actual competition? Remember that unsettling fixation that Neil Sedaka had with Clay? Now that's good TV, people. Just imagine what would have happened if Gene Simmons had judged an actual show. I'm guessing Anthony wouldn't be as perky, that's for sure.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, I too miss the celebrity judges...this "song from the year you were born" and "song from teh 70s that you can try to pass off as a dance song even though it isn't really" stuff is for the birds. The three judges have run out of things to say. They have a limited vocabulary with which to critique the singers -- and if Simon talks about something being bad karaoke one more time I'm going to throw something heavy at my TV screen...Bring Back Celebrity Judges.


Washington, D.C.: I miss Anwar already! Can someone please explain to me why sullen, girlfriend-beating, I-have-an-attitude Scott got more votes than a handsome, middle-school teacher with a great voice? I don't get it, and wish I had just left my phone on speed dial on Tuesday to have tried to save Anwar!

Lisa de Moraes: I wish you had too. Grievously, I can't vote. Something about journalistic ethics blah, blah, blah..


Fairfax County, Va.: Love your column! Do you like going to movies or are you strictly a small-screen person? And while we're getting personal, if you HAD to be a contestant on an existing reality show, which would you pick?

Lisa de Moraes: I love going to see a movie but, alas, I am not a 14 year old boy, so there is not much out there designed to appeal to me as a ticket-buying viewer....re reality show,I would love for someone to re-do my house for free on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but I do not have a sufficiently sad life to be considered...sigh..


Paris and Nicole: Word on the street is that Nicole passed out the Paris sex tape to cast members of SNL when they were both on the show. Which actually is pretty funny.

Lisa de Moraes: I like Nicole all the better for it if that's the case..


Simon Cowell's Vernacular Coach: Here's what I think. I think that this chat is the ... equivalent to ... an ice cream sundae being eaten while watching two pandas play patty cake. (pause, waits for crowd to boo, gives an incredulous look). 'That's' what I think. (rolls eyes pretentiously).

Lisa de Moraes: too funny...so accurate too.


Re: Simon and bad karaoke: Don't forget his likening performances to "cruise-ship entertainment" or "cabaret." Simon, learn some new insults!

Lisa de Moraes: I think we should help him and compile a list..


New York, N.Y.: There is no deeper meaning to MacArthur Park. It's a song about a cake being left out in the rain, and that's a metaphor for a love gone bad. The lyrics are terrible ("I don't think that I can take it/'Cause it took so long to bake it/And I'll never have the recipe agaaaaaain ..."), and there's nothing any singer could do to save it.

Lisa de Moraes: Carrie, is that you, hon? Did someone explain to you about "metaphor" -- that's wonderful!


Scott Appeal: This can be summed up by a sign in the audience on Tuesday's show. It read:

"White Velvet!"

Lisa de Moraes: now my eyes are burning... thanks a lot


Archived Chats?: Lisa:
Is there a way to access archived editions of past TV chats? I can find old Tom Sietsema dining chats with ease. Are archives not available for your chats? Or are they hiding them from us? Or am I looking in the wrong place?

washingtonpost.com: On TV Discussion Archive

Lisa de Moraes: Apparently they are available, thanks to my nice producer who's posted a thingummy here....


Woodstock, Md.: Waait a minute! You watch Home Makeover: Extreme Edition? 'Bout a year ago, you responded to a query of mine by saying that you never watched home improvement programs. Did Ty win you over, or did you decide it was safe to come out since Paige Davis got canned?

Lisa de Moraes: I love a good cry, so I couldn't stay away....


Washington, D.C.: Since the term "jumping the shark" has jumped the shark, why don't we take a cue from Randy and just said that a show has become "a little pitchy" -- kinda like American Idol!

Lisa de Moraes: sounds good. I worry about Idol. The judges are becoming so boring and redundant. It's time to bring in three new judges to freshen things up....


Alexandria, Va.: If chatters don't like the leftover Idol singers, why doesn't Idol have a second chance round where America gets to vote an eliminee back on? We should also get to vote on the Celebrity Judge. The singers should also have to compete against a cardboard cutout of Elvis and an 8-track player. Minimum standards, people!

Lisa de Moraes: you've missed your calling. you should be producing this show instead of those lamebrains who fawned over Seacrest this week....


Insults for Simon::
How about, after the next Scott performance he simply gouges his eyes out with knitting needles?

Lisa de Moraes: save it for the sweeps...which, like I said before, is coming right up.


Ty Pennington: "So when you lost your son and husband in that horrific accident, that must have been rough, huh?"

Lisa de Moraes: ..."maybe some things from my new home decorating line at Sears is just what you need to cheer you up.You know, I spent weeks designing that fork.."


Insults for Simon: How about the tried and true "You couldn't hold a tune if it were duct taped to you, you suck?"

Honestly though I think he wouldn't be so bad if he didn't feel the need to balance out the "You brought it, dawg" and the "You're incredible, the dancing bears behind you told me so!" comments from Randy and Paula. Haven't any of them heard of constructive criticism?

Lisa de Moraes: judges have become SO BORING!


Re: Jake in Progress: What is the future for this show? I thought it was entertaining, but not brilliant. Do you think it will be back. And why did they burn off all the episodes so quickly, did ABC think it was a loser?

Lisa de Moraes: Yes. It seems they're burning them off before the sweep, which did I mention, is coming right up?


Arlington, Va.: Project Greenlight -- have you seen it this season? I just got caught up and am addicted. The director they chose is quite a character, and he has had some very unflattering scenes, where he freely has to show his insecurities and fear of social interaction. It's quite a soap opera. I hope his film turns out well.

Lisa de Moraes: It has Wes Craven's name attached to it, or at least waved over it. Does it matter if it turns out well?


Rockville, Md.: Three new judges for AI to liven things up: David Lee Roth, Pat Buchanan, Whitney Houston.

Lisa de Moraes: Bingo!


Desperate Housewives: Does Alfre Woodard seem like a good fit to you? I'm black, so I have nothing against getting some minorities onto the show, but I'm not quite sure she'll mix well. Any thoughts?

Lisa de Moraes: She's not an obvious choice for such a campy show, but neither was Felicity Huffman and she's great. I think Woodward can be great. it will depend on the role and the writing..and the outfits, of course...


Idol Judge Contest: Lisa,

You should accept submissions from your readers to be published in an upcoming column on who they think would make up the best three replacements for the Idol judges (real and humorous). The winner would receive a Ty Pennington fork.

-Submitter out.

Lisa de Moraes: great idea. send 'em in.


Silver Spring, Md.: Can you explain what's happened to SNL. Is it the writers, cast members, the hosts? It's just wholly unamusing.

E! plays early 90s re-runs, very funny. Thanks

Lisa de Moraes: SNL hasn't been funny for years and years. Except election years, when it's brilliant...


New Judges: "Rockville, Md.: Three new judges for AI to liven things up: David Lee Roth, Pat Buchanan, Whitney Houston.

Lisa de Moraes: Bingo!;"

I have never watched AI.

I think I'd pay to watch that.

Lisa de Moraes: See what I mean?


Wolftrap: You can see Clay Aiken perform this summer. He will be at Wolftrap August 8th.

Lisa de Moraes: I know ....I mean, oh, really?


Sterling, Va.: I think one reason why Anwar lost this week is that, when he was singing the song "September" by Earth Wind & Fire, he did not sing the falsetto part of the chorus, which was the highlight of the original record, and let the backup singers hit the highest notes. Had he sung those notes himself, not only would he be still in the competition, he would have been out of the bottom three.

I also think you mischaracterize Carrie as a zero. Even though she had a bad week, song-wise and look-wise, she is still one of the top contenders.

Lisa de Moraes: You're absolutely right. I winced when the backup singers took over the falsetto part of that song... backup singers drowned out several competitors this week...


Herndon, Va.: Pookie! You let me down! I thought you promised me no one would leave "House" until sweeps time (May) -- but both the hot chick AND Chi McBride are gone! (Chi I'm okay with -- you're right, two meanies isn't good for the show, but still.) What gives?

Lisa de Moraes: Chi was never a regular on the show -- only signed for a few episodes. Can't explain hot chick; it defies all the rules of primetime television. The world is coming to an end, apparently.


New American Idol Judges: Little Richard, David Lee Roth and Bob Dylan.

Lisa de Moraes: You know, Bob Dylan would actually do this show, if the backup singers were Victorias Secret models...


Washington, D.C.: Have there really been no Apprentice questions? Or are you boycotting the Donald?

Lisa de Moraes: Honestly, hardly any...I'm surprised. What would you like to say about The Donald..I loved that (contestant) Bren told The Donald it wasn't worth staying on the show, particularly his line about being tired of the blood in his mouth from competing on the show. And Donald saying he "killed" those two other "Apprentice" knockoffs was one of the funniest moments on the show in any season...


Falls Church, Va.: New American Idol Judges:
Dan Rather, Snoop Dogg, Kathy Lee Gifford

Lisa de Moraes: also great...


AI Judges: John Bolton, Jane Fonda, and Triumph the Comic Insult Dog.

Lisa de Moraes: best yet...


AI Judges: Richard Simmons
Judge Judy
George Michael's old partner, what's his name.

Lisa de Moraes: ...also good...


70s DANCE songs?: I was a teen in the 1970's and believe me, nobody ever DANCED to MacArthur Park ...

Lisa de Moraes: ...you apparently did not have access to the drugs needed to make it a dance song...


New American Idol Judges:: David Lee Roth, Steve Lawrence/Edyie Gorme, and Lorenzo Lamas

Lisa de Moraes: I love Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, but Lorenzo Lamas I have to veto....


AI Judges: Lisa de Moraes, Gene Weingarten and Richard Leiby.

Lisa de Moraes: ..okay, now my eyes are burning again....


Pookie, why don't you like Scott?: I think he can sing ... Sure, he may not be the BEST looking guy out there but, really, Clay Aiken isn't either!

Lisa de Moraes: because he exudes anger and that's not fun to watch....or listen to. I'm out of time now.. bye..


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