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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 16, 2007 1:00 PM

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest from the world of television. Eternal, twisting cable news coverage of Anna Nicole's death? Creeptastic! "Idol's" loving, cross-country run-up to the Hollywood 24, which turned out to be pretty much pointless? Just plain wrong. And finally, torture on "24" -- too much, or not nearly enough?

Read the latest TV column: Anna Nicole Coverage Sweetens the Ratings Pot (Post, Feb. 15)| >> More TV Columns.

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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I believe, USA: During "Grey's Anatomy" last night, Izzy's "I believe" speech made me want to slap her and the rest of 'em silly. It does count if you eat a pound of butter and nobody watches? I want to puke!

Lisa de Moraes: Hi, My favorite part was that she decided now -- Meredith blue and expiring -- would be a good time for her to tell Bambi that he made a mistake getting married in Vegas ... she really is dumb as hair...

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Washington: What can "Lost" do to get the higher ratings? It's still an excellent show, and the weird stuff is happening again!

Lisa de Moraes: That's easy: Take out a full-page ad in newspapers in every one of the top 10 markets in which each writer individually apologizes for the way they've treated faithful followers of the show. Then maybe, oh, I don't know, answer a question or two on the show itself. Just a suggestion...

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Washington: Ah! What in the world!? I'm watching "House" right now. Was I supposed to see this coming? House and Dr. Do-Right hooking up? What?! I liked it better when he was with Sela Ward.

Lisa de Moraes: It's sweeps month, what can I say. I had hoped the writers on this show would be more clever than the average doc-drama writers. ...

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Lisa. In honor of sweeps month, could you take a moment to explain how networks come up with the X millions of people they claim are watching a particular show? I'm sure there aren't millions of Nielsen homes. Do they project it out based on a representative sampling, like opinion polls? Thanks.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, they have a sample of the country and project from there...

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Washington: Is it true that "Studio 60" has been canceled? Someone said it was being replaced by "The Black Donnellys" in two weeks?

Lisa de Moraes: "Studio 60" was scheduled to leave NBC's lineup, but NBC decided to yank it a week earlier than they had announced, after it fell to its lowest numbers yet. This is, of course, not good news for the show...

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Arlington, Va.: For a show that is spending a lot of energy making fun of lame situation-comedies, "Extras" is teetering dangerously close to lame sit-comness itself. Too much sit, not enough com.

Lisa de Moraes: I think it's ending just in the nick of time...

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Minneapolis: I admit, I cried last night during "Grey's." Think it's cancer?

Lisa de Moraes: Cancer? You mean the fact that you cried? I clearly need more caffeine -- were you crying over Meredith, or the group grief scene ... it was a refreshingly different episode. Do you realize the horny doctors an interns have now gone two whole weeks without any shagging? This has to be a record for this show...

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Right here: So I thought I had set my DVR to record "Lost" the other night but apparently it recorded "Twin Peaks" instead. It only missed the midget with the weird voice: "That gum you like is going to come back in style."

Lisa de Moraes: I take it you are not happy with the episodes since it came back on ABC's schedule. You are not alone. Two weeks now it has posted season-low numbers ... this show is in trouble (hooray)...

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Washington: I just want to say I loved your column on the Anna Nicole Smith coverage. Maybe it was a little over-the-top, but please, this is Cable Television we're talking about here. And honestly I kind of felt sad to see Anna go -- I had grown kind of fond of her crazy ways.

Lisa de Moraes: Like it or not, the Anna Nicole saga is a terrific pop-culture story. There's practically everything here: sex, drugs, more sex, more drugs, sad little baby, more sex, more drugs, mysterious death of 39-year-old, mysterious death of 20-year-old, sleazy lawyer/lover/Svengali, billions of bucks at stage, super horny 90-year-old, and more sex and drugs...

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"Amazing Race: All Stars": Is it too much to hope that Rob and Amber fall down a very deep mine shaft in the first episode?

Lisa de Moraes: We've started a prayer chain -- hadn't you heard?

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Washington: True or false: At the rate at which "30 Rock" is improving, it'll be the best sitcom on TV by the end of the season.

Lisa de Moraes: Wow are you setting the bar low. Personally I think it's an inconsistent show, not one that's steadily getting better. I'll see an episode I think is great, followed by a lame one or two, then a terrific one. It still has a long way to go to be better than "Earl."

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Minneapolis: Have you gotten around to watching "Friday Night Lights" yet? Last week's episode was one of the best yet, and only about 10 minutes of football. One of the best shows on TV, in my humble opinion. Come on Pookie, do it for us!

Lisa de Moraes: No, I had to do my nails then. But I promise I'm going to watch it again, real soon ... when it's down to five minutes of football and you can promise me there will be no cheerleaders...

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Annoyed "Idol" fan: What's with Hollywood "Week" being one measly hour? It's the best part of the series! Cat fights, drama, idiots forgetting their words, plus a good preview of the talent. Was it just me or do they usually devote more airtime to it? Any thoughts on whether they'll go back to their old ways next year?

Lisa de Moraes: It did seem very short. Maybe that's because so many of the people we'd gotten to know on the road got whacked, while many of the people who went through we were seeing for the first time. That seems a big change from previous seasons.

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An observation: The people who run the country in "24" are very effective at locking up Muslims but have a difficult time telling the people at CTU not to get up and leave their desks during a national crisis. That plot involving Morris leaving his post and getting assaulted was the dumbest since Samwise left his post last year and got assaulted. You'd think they'd lock the doors, or at least have a pizza party in the conference room and keep everybody there.

Lisa de Moraes: Pizza party -- deviously simple idea. And if you start nicking "24" for all the lame plot points you will make yourself crazy. It's best not to think too much when watching this show -- just ask the cadets at West Point who apparently take all their cues from this show...

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Howard K. Svengali?: Gold-digger I'd say. He has a law degree, she has an eighth-grade education. He says "she's my best friend." Come on, Howard.

Lisa de Moraes: Hey, my best friend was my dog. It can happen ... (but yes, you are right, he's a gold digger and I should have added that to the list. My bad...)

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"The Sarah Silverman Program": That's a jarring-sounding title. Why didn't they name it "Sarah Silverman 'Show' "? The Triple-S? And by the way, I don't find her to be funny. I want that hour of my life spent watching "Jesus is Magic" back.

Lisa de Moraes: I think they called it "The Sarah Silverman Program" just so it would be jarring. And since you say you don't like it I'm assuming you are female. Am I right? I like her show but many women do not. Men, on the other hand, seem strangely drawn to her. It appears foul mouthed pony-tailed narcissists are a real turn-on ... This explains so much.

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Germantown, Md.: What's the buzz on "The Black Donnellys"? A family, a gang, one kid who trades his potential to be a thug -- it seems like an oft-told story ... I dunno, maybe like the Godfather. An Irish-American Godfather -- waking up with a sheep's head in the bed.

Lisa de Moraes: I wonder who there is to root for on this show. My answer is "no one"...

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Meredith: Why didn't Meredith Grey sink like a stone for lack of body fat? (I was hoping)

Lisa de Moraes: Her scrubs were inflatable? ... Her sneakers were floatation devices? Anyway, she's "dead" now and we mourn her passing...

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi. So I love everything about the new Thursday night must-see TV on NBC, except for their habit of encouraging viewers to "stay tuned for more Scrubs" when what they really mean is "stay tuned for four minutes of commercials followed by the credits for Scrubs." Very annoying.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, it's far too much clutter for a network trying to bring viewers back into the fold...

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Danielynn paternity list: Will someone please just stand up and say "I am Spartacus."

Lisa de Moraes: I just spit out my cappuccino ... thanks a lot.

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"Friday Night Lights" cheerleader: But the cheerleader is the one we all hate -- she's whiny and she cheated on her quadriplegic boyfriend with his best friend! And she's the only one on the show who isn't an excellent actor.

Lisa de Moraes: Oh. Well then she can stay, but the rest have to go. While we're on the subject of how to bring more viewers to struggling shows, if NBC promised they'd kill the cheerleader in a sweeps episode, millions of women like me would tune in to "Friday Night Lights."

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Washington: Hi Lisa -- I watched "American Idol" on Tuesday but not on Wednesday. Did I miss anything worth mentioning? Also, I liked that the judges were eliminating people very rapidly once in Hollywood. And dare I say it, but I think Paula actually was coherent on Tuesday. Do you have any favorites yet?

Lisa de Moraes: Lakisha is far and away the best singer of the pack. And of course you missed a lot -- they announced the semi-semi finalists, mostly a bunch of people we had not yet seen. Far more important, you missed Elevator Cam, which is one of the highlights of the early going on this show. Catch up via my "Idol" blog...

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Washington: Meredith did sink like a stone -- and was underwater for a very long time. However, it's well known that children under five years old have something called a "diving reflex," which enables their bodies to shut down and survive without oxygen as long as their body temperature is low. As Meredith has the body mass and emotional maturity of a five-year-old, that's my guess for how they're going to bring her back.

Lisa de Moraes: This is good to know, and a ringing endorsement for anorexia among women who live near coastal waters....

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He is not a quadriplegic!: He's a paraplegic. Trust me, there is a big difference!

Lisa de Moraes: Ah, but he still was cheated on by a cheerleader...

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Arlington, Va,: Can you broker a deal whereby David Spade can have a TV show but only if he agrees to not do any commercials? If he's got a show at least he's contained and can be avoided, but when he's doing commercials he's on every damn channel all the damn time. Thank you.

Lisa de Moraes: I am so with you on this. I hate being ambushed by David Spade when I don't have a chance to escape.

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As a man let me say that: Good-looking, foul-mouthed, pony-tailed narcissists are a real turn-on (at least in fantasyland -- real life, less so).

Lisa de Moraes: Really? You find it a turn-on on TV but in real life not so much? Tell me more ... does this explain why Jimmy Kimmel is her boyfriend?

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Just curious: Would you watch "American Idol" if you weren't paid to do so? I used to watch the first couple of episodes every season just to catch the real whack jobs, but I think even the whack jobs are phony now.

Lisa de Moraes: Absolutely! I love shows that compel me to throw dinner rolls at the TV set from time to time ... though this year I probably would not have tuned in to all the on-the-road episodes -- that did get old...

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Ketchum, Idaho: Lisa: Has the "Apprentice" gotten as bad as I think it has? I can't watch anymore -- what is going on with that (formerly) great show?

Lisa de Moraes: The Donald is best enjoyed in small doses but NBC got greedy and ran the show like "Survivor" -- two editions per season. They would have been better served running it only once and building "anticipation," a la "Idol" though I can hardly believe I'm using "The Donald" and "anticipation" in the same thought.

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Rockville, Md.: It was great to see "Designing Women's" Annie Potts make an appearance on "Men in Trees" yesterday evening. What do you make of the prostitute-and-the-pastor storyline? And isn't it a bad sign that the ring Jack gave to his "childhood sweetheart/ex-girlfriend who broke my heart in two/I don't know what to call her -- my companion/partner" didn't fit?

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, I think that was a metaphor. This is a very deep show -- you can tell because it stars Ann Heche. Annie Potts deserves a better role and to not be made up to look like a frump -- though she was, as usual, hilarious. I don't think there is anything to "make" of the pastor/prostitute storyline. I'm sure those two crazy-in-love people will work things out -- and at least she's not a guy and selling him drugs, right?

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Richmond, Va.: Promo for next week's "Lost" says "three of the islands biggest mysteries revealed." Holding your breath?

Lisa de Moraes: Puhleeze. Fool me once, shame on you -- fool me 237 times, I'm a loser...

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Washington: Is the Trump vs. Rosie feud over? For awhile, that was the best thing on TV (except for "Boston Legal").

Lisa de Moraes: Sadly the scriptwriters had to move on to their other projects.

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"Half Hour News Hour": Lisa, what is the target audience for this Fox News Channel takeoff on "The Daily Show"? If you are young and right-minded in or outside of the Beltway, is there really that unfulfilled need to watch talk-radio talking points about liberals on TV? "The Daily Show" skewering may lean left, but that's because the right has been in power for much of the past 12 years, and its satire mocks those in power. Isn't it too simplistic to call "The Daily Show" a Bush-bashing show?

Lisa de Moraes: The audience for this show is someone who doesn't like comedy. It is stupendously not funny -- and not because it takes a conservative position most of the time, though, turns out, Ann Coulter can't do comedy (who knew?). This show is well-enough produced -- just not funny. Needs much sharper writing...

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Anon: No, he's a quadriplegic, defined as limited mobility in all four limbs. Seen him try to use his hands? They don't all look like Chris Reeve. Jeez people, go rent "Murderball".

Lisa de Moraes: Isn't it wonderful how much we learn on a TV chat? Who says television isn't educational? I, for instance, learned -- again -- how to spell cappuccino...

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New York, NY: What's the deal with "The New Adventures of Old Christine"? Will it be back? I can't believed they threw her over for "Rules of Engagement"!

Lisa de Moraes: I'm sorry to report, because it appears it will cause you pain, that "Rules of Engagement" is doing quite well in the ratings. But "Christine" will be back -- they're just testing out a new show.. Don't worry.

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Washington: Will "Dirt" survive? Do you like it? How are its ratings? I liked it at first but now find it offensive and I'm in the correct age range -- but I'm female...

Lisa de Moraes: I'm withholding judgment until I've seen the Rachel-Monica lip action. If that goes well, I loved the show. If not then I liked it not so much. Executive producer Courteney Cox (why does reading that always make me laugh?) has assured us there is no tongue, but I'm still holding out hope. Why do I get the impression the show's writers -- and executive producer Courteney Cox -- came up with a list of shocking things they wanted to do on air, and then wrote storylines around that list? It's ratings are nothing special, but certainly good enough for FX network.

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Too cool for school?: What did you think of the Grammy broadcast this time? Personally I was disappointed to not have Hugh Laurie or Helen Mirren deliver one of the acceptance speeches, that would have glammed up the event a bit.

Lisa de Moraes: Pookie, they are both way too old for the Grammys. If you are over 40, you need to have won about 12 Grammy Awards if you want to get a spot on that show...

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Minneapolis: Yes cancer for crying because I felt like such a goon after. And that Izzy speech was odd. "Let's be honest with each other now that our friend's dead!"

Lisa de Moraes: I thought inexplicable crying most often was associated with depression, not cancer. See, I've learned even more stuff today. Don't feel bad for crying. That episode was in high button-pushing mode.

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Fox Comedy: Not funny? "Cindy Sheehan's shooting spree"? That was side-splitting. You just have to think about it -- she opposes the Iraq War and believes her son died for nothing, so she's a mass-murderer. It's one of those gut-busting "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" moments. It's true, you liberals have no sense of humor.

Lisa de Moraes: I rest my case...

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Best "Office" Episode Yet: I thought last night's episode of "The Office" was insanely funny -- the best ever. It took me a while to finally tune in to this show but I'm glad I did -- Michael speaking to Ryan's business school class, the bat in the bag over Meredith's hair, Jim becoming a vampire -- great show.

Lisa de Moraes: Boy am I now sorry I have not seen it yet...

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Alberville, Ala.: I watched the catch-up episode of "Jericho" Wednesday night and was more confused after I saw it than before. How are other series that take a hiatus doing once they come back?

Lisa de Moraes: "Heroes" did just fine. "Lost" posted series lows, two weeks in a row...

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Reston, Va.: How long can you do your job without going insane, or are we past that? It seems that there's so much crap you have to watch and know. Are you capable of vegging in front of a TV, or is it like work for you? I imagine a lot of people envy your job but I'm not sure I would -- are you concerned you might end up looking like Shales if you continue to watch TV for decades (not a slam on Shales -- I'm a fan)?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm taking this question despite your unkind, uncalled for shot at Shales, because it's an interesting question, this one of my sanity. I enjoy watching television, good and bad, because I feel I grow as a person with every episode I watch. Can that be a line in an upcoming episode of "The Sarah Silverman Program"?

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Boston: "Boston Legal" -- now that's a show! And don't you just love the way Spade looks at Shatner with obvious contempt?

Lisa de Moraes: I think Look of Contempt is frozen on Spade's face, actually. Do you ever see him look any other way? Maybe it's botox....

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Message for Mark Burnett: You're not Jerry Bruckheimer. "Reality" TV is not "CSI-Miami/New York/Las Vegas". Using the same structural elements across different shows will not work for long. You tried it once with "Martha Stewart's Apprentice", failed, but now you're using the same "new twist" on "Apprentice" and "Survivor" at the same time. Try learning from your mistakes, and maybe get a new "creative team" while you're at it.

Lisa de Moraes: Geesh, you are really angry about Burnett. Were you a fan of his shows once and embittered because they are no longer watchable? And, while we're on the subject, don't you think the only reason Jerry Bruckheimer gets away with using the "same structural elements across different shows" for a long time is because of the American viewers' insatiable appetite for gore? Maybe Burnett needs to have more episodes of "Survivor" in which one of the contestants falls into the fire and burns his hands and has to be airlifted out. Good times.

Speaking of time, I'm out of it. Bye.

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