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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 13, 2007; 1:00 PM

Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, July 13, at 1 p.m. ET to give readers the tale of the tape in the lyrics game show showdown, the lowdown from the press tour and more.

Read the latest TV column: In Conclusion, HBO Honchos Stand Up for Chase's Final Shot (Post, July 13)

More TV Columns | de Moraes on TV blog | On TV Live Online transcripts.

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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Curious: Hi Lisa -- love the chats. What is your take on the new AMC series, "Mad Men," which starts next week? Have you read any early reviews on it? The previews look interesting. ... Also, I read Court TV is changing its format to more "reality" shows -- is that true (no pun intended)?

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. I'm at press tour sitting in on a session about Elvis Presley ... "Mad Money" -- watch it (let's see if that turns up in an ad: Washington Post: "Mad Money" -- watch it!).

And yes, Court TV has changed its name to truTV. Attempt to young itself up ... the latest attempt by a cable network, that is...

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Rockville, Md.: You seem to really dislike "Big Love." Why? The characters are so over-the-top that I can't even begin to take them seriously and can't wait to see what craziness they'll get into each week. It's great.

Lisa de Moraes: It's so suburban, and the suburbs frighten me. I wish someone would give each of the women a little hatchet...

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Germantown, Md.: Pookie, can it be true? Mandy "Voice of an Angel" Patinkin is axed from "Criminal Minds" after not showing up for a table read? Does this mean I finally can stop watching that pervy procedural? (I just wanted to hear him sing -- guess that won't be happening now.)

Lisa de Moraes: Patinkin also was a no-show a couple of days ago for a Q&A session on PBS's session for "The Jewish Americans."

This week he reportedly did not show up for a "table read" of a script for an upcoming episode. But the episode had been written with hardly any Patinkin presence -- a big fat clue the producer/CBS are in contract negotiations with Patinkin. Sick-outs during contract face-offs -- a time-honored tradition. Remember when CBS/Leslie Moonves "fired" George Eads and Jorja Fox in 2004 after they staged sick-outs while renegotiating contracts on "CSI"? But of course, Eads/Fox aren't in the same league as Patinkin. Personally, I'd love to watch this show go down should they dump him...

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Sterling, Va.: I noticed that Condoleezza Rice was on all three morning shows at the same time today, around 7:05 a.m. -- I thought they were live? I guess some of the interviews are taped?

Lisa de Moraes: I missed all three Condoleezza Rice interviews -- which I count as a very, very good morning -- so I don't know which were taped and which was live. But seriously, does it matter? If you can't tell the difference...

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Mandy Patinkin is having a sick-out?: This is because they won't let him sing, right?

Lisa de Moraes: It appears so re: sickout..

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Atlanta: David Milch is exhausted from working on "John from Cincinnati"? Really? Because the result doesn't indicate that he's working that hard, actually.

Lisa de Moraes: I know. One week we should write an episode during the chat. I'm guessing we could knock one off in an hour...

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Washington: I was expecting Tom Shales to give an excoriating review of the Capitol Fourth television special ... but never saw anything from him in the paper the next day! It was one of the most inane TV moments I've ever seen.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm sorry Shales didn't weigh in...

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Cableland: Lisa, I just got HBO and Showtime on demand! Where should I start? "Big Love," "Weeds," "The Tudors"? Any others I should catch up on?

Lisa de Moraes: "Weeds" first...

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Washington: How is "Flight of the Conchords" doing? Or are my suspicions correct that my husband is the only person who thinks it's funny?

Lisa de Moraes: The audience is small -- but very discriminating. HBO hasn't found the hit to replace "The Sopranos."

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"Age of Love": Hi Lisa. How is this show doing in the ratings? My husband is from Melbourne so we watched the first one to see how "The Poo" (his nickname in the papers there apparently) acted. Now we love it -- it's hysterical! Please tell me they aren't going to take it away or banish it to Saturday night anytime soon!

Lisa de Moraes: Not great. The two remember-the-lyrics reality series seem to be the big new reality franchises of this summer ... I haven't kept up on "Love" the past couple of weeks -- who's winning, the Cougars or the Kittens?

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"Rescue Me"!: Why oh why did they kill off the chief on "Rescue Me"? Did he get a better offer or something? He was by far one of my most favorite characters.

Lisa de Moraes: Not at all -- he was angry and disappointed when he got whacked. Really lit into Denis Leary in print. And you are in good company, based on the e-mails I've been getting...

Oh, and "Age of Love" is averaging under 6 million viewers, to answer previous question...

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Best Reality Shows: "So You Think You Can Dance?": The judges are nicer and smarter than the "Idol" judges, and the contestants are waaaay more talented. "Supernanny": Fascinating, but also the most helpful show on TV. I believe a prescribed regiment of "Supernanny"-watching should be required of every parent before they're allowed to take their baby home from the hospital. Can I get an amen?

Lisa de Moraes: Instead, how about requiring people to watch it before they have kids, not after. Would surely decrease the surplus population...

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New England: This has been driving me crazy: Who is "Tim from the office next door" on the American Express commercials with Ellen, Marty, Sheryl, Andre, Shaun and Alicia? I can picture him on a sitcom, but for the life of me can't remember which one. Help!

washingtonpost.com: American Express Members Project ad

Lisa de Moraes: Driving me crazy too. I can't place him. But I'm working off three hours' sleep a night, caffeine and sugar -- yesterday misspelled my last name. ... Watch here, people and send your submissions...

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Re: Showtime on demand: "Dexter"! How could you forget "Dexter"? That is if you can get over the premise. Michael C. Hall is genius!

Lisa de Moraes: Oh, I thought I only had those three choices. Wasn't that a multiple choice question?

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Washington: What is PBS's "The Jewish Americans"?

Lisa de Moraes: It's a documentary about the Jewish American experience. Mandy Patinkin is among those interviewed -- as was the great Carl Reiner, who was the only "show" on the panel. But that only made it better -- I could watch Reiner for hours. He used to be the master of ceremonies at the Directors Guild's annual trophy show -- nontelevised. I used to volunteer to cover it for the trade paper I worked for, just to see Reiner ad-libbing on stage for three hours...

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"Remember the Lyrics": Seriously, is this how far the networks have fallen? Karaoke without the teleprompter? I saw the promos and ordered Showtime, just so I can watch "Filthy Gorgeous."

Lisa de Moraes: Yup. Like 13 million people strong...

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Lisa de Moraes: We have an answer: The actor who plays "Tim" on AmEx ad is David Alan Basche from NBC's "Three Sisters" -- remember "Three Sisters"? Nope? Also on ABC's "Oh Grow Up" -- forgot that one too? He will be appearing in NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" this fall, which seems to indicate it will be an early cancellation...

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"Singing Bee": I decided to tune in after reading Tom Shales to see the train wreck for myself. I know it was produced in a hurry, but whoever thought Joey Fatone could host a show should be fired. Then NBC reran it the next night touting it as a hit! Really? Were the numbers that good, or is the "Amercia's Got Talent" lead-in that strong?

Lisa de Moraes: 13 million-ish ... Joey Fatone is the most inspired train-wreck casting ever. Nobody thought Joey Fatone could host a show -- that's why they hired him. It's called neo-casting...

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Maryland: I've been living without cable for over year and feel myself weakening. Yes, I just watch the Big Three, Fox, the CW, and PBS. Cable is expensive and I'm cheap, but I feel I'm missing a lot ... to get or not to get?

Lisa de Moraes: Doesn't all the good stuff show up on YouTube, iWhatever, etc. anyway?

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Let's be honest here...: Don't we all really just want to see Mandy Patinkin walk on screen and say: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare to die!"? Or is that just me?

Lisa de Moraes: I hated seeing him in that role in "Princess Bride" -- it was so pathetic. ... Though Inigo is one of my favorite names...

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Washington: Lisa -- didn't Mandy Patinkin pull some of these sorts of contract shenanigans years ago on "Chicago Hope" -- and lose? He was off the show for at least a year, and I think it had something to do with his pulling a sick-out. At any rate, he's always struck me as having some significant inflated-ego issues.

Lisa de Moraes: Which of course sets him apart from all the other actors in Hollywood. Patinkin is at least crazy mad talented. ... What's George Eads got going for him?

Oh my god, they're doing children's show sessions now here at press tour. I'm choking on treacle...

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Condoleezza Rice: I guess her secret it out now. She's got one of those Harry Potter time travel devices -- but she uses hers for evil purposes. Condi, we are on to you!

Lisa de Moraes: Her power is in those black spike-heeled boots ... children are now singing ... make it stop!

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David Alan Basche is the new Ted McGinley!: And we all know how many shows he killed...

Lisa de Moraes: He's cute in the AmEx ad, though. I love that ad. Maybe ABC will turn it into a sitcom...

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I hated seeing him in that role in "Princess Bride" it was so pathetic...: What!? I hereby renounce my membership to the Lisa de Moraes Fan Club.

Lisa de Moraes: Sorry, but it had to be said. We will miss you, though...

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"Age of Love" part two: The problem with this show is that the host (Mark Consuelos -- Mr. Kelly Ripa) is cuter than the tennis guy. Is it time for him to come out from behind Kelly's shadow?

Lisa de Moraes: No, the problem is Cougars vs. Kittens...

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Millbrae, Calif.: Kudos to A&E's clever "Don't Stop (Believing)" ad for the Sopranos -- yes, there are some of us who will watch the story over and over again. On the business side, does the model of moving pay-cable series (like "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City") to advertising-supported cable work? Also, will "The Wire" be on commercial TV?

Lisa de Moraes: It depends entirely on how much the basic cable network paid for the show ... "Sex" is doing okay on basic, but it's not breaking any records for audience size ... and could there be a tougher show to re-edit for basic than "The Wire"?

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"Flight of the Conchords": Yay or Nay? I'm thinking yay. The show is okay, but their songs are hilarious.

Lisa de Moraes: Definite Yay...

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Count Me!: Washington's husband is not alone. I think "Flight of the Conchords" is a hoot!

Lisa de Moraes: Hearing from lots of you...

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Pittsburgh: Oh, Pookila, I share your exquisite taste! I've adored Carl Reiner ever since "Your Show of Shows." And remember "The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!"? Has he been inducted yet into the Kennedy Center Honors? If not, can you nominate him?

Lisa de Moraes: I think they already did Carl ... don't forget his fabulous turn in those "Dick Van Dyke Show" reruns...

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Choking on Treacle: That happened to me at Christmas dinner a couple of years ago.

Lisa de Moraes: Lots of children around?

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"Rescue Me" -- New Chief: And they brought in a new chief, played by one of Leary's comedian buddies. Still a great show, though.

Lisa de Moraes: I love Tolan and Leary, but this show is starting to make me tired...

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Washington: Lisa -- why oh why did News4 hire that Eddie Munster-doppelganger Steve Villanueva to take over on the weekend weather forecasts? He's so loud and slick and abrasive he makes my teeth ache. Chuck Bell may be kind of a pencil-necked geek, but at least I don't want to wring his pencil neck on those times that he subs for Villanueva.

Lisa de Moraes: I have never ever met anyone so passionate about weekend weathermen ... I am strangely interested in learning more about you...

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Craptastic vs. Cheesetastic: Your Royal Pookiness, those are two of the greatest words in the history of the English language. How would you differentiate between the two? Which leads me into "Singing Bee" vs. "Don't Forget the Lyrics" -- I loved the Hullabaloo Dancers circa 1965, the band is great, but "Bee" is just too frenetic. That's cheestastic in my book. "Lyrics" takes it self a lot more seriously, very "Millionaire"-ish in the levels, but the contestant's voice is really the epitome of craptastic-ness -- but given that she won $350,000, I won't argue.

Lisa de Moraes: I think you've pretty well summed it up ... oh goodie, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are coming out on stage...

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New York: Re: "Age of Love." I feel so sorry for Mark Philawhatever. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he is clearly on the dim side, don't you think? I haven't seen much of the show, but when I do he always seems confused and awkward. He also seems sweet but incredibly dull -- despite being an international tennis star.

Lisa de Moraes: You can be a dim bulb and still be a tennis star, right? I think this is the big lesson learned on "Age of Love" -- I told you TV was educational...

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Che: Remember on "Chicago Hope" when Mandy met up with a (male) psych patient who thought he was Eva Peron? He looked at Mandy and said "I know who you are, I won't tell." Naturally they ended up singing "Don't Cry for Me" ... I felt like a member of the of secret musical fan nerd club that night.

Lisa de Moraes: Me too! Nice to know I'm not alone...

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Patinkin: Too bad his walkout and possible firing is too late for him to come back for the "Dead Like Me" movie. I loved that show; I could care less about the all-too-pervy "Criminal Minds." Every other word out of the character's mouth is unsub; it drives me nuts. Speaking of "Dead Like Me," I am looking forward to Fuller's new show, "Pushing Daisies," but I'm afraid it will have low ratings and die a quick death. It doesn't look like a network-friendly show.

Lisa de Moraes: It's not a broadcast show.

I'm sorry, totally distracted by the cheerleaders. They're dancing to "Everybody in the House Rock the Party, blah, blah, blah" ... there are nine of them on stage and only one cutie -- has anyone written about this? "Nature" maybe? Horny CMT male suit just told critics that two girls strained calf muscles doing the closing split and needed help rubbing them out...

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Jorja Fox and George Eads: Why do you insist on repeating a story that is not true? George Eads overslept and the studio overreacted. And Jorja Fox had a misunderstanding over a letter she was supposed to sign. She then didn't show up for work because they told her she had been fired, not the other way around!

Lisa de Moraes: You are sooooo cute! Don't ever change. ... I have to go listen to cheerleaders interview. Yes, seriously ... bye...

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