On TV: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, More

Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 26, 2009 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, June 26 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.

Take this week's poll (click on the links to see the video clips).

What TV moment do you remember most from Michael Jackson's Career:

Jackson 5 on American Bandstand; Dangling the baby over the balcony; Showing up at the trial in his pajamas; Diane Sawyer interview with Lisa Marie; 2003 interview with Martin Bashir where he admitted children slept in bed with him; the "Thriller" video; Jackson 5 Medley for Jackson's 30th anniversary; Performing "Billie Jean" at Motown 25th Anniversary Special; Dancing on his SUV during the child molestation trial.


Re: Without a Trace: If CBS cancelled "Without a Trace" why are they showing reruns of it up to 3 times a week? Shouldn't they use their broadcast time to promote shows that are coming back? It's not like it's burn-off theatre -these are repeats.

Lisa de Moraes: Hi. CBS is running the episodes again because that's how a broadcast network amortizes the huge cost of a scripted drama series -- multiple runs of each episodes. CBS can't afford to not repeat the episodes...


Herndon, Va.: The Divine Ms. deM: TV brought us one of the biggest events in the Michael Jackson saga - his appearance at the MoTown 25th anniversary celebration, when he appeared with a "new face" - causing one of my friends to exclaim "My God, he's become pretty!"

Lisa de Moraes: Michael Jackson had so many brilliant made-for-TV moments it's hard to know what was best/worst...meanwhile, do take a minute and vote in our Jackson poll. I know what my fave Jackson made-for-TV moment is -- what's yours?


Springfield, VA: Pookie, is there anything on TV this weekend worth watching that is not related to Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, or Ed McMahan? I am in overload.

Lisa de Moraes: Just sit back and enjoy the overload. If you're not watching MTV's all-MJ-music video marathon, you'll regret it in for the rest of your life. It's like living in Manhattan when John Lennon was murdered and not showing up to hang out at the Dakota.


Silver Spring: this is a business behind TV question I'm hoping you can answer for me... you who are wise in the ways of TV execs. How do "they" (whoever "they" are) decide what shows to make available on demand? And why doesn't NBC seem to understand how this new fangled On Demand technology works? On FIOS, if I watch an NBC show on demand, I can't pause, rewind, or fast forward the show. Makes me skip over their shows entirely.

Lisa de Moraes: I know, I know. And try finding a CBS show on CBS.com or the CBS youtube channel.. it's maddening. They really need to get up to speed...


Just Say, IN: hi Pookie, Is there any investigation into Gov. Sanford's possible role in the death of Michael Jackson? I mean, who else stood to benefit so much from being knocked out of the headlines.

Lisa de Moraes: I like your thinking! I will pitch it to our editors.


Pookie, will you marry me?: I nearly snorted out my drink when I read your headlines yesterday. Moraes on TV: ABC News, NBC News Fight Over Farrah's Carcass and Moraes on TV: All Obituary Thursday. Lisa, I think I'm in love with the Queen of all things Snarky.

Lisa de Moraes: Delighted you appreciated, though, I admit, I'm surprised you even found my blog post on ABC News and NBC News and their battling Farrah specials. I was told our website would not put it on our homepage because they were so knicker-knotted over the use of the phrase "Farrah's carcass."


Washington, DC: So it takes the death of the biggest pop star of my lifetime to get MTV to play music videos again instead of bad reality shows? I guess there's no hope they'll return to doing this regularly then. Pity.

Lisa de Moraes: Maybe if the numbers are gimongous,they'll rethink their strategy.. yeah, right. Anyway, I'll get the numbers this afternoon and in the meantime, don't miss MTV's MJ video-a-thon. It's such a wonderful treat...


Reston, Va.: Do you think NBC is satisfied that Conan is winning the key demographic even though Dave is getting the most viewers?

Lisa de Moraes: NBC sells the demo to advertisers. But if Conan in his third week is only flat in the young-viewer demos (compared to Leno same week last year), that does not bode real well for Conan.


West Virginia: I get the magnitude of the Jackson story but did "Today" really have to bump ALL programming and the Fray concert? BTW, I voted for the Billie Jean Motown moment...it was electrifying.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, they did. On the flip side, "The View" made absolutely no mention of Jackson's death, even at the top of the show, because they'd packaged today's broadcast as a "find a job" infomercial. Big, big, big mistake.


Bethesda, Md.: Hi Pookie! So are we going to see a special episode of "Law & Order" next season which does not depict any actual person or event but is obviously based on Michael Jackson's passing? May he rest in peace!

Lisa de Moraes: Count on it.


Hollywoodland: 10 best picture nominations. I loved the fact that they used 1939, probably the only year they could justify doing it.

And if we were going to throw away five from that year, I might start with the picture that won - "Gone With the Wind."

Lisa de Moraes: I have to disagree. The year "Casablanca" won -- I think that was '43 -- I'd say nine out of the 10 nominees were brilliant. Now, let's talk about this year, when they are bringing back the practice of 10 nominees. Can you come up with 10 nominees that would not embarrass the academy? I can't...


Reston, VA: Love you columns!

Not to pry, but do you find it difficult to cover LA's entertainment industry from the other side of the country? Why don't you do what you do from LA, instead of Washington?

Lisa de Moraes: I do spend more than half the year in Los Angeles. I'm like Persephone....


Kings: You know I used to defend this show but after watching the last couple of burn offs, jeesh!! Last episode, Jack took nude photographs of the princess. She told him to keep them. What could go wrong?

Lisa de Moraes: lol -- and yet,they call the show a drama...


Albany, N.Y.: Hi Lisa - Do you think that now he has passed that people will be coming forward in droves to divulge secrets about Michael Jackson? Can you imagine the specials the networks could produce over this? "Secrets of the King of Pop!!!"

I think we have already hit saturation point with the media coverage; I think I am going to be reading a lot more books the next few weeks if I want to keep my sanity!

Lisa de Moraes: You guys are simply not getting into the spirit of things here! This is the traditional orgy of dead person excess. It' our responsibility to wallow in it -- it's what television does brilliantly. I am so loving the video music marathon. Okay, I promise that's the last time I'll mention it...


DC: Is it bad that one of my first thoughts yesterday afternoon (following Jackson's passing) is that the TV coverage is going to be bonkers? And that people are going to go bonkers about the fact that TV coverage is bonkers?

Lisa de Moraes: No, it simply shows you are a serious student of television.


Poor Ed McMahon: Second banana in life, third banana in death.

Lisa de Moraes: yes, except the "poor" part. Really, I was surprised at the media overload on his death. Johnny Carson I got. Ed McMahon -- not so much.


Minneapolis, Minn.: BET beat MTV to the punch on the Jacko videothon, though. They were running the videos all night last night...

Lisa de Moraes: so was MTV -- it started at around 6:30 p.m. with the video marathon, though it did take a break at 9 for a Jackson special...


Memphis, Tenn.: Our local station has some news: it seems Elvis's ex-son-in-law passed away yesterday.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm so glad you're here, Memphis, to let us know. Thanks!


Washignton, D.C.: Re: "The View." Doesn't "The View" tape Friday shows on Tuesdays? I went to a taping once back when Star Jones was fat and Lisa Ling was on, and they tried to get us to stay for another show.

Lisa de Moraes: Shame on them for not blowing out today's show and doing something on Jackson. They have that chick-catterwauling-on-the-news they do at the top of each show and today's show looked very very lame in its pre-taped-ness. Badly done, executive producer Barbara Walters, badly done.


TV Land: Congratulations to NBC for not dropping the Farrah retrospective at 10 last night. A Wacko Jacko retrospective would have tripled the ratings.

Lisa de Moraes: NBC did not need to -- it ran its Jacko retrospective at 9 -- when HUT levels are higher than 10. CBS had its Jacko special at 10, competing against ABC and NBC's Farrah specials. I know it's confusing -- it was quite a night for obituaries...


Prep for Death: Hi Ms. Lisa,

Do you think various media outlets prepare for the deaths of some stars? I mean, it's going to happen to everyone, right? Do they prepare some video montages ahead of time and keep them on file and just pull 'em out when someone kicks it?

Lisa de Moraes: It seems no one was ready for Jackson's departure and everyone was over-prepped for Farrah's and McMahon's but of course those had been a long time coming. McMahon had been in poor health for some time and Fawcett died slowly of cancer.


MTV: MTV is showing videos - wow what a concept.

Lisa de Moraes: I know -- takes you back, doesn't it?


"I'm like Persephone": So, which coast is the Underworld?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm not telling.....


DC: Watched "The Philanthropist" the other night...kinda desperate for stories. It didn't suck (high praise considering most television). Big plus that the lead wasn't trying to hide his English accent like so many on TV these days (aren't there American actors available for the roles being played as Americans by Aussies and Brits?).

Obviously, given the premise, the show's gonna have a tendency to be a little maudlin and trite ... but the location shots, action, pacing were all good. I'm not sure how they sustain it...however...once you know he's a rich guy intent on doing good to fight his inner demons, or whatever, it has the potential to get old. What are they going to do, have him fall back into his evil capitalist ways every third of fourth show?

Lisa de Moraes: You're spending way too much energy on a show that is not going to survive. Yes, it was the biggest new scripted launch so far this summer but that's damning with faint praise and it fell from its first half hour to its second, which is toxic...


Breaking Bad: I've discovered this show by downloading the first two seasons from iTunes. It is terrific! When will season 3 start?

Lisa de Moraes: AMC is playing coy -- all it will say is "2010." geesh..


Denver: Is "The Unusuals" coming back or was it axed?

Lisa de Moraes: gone, pookie.


Alexandria, Va.: As long as we are thanking you for the blog, may I thank you for the late-night-Mark-Sanford roundup? Or should I thank you over in the comments section over there?

washingtonpost.com: Why not both?

Moraes on TV: Gov. Sanford: Answer to Late Night Hosts' Prayers

Lisa de Moraes: I think the late night shows should pay Sanford for giving them such great material. In the history of Politicians Confession Infidelity newsconferences, Sanford's has to be The. Best. Ever..


Hung: Lisa, Have you had a chance to see this new series? Should I tune in on Sunday? Considering how much programming is centered around women with big shoes, its about time for the men to step up...

Lisa de Moraes: Amen! -- it's about time the men gave back....


Ashburn, Va.: Am I supposed to like the character Nurse Jackie? While the show is decent and Edie Falco is great, I find the character completely unsympathetic and a little annoying. I really want to like the show, but it might go the way of TNT's "Trust Me" (good in concept, horrible delivery) for me. Your thoughts?

Lisa de Moraes: But isn't that the latest fad in TV -- lovable/unlikeable lead characters? How else do you explain CBS's Monday lineup?


Washington, DC: Given that 90 percent of best picture nominees are released in October-December, it's too early to say whether the new 10-picture rule will be a good or bad idea for this year.

Lisa de Moraes: True, but given what's been out so far, and what I'm hearing about coming up, I'm not expecting a sudden flick renaissance in October


DC: "It seems no one was ready for Jackson's departure"

NPR (of all broadcasters) was incredibly prepared with a well done retrospective piece only minutes after his death. Guessing it was mostly material from an earlier story, but still...

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, that was my assumption as well. Likewise the broadcast networks specials on Jackson. ABC's drew heavily on its Bashir interview with Jackson -- which was dripping with irony, given that Bashir owes his job at ABC News to that interview, and that interview did so much to unravel Jackson's career...


wretched creatures: Are the Jersey housewives done now? As in, Andy Cohen won't thrust them upon us for another "season?"

Lisa de Moraes: nothing has yet been announced for another season of Jersey Housewives...


Bethesda: I remember the Motown anniversary performance because he came on after my bedtime, but my mom came and got me up so I could watch. That never happened for anything else.

By the way, I think you'll appreciate Hank Stuever's prediction of the sequence:

"Day one: Oh no! We loooved him. Day two: The freak. Day three: Official tribute, await funeral Day four: WTF Day five: What does this say about us, as a society? Day six: NEWS, holy -bleep] NOW it makes sense Day seven: big media funeral Day eight: everyone as you were

Collapse above accordingly thanks to Twitter, TMZ, etc. This could all be over by Monday! There's an app for that!"

Lisa de Moraes: Funny, but frankly not much of a prediction, given that it's the way all pop star deaths have played out. Remember Elvis? Okay, maybe you don't. How about Belushi? It's Pop Star Worship 101...


Washington, DC: "Badly done, executive producer Barbara Walters, badly done."

Pookie, are you channeling Mr. Knightley reprimanding Emma?

Lisa de Moraes: In fact I am... and so happy you noticed! Mostly I assume when I put that kind of stuff in I'm doing it for my own amusement but I'm thrilled to know an Austen-ologist is on my blog....


Goodbye: Last night after watching repeats of a "Real Housewives of New Jersey" episode and the reunion show, I was so filled with shame and remorse and that I have decided to give up TV for a while. I clearly cannot be trusted with a remote control and I need to go off and improve myself somehow: read, exercise, talk to my husband. Just wanted to say goodbye to all of you. I may start using again when "Mad Men" comes back but otherwise I need to get clean for a while.

Lisa de Moraes: We'll miss you ...


Memories: I was born in 1983, so most most of my MJ memories, like OJ, involve court cases, not music (for OJ, no football memories).

That said, I did like MJ's "appearance" on the second season of "The Simpsons." Too bad he was too-far-gone in the 90's to get involved in the animated voice-over boom.


Lisa de Moraes: thanks for this....


Oscars: So, is the new 10-film best picture rule mean that "up to" 10 films will be nominated, or that 10 films WILL be nominated for best picture? The first one makes more sense--that pictures will need to level of interest (i.e. on 75 percent of the ballots, like Hall of Fame voting) before getting a nomination. Also, with 10 possible, can an Ernst Lubitsch film get a nod this year?

Lisa de Moraes: okay, I'm loving this Ernst Lubitsch reference. you guys are the best... And I'm told it means there will be 10 nominees, come hell or high water..Which means a "Hangover" nomination is a near certainty... sigh.


Reston, Va.: So Fox suits think that having marginally talented singers butcher Michael Jackson's song is a tribute?

I know they pimp "American Idol" every chance they can, but come on.

Lisa de Moraes: But it means we get to see Adam Lambert singing "Black or White" again, so I'll grit my teeth and put up with the rest. Meanwhile, why isn't Fox going to do it's own docu and use bits of that craptastic rebuttal special it aired after ABC's Bashir docu, in which MJ got to pitch his side of the story....I'd watch that...


washingtonpost.com: If anyone is interested, here are eight pages of Michael Jackson video, collected by Pitchfork: Michael Jackson: Music and Video

Lisa de Moraes: no such thing as too much Michael Jackson video today. enjoy.


Lisa de Moraes: So far the Thriller Video is our fave MJ moment. Good pick. Nearly 50 percent of the voting. Followed by Dangling Baby at around 25 percent. Keep on voting!


I need to go off and improve myself somehow: read, exercise, talk to my husband.: I don't see why the husband should be punished for her Television Watching Sins.

Lisa de Moraes: He can watch at the office. Problem solved...


Washington, DC: Is "Hawthorne" doing well in the ratings? The pilot wasn't that good.

Lisa de Moraes: It did okay for the network but not a groundbreaking number. I think it was 3 million-ish...


The Federation of Planets: So, if they have to nominate 10 movies, that means that "Star Trek" has a chance!

Lisa de Moraes: yes -- gak! hated it.


washingtonpost.com: From Tony Kornheiser, via PTIShow on Twitter -- TK: In my life there were 3 performers: Sinatra, Elvis, MJ, who were the most charismatic + talented. Fair to say each was crazy as a loon.

Lisa de Moraes: Tony is, as always, absolutely right.


Hollywood: The solution is to let them go backwards and nominate "losers" from prior years...that way, losers that became true classics will have a second bite at the apple AND Hollywood wouldn't have to come up with 5 more of the otherwise pathetic fair they've been delivering of late.

Lisa de Moraes: I like your idea for the Oscar nominations this year. Of course you and I know the way to get more people to watch the Oscar ceremony is to make the show less lame (which last season actually went a long way toward accomplishing and hopefully the academy and ABC will keep that up) and to make, you know -- better movies!...Or, 10 nominees and just make the show longer...


D.C.: Sort of a serious question (and I really don't watch the show!) Do the plus eight on "John & Kate plus Hate" get a chunk of the money? Are they covered by Child Labor or a Jackie Coogan type law? I mean, especially now, it feels like incredible exploitation and its hard to see that any of these kids are going to be happy adults. It be nice to know that there is some $$$ being put in trust for them while their parents finish their 15 minutes.

Lisa de Moraes: I'm trying really hard not to think about how mess up these kids are going to be. And I'm guessing, so are TLC suits...given all the junk we're reading about the parents doing -- looking for apartment on upper east side of Manhattan with view of the river, etc -- it does not seem like enough money is being set aside for the children.


Lisa It's Your Birthday: wasn't sung by MJ, but MJ's designated impersonator. The Simpsons creators learned after he showed up that they'd paid for the speaking Jackson only, not the singing Jackson.

Lisa de Moraes: ..and that makes the appearance even better...it has as great back story. I'm out of time. we'll keep the poll going. Thanks for joining me -- bye!


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