On TV: Letterman's Apology, Jon and Kate's Announcement, More

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009; 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, June 19 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about the drama, comedy and heartbreak of the world of television -- both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.


Adams Morgan: Lisa,

Not a question, but a confession from a former TV fanatic. With the end of analog broadcasts, I was cut off from television. And while I am slightly sad that something that once brought me so much happiness is gone from my life, overall I am feeling alright with the breakup. TV and I had been growing apart for years. Now, you are my only connection to that world. I definitely get more entertainment from your chats than anything on NBC right now. Thank you for watching all the garbage the networks are putting out now so that I don't have to.

Lisa de Moraes: You are welcome. But isn't "anything on NBC right now" setting the bar too low? I'm sorry you and TV have drifted apart, but sometimes these things happen....I take comfort in the fact that eventually your arms will grow weary of holding that book up while you're reading it, and you will be back....


Conan: We tried. We really wanted to have some jokes before going to sleep, but Conan's just not funny, and Letterman's a shadow of his former self. Their audiences think they're in the show, and on the whole there's no reason to watch either of them. Good night.

Lisa de Moraes: You might want to watch Conan's interview with William Shatner this week before making up your mind. It was riveting and like we'd gotten back the Conan we knew and loved in the later timeslot...


Washington, D.C.: So, in most "Real World" seasons it seems like they have some sort of fun job oriented around the city. What on earth could they do here in D.C. that relates to the city that you'd trust 7 roommates who have never met each other learning about who they are, to do? Maybe they can be tour guides?

Lisa de Moraes: I think that would exceed their mental capacity -- particularly after a few days of brain-cell-killing binge drinking. I'm thinking they should be put to work selling umbrellas outside the metro, picking up trash on the Mall on weekends, standing on street corners asking people to sign "save the world" petitions, and take pictures of tourists next to cardboard statue of Obama....any other ideas out there?



Lisa de Moraes: ...and please, take a minute to take this important TeamTV poll.....


Pookieville, USA: Here we are in Week 7 of "Harper's Island" and those wacky kids are just now realizing that there is a killer on the loose. If they're looking for a place to hide, they can always go over to NBC. Nobody'd ever find 'em there.

Lisa de Moraes: da dum dum! Really, those crazy kids on "Harper's Island" do fall into the Too Dumb to Live category....


Why TV Matters

"She's Got the Look" meltdown (possibly NSFW):

President Obama kills a fly:

Conan's interview with William Shatner:

Lisa de Moraes: ....and here is that very William Shatner-with-Conan interview of which I spoke, along with what we at TeamTV deemed to be the other two most important moments on TV this week. Don't know which you think is the week's best -- Me, I love them all like they were my children and if anyone is lecturing you in re why you watch so much TV, point them to these videos -- we rest our case...


Washington, D.C. : Conan's kinda killin' me in a good way. Even the USC marching band bit. The Leno Years "Tonight Show" theme used to make me scramble for the remote so, granted, my bar is low.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm kinda over the USC marching band, but then I get a lot of the USC marching band when I'm in Los Angeles. Network execs seem to love trotting out the USC marching band...


Dumfries, Va.: Any sign that Conan is increasing the total late night audience? I think Leno's audience is sticking with Conan and are joined by those who only watched Letterman because they hated Leno.

Lisa de Moraes: In fact, Conan last week scored "Tonight Show's" smallest overall audience in a long-ish while. He is getting more young viewers than Dave and Dave has picked up some of his older viewers. Way it's shaking out, looks like Dave may become the weekly winner among all viewers and Conan will stay out front among the 18-49 year olds advertisers most want to reach in late night.


Washington, DC: Lisa, Re Letterman and Palin--is she not the gift that keeps on giving for him? What no one brings up is that his audience laughed pretty loud at all of the Palin jokes. I didn't even hear groans. And for those who think he's anti-Republican...the stuff he does about Hilary and Bill is really mean, albeit funny. Lesson to the Palins...The Clintons just ignore him and come on his show any way.

Lisa de Moraes: why would they ignore Letterman when they got so much great publicity out of their outrage. I think everybody won in that kerfuffle. Dave got a ratings boost, Palin got mucho publicity. Only loser so far as I can tell is Olive Garden which told Politico it has dropped its ads in Letterman's show and then tried to backpeddle, winding up looking pretty foolish.


Upstate, N.Y.: So pookie, what do you think the "big announcement" by Jon and Kate will be?

Lisa de Moraes: 1) Divorce

2) Putting their least cute kid up for adoption as a charity fundraiser

3) Signing up the kids for next round of "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"


20009: What should I be watching this summer? I am seriously missing my shows, especially "HIMYM" and "30 Rock." I tried "Royal Pains" -- not loving it. Any other ideas?

Lisa de Moraes: Six-pack of beer and "Wipeout" -- nothing like it....


Fort Belvoir, Va.: Am I the only one who laughed at Letterman's jokes about the Palins? I thought they were hilarious. Does this make me a terrible person?

This is coming from somebody who is neither a vehement left wing hater of Sarah nor a Kool-Aid drinking rightie.

Lisa de Moraes: No, it probably just makes you a guy. Right?


Arlington, Va.: So, I'm finding "Royal Pains" to be sufficiently entertaining. But I'm pretty sure that people who live in gigantic houses in the Hamptons don't actually say "in the Hamptons" in every other sentence. I'd like that to stop, please.

Lisa de Moraes: lol...I too had noticed the "in the Hamptons" in every other sentence. I can't believe Mark Feuerstein finally found himself a hit. He's on my show-killer list. My show-killer list is getting pretty slim, now that "Royal Pains" is working and "Gary Unmarried" is coming back. I don't mind telling you this has been quite a shock...


I heart pookie: So how low is NBC feeling these days since USA beats it in the ratings on Thursday nights? I know that Universal probably doesn't care, because it owns both networks, but really. The Peacock getting beaten by its basic cable sister has gotta sting.

Lisa de Moraes: Presumably, yes. I could call and ask, but I'm guessing they would not rise to the bait...


Anonymous: Do people 50 and older not buy things? Who do advertisers think spoil the grandkids?

Lisa de Moraes: If everyone over the age of 50 boycotted NBC for a sweeps month and refused to purchase any product advertised on that network, I think we'd see change. Sadly, viewers over 50 are a very disorganized special-interest group and can't seem to get their act together. AARP once had a panel discussion about this that I attended but so far as I can tell, that's all they've come up with is one lame-o panel discussion....


Knoxville, Tenn.: Now with ABC threatening to move Nightline to 10 p.m. to face Leno's new show will CBS fall into their trap an remove their popular shows to battle the other two in a fight to the bottom of the ratings race. And now for something serious...along that line does NBC have a backup plan in case the ratings tank on Leno's show?

Lisa de Moraes: CBS would do a happy dance if ABC also gets out of the scripted drama business at 10. CBS couldn't be happier with NBC's plans to put Leno in the timeslot Monday through Friday -- it's a great opportunity for CBS to own the hour five nights a week. And I'm just guessing NBC's backup plan starts with "Law & Order"


at work: pookie, tell me more about this Shatner-O'Brien showdown?

Lisa de Moraes: We've posted the video so you can see for yourself... take a look!


Digital Switch: I also am not digitally converted but am willing to watch online. However, I hate having to search things out online. I'm passive and highly suggestible. Have you ever thought of starting an email list where you just send me an e-mail daily with links to what you tell me to watch, like the Conan/Shatner interview? It would make my life much easier.

Lisa de Moraes: It's one of the public services I'm hoping we add to my blog very soon...


RE: Real World and Jobs: According to FishbowlDC, MTV is looking to place the Real World folks at local non profits as volunteers

Lisa de Moraes: hahahahahaha! Stop, you're killing me! hahahahaha....


The Obama Fly: I know that fly, it is a good actor.

It was in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on Major Toht's face in the desert and on Val Kilmer's face in the end of "Tombstone."

Lisa de Moraes: method actor, huh?


Houston: Pookie - Just watched the truly odd clip from "She's Got the Look." Can you explain exactly what happened? Best line ever - "I'll talk to you if you put your top back on!"

Lisa de Moraes: The chick just melted down, plain and simple. What the heck she was talking about when she kept saying "I can't protect them" while pointing to her chest -- I couldn't figure out whether she was referring to the other wanna-be models, or her "shoes." ...


Real World: What?!? They're not going to be congressional interns? Imagine the fun of Real World meets horny, married Congressperson.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing congressmen and women will run for their lives of any of the "Real World" friends-with-benefit-ers comes near their offices...


Voting on Letterman: OK, I voted for self-deprecating and decent, but I object to the "did the right thing" part. I would have stood up and cheered if he had said "you know d--- well what I meant -- and if you didn't get the joke, you probably don't watch my show anyway and won't be missed when you boycott it. I'm not going to play into this sham outrage and give you-know-who any more undeserved publicity. Just deal with it." (Actually, I would really prefer "and STFU," but it is network, after all.) Hmmph.

Lisa de Moraes: point taken....


It's over!: Soooo gald the digital transition is over, although some people did not get the message, I was tired of it!

I also thought since I have Comcrap cable I needn't worry, but NBC 4 constantly hiccups since the transition, even with a digital cable package and a new TV.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm also hearing about local problems getting our ABC station....anyone else having trouble?


Halifax, Pa.: Last week on a very special "American Chopper," the guys visited Jon & Kate + 8 and built them a couple of bikes. Well a bike for him and a scooter for her. Now it looks like BOTH families are falling apart. What's your take Pookie?

Lisa de Moraes: TLC is a home-wrecker network? I think that's where you're leading me....


Age groups: The 50+ group (especially the baby boomers) spend a lot more money than the 18-34 year olds. I've never understood why the advertisers haven't clued in to this concept. They should be going after people like my dad who retired at 55 with a boatload of discretionary money that he likes to spend.

Lisa de Moraes: the conventional wisdom is he's already decided what brand of toothpaste he likes whereas anyone under 49 hasn't figured it out yet... or something like that...


Dollhouse: I remember Fox saying after the last episode of Dollhouse to tune in "in three weeks" for the finale, but it's been well past 3 weeks - any news on the final episode for the season?

Lisa de Moraes: Fox aired the season finale a while ago. What Fox did not air was that 14th episode which is being called the 13th episode because the first episode was soooooo bad Fox could not air it. And if Fox won't air it, you know it was some kind of massive pile of awful...I'm not sure if the network is going to air that episode or whether you're going to have to buy the DVD boxed set to see it.


Potomac, Md.: I think the Letterman apology was one of the better ones I've seen for a long. This may be a reflection on apologies in general, rather than specifically Letterman's.

Dave took full responsibility, didn't use the "to anyone who may have been offended" approach and explained his thinking.

Personally, I thought the daughter-Rodriguez joke wasn't funny but Palin went on the extreme with the rape language. Palin's acceptance on the apology was so silly that I don't need to say anything there.

Lisa de Moraes: I too thought Letterman handled that well, though many others disagree....and are you referring to the "doing it for the troups" part of Palin's apology acceptance?


RE- Letterman: I would have liked it if Letterman added. "You know much of this can be avoided if politicians stopped using their kids as political props." You know like the ads with the wife and kids and dog (never a cat by the way) that basically say "Vote for me, for I have spawned!"

Lisa de Moraes: apparently cat-lovers are another terribly disorganized special interest group...


Letterman's joke: What it seems like most people have missed is that (at least to me) the butt of the jokes were A-Rod and Spitzer and not Bristol (or Willow) Palin. Has this been discussed at all? Did Sarah Palin not understand that?

Lisa de Moraes: You are trying to have a rational conversation on this subject. That cannot be done.


Digital trouble: I had some major hiccups with WUSA 9 and my converter box (the station kept disapearing), but things seem to have stabilized.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm compiling a list. thanks for this...


Hiccups: I have Fios and once in a while the same thing happens - usually in the evening.

Lisa de Moraes: and this. all good info...


Indianapolis: I couldn't vote in the poll because my choice wasn't there. I'm still a fan, but I lost a lot of respect for Letterman. He never should have apologized. He did nothing wrong. Read the jokes: They're not about Palin's daughter; they're about Spitzer and A-Rod being lechers.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing he was trying to take the high road.


Denver: As a former member of the USC Marching Band, I just wish they'd learn a few new songs from time to time.

Lisa de Moraes: lol... seriously? Were those the same old songs they always do. Frankly, all "band" music sounds the same to me...


Middletown USA: Seriously,

Is anyone really buying Letterman's excuse that the joke about the baseball player, at the baseball game was about the daughter that WASN'T at the the baseball game?



Lisa de Moraes: Yes. I am. Should Letterman's joke writers have done a better job checking out the facts, if, indeed, Willow and not Bristol were at the game? You betcha.


Walter Cronkite: appears to be going gently into that good night. He'll be missed.

Lisa de Moraes: I too have read that he is gravely ill...


Age Groups Redux: The 50+ crowd spend their significantly greater income/wealth on cars, houses, boats, Euro vacations, and the like. Advertisers prey at the altar of youth, because the young are still willing to throw away their cash on the latest trends and fashions and other crap that only sells because advertisers are paid to brainwash the impressionable into thinking they need to keep up with the Kardashians.

In Short: Advertisers target the young, because they're more easily suckered in.

Lisa de Moraes: TV advertising theory in a nutshell...


Re-Obama fly: Did you see the Colbert Report bit on the Obama fly "Murder in the White House."


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Murder in the White House - Jeff Goldblum
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

Lisa de Moraes: Another brilliant TV moment this week. Really, this has been a particularly rich week, hasn't it?


San Diego: Are you or any readers here aware of Web sites that have a good track record picking winners of "So You Think You Can Dance" or the other amateur shows? Not a gambler's odds site, but one with discussions, polls, etc.?

Lisa de Moraes: you mean, like Dialidol.com does for Idol?


"Jon & Kate": Pookie, I almost wet myself when I read the part of your column today about Jon & Kate: "...the shared mental acuity of a peahen that had been dropped on its head as a chick."

Please somebody, give this woman a Pulitzer already....

Lisa de Moraes: it seemed like the most accurate description. Anyway, we'll be sad when they announce their divorce on Monday. Unless it means TLC will cancel their show and those kids might have some chance for a less-messed up life than their parents are giving them now. TLC needs to find a conscience.


Arlington, Va.: This chat cannot end w/o mention of the "Real Housewives of NJ" finale. Isn't anyone else watching this? How entertaining was that? Do you think they'll be back for more?

Lisa de Moraes: I assume you're talking about The Dinner Party Fight? I had no idea that's how people in New Jersey throw dinner parties....I have learned so much on this show.


Digital Switch: I live right outside the DC line, less than 4 miles from TV towers, and the only station I can depend on receiving is ABC's third channel, "RTV."

So I've seen "The A Team," "Banacek," "Magnum P.I." (love those short shorts I must say), and "Dragnet," but no "Today Show," local or national news, "Mentalist," PBS, nothing.

Lisa de Moraes: yikes!


Washington, D.C. : Local NBC has been a herky jerky nightmare since the transition. Last night it was comical how many times it would freze right before Conan's punchlines and then pick up after the (unseen) delivery. HD? Or, Lenoooo. Hmmm.

Lisa de Moraes: apparently this digital transition has not been as smooth as I thought. I have satellite TV and have not noticed a problem except one strange moment last night where Conan morphed into Max Weinberg for a split second....


Washington, D.C.: I totally agree with your commentors about the Letterman jokes. Is there anything more funny than a joke about impregnating a 14-year-old? I know it was meant to be about that 18-year-old, but 14 makes it funnier.

And really, that 18-year-old had it coming. Letterman is just standing up for all us folk who know that high school girls who have sex with their boyfriend of three years are S-L-U-T-S. It's funny because it's true!

Q: When do you think we can expect Letterman to do a blackface joke? I think we need more 'brave' humor from men who aren't afraid to tell it like it is. After all, if Letterman made Clinton and Bush jokes, then any joke about a polician or his family, no matter how racist/sexist/bigoted, is de facto, funny and cutting-edge.

Lisa de Moraes: ... posted this in case people out there do not yet realize how dangerous a job covering TV actually is.


TV Clothing: Do you know where I can buy one of those "Dave Letterman is a Pervert" T-shirts? The CBS store? My "Free James Brown" T-shirt is getting pretty threadbare.

Lisa de Moraes: NBC.com? I give up -- where?


Fallon lover: I love Jimmy - why is Conan always so negative/unhappy? It makes me sad and grumpy just to watch him, while Jimmy seems funny and happy. Any chance he can replace Conan sometime soon? I can't stay up that late and would rather watch him live than on nbc.com.

Lovin' the next generation of late night except for Conan (incl Fallon, Ferguson, and Kimmel - I used to love Dave, but can't stand Paul!).

Lisa de Moraes: I think it's nervousness you're interpreting as negative/unhappy. I'm frankly surprised he seemed so stiff the first week. The Shatner interview gave me hope, however, we'd get the old Conan back sometime soon...


Cary, N.C.: Apparently, I'm one of only a few people who enjoys ABC's "The Unusuals." Is there anyway some other network will pick-up that show? Or perhaps, Direct TV?

Lisa de Moraes: Golly, not likely.


Fallon failin'?: Tuned into a Jimmy Fallon show--audience members were tossing hot dogs into the mouths of wooden cut-outs of aging action stars. It was pathetic beyond belief. Is this typical fare for the wholesome kid?

Lisa de Moraes: You mean Fallon? Has anyone ever accused him of being "wholesome"? His show is doing well with younger viewers -- NBC is happy with it. His opening monologue definitely needs work, though. It's pretty lame every night.


Herndon, Va.: Was I alone in my happiness yesterday upon hearing that Katherine Heigl had re-signed for the next season of "Grey's"? I know people are annoyed by her, but I thought she did an amazing job this year.

Lisa de Moraes: She had great material this past season -- groundbreaking necrophilia storylines...what actress wouldn't look terrific with that kind of material to chew on?


CNN: Shouldn't CNN rename the Larry King show to "Larry King -- My Remarkable Journey" since he finds every opportunity no matter what the subject is to hawk his new book. He has it propped up on his desk where its in view whenever the camera is on him. I'm surprised they just don't plaster the whole book on the screen when Larry is talking.

Lisa de Moraes: Letterman similarly plugs his book shamelessly, only when he does it, it's funny.


I'm a Celebrity, Get me Product Placement: Lisa,

I'm hearing that the reason Heincer kept leaving the show is because the producers didn't let them do enough "product placement" for a line of "Dry Shampoo" or something that they were trying to sell. I guess it makes sense now, this is why Heidi was messing with her hair the entire show...

As a note to them: It didn't work well from a "product placement" angle...I just thought she had OCD-ish mental issues.

Lisa de Moraes: I like your theory! I saw Speidi on some talker and Heidi actually brought a can of her "ecological" dry shampoo spray to the show and sprayed it all over her hair. I think it was "The View."


Re- Digital: A reminder you need to rescan your convertor box to get new stations when they go digital.

Lisa de Moraes: excellent point. thanks!


I totally agree with your commentors about the Letterman jokes. Is there anything more funny than a joke about impregnating a 14-year-old?: Poor Dick Chaney, reduced to posting on chats to vidicate his party.

Lisa de Moraes: oh snap!


Late Night, Alexandria, Va.: If you need some laughs after 11PM, check out Chelsea Handler on "Chelsea Lately"

Lisa de Moraes: Chelsea is great and I love seeing a chick on a late night talker. Looking forward to Wanda on Fox next season, though I was not overly impressed with her performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Ferguson was much better the year before...


Hiccups usually in the evening: oh, I thought that was the wine I was drinking...

Lisa de Moraes: Wine/digital conversion, potayto/pohtahtoh....and, at the time of our signing off, please note 55 percent of you think Letterman is a decent guy who ultimately did the right thing, 40 percent think he's a comic playing jerk, and only 4 percent believe Letterman is a dispenser of sexually perverted comments...Bye!


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