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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 8, 2006; 1:00 PM

Post TV Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, Sept. 8, at 1 p.m. ET to take a look at what's on the tube in a fast-paced give and take about reality, non-reality, cable and you name it.

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.

The transcript follows.

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Washington, D.C.: Lisa,

After reading Jeff Probst's interview in your column, I have to ask: Is he really that stupid? He really had no clue that there were actually ethnic differences among Asians? I'm surprised y'all didn't have more of a field day with him.

washingtonpost.com: 'Survivor' Host's Geoethnic Studies, From Soup to Mutts ( Post, Sept. 8 )

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. Maybe I should have been harsher, but it felt like kicking a child and just didn't have the heart for it. Honestly, he seemed so utterly sincere in his cluelessness. So he at least gets props for honesty, right? Either that, or he's a terrific actor and I'm a sucker and need to snap out of it.

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Philly: So, CBS and Jeff Probst are PROUD of the fact that he didn't know there were Asians from different countries? I am glad he informed us there are no white ethnicities. Has he ever met a full blooded Italian? Or has he heard of Kosovo? I used to like Jeff, but I didn't realize he was so dim.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, he amended his comment to say that some white people say things like "I'm Italian" or "I'm Irish," etc. So he's not completely clueless. Just living an extraordinarily sheltered, all-white life, it appears....But, again, in his defense (why am I doing this?) he did completely fess up and say the Survivor experience was an eye opener for him. Hopefully, he will continue on his process of recovery....

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Reston, Va.: Yippee! The new season is almost here! I must say I'm not too turned on by the new stuff they're promoting, but I'm pretty excited that my favorites are coming back soon.

Which returning show are you most looking forward to?

Lisa de Moraes: This was as good development season. I hope I don't regret saying that because, of course, it's based on seeing exactly one episode of most shows. And so much more time and money is spent on the pilot episode than the rest of the episodes so they aren't always a good indication of what the series is actually going to deliver. I'm anxious to see how Ugly Betty does, I know I've raved about it before on this chat. I also liked the Aaron Sorkin pilot for "Studio 60." It was not perfect and I think a lot of critics had unrealistic expectations about it -- they expected perfection. But it's difficult to do a pilot episode in which you have to set up so very many characters. I thought he did a terrific job and his writing is always a cut above most. It's well worth watching... I liked most of the serialized dramas that are debuting, though even critics are having a hard time straight which is which and I fear most of them will fail if for no other reason than the incredible glut. And Brad Garrett's new sitcom is worth watching if only to see how terrific he is with not sensational material. I'm told later episodes are much better than the pilot and he's hilarious in the pilot -- wish I could say the same for the rest of the cast...

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Hello Lisa,

Isn't it funny that on a day when more space in newspapers and blogs and time on radio and TV were collectively spent on Katie Couric's debut than anything else going on in the world, many critics ripped her because her show was light on news? (Example: Tom Shales: "The CBS Evening No-News.") The people in those glass houses really need to pull up their shades. I say: Rock on, Katie!

Lisa de Moraes: Tom Shales' job is to revie Katie Couric's debut on "CBS Evening News." If his job was to cover the White House but he chose instead to cover Katie Couric's debut on "CBS Evening News" I'd get your point. Shales is not responsible for the amount of blogging, etc. done by others. Don't mess with me when it comes to Tom Shales. I'm a huge fan. And it's true that Couric's first night as anchor the show was extremely pre-packaged which I can only assume was done deliberately to make it as easy as possible on her -- not lots of juggling correspondents, dealing with satellite hookup snafus, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, but it was noteworthy....

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Austin, Tex.: If GM is no longer sponsoring the show, who will be left to give the winner a totally worthless Ponitac POS to pretend to enjoy?

Lisa de Moraes: Probst said yesterday he thinks GM pulled out because of the show's Car Curse -- apparently no contestant who has won the GM vehicle during the show has ever gone on to win the million dollars....I'd pull out too if I was GM and this was what viewers were taking away from the product placement -- Car Curse.....

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Arlington, Va.: I was forced to watch a preview of the Brad Garrett show during the ad portion of the movies. It sucked. I hated it.

Lisa de Moraes: Can't tell whether you're saying you watched the entire show. That would surprise me. Anyway, I never said the show was great. I said he's great in it. He is.....

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Washington, D.C.: What comedy (new or old) are you most looking forward to this fall? I'm very excited about The Office coming back and in getting my hands on the Season 2 DVDs coming out soon. And no, I don't work for the production company!

Lisa de Moraes: Thanks for clearing that up.... I'm looking forward to "My Name is Earl" because I'm told by someone who's involved with the show that this season they won't necessarily have Earl check something off his list each week. Apparently the felt they had to stick with that format for the whole first season but they're going to broaden it out somewhat this season. That structure was a bit confining this past season and I'm glad they're going to cut loose this season.

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15th and L, Washington, D.C.: Lisa -- please never leave me alone in my cube on a Friday again. It was brutal without you. I missed you. I love you.

Lisa de Moraes: XXX000

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Detroit, Mich.: You know what Katie Couric needs? A sidekick. Somewhere on the spectrum between Andy Richter and Andy Dick. But instead of the hearty laughter, they could wait for the heart-tuggers and just go, "awwwww ..."

Lisa de Moraes: Maybe Bob Schieffer?

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Feminis, MS: Lisa,

I'm surprised you haven't been deluged with Katie Katie Katie. (Unless all of Farhi's chatters exhausted it.) She seems harmless enough. Why is there so much animus against her? Is it the Martha Stewart syndrome, where she's so successful and seems to "have it all" while seeming to exert so little effort? (I thought that was the quality called "grace," and I actually kind of admire it, but I understand why women resent the heck out of it.)

Lisa de Moraes: Sob! Stop, you big strong he-man, you're so mean to a lil gal like me.

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Beachwood,Oh (really state of confusion): Commander in Chief ... Any news on a movie?

Lisa de Moraes: A gleam in the eye of the creators. I think the public has spoken on this one...

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Hope, Ark.: Hi Pookie --

Any chance that ABC will yank the plug on the 9/11 mockudrama? Are there sponsors to this that are feeling the heat?

Lisa de Moraes: I hope not. I'm getting quite a bit of noise on this in the chat and interestinly they all seem to have been written by the same person. Did you guys all come from some organization? I'm anxious to see it...

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Katie Schmatie: Ask Marc Fisher about his encounter with Ms. Couric when they worked in Florida. Anybody who crashes a funeral with a camera crew and lights blazing is not a nice person.

washingtonpost.com: From Marc Fisher Live Online, Thursday, Sept. 7: Couric was an eager and well-liked local TV reporter when I was a young newspaper guy in Miami. I reported on a funeral service for an FBI agent who had been killed in a drug dealer shootout. When Couric and her camera crew barged into the church service, lights ablaze, at a particularly somber and silent moment, many in the church were appalled. I wrote about the scene, and she did not take kindly to the reporting.

Lisa de Moraes: no comment needed here...

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Washington, D.C.: Why doesn't CBS see this Survivor episode as race baiting? How wonderful to have a show that can turn regular viewers into racists. Who are people going to cheer on? Most likely, people will stick to their own race. I can hear the watercooler talk over this as people argue which race they hate more. Lovely.

Lisa de Moraes: "Social experiment" is the explanation Probst has used in the past. You know, like FX's "Black/White."

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Horatio Caine: Will the cliche never end of the strong man who's never allowed to have love? Must she always be gunned down?

Lisa de Moraes: Mr. Caruso, take your hands off your hips and stop looking at yourself in the mirror and listen to me: CBS can kill off whoever -- whomever? -- they want on any show of yours no matter how lovely she is and how stuck on her you are and you just have to suck it up like a man and thank your lucky stars you still have a job and a career.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Lisa, I saw the first episode of Extras and loved it. I guess I love anything with Ricky Gervais. And I really thought Kate Winslet playing herself was hilarious. Are there plans for more episodes? I still have to see the rest of season one.

And Jeff Probst's comments make me want to tear my hair out. I stopped watching Survivor after the all-stars edition because I found better shows to watch at that time. And I am one of the non-white watchers of that show.

Lisa de Moraes: As one of the non-white watchers of "Survivor" does the set up of this next edition interest you enough to go back to the show. That is clearly one of the things they're shooting for here -- to get more minority viewers, they have so few.

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New York, N.Y.: What does hosting the Oscars have to do with being in good movies? Name some previous Oscar hosts with a stellar film resume? Chris Rock? Jon Stewart?

Lisa de Moraes: Steve Martin, Whoopie Goldberg, Billy Crystal, to name a few recent ones. And apparently my humor is not loved by you for which I am deeply sorry because I love my humor like a child. What I was attempting to convey, oh so subtly, is that the Academy has gotten further and further away from insisting that the host have at least some film credits and more interested in getting a host who is a pre-sold commodity with TV viewers. Either that or ABC now has much more control over who is the host.... I'm a big Ellen fan and I think she will go over much better with the snooty film crowd in the Kodak Theater -- Theatre? -- than Rock and Stewart did. What those two guys failed to do was win over the snooty film audience in the theater and no matter how much they are loved by viewers at home watching on TV, if they're dying in the hall in which they are playing, it makes for really icky, cringe-inducing television.

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Andy sideckck for Katie?: Re Detroit's suggestion of an Andy sideckick for Katie: How about Andy Rooney? I'd pay to see that trainwreck happen!

Speaking of trainwrecks, why can't an adult like Katie pick out simple, tasteful clothes/shoes for work, like the rest of us? Her choices serve to distract from the news.

Lisa de Moraes: Her outfits the first two nights were dreadful and I'm saying this unaplologetically because, like it or not, how someone looks is part of the job of being the face of a network's news division. Her jackets looked a size too small -- stretched at the button, which is never a good look -- and the white jacket was a horror. This was all the more surprising because she looked stunning and very professional in the suit she wore at her Summer TV Press Tour 2006 Q&A and I thought someone at CBS had finally gotten hold of her wardrobe and fixed it.

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GradStudentLand: Goddess of All Things Televisual: Forgive my ignorance (we grad students don't get out of the library very often), but what is this Ugly Betty of which you speak, and on what night/channel can it be seen? Since you're excited about it, I definitely want to give it a look-see.

Lisa de Moraes: It's on ABC -- whatever channel that is in your market -- and they've moved its timeslot so often I can't remember but I think it's Thursday at 8 p.m. It's a reworking of a popular telenovela and was brought to ABC by Salma Hayek who does a LOL cameo in the pilot episode. During some scenes at the home, you can see her on a TV in the background playing the star of an actual telenovela and she's always in some kind of super-peril -- having her bodice ripped off, getting pounce on by some menacing man, getting slapped around.

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Oscar Hosts: While I generally buy your argument, I still love the memory of "Oprah ... Uma ... Oprah ...".

The Holywood set didn't like it but I LOVED it.

Lisa de Moraes: I was there -- he was tedious. But yes, I did not understand why all the hatred over the Oprah, Uma joke. I thought it was kind of clever, but I'm not a fan of either.

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Washington, D.C.: Regarding your Oscar comments on this post, Johnny Carson hosted the Oscards for years and he never appeared in movies, he was a TV personality.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes and it looks like we have finally gotten back to the good old days, when the most important thing was that the person be really good at doing live television, in stead of having a "film resume." I'm all for it. It's just that Stewart and Rock weren't the right guys, but they were on the right track. I think DeGeneres will do very well. She's been terrific doing the Emmys...

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Frederick, Md.: Am I the only one annoyed that this season of Bones has more and more of the interpersonal drama crap? I know they have to have personalities, but I don't want the shows to move toward soap operadom. The science and case-solving should remain the stars of the show.

Lisa de Moraes: Sigh....how often have we seen great dramas devolve into soap...I'm assuming they have pots and pots of focus group results telling us that viewers got very excited whenever there was any "relationship" blather in the series last seasn and that's why they're goosing it this season...

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: Of all the high production value shows HBO has, why on Earth did they have that Lucky Louie show on? It was awful and looked like it was shot on the set of a community theater (theater?)stage.

Lisa de Moraes: It's on HBO so it's not TV. It's community theater. I love that!

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Ellicott City, Md.: Do you think the Tom DeLay letter will affect the outcome of the dance contest show (sorry I can't remember the name). How bizarre is that -- perhaps he has a group he would like to endorse for Survivor.

Lisa de Moraes: Sounds like a pathetic bid to get people to register on his Web site to bolster his mailing list... just guessing...no, it will not affect the show, except the coverage gives it some free publicity....

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NBC face off: Will the Matthew Perry show and the Tina Fey show cancel each other out? It still seems so odd to me that two shows with the same premise are premiering on the same network this fall. I'm more excited about the Aaron Sorkin version personally, but I could see how someone who doesn't pay attention to TV might wonder why there are two similar shows? Or am I not giving the American public enough credit?

Lisa de Moraes: you don't need to pay attention to TV, you just need to pay attention to the politics at NBC. Tina Fey had been working on her SNL-ish series for NBC and they of course want to make her happy and Lorne Michaels, though lord knows why as far as I'm concerned. Then Sorkin writes this SNL-ish one-hour series on spec -- good for him -- and takes it out on the open market. Of course NBC doesn't want another network -- CBS comes to mind -- to have an SNL-ish series on its schedule, pulverizing whatever NBC has on in the same timeslot, so they get into a bidding war and wind up paying mucho bucks for the project. This gets Fey and Michaels' knickers knotted, so now NBC has to greenlight THEIR SNL-ish project in development and -- voila -- TWO SNL-ish series on NBC's primetime schedule for the fall...

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Up there with the "get to know a celebrity and you'll never look at them the same way," Ellen DeGeneres visited my college campus and friends who worked the show backstage and coordinated with her people, etc. ... said she is awful, mean, selfish, rude and demanding. Nothing funny about that. I never watch her show nor want to because of it ...

Lisa de Moraes: Which, if true, is just another of the many, many reasons why I have taken a vow to never ever ever meet on-air talent if I can help it. It's inevitably crushing to discover that bits of on-air talent I like are actually total jerks and it takes me years to get over it. I'm still crying buckets about meeting Walter Matthau and that was ages ago, when he was still alive, of course.

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Washington, D.C.: Lisa,

Is there some way to stop the hoopla about Suri Cruise? I'm tired of hearing about her all over TV. It's terrible, I know, that I hate a 4-month-old baby, but I can't help it.

Lisa de Moraes: funny, I know loads of four month old babies who make me tired and I dont' feel terrible about it at all. I give you permission to dislike Tom Cruise's baby as much as you want.

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Baltimore, Md.: I know I'm showing my age, but, best Oscar host ever - Johnny Carson.

Lisa de Moraes: me, I liked Billy Crystal: the Early Hosting Years. And Steve Martin his first year.

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Oscar hosts: Yes, the Oscars are about films and film actors, but the award show itself is a -TV- show, so it makes sense to have a TV personality host it.

Lisa de Moraes: Spoken like A Reporter Who Covers Television. Bravo..

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Re: 'Til Death: Both my husband and I laughed hard at this show last night. It's going to bring the Thursday night comedy back, just not to the old network.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, it's a very retro show and how odd that it's on Fox. Fox is going very broad this season; it will be interesting to see how the network does with that strategy....I'm assuming it's because they get such a broad audience with "American Idol" and the suits over there have decided they had not in previous seasons done a good job capitalizing on that with their scripted-series development.

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NBC Face Off explanation: Brilliant! Whatever Washington Post pays you, it's not enough ...

Lisa de Moraes: Hi mom!

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Re: Ellen not so nice: Next thing Pittsburgh will be telling us that Rosie O'Donald doesn't really like Tim Cruise.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm hoping she makes this stunning announcement soon, on The View.....

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"SNL shows": I only have time to avoid one of these shows. Which one should I make a point to miss?

Lisa de Moraes: You need to watch both. Sorkin's pilot was some of the best writing you're going to hear on TV and Alec Baldwin -- who is the only reason to watch Fey's show -- is brilliant. Have I exceeded my daily quota on using "brilliant" yet?

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Best Oscar Hosts:: How about Joan and Melissa Rivers? They could spend the whole show ragging on the "stars" and go out in a blaze of glory!

Lisa de Moraes: If only the Rivers girls bothered to do ANY homework before doing their red carpet patter at a trophy show. I have no patience for people who are that lazy -- like the reporters who were backstage at the Emmys a week ago....

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Washington, D.C.: What are the chances Entourage will become an hour-long show? It's way too short.

And what do you think will happen with Ari, and when will we see Seth Green again?

Lisa de Moraes: It should be an hour. I always feel cheated when I watch it like they're cutting it short. And if by Ari you mean Jeremy Piven, hopefully they have figured out he's the real star of the show and will fill most of the added half hour each week with scenes featuring him..

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Washington, D.C.: Who are the "reporters-that-cover-television"? Do you consider Tom Shales one, or is he just a TV critic (or is he his own category)? I'm just wondering how this all breaks down.

Oh, and on Katie's white jacket, didn't Robin Givhan seem to be giving it props in her column today? Sorry pookie, but I'll always trust Robin's fashion opinion over yours.

washingtonpost.com: In Politics, Folks, It's Never Pretty ( Post, Sept. 8 )

Lisa de Moraes: I love Robin. But she is wrong. The jacket was awful, it looked too small around the chest and sloppy-wavy at the hips, and it made Couric look like she needed to make another trip to photoshop -- STAT!

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Laurel, Md.: Forty years ago tonight that TV viewers first heard the words "These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise."

I was watching.

Lisa de Moraes: were you stoned? Isn't that the best way to watch Star Trek?

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Springfield, Va.: We had friends who went to a taping of Ellen's show in L.A. and the audience is told not to make eye contact with the star as she moves through the audience in the opening.

Lisa de Moraes: oh noooooo. I'm not listening: I love Ellen. I love Ellen. I love Ellen. There's no place like home...

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Cambridge, Mass.: VERONICA MARS! VERONICA MARS! Wait, that's not technically a question. Um, how many seconds until Veronica Mars is on again?

Lisa de Moraes: Okay, all you Veronica Mars groupies on this chat. I've posted one -- you can stop now....

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Four more years of Letterman??: I love Dave, but his time has come and gone. He and his staff sleepwalk through shows like no one else in the business. Is this strictly about outlasting Leno? It can't be about the money, can it?

washingtonpost.com: Letterman Inks CBS Deal for 4 More Years ( AP, Sept. 8 )

Lisa de Moraes: They signed him because the show does well enough and it's very hard to launch something new in latenight, as ABC is learning. Yes, many nights Dave is phoning it in. But when he's "on" there's no one better. Too bad he's not "on" more nights. I think he would be if they had more interesting guests -- not the usual babette promoting flick stuff, which seems to bore him, and me, silly....

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Tysons Corner: No matter where one stands on the accuracy of that new show, "The Path to 9/11," please tell me I'm right not to take seriously ANY show about that tragic day that features Patricia Heaton? I'm right, aren't I?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm surprised at the number of people I assumed were fairly sophisticated who do not seem to understand the meaning of "dramatization." What large flat rock have they been living under all these years. Hello -- actors, dialogue -- duh!

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Arlington, Va.: Wait, wait. Whoopi Goldberg has a stellar film resume?

Lisa de Moraes: Certainly stellar compared to Ellen DeGeneres and Jon Stewart, yes....

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Vienna, Va.: Not that I'm defending Katie Couric's wardrobe, but how about other female hosts -- e.g., Mary Hart's? Talk about wearing tops that are two sizes too small ...

Lisa de Moraes: Mary Hart is not the face of CBS News...

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: I think I'll go with Sorkin. Loved West Wing when he wrote it -- don't care what he was snorting. If Alec Baldwin is the best thing on a show, it's like saying the best thing about a burger was the lettuce. I can't even look at that guy anymore. Looks like he swallowed a lesser brother whole.

Lisa de Moraes: Agree with you on Sorkin but you need to watch Baldwin in Fey's show -- he was born to play this role....

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No eye contact with Ellen!: It's for your own protection, really. Does she still do that lame dancing like in the iPod spot?

Lisa de Moraes: hadn't thought of it that way. thanks!

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Camden, Maine: Hey Lisa, how about that no-news evening news CBS has foisted on an innocent public? Here's a radical thought ... Katie should use her sign-off time to apologize on behalf of herself and Les Moonves for the fraud they have perpetrated on the American public in falsely claiming that their concoction of celebrity trash, talking heads and froth was in fact a news program. Is Free Speech a critical element in a democracy? Yes, indeed. Does it belong in a 30-minute news program that's actually about 22 minutes of real news time? Not so much. Given the eclectic range of issues bubbling around the world, did we really need to be apprised of Suri Cruise's first photos? I don't think so. So much for the Tiffany Network.

Do you see her ratings dropping significantly after the initial hoopla is over? Paul in Maine, where people still appreciate real news.

Lisa de Moraes: Wow, what do you really think of the show? Don't hold back. And I thought it was interesting that before they showed the Suri snaps they showed us old CBS Evening News footage in which baby snaps of Prince Charles had made the newscast -- sort of by way of justifying their editorial decision to show the snaps of Cruise's kid....I'm out of time. bye

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