Rescheduled State of the Union would conflict with 'Lost' premiere

A NEW TWIST: "Lost," which has been slated to return for its final season Feb. 2, could lose out to the president's prime-time address.
A NEW TWIST: "Lost," which has been slated to return for its final season Feb. 2, could lose out to the president's prime-time address. (Bob D'amico/abc)
By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Lost" fans' undies were in a bunch Wednesday over news that the White House might push back the president's State of the Union address to Feb. 2 to be able to use a freshly signed health-care reform law as an audiovisual aid during the speech.

Unless you've been living under a flat rock these past few weeks, you know ABC has been hammering home the point that Feb. 2 is the day the intensely weird drama series returns for Season 6 -- and that all of our many pressing questions from last season's finale will be finally answered on what the network swears will be the very last season of "Lost."

One "Lost" obsessive had already launched a Twitter hashtag #NoStateofUnionFeb2. Meanwhile, an earnest trade reporter at Variety suggested that Ari Emanuel, the co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor -- the talent agent that represents "Lost" exec producer Carlton Cuse -- should place a call to his brother Rahm Emanuel at the White House to "fix this."

Late January is traditionally the date and 9 to 11 p.m. the traditional time slot for delivery of the annual speech, in which the POTUS prattles on about this and that with the help of visual aids in the balcony -- happy Afghan voter, happy Iraqi activist, brave 9/11 responder -- to much huzzahing by the joint houses of Congress. This year, the networks had already penciled in Jan. 26 -- presumably based on reliable information they'd gotten somewhere.

Then, word began to leak that the White House might push it to Feb. 2. Conventional wisdom around the TV industry is that the White House is buying time in hopes of having a health-care reform package done before the speech. The House bill passed in November, and the Senate bill was passed on Christmas Eve; the parties are now thrashing out their differences, which is expected to continue through the end of this month.

The White House wants a bill ratified so Obama could sign it that day and come out the night of the speech waving the hefty document and telling the TV cameras we have taken a huge step forward in our country.

At least that's how Hollywood would script it.

Late Wednesday, "Lost" Fanboys/TV Critics lashed their tails and shot flames from their eyes over the SOTU news.

"While it would be mean of Obama to [expletive] 'Lost,' it would temporarily break up his streak of messing w/'Chuck,' " ranted HitFix's Daniel Fienberg.

"Scheduling change I cannot believe in!" screeched Time's James Poniewozik.

"Will ABC tell the White House to get 'Lost'? State of Union could screw Obama's Dharma," the Wrap's Joe Adalian snapped, summing up the situation nicely.

For the other, non-ABC networks, the date change doesn't much matter. CBS has its usual "NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife" lineup that night. NBC has more problems with its 8-10 p.m. "Biggest Loser" followed by Jay Leno's talker; Fox has a one-hour "American Idol" at 8, followed by the fourth episode of "Our Little Genius" in which Heene-like parents shove their Mensa kids into an intelligence test and bet whether their kid knows the answer to increasingly tough questions. CW doesn't bother airing news events.

NAACP awards

Michael Jackson's funeral has been nominated for best variety series or special at one of the many trophy shows that populate Awards Season.

The nomination by the NAACP for its Image Awards is believed -- by us, anyway -- to mark the first time a funeral service has been a contender for best variety program at a trophy show.

We could be wrong -- Elton John did, after all, perform "Candle in the Wind" at Princess Diana's funeral back in 1997, moving 33 millions to tears across this country.

About 31 million people in the U.S. watched Jackson's last act, which was littered with performances by the likes of Mariah Carey, who was so bad she subsequently apologized for her performance; and Usher, who should have apologized for his creeptastic touch-the-casket move. Also playing to a packed house at the funeral, but with no apologies necessary: Jermaine Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and that kid who gave Susan Boyle a run for her money on "Britain's Got Talent."

Jackson's funeral is competing against a Wanda Sykes stand-up special, the Mark Twain Prize ceremonies at the Kennedy Center (the prize went to Bill Cosby), the BET Awards, and the inaugural celebration/concert for President Obama at the Lincoln Memorial. Those shows were carried by HBO, PBS, BET and HBO, respectively. Jackson's funeral was telecast across 19 networks in the U.S. alone.

If you want to be the first to know whether Jackson's funeral will take home the trophy, tune in to Fox on Feb. 26, when the Image Awards ceremony is broadcast live.

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