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On TV

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 17, 2004; 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, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest on TV.

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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.

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D.C. Globe watcher: I know the ratings have been going down and the show 'jumped the shark' quite some time ago, but what's with none of the actors of the West Wing getting a nomination?

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. I think it's because they didn't deserve any. That and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association likes to recognize freshmen series, for which we applaud them. Or maybe "The West Wing" didn't throw a very good party for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It could be so many things. Maybe it's because the HFPA couldn't figure out whether "WW" is a drama or a comedy these days. Did you see this week's episode? MS storyline was definitely dramatic. Asteroid hurdling toward earth, however was high camp.....

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Bethesda, Md.: So is Channel 7 going to show the 4 1/2 missing minutes from Desperate Housewives? And how is their "investigation" going? I'm not really that surprised they missed some of the show, but skipping 4 1/2 minutes of ads? They must have really messed up over there ...

Lisa de Moraes: Next posting has the answer...

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Bethesda, Md.: Channel 7 explained to me in an e-mail that 'Unfortunately, we cannot rebroadcast Sunday's Desperate Housewives episode.' I'm sure there are some contractual and advertising issues but wouldn't it be a win/win to bump a lowly rated (esp. syndicated or Channel 7) show in favor of a highly-rated one? Enlighten us, oh One Who Covers Television!

Lisa de Moraes: Here is what WJLA is telling folks...

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Chantilly, Va.: OK -- so my TiVo was smart enough to know that Desperate Housewives wouldn't be on until midnight Sunday but it's not smart enough to know when the game runs over so I only have the first 15 minutes of the show. Not acceptable as you can imagine. Any chance they will rebroadcast it before the new episode this Sunday? I even e-mailed WJLA asking about it. Sad, I know.

Lisa de Moraes: Sorry, no. You will just have to wait until the network reruns the episode, whenever that is....WJLA suits say, correctly, that they brokered the deal to preempt their primetime on Sunday for two [inappropriate football team name] games long before they realized "Desperate Housewives" was going to be a hit. But they did a lousy job letting people know "DH" was going to be pre-empted last Sunday. Of course, WJLA had no way of knowing exactly when the game would actually end.

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Washington, D.C. -- my overburdened office: Lisa -- I am posting early because, as your chat approaches, I will get so apoplectic over my topic that I will expire.

Katie Couric -- GOD how I hate that woman. Yes, she was cute and pixie-ish when she was a hungry newcomer.

But her self-centered, egomaniacal little self is now unwatchable! She interviewed Alan Alda this week on her crappy Today show, and she elicited NO information from him. Nor any charming stories. All she offered were her own observations and asides. When he mentioned something he'd written, she had to explain how she'd seen it, and how she felt about it. EVERY comment he made had to have her take on the same thing.

She is not a nice person. She is a bad "newsperson," and an UNcharming celebrity.

Lisa de Moraes: Did you see The Widow Couric on The Daily Show last night? Jon Stewart runs laps around Leno and Letterman as an interviewer; he actually got her to sound human. I was stunned....But yes, it would be helpful if, on her infotainment show, she occasionally got over herself...

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Arlington, Va.: More evidence that no one watches Saturday Night Live any more: Colin Farrell concludes his 12:59 a.m. hosting thank-yous with "I $#!% you not" and there isn't a single FCC complaint or piece of press coverage. (Thank the Lord for TiVo so I can watch SNL in 30 minutes.)

I also look forward to the FCC banning the Olympics.

P.S. When are we getting a picture of LdM so that we can sing appropriate hosannas?

Lisa de Moraes: FCC's indecency bit does not cover late night, only hours that kiddies are said to be up and glued to the TV...and I too am totally in love with the story of the FCC looking into whether to file indecency charges against NBC over its coverage of the Athens Olympics....

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Silver Spring, Md.: Lisa, I'm feeling like tonight is going to be a hunker down with some take-out Chinese and stare at the tv night. What's a twenty-something girl to watch on a Friday night?

Lisa de Moraes: CBS's re-brodcast of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," closing credits of which will feature the network premiere of the new animated music video by Destiny's Child of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." In the video, the singers are transformed into Rudolph-like stop motion puppets. Also, TCM is running its bio of Howard Hughes which is worth watching if you plan to see "The Aviator" this weekend. Other than that, you're on your own....

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She Already Called Me Pookie: What are your thoughts upon seeing Omarosa getting a cameo last?

Is it just me, or did Pam look stricken at the prospect of being defended by that attention-grabbing lunatic?

Lisa de Moraes: Omarosa is so last season, this show looks desperate bringing her back.....

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Springfield, Va.: So seeing that Arrested Development is the greatest comedy on TV right now, do you think Fox will continue to renew a show the low ratings. I'm just happy that they renewed it for this season. Also, wouldn't promoting the show a little help the ratings?

Lisa de Moraes: No point promoting the show when no one is watching their others shows in which the promos are running. But let'sface it, Fox's new season doesn't really get under way until January when "American Idol" returns. We'll have to see how "Arrested Development" does then, when someone might actually be seeing whatever promos for the series Fox slaps in and around "Idol."

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Alexandria, Va.: I got an e-mail from WJLA -- Ch. 7 that they were not intending to rerun Sunday's Desperate Housewives this week, bumped for that loser (despicably named) football team game.

What gives? Last time they bumped it for the game Ch. 7 reran it the following Saturday. You'd think they'd anticipate that lots of viewers would be more than a bit teeed off at the station.

Lisa de Moraes: WJLA didn't rerun it the following Saturday, ABC reran it the following Saturday. For a while this season, ABC was rerunning "Desperate Housewives" Sunday episodes the following Saturday. They have, unfortunately, stopped that. WJLA deserves NO credit for the rebroadcast of that other episode of "DH" that the station preempted....

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Apprentice: That was three hours of my life I'll never got back. So lame. It was nice to see Jen get reamed, though.

Oh, and speaking of Couric -- I never had strong anti-feelings until I saw her interview Leo DiCaprio. She was pathetic and it was plain he thought she was an idiot. She tried to tease/flirt with him and ended up sounding like a b-tch.

Lisa de Moraes: and, maybe, pathetic? ...please say yes..

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Apprentice Land, USA: Ya know, there just isn't room for that kind of arrogance in the boardroom. I actually don't feel bad for Jennifer for losing or that she had to sit there and endure listening to why everyone liked Kelly. It's management personalities like hers that drive good people out of companies. Trump knows that.

Just had to get that off my chest. Thanks

Lisa de Moraes: She is always very "lawyerly" in the boardroom, which is soooo unpleasant. I really think that's what did her in. There now, I've offended about 3/4 of the population of Washington, D.C. I feel much better...

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Washington, D.C.: You need to do a "We Watch so You Don't Have To" column for the Apprentice -- you might be the only person who could sit through three hours of it.

Lisa de Moraes: I confess, when they cut to commercial break after Trump announced which two projects Kelly would get to chose from as his place of "employment" I bailed. I just couldn't take any more of the episode. Mark Burnett is very good at producing reality TV series but he sure cannot figure out how to do the finale of this particular franchise. He added Regis because Trump is so very bad at live TV -- makes you appreciate how hard it must be to get good stuff out of Trump during the competition -- but Rege seemed really wrong for the show. Even Jeff Probst would have been better. And really, are these guys the future of reality TV: Regis Philbin and Donald Trump, who runs his empire by flying over his various construction projects and then getting on his cell and shouting at some flunky:"I'm just flying over The Trump [fill in the blank] and I want you to work faster. So work faster!] Yikes!

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Arlington, Va. (Mild Spoilers): The decision to air the last several hours of last night's Apprentice live certainly seemed like an awful idea. It dragged on and on. People kept repeating each other. One of Trump's employees was so flustered that he couldn't put two words together.

On the bright side, we at least got to see more of Regis Philbin. That little spark plug is so underexposed, every time he appears on TV, he just seems so fresh and original!

Lisa de Moraes: That one Trump exec, I think he was the COO, was hilarious when he was struck by a case of stage fright...that was maybe the only fun moment in the whole painful three hours..

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Committed?: What do you know about NBC's new show debuting in January, Committed? Does it have promise?

Lisa de Moraes: depends on what medications you're taking...

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Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.: I know this sounds pathetic, but I was swept into America's Next Top Model after viewing the rerun marathon this past weekend.

I thought the finale was this week, but can't seem to find anything about it. Who won?!

Lisa de Moraes: hate to ruin it for you, but, that said, I will: Eva Pigford won....

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Reston, Va.: Submitting early due to a meeting ... Lisa, love your column. On this season of the Amazing Race, it has become increasingly disturbing to watch Jonathan and Victoria due to his constant abuse of her ...on the last episode he even hit her right in front of Phil! It's really going beyond the usual reality TV clash ... Have you heard anything about this?

Lisa de Moraes: There's been much chatter about his abusive behavior towards his wife on the show, some people have faulted CBS for showing the footage without showing "consequences" and I think at least one official organization of some kind has put out a press release saying it's wrong to put abusive husbands on TV or something along those lines. For those of you not watching, this loser screams at his wife a lot and has been seen, twice I think, shoving her pretty hard. Personally, I think it's good that they show what he's doing to her if only because it has sparked so much chatter on the subject. I'm glad CBS is showing it; I hope it is making him very uncomfortable in his real-time life and that maybe it's causing him to lose some of the clients at his day spa or whatever it is he does in real life. That would be "consequences."

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Arlington, Va.: Merry Chrismukkah. The wildest thing about last night's O.C. has to be the January teasers. They had everything! Any thoughts?

Lisa de Moraes: I confess -- I'm doing a lot of that on this chat: I watched the Chrismukkah episode of "OC" on tape sent by the network. Missed the teases. I assume it's about the girl-on-girl action?

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Lisa, what do you think about Jeff Probst dating one of the Survivor contestants?

Lisa de Moraes: Trying very hard to care.... Nope, can't do it.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Lisa. I've been enjoying "Lost" the past few weeks, and was finally able to see the pilot earlier this week. I saw the polar bear you've been talking about! Also, there were tons of survivors, but the show only concentrates on a few. Did more of them die?

Lisa de Moraes: all the middle aged and old people died. all the young people with toned bodies survived. except the token fat-guy-comic-relief....

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Help Us, Please: I am embarrassed but I find myself in a downward spiral and I can't see anyway out.

It all started two summers ago when I saw the tryouts for "Last Comic Standing" on Comedy Central. It was funny, nothing else was on -- hey, it was summer -- so I started watching it on NBC. Then that fall when my wife was on a business trip I ran across "Survivor". It just so happened that she was bored in her hotel room and watched it as well. We were hooked.

But the problem now is we can't get away from this crap. We find ourselves looking forward each week to "The Biggest Loser". The only positive thing is we never saw any of "Making the Band" -- OK maybe only a little.

Please Help. How can we stop?

Lisa de Moraes: Just enjoy the ride. eventually, you will get over it....

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Arlington, Va.: Okay, I'll dare to say this out loud: I'm losing interest in Desperate Housewives. I enjoy some of it, especially Lynette's parenting problems. But I'm really turned off by Gabrielle's affair with a high school student.

I guess I'll be shunned by society for admitting this.

Lisa de Moraes: luckily, that affair is coming to a close, so hopefully you can start to enjoy the show again...

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Washington, D.C.: Last night's live finale of the Apprentice was the single worst two-hour block of TV I have ever watched. Regis? Audience participation? Every comment was essentially the same: "Both candidates are great. Kelly is great." Even the O'Jays were tough to watch b/c they didn't get through much of the song. The only bit of good entertainment was when the Donald's COO got camera shy and blanked out.

Lisa de Moraes: It was terrible TV. Can't figure out why Mark Burnett can't figure out how to do the finale of this show. Really Burnett needs to nuke the whole finale concept and do something radically different that doesn't hinge so much on Trump, who apparently is really, really, really bad on TV. I'd love to know how many takes they have to do each week of him saying "you're fired" before he gets it right....

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Silver Spring, Md.: Lisa,
So this past season of Survivor was too boring in my opinion. What do you think they will do to mix it up for next season? I heard Jeff Probst say there will be 20 contestants next time.
Also, I had a hard time watching all of the Apprentice. I wasn't too fond of either Kelly or Jennifer, but felt that all the "unexpected" praise of Kelly was over the top. It would have been far more interesting if Trump pulled off his hair piece or something.

Lisa de Moraes: Somehow I don't think adding MORE contestants to "Survivor" is going to make it more interesting, just longer...and yes, this edition of "The Apprentice" was not nearly so interesting as the first, even though production values seemed to be higher, because it was so predictable. And the jobs they were given were just as lame as the last time, even though there were big corporate sponsors involved. Dog washing? Selling ice cream on the street? Selling candy bars on the street? Paleeze..

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Re: Apprentice Finale: What happened to that poor employee of Trump who was completely tongue-tied when giving his analysis of the two candidates? Do you think he will get fired?

Lisa de Moraes: gosh I hope so, and on the next edition of "The Apprentice." Then the contestants can all try out for his job...Actually, I felt bad for the guy; he was obviously suffering from stage fright....

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Washington, D.C.: What Burnett needs to do on the Apprentice Finale is reveal what Trump's scalp really looks like.

Lisa de Moraes: Brilliant....I'll pass it along.When you think of it, it's what Americans really want to know about Trump. Throughout the whole show, his hair sits there like the big fat elephant in the room nobody wants to acknowledge..

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Severna Park, Md.: The O'Jays? The "Love Train" O'Jays?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm told by our resident music expert that they're one in the same....

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Desperate Housewives: I agree with the earlier poster regarding DH. If it hasn't jumped the shark yet, it's putting on the water skis.

Lisa de Moraes: Oh great, then I'll have to go back to waxing enthusiastic about "Fear Factor." Thanks a lot...

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Desk in D.C.: Mark Burnett needs to take some tips from Top Model. Their finale (yes, love that trashy show) was ONE hour. Not dragged out, boring junk like Apprentice was last night. Here are the two finales, let them jump through one final hoop, bam -- we have a winner! See you next season! It was perfect.

(Or maybe we're just more interested in models than men and women in suits?)

Lisa de Moraes: I think perhaps "The Apprentice" finale would not have been three hours had NBC any other show that was working on Thursday nights.For instance, if "Joey" was a hit...

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: I don't pretend to understand TV ratings, but a particularly mystifying report was your designation of Survivor as a "loser" this week.

So it only got 20 million to Desperate Housewives 23. It was still the 3rd rated show of the week, and this despite having had a mind-numbingly boring season (at least until the Leanne boot).

How does the #3 show become a loser?

And how did The Donald's pound-on-Jen session do last night?

Lisa de Moraes: The top-10 list is mostly for the amusement of the general public. And me, of course. The way TV industry suits look at a show's performance is by comparing it to how the show has done in the past and whether it has improved their ratings in the timeslot though, yes, they do like to brag if they have the No. 1 show on television, for example. The fact that "Survivor" did its smallest finale audience ever and that, for the first time, got beat by another show in one of its two hours is the reason I made it a loser..Of course it's not facing cancellation.

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Re: Brian Williams: I submitted this question early because I thought I couldn't be online, but here I am after all.

Have you noticed that Brian Williams shoulders are bigger than they used to be when he was subbing for Tom Brokaw? Does NBC think that by adding bigger shoulder pads we will think he is stronger and more trustworthy? I like Brian Williams, but this just seems silly to me.

Lisa de Moraes: I have not noticed. I will start paying attention. Maybe they're bulking up his shoulder pads so his swelling head will not be noticed? Just a guess...

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Arlington, Va.: Lisa,

What are your thoughts on the O.C? While last night's show was by far the best of the season, whenever shows start adding new family members, they have a tendency to be towards the end of their run.

Lisa de Moraes: Loved the Chrismukkah episode, but then I adore holiday episodes of TV series....

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Arlington, Va.: Hello, thanks for the chat today.

As frustrating as it is to say, I'm really enjoying Project Runway on Bravo. I feel that for the large part, they cast people with actual talent before worrying about people who would make for good television. The result is that some of the designs are truly cool to see and most of the drama comes from the actual work, not catty comments (although they are there). I like it and I don't care about fashion!

I know it was among your losers one week, I wanted to find out if the show is picking up any viewers through word of mouth (several people asked me if I've seen it)? Also, what is your opinion of the show?

Lisa de Moraes: I haven't checked up on the ratings since its debut. Will do that. And I think that any show about fashion that makes the wanna-be designers get materials from a grocery store is alright. Loved the cornhusk dress, truly...

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Apprentice ...: Whew, thank GAWD that's over. Jen was so unbelievably arrogant that I actually enjoyed watching her squirm as the audience rooted for Kelly. I'm so surprised that this season wasn't better ... what do you think of next season's ENT (exciting new twist) -- Education vs. Experience?

Incidentally, I can't believe they were advertising the O'Jay's singing their song ... they sang exactly 30 seconds of it (it occurred to me later that they really COULDN'T sing the whole song, as the lyrics are actually about the evils of money).

Anyhoo, when does the next season begin? I think I'm a glutton for punishment or something ...

Lisa de Moraes: I think the reason they couldn't sing the whole song is that they were getting winded....did you see those guys? I was disappointed in this edition because in the end it wasn't about who had the most business savvy. It was all about "you went to Princeton but you went to West Point." It was elitist and off putting and exactly not what the show is supposed to be about. I felt same way last round when Trump whacked Troy because he didn't have a college education...

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Re: Re: Brian Williams: I must defend this man. I used to think nothing of him; he was just there. But I saw him on the Daily Show a few days before Brokaw's last broadcast and he was absolutely hysterical. I'm not usually in front of a TV when network news is on but anytime I am, I will tune in to him.

Lisa de Moraes: Too bad absolutely none of that comes through in his broadcast. I think it would help if the news anchors were a little more, you know human on their shows. But not in a wild eyed Rather kind of way...

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Re: NBC: Does NBC have any good shows in the works for mid-season (besides the ridiculous boxing series -- like anyone bought that Sugar Ray was attending the Apprentice finale if his own accord) or should I sell my GE stock now?

Lisa de Moraes: Like I said earlier, depends on what medication you're on...

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Nanny 911: This show frightens me. Mainly because it makes me realize how many bad parents there are in this world. So clueless. I can't imagine even trying half the stuff these kids get away with. If I had acted out like that as a kid I would have never seen the outside of my bedroom (without a TV or computer in it!).

Lisa de Moraes: The nanny rocks...

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Re: Apprentice: What happens to Bill Rancic now? Is he out on the street looking for work and writing a tell-all about life in the Trump organization?

Lisa de Moraes: I think he goes back to selling cigars...da dum dum...

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Washington, D.C.: Submitting late. You mean "Joey" isn't a hit? Hey, maybe he can run for VP on West Wing. What the hell, make it president.

Wait, we already ...

Lisa de Moraes: hahahahah...so sad.

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Washington, D.C.: Where did Trump go to college?

Lisa de Moraes: Trump University, silly...the tallest and most exclusive university in the world...

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Horrified, USA: Please tell me that CBS producers of The Amazing Race are going to kick off Jonathan.

His behavior towards his wife in the weeks leading up to this week have been bordering on the abusive, but he really stepped over the line this week. It was horrible to watch. I know it's reality TV, but methinks he needs the reality of a jail cell!

Lisa de Moraes: Like I said, I think the fact that people are talking about it is great....

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20009: Much trumpeting about how well the Housewives did w/ the Golden Blobe nominations ... but, I saw the star of Joey received one as well. Why did this not merit A1, above the fold treatment. Also, heard you on "local" radio show recently. O.C. is not last year's news at all -- not at least among under 25 set. Kinda like 90210; ratings don't reflect fact that 100 percent of the demographic seems to watch. Otherwise, keep up the good -- and much more important, snarky --work. You're worth the 35 cent a day cover price all by your lonesome.

Lisa de Moraes: I was delirious at the time....and thanks, re being worth 35 cents!

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Washington, D.C.: The O'Jays have been around since the 60s and have been a top-selling R&B/sometimes pop act since then. They're still releasing new material and in the 70s, they were the BOMB. Those Philly classic recordings they did are among the best of that decade. Cut them some slack.

Lisa de Moraes: Okay, okay, in the spirit of the holiday season, I'll back off...

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O'Jays on Apprentice: Okay, they did look like they had just done an hour of aerobics, didn't they? I attributed to the lights and the fact that they are, like, 100.

Lisa de Moraes: ...but that doesn't mean others will...

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"It's all in the editing!": Every time I hear a reality-show contestant say this, I die laughing. They do realize that no one's buying it, right?

Lisa de Moraes: grievously, no. This is a reference to Amazing Race loser's lame excuse on his web site for screaming at and shoving his wife, I assume? I think he also said they really love each other. Geesh, he's like a really bad Lifetime flick...

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Who's Your Daddy?: No comment about what might, possibly, be the worst reality-TV concept ever?

Lisa de Moraes: you say "worst" like it's a bad thing..

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Anonymous: I finally got to see an episode of "House" last week. The show was interesting enough, but Hugh Laurie's accent was too distracting. He was trying so hard to de-Britify himself, he kept his voice a perfectly even tone, much the way drunks do when they're trying to convince you they're sober. His idea of an American accent is a lot deeper than his regular voice -- I guess his way of acknowledging that Americans are way more butch then Brits.

Lisa de Moraes: you mean they aren't? I too wish they'd led Laurie be a Brit on the show but, alas, American viewers don't like their TV stars to have accents. Film stars it's okay, but TV stars, no dice. Funny, isn't it.

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Re: Princeton vs. West Point: Umm, in addition to West Point, Kelly also happens to have a law degree AND an MBA from UCLA. ... hardly community college.

Why were Trump and the producers so hell-bent on making it sound like military vs. education? Just to set up the premise of season 3?

Lisa de Moraes: like I said, it was all about "where did you graduate" on this edition....zzzzzzzzz....

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Columbia, Md.: I taped Desparate Housewives off the Baltimore feed. I'll sell the tape to the highest bidder.

Lisa de Moraes: Posted as a public service. I think. I'm out of time, have a happy Chrismukkah ...

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