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On TV: Emmy Snubs, Sir Paul and Letterman, More

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Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 17, 2009; 1:00 PM

Columnist Lisa de Moraes was online Friday, July 17 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.

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This week, Lisa chats about Emmy snubs, Dave beating Conan, Discovery renewing "Pitchman" without Billy Mays, and if you would watch the Emmy telecast if Justin Timberlake and Neil Patrick Harris sing a duet.



Lisa de Moraes: Hi. Please take a minute to participate in this week's WaPo Team TV Very Important TV InstaPoll......


Arlington, Va.: Seriously, how could Cat Deeley NOT receive an Emmy nomination?! She's super fabulous. I love her so much I luuuuurve her.

Lisa de Moraes: Seriously. Everybody thinks Jeff Probst has the most dangerous reality-series hosting gig --- ooh, look there are spiders! -- but we all know that hosting "So You Think You Can Dance" is the most dangerous in all of reality TV. Mary Murphy's screaming has probably done permanent damage to Cat's eardrums.


Silver Spring, Md.: I didn't know it until I read your column today, but I find it inconceivable that "The Simpsons" has never been up for best comedy. I mean, c'mon.

washingtonpost.com: 'Rock,' Fox Cut Emmy Records

Lisa de Moraes: I know. Particularly when we all know "Family Guy" is just "The Simpsons" Lite.....


What's up doc?: Disappointed again that Lisa Edelstein and Robert Sean Leonard of "House" get no love from Emmy voters. I guess if these two outstanding actors were featured on some cult series no one watched on Showtime they would be rolling in recognition from Emmy.

And what is up with the ridiculous FOUR writing nominations for "Mad Men"? That show is good but not that great, and in fact it is downright boring for much of the time. "Lost," "House," "In Treatment," "Life," and even "24" all had excellent dramatic scripts this past year.

Here's my suggestion for reforming Emmy: I think there should be separate categories for short and long-form dramas. There is just no real comparison between the stunning accomplishment of Hugh Laurie who delivers amazing performances consistently over a 24 episode season and the turn of the HBO actors who put in great work during only seven or eight episodes per season. What do you think?

Lisa de Moraes: Okay. we're all going to have to agree today that Lisa can't take questions that have more than 20 words in them, owing to being very seriously zonked from yesterday's Primetime Emmy ordeal...

I am so in love with your first point. It is spot on and I'm trilled to know I'm part of an actual group, of at least two, who feel this way. I have felt so alone for so long in re the whole "ooh, it's a cult show no one is watching -- it's great!" school of covering television. Now,as to your second point, not only did "Mad Men" get four of the five writing nominations this year for best drama series, but "30 Rock" got four of the five nominationsl for best comedy writing. I vote they remove both these categories from the televised portion of the show this year because there is less than no suspense in either category. That way they could make room for Justin Timberlake to perform at least one of his Emmy nominated tunes, "Motherlover" during the Emmycast, which might actually bring some viewers to the trophy show...


Walkersville, Md.: Vis-a-vis the Christmas episode of "The Big Bang Theory". Did you see that that episode made the recent list of top 100 TV shows by TV Guide?

Lisa de Moraes: Well, that makes it official I guess. I mean -- TV Guide!


Summerland, Calif.: How cute was Jim Parsons when his name was announced yesterday?

Lisa de Moraes: So adorable I could hardly stand it. Remember, it was 5:30 a.m. where we were.


Mwah hahaha: You just know that Jeremy Piven is PO'ed that he didn't get nominated this year. He'd become the male Helen Hunt/Doris Roberts of perpetual nominations. That big baby is probably crying over his latte somewhere.

Lisa de Moraes: Nope. You got it wrong. Neither Jeremy Piven nor Katherine Heigl were nominated this year when both deserved to be nommed based on their performances. And I am absolutely convinced it's because academy members have no tolerance for either, after each nicked the industry.

Piven with his "ooh, poor me, I have mercury poisoning so I must bail on the B'way production of "Speed the Plow" in which I'm starring" hooey. Heigl with her "I did not allow my name to be submitted for Emmy consideration last year because "Grey's Anatomy" writer Shonda Rhimes did not give me good enough material to merit throwing my name into the running. Academy will tolerate all kinds of bad behavior -- DUI, etc -- but not that kind of I'm-better-than-my-peers crap...


San Pablo, Calif.: How real--or staged--is "The Deadliest Catch"?

Lisa de Moraes: I'm guessing no more or less than other "reality" series. Remember back in April of '08 when "Deadliest Catch's" fourth-season premiere opened with a massive storm pounding the crab fishing boat and crew members discovered their boat was flooding, only it turned out the boat had flooded last September and the storm footage was shot in October.

Editing is a beautiful thing... In that same school of "reality" we have "The Hills'" famous Apology Phone Call, in which Spencer was shown calling Lauren Conrad to apologize for having started the rumor about her alleged sex tape and would she please forgive him and come to his wedding to her BFF Heidl. Only Lauren told The Ladies of The View last month, she wasn't actually on the other end of the call and the whole thing had been faked by the producers...


"24": I noticed that while "24" was mostly snubbed, the "24:Redemption" movie to make up for the season we lost to the writers' strike got several nominations in its category. Was the movie really that much better than the series? I kinda just thought of it as a long episode.

Lisa de Moraes: It was a long episode. it's very silly...


East Windsor, NJ: Since House's Hugh Laurie gets nominated every year but never wins the prize, I think the organizers of the show should just do the smart thing and make him the permanent host of the event. Laurie would bring in a huge audience because he is witty, talented, articulate, and the star of the biggest drama hit in the world. Then he could continue to hand over the awards to those stars from shows no one watches.

Lisa de Moraes: Every time he picks up a trophy at the TV Critics Association's trophy show I am reminded he would be the perfect Emmy host. Sadly, you do not run the academy...


Curmudge, ON: TV Lady,

I want James Purefoy.

Too bad his program is a bit lame.

What do you think?

Lisa de Moraes: I want James Purefoy too, but we can't always get what we want. Or, maybe you were talking about wanting him to get an Emmy nom? Anyway, he'll be back in something slightly less lame, and then he will be nominated....


Upper Peninsula, Mich.: Hi Lisa - Can I show you how easy it is to be a TV executive?

"Celebrity Wipe Out"


Now where's my friggin Bentley?

Lisa de Moraes: Can I show you how much better I would be at being that TV executive:

And when the celebrity dies on "Celebrity Wipeout" you have your companion reality show, "Celebrity Autopsy." Have we learned nothing from the Michael Jackson story?


Silver Spring, Md.: Why was the variety/music/comedy performance category eliminated? I always enjoy watching Stephen Colbert whine about losing each year.

Lisa de Moraes: I don't think they eliminated it. I think they cut it in two, so Stephen Colbert will never lose to Don Rickles again...


ExPat, Canada: Wait! How cute WAS Jim Parsons when he heard his name? All the video links I find kindly inform me I can't view them as I am in a foreign land, or some such thing.

washingtonpost.com: Including ours? I don't think it should do that.

2009 Primetime Emmy Nominees Announced

Lisa de Moraes: We're here to help... Thank my fabulous producer, Paul Williams...


Burbank, Calif.: I was watching TV and I realized something: the Korean government didn't just hack into government Web sites and The Washington Post, they hacked into the major networks and took over all programming. That's the only explanation I can come up with such lame shows.

Lisa de Moraes: You mean you don't love "the Listener" and "The Philanthropist" and "Wipeout" and "Big Brother"?


The Snubsons: It's worse than that. "The Simpsons" only placed itself in eligibility for Best Comedy in 1993 and 1994. And as any Simpsons fan will tell you, those were the show's best seasons (and the pinnacle of Conan O'Brien's career). And if one assumes that the best seasons of "The Simpsons" equal some of the best television comedy ever, the fact that "Family Guy" is nominated in one of its weaker season rankles.

Lisa de Moraes: Well put! "The Simpsons" was robbed, by the fuddy duddy academy.


Harper's Island Finale - Part Deux: Hi Pookie,

I'm the one who you told in last week's chat to watch the finale of "Harper's Island" and get back to you. So, I wanted to take a second to honor that request...

First of all, I just wanted to note that it was 2 hours, or at least 2 new 1 hour episodes (not that that really matters, just that you said it was one).

Second, I didn't have a problem with the way it ended at all. I didn't find it unreasonably plot-holey or anything like that. It was a kind of predictable, semi-convoluted ending to a predictable semi-convoluted show. I thought it worked in relation to what the show had been churning out for the previous 12 episodes: stupid, fun horror mystery. I don't know if you had built it up so bad that I was prepped for far worse in comparison or what, but I didn't think it was that bad.

Let's put it this way: given the choice between watching that show or Katherine Heigl getting it on with a Dead Dude, I'll take "Harper's" 10 times out of 10.

Lisa de Moraes: You know, if I was locked in a room and told I had to either watch two hours of Katherine Heigl having sex with a dead guy or the finale of "Harper's Island" I'd also chose the finale of "Harper's Island."

And if they bring back the show I would be so proud and honored if CBS would run an on-screen promo that says:

Washington Post: "If I was locked in a room and told I had to either watch two hours of Katherine Heigl having sex with a dead guy or the finale of "Harper's Island" I'd chose the finale of 'Harper's Island'."


Meteor, why?: ------SPOILER (if it matters) -----------

Okay, NBC has this mini-series "Meteor: Path to Destruction" which will complete its second part Sunday night.

In the first part, the character played by Marla Sokoloff is the assistant to a professor who discovers a large meteor is going to hit Earth.

In the process of trying to warn people, they lose cell service and run out of gas in Mexico, the professor gets killed by getting run over by a truck, Sokollof gets a ride to a police station where some criminals have taken over, they try to rape her but she is saved by falling debris from above mentioned meteor.

And meteor hitting Earth is the most improbable thing in the movie? How do these scripts get through? No really, how? I think a lot of unemployed people might have a chance to make some money here if the standards are that low.

Rant over.

Lisa de Moraes: only if they are young, male and the son or nephew of someone already in the industry. That's how this town rolls...


Arlington, Va.: Lisa,

I don't blame the broadcast networks for being upset about the Emmy Nominations since they are at a creative disadvantage right from the start. It seems edgier shows are the ones that get recognized and the broadcast networks are limited on how edgy they can get.

Shows on cable (especially pay cable) can throw in as much sex, nudity, and violence as they want. Does anyone think "Sex and the City" or "The Sopranos" would have been the iconic shows they became if they ran on ABC or CBS?

Also, pay cable networks like HBO can spend big bucks on their programs and attract big stars because they can justify the costs by rerunning these shows and movies a hundred times over all their channels and then releasing them on DVD.

What is the shelf life of a TV episode on the broadcast networks? Three or four tops (unless the show is one of the "Law and Orders"). Why doesn't the TV Academy level the playing field by having two awards ceremonies; one for broadcast TV and one for cable TV. Seems only fair to me.

Lisa de Moraes: There used to be two trophy shows: Emmys and CableAce. But once cable got into the Emmys and started winning, it was all downhill from there, in terms of ratings for the trophy show. Yes, the broadcast network can't compete with cable because of FCC censorship, budget issues and, maybe most important, cable networks can start new seasons of a show whenever they fee like it. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" can wait a year and a half to come back because the creator decides so. Cable series are sometimes as short as 13 episodes while broadcast shows have to crank out 22 to 24. Broadcast shows work at an enormous disadvantage...


Nosy Parker: Perhaps Katherine Heigl thinks she's the next Candice Bergen, who after winning something like 5 Emmys in a row for "Murphy Brown" declined to be nominated for the role again.

Lisa de Moraes: except she didn't decline to be considered this year -- she just did not get nominated..the laugh's on her.


Rockville, Md.: No, "The Simpsons" are now "Simpsons Lite"- the show hasn't been relevant in 8 years (and with so much material to work with, too). As an earlier poster mentioned, the only shame that "Family Guy" was nominated was because it was a particularly weak season.

Lisa de Moraes: like I said, "Simpsons" Lite...


DC: James Purfoy...okay, so maybe the Philanthropist won't cut it...but your salivating reader should rent the British Mini Series "Rome" (Purfoy as a not too bright Marc Antony), or the BBC's "Oliver Twist" where he played Oliver's long, lost dead father.

Lisa de Moraes: Rome for sure. Purefoy in a Toga!


DC: How did the Piven poster get it wrong? They said he's probably pissed he didn't get nominated, and he probably is. Also, I don't think he did deserve it -- unless you do something absolutely amazing, after you've been nominated 80 times for the same schtick and won at least 2, I say enough. And please -- Katehrine Heigl deserved a nomination too? I'm still grappling with the fact that she was nominated that one time and then won. Even she was stunned. Of all the great supporting actresses on TV, that's among the 5 best? Sorry, wrong...

Lisa de Moraes: You're forgetting, however, how much the TV academy voters are suckers for certain storylines. Give someone a crippling disease -- they're golden at Emmy time. Izzie had a brain tumor and was having sex with a dead man. That's Practically Perfect Emmy Material.....


Arlington, VA: Ok, the Harper's Island finale was just as craptacular as expected. But I'm so glad I watched. Seeing the bride running from her fiance' in her wedding dress, knowing she was about to trip, was perfect. And the whole half-sister love story, you couldnt pay for those kind of plots (I know CBS didnt pay anything for those scripts). I wish we could have a Harper's Island every summer!

Lisa de Moraes: Me too, actually. Let's face it, if the show had been on MTV it would have been called a monster hit and out-of-the-box television...


Falls Church, VA: What award show can nominate shows like "The Daily Show"? It's one of the funniest things on TV, but I guess it's not eligible for a Comedy Emmy?

Lisa de Moraes: No, but it is nominated in the category for which it's eligible which is called something like "Variety, Music or Comedy Program -- or something like that. anyway it will win in that race. It always does...


Washington, D.C. -- Downtown: Kathy Griffin grabs two Emmy nominations. One for her reality show and one for a stand-up special. Is this really the best we can come up with? Griffin's reality show has become so incredibly boring and the real celebrities that she interacts with (contractually I'm sure) can barely hide their disdain. Bette Midler looked like she had a gun to her head when she had to entertain Griffin in Vegas and Lily Tomlin looked like she'd rather be eating glass than putting up with Griffin's tired schtick.

Lisa de Moraes: ..funny, I thought both women were better actors than that. I'm guessing they were using Griffin's show to promote something. Bette still has that Vegas show going, right? What's Tomlin got going these days she's trying to plug?


RE: Does anyone think "Sex and the City" or "The Sopranos" would have been the iconic shows they became if they ran on ABC or CBS?: Are you saying "According to Jim" would have been "iconic" if only Belushi got naked & cursed?

Lisa de Moraes: "Sex" and "Sopranos" would not have been the same shows on ABC because they would have had to crank out 24 eps a season, would have had to come back every September whether the writers were ready or not, could not have handled the topics they did, could not have used the language they did, and so on, and so on, and so on. And, let's face it, a broadcast network would not have cast James Gandolfini in the lead role.They would have gone with Ron Livingston or something... someone prettier...


Silver Spring, M.D.: Pookala, were you as amazed as I that ABC came up with so many euphemisms for ED's E.D. on "The Bachelorette"?

Lisa de Moraes: And they say great writing on TV is dead...who knew there were so many euphemisms....But my fave were some of the headlines about that edition of the show, like:

"Failure to Launch"


"You can spell Ed without E.D."


Wait, a person can't view certain videos in a foreign land?: I emailed links to Paul McCartney's performance on David Letterman to a friend in Europe, who replied that he was unable to view them. Is there some sort of embargo so that a person can't view certain U.S. videos in a foreign land?

washingtonpost.com: The short answer is, yes. And, I believe, there are certain BBC links, for instance, that we can't see.

Lisa de Moraes: it's true, and it's just wrong...


Boston: Did Dave do big (or at least decent) numbers with Paul McCartney? Is Conan beginning to panic?

Lisa de Moraes: Letterman beat Conan that night in the metered markets by a big margin, but final nationals won't be in for a few days. Meanwhile, last week Letterman beat Tonight Show by biggest margin since 2000 and the gap between Letterman and "Tonight" among 18-49 year olds was down to 3/10ths of a rating point. And, Letterman seems to have come back to life on his show, doesn't he? So, you see, good has come of the change in "Tonight" hosts...


Justin Timberlake and Neil Patrick Harris: Ooooh, Pookie, I'd definitely watch the Emmy's if they'd do the Single Ladies dance, preferably in leotards and heels!

Lisa de Moraes: I'd rather see them dressed as men, but if you insist...


nyc: Is it my imagination or does Cat Deely get taller each each season? I think she's about 6'3" this year.

Lisa de Moraes: either that or the dancers are getting shorter...


Woodbridge, Va.: I say boo on the Emmy people for not nominating my TV boyfriend Craig Ferguson for the variety/comedy/whatsis catchall award. I mean, he has puppets. Puppets!

Lisa de Moraes: Drat -- I definitely should have had that in my Snubbed list.. my bad! I too love the puppets. Especially the unicorn. Chicks dig unicorns...


"Rome for sure. Purefoy in a Toga! ": Even better, out of it! The best the British have these days to export are actors. What would U.S. TV be without it?

Lisa de Moraes: definitely less hot... a lot..


Austin, TX: Is the "Philanthropist" a competition reality show or is it scripted? I can't tell from the promos.

Lisa de Moraes: hahahaha...I don't know, truthfully..


San Diego: What's an outrage is that the Academy seems to be stuck in a rut. They must not watch anything other than their favorites.

If I had an "ignore" button on my remote, I'd push that button when the awards show comes on.

Lisa de Moraes: You do -- it's called Any Other Channel.


Clueless: Did Tina Fey get nominated for her Sarah Palin impression? Fey truly may have influenced the course of history by shining a light on Palin's, um, true nature, prompting the majority of voters to vote against her.

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, Fey is nominated for her acting role on her own show, for being the creator of the show which is up for best comedy, and for guest starring on SNL playing Palin which the academy noted in its nominations, was a "spoof" lest people think she was playing Palin seriously. On "Saturday Night Live." The TV academy apparently does not think highly of the IQ of its members...


Charlotte, NC: Does Justin Timberlake qualify for a best guest spot emmy for his SNL appearance? If they had more regular cast members with his comic timing chops, fewer people would be lamenting the loss of its better days.

Lisa de Moraes: Strange, isn't it, that Timberlake seems to be the best comic on the show, every time he shows up?


Sir Paul: Did you watch Mccartney on Letterman Wednesday night? Letterman seemed genuinely nervous and screwed up a few times. He missed a few cues and even missed out on a golden opportunity for self-deprectation when Paul asked him about his ratings. I found it interesting, and a once in a lifetime show...you know Paul will never come back after that.

Lisa de Moraes: Of course Paul will come back after that. It was a hit, on TV, online, etc...why wouldn't he come back? But yes, Letterman did seem very nervous, which was odd.


Awesome keyboarding: Pookie, sweetie, no other chat host answers as many questions as you do so quickly. Just sayin'.

Lisa de Moraes: golly, and I thought I was dragging today in my post-Emmy-nom fog. thanks for the pep talk..


Arlington Gay: Pookie, have you been watching Big Brother? I didn't think it was possible, but the new cast may be the most dysfunctional of all time. In the first week, they've managed to reach levels most casts take more than a month to reach. And they sent a young, hot guy home first, which rarely happens.

Lisa de Moraes: I just watched the "Big Brother" Technotronic Fight, between the two guys. They had just competed in a challenge to spell the longest word they could. One of them spelled "technotronic" and all testosterone broke loose...


Needing Glasses?, D.C.: Is is possible that Lafayette on "True Blood" is played by a different actor this season? He looks very different to me, kind of shorter and stumpier. I will admit that I thought Dr. Burke on "Grey's Anatomy" was two different characters for the first few episodes (one with glasses and without) and I saw little resemblance in "The Parent Trap" until Hayley Mills cut her hair.

Lisa de Moraes: Okay, you should have had your eyes examined the season you thought Dr. Burke was two different people, pookie. Get it done now before you make any more serious TV mistakes....


New York: Dude, where's my funny Conan O'Brien?

Lisa de Moraes: I know -- Conan's not having a good week...


More snubs for reality hosts: what about Ty Pennington? or Chef Ramsey from "Hell's Kitchen"? Love 'em or hate 'em (and I do both), they still have more energy and personality than Heidi Klum -- their shows would not exist without those guys.

Lisa de Moraes: Ty is no Jeff Probst...wait, did I just say that?


Sex with a dead guy...: ...yeah, but it was Jeffery Dean Morgan. That's its own reward.

Lisa de Moraes: well, okay, I'll concede that point.


East West Highway: I am so over Katherine Heigl! All she can get right now is a movie role as a sexy, blond lady who will have sex with an unattractive guy (& probably be knocked up) in guy flicks. Is she trying to eliminate the female fan base she's got through Gray's Anatomy? Is this a good career move?

Lisa de Moraes: well, since she's probably making several million dollars a flick, I'd have to say the answer is definitely "Yes." Hopefully she has a good financial consultant and is investing that money wisely...


Las Vegas: In all fairness to Heigl, Shonda Rhimes did oversee at best an uneven season of "Grey's." Maybe the Jeremy Piven mercury scare spread to the staff at the medical drama as well. Could have made for a great storyline!

Lisa de Moraes: Yes, this season, please! Jeremy Piven guest stars as guy with acute mercury poisoning who hits on Meredith in the hospital...


Summer viewing...: I know you've assigned it to the walking dead catagory, but the Philanthropist, surprisingly, doesn't suck. Also, watched and enjoyed the Hampton's doctor thinging with that former show-killer (whatever his name was). Not half bad.

Also, How's Lie to Me doing? Not a great show, but Tim Roth saves an otherwise predictable, dull show.

Lisa de Moraes: Like most shows this summer, reruns of "Lie to Me" are pretty much flatlining. And, compared to "The Listener," "The Philanthropist" definitely does not suck.. See, there's another great on-air promo:

Washington Post: Compared to "The Listener," "The Philanthropist" does not suck.

Meanwhile, results of InstaPoll show there is a groundswell out outrage that "Big Bang Theory" was not nominated for best Comedy Series. Hooray! I'm out of time. See you next week....


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