By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, August 19, 2010; C01
If there is one thing more than any other that weighs upon the minds of The Reporters Who Cover Television, it's that they often stray from covering TV shows the American public watches in great numbers in order to devote themselves to minor developments in the TV landscape like "Real Housewives' " Michaele and Tareq Salahi, "Jersey Shore's" Snooki, or the latest publicity stunt of some bit of cable news talent.
CBS, for instance, has been the country's most watched television network for seven out of the past eight TV seasons. And yet, these reporters so often leave CBS flat in order to concentrate on networks that are CBS's ratings inferior but whose stars turn up far more often in police reports.
CBS has decided to correct this tendency.
This week, it invited a select group of TV reporters based in New York to an on-set Q&A with the cast of "The Good Wife," which was one of this past season's most successful scripted series launches and which, on average, was watched by an impressive 13 million people each week but which got far less press attention than it deserved because, as mentioned above, it's on CBS and does not star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.
Before the cast took questions, reporters were treated to a super-sexy clip from an unedited version of the show's season debut -- a version that had not yet been vetted by the network's Decency Police and which we're guessing will never be seen by you and me unless we buy the second-season DVD box set.
The results were sensational.
The press went gaga over the clip, an actress became outraged over questions about the sex scene, the whole incident went viral -- and CBS never actually has to air the naughty bits and deal with those pesky FCC fines and angry watchdog-group chain letters. Yes, CBS can truly have its cake and eat it, too.
And if that's not marketing genius, I don't know what is.
But we can see TV Column readers now, mumbling to themselves that they do not give a darn whether CBS has an executive suite full of marketing Mensas, what they want to know is what exactly was in this sexy scene, who threw the hissy fit and did she slap the reporter? These are the points on which readers want information and want it fast, or give them back their 75 cents.
"The Good Wife" stars Julianna Margulies as lawyer Alicia, wife of a philandering louse-of-a-husband, the politician Peter. Peter is played by Chris Noth, a.k.a. The Former Mr. Big, a.k.a. fantasy partner of millions of adult women. In case you haven't been following, Peter is now out of prison, and Alicia is back at work at a law firm and doing well, thank you very much.
In the clip, Peter (who, we cannot state often enough, is played by Chris Noth, fantasy boyfriend of millions of American women) is seen clearly getting turned on at the sight of his gorgeous wife in court, acting all competent and in control. Later that night, when Alicia's in the bathroom brushing her teeth, he comes up behind her and, after waggling her about a bit, the scene "fades out [and] it's clear that the couple engage in oral sex," as the Associated Press reporter on the scene described it.
"I was wondering if there is going to be a little more sex in the second season," asked one reporter, speaking for us all.
"That wasn't enough for you? I mean, I think that is the first time network television has had an oral sex scene -- no?" Margulies responded sweetly.
That is what is known in the journalism business as Handing a Reporter His Lead.
The AP reporter, David Bauder, whom we know and who we can attest works very hard to make sure he gets his facts straight, asked Margulies if she could substantiate that "network first" claim, according to a transcript of the Q&A session, a copy of which was obtained by The TV Column.
"Have you researched that, Julianna?" Bauder asked. "Is that the first time there has been an oral sex scene on a network television show?"
"Honestly, is that the question you are going to ask me? That is despicable!" Margulies shot back, clearly offended, according to witnesses.
"You brought it up," Bauder noted, correctly.
"I didn't bring it up!" she shot back, incorrectly. Bauder did not belabor the point.
"That is disgusting! This is what media is now? I mean, that is truly the stupidest question I have ever heard!" Margulies continued.
"It's the stupidest question you have ever heard?" Bauder asked while, we think, he must have racked his brain trying to remember if she had ever attended a Summer TV Press Tour.
"I'm just saying, is this a point that you think television hasn't really gone to?" Bauder continued, as he tried to straighten out what he told The TV Column afterward became increasingly apparent to him was a misunderstanding on her part as to exactly what he was asking.
"I'm insulted right now. Oh my God! It's bad enough we have 'Jersey Shore,' " Margulies said.His honor, Judge Tyler?
The Newark Star-Ledger got as close as anyone has to an on-the-record confirmation Wednesday that Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has -- finally -- wrapped up his deal to become a judge on "American Idol."
"Steven is doing 'American Idol.' The ink is dry on that," the always reliable Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton said in an interview with the paper as the group toured the country, adding, "We'll have to work around his schedule for a new record."
For weeks now, we've all been reporting that Fox and "Idol" producers had homed in on Tyler and were in the final throes of negotiations for him to take one of the judge seats left vacant on the show when Simon Cowell quit and Ellen DeGeneres did, too. Meanwhile, Kara DioGuardi is still waiting to hear whether her contract is being picked up, but it's not looking good for her. Fox and everyone else associated with the show declined Wednesday to confirm Tyler's deal. Not so Hamilton:
"I hope it doesn't hurt the new momentum we've built up on this tour, because that's been so important for us as a band," he said of Tyler's new gig.
"But I wouldn't want to be the one standing in the way of this for him," Hamilton told the paper. "I don't know if 'American Idol' will be rock-and-roll enough for him."