| Reality TV|
With Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 05, 2003; Noon ET
"American Junior" a little too "Jon Benet: The Series" for your taste? "For Love or Money" storylines a little too tidy?
Join Washington Post TV Columnist Lisa de Moraes every Thursday at Noon ET to discuss the latest on Reality TV -- and those other shows too.
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.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
San Francisco, Calif.: Of the many columns and articles I read in the Washington Post, I like your columns best. I also enjoy your chats here. I agree with your criticism last week of the panel of judges on "Fame" but you were too critical of Debbie Allen's looks. She is not 18 years old and she does not pretend to be 18 and that is okay with me. She excels at identifying and inspiring talent and countering the harshness of dumb judges' comments. She does not have to be eye candy because the show has plenty of eye candy as it is.
Lisa de Moraes: Hi. Thanks re: column. I have to disagree with you about Debbie Allen, since NBC was touting that the show will be about Allen putting these aspiring singer/dancers through their paces and that's what we expected. Turns out she's not in any shape to do that. Entertainment TV programming, for better or for worse, is a lot about looks and Allen would have been well served to have gotten back into shape. Look at what AI did for Abdul's career. She's only about eight years younger than Allen.
College Park, Md.: Thank you for pointing out that "America's Funniest Home Videos" (a cheaply made clip show) competed well in its time slot compared with "Fame" and "Amazing Race 4" (two increasingly expensively-made reality series).
That being said, I taped the ABC 50th Anniversary special and it was a sad commentary as to how what used to be the top network is now ... fourth. Is Eisner going to be on his way out?
Lisa de Moraes: Not any time soon, to answer your Eisner question.
The Amazing Race: It's great to see this show back, especially with one team that is so easy to hate -- those skanky "models." But one thing seems odd:
Why do they refer to Millie & Chuck by the description "Dating 12 Years/Virgins" instead of the far more accurate "Pathetic Clueless Woman/Desperately Closeted Homosexual"?
Love your chat, live for TV Column!
Lisa de Moraes: Dating 12 Years/Virgins is shorthand ... casting is great on this edition of Amazing Race. Wish the show was about more than racing from point a to point b.
Silver Spring, Md.: OK, so I turn on the TV tonight (Wednesday) so I can set the VCR to tape "AR4" (note reality TV tie-in) tomorrow (Thursday). And there is Celine Dion, dressed in man's clothes and wearing short hair, singing Bruce Springsteen's "Drive All Night," while a bunch of dancers run around stage in moves that a high-school musical revue would be ashamed of. It was among the worst musical numbers I have ever seen on TV, including Madonna.
Do the people who stage these things actually think they are good?
Lisa de Moraes: Um ... yes? I think the Celine Dion show in Vegas was staged by a Cirque du Soleil (sp?) guy. And someone should have put "cannot cut hair" into Celine's contract, like they do with all the chicks on WB shows since Felicity ...
Silver Spring, Md.: "American Junior" represents the basest negativity in our society. Everyone wants to have the next Britney or Justin, but why wait until they are sixteen or seventeen to get paid? How about a 13-year-old who is a dead ringer for Mariah Carey (replete with teased up hair and a poom-poom skirt?) Now every parent in America (and it seems to cross all socio-economic and racial divides) wants to outdo the neighbors with their wunderkind. How sick is that?
Lisa de Moraes: Like I said: "Jon Benet: The Series." That said, I will watch again next week, and the week after that ...
Dallas, Tex.: What's your general opinion of "The Amazing Race?" It's the only "reality" show I can bear to watch.
Lisa de Moraes: Well-produced, especially well cast.
Arlington, Va.: Do you know if there will be any more such programs as "1900 House," "Frontier House" or "Manor House" on PBS or other stations in the near future? I found those shows to be more entertaining, with modern people trying to cope with the "good ol' days" rather than something of the "Dog Eat Dog" ilk, although I must say that I'm willing to try out something called "Living in a Tropical Paradise with Tons of Cash House" myself!!
Lisa de Moraes: I believe PBS is contemplating a colonial house-ish thing about early U.S., which could be interesting. Wonder how they will handle slavery.
Van Ness, Washington, D.C.: Jon Benet -- the series. I am reminded of when the Benet murder story broke and millions of us were aghast at the sight of this little girl dressed and presented like a grown-up beauty pageant contestant (I'm being nice). I don’t think the family ever understood that millions of us were appalled that they would put their daughter on display like that.
Lisa de Moraes: The degree of cluelessness seemed to be gigantic ...
Houston, Tex.: Enough of Katie Couric! Any chance she could be persuaded to retire from the airwaves?
Lisa de Moraes: ... don't hold your breath. Why should she? America loves Couric -- didn't you get the memo?
Arlington, Va.: Okay, I need to ask this of someone in the know. "Joe Millionaire." They always had that one woman who would appear from time to time and be listed as "host." But you hardly ever saw her. It was so out of place and completely buffoonish. Here's what I think happened and I'm just trying to see if you know the answer to this.
The woman listed as "host" was originally supposed to be the host, but she was just awful. So they wrote her out and made the butler dude the new "host" of the show. Unfortunately she was in some key scenes so they had to keep her in some of the episodes though. Did that stick out to you, too?
Also, and this one's quick. In "The Bachelor" -- how come whenever the bachelor gets down to the last rose the host of that show has to come over like a goof ball and say "Bachelor, this is your final rose." For what possible purpose did the producers of this show think to do that for? What, nobody can see it's the last rose? We have to be reminded? Duh!
Lisa de Moraes: I can only assume that the host on Joe Millionaire had been signed but they soon realized she was hopeless so they diminished her role. That's pure guesswork on my part. The "this is your final rose" line on Bachelor is hilarious and I hope they keep it.
Washington, D.C.: AFI Best Villian is Hanibal Lechter?! Best Hero is Atticus Finch?! Most people don't even KNOW Atticus Finch!
Best Villian: How about Dracula, Frankenstein. There's so much more than Hanibal.
Lisa de Moraes: Lechter was lame, but Atticus Finch is a great choice. No excuse if people don't know Atticus Finch -- they should be ashamed of themselves. I was pleased with that one because the last one or two of these totally lame AFI lists were way too heavy on releases from the last four or five years and way too thin on classic older movies ... If they intend for these lists to be taken seriously, they have to be fairly balanced between old and new ... otherwise it looks like AFI is being manipulated by the network to get on a special that will attract the under-35 crowd ...
Rockville, Md.: Oh no! Why wasn't "America's Next Top Model" on this week? Tell me that they haven't pulled it!
I thought I was going to die laughing on the last episode, when Tyra was trying to empathize with the "plus-sized" model (all of a size 12 probably) by saying that "she's the biggest girl on her Victoria's Secret shoots"!
Lisa de Moraes: It was on this week. And it did well in the ratings, up over 4 million which I believe it its biggest haul yet ...
Top Model Show: I turned on UPN's "America's Top Model" hosted by Tyra Banks and I am hooked on how snotty and catty these women are (I also don't have cable and only get four channels, so this was literally the best thing on TV for me.) It reminded me of MTV's "The Real World" which I used to watch back in the day. The same types always appear in these shows. There is a likelihood of people naturally adopting various roles in any given group, but, 10 years into the reality TV phenomenon, I can't help feeling that people are paid to be whatever the show wants them to be. Have you ever heard of that being done? Thanks.
Lisa de Moraes: I am sure that people who want to be on these shows make every effort to impress the casting folks.
Washington, D.C.: Hey Lisa,
OK, so is it just me, or was the dude on "For Love or Money" high as a kite? My husband thinks he's just dumb, but I wonder. It doesn't get any better than when a guy tells a girl her dress matches the rug! Comedy!
Lisa de Moraes: My theory is that he's dumb as a bag of frozen peas.
Bethesda, Md.: OK, Lisa, don't laugh, but why do you hate Trista so? I think you've called her "scary." Is it "just" her going twice on reality programs, or is it something else? Inquiring minds really want to know. So sue me, but other than the stupidity that made her go on reality shows, she didn't seem so bad to me.
Lisa de Moraes: It's the way she kept interrupting Ryan during the press conference after the show ended, answering questions that had been directed to him and saying things about how she was all the woman he needs that made her seem SOOOOOO scary and made my heart break for him ...
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Re: the "Joe Millionaire" host.
That was Alex McLeod, former host of "Trading Spaces." I actually thought she was a much better host than the irritating cheerleader, Paige Davis, so I'm surprised she was so dismal on JM.
Lisa de Moraes: She was given so little to do on Joe Millionaire it was hard to tell whether she was good or bad. I too am through with Trading Spaces' current hostess, who is so perky I have to resist the urge to smack her, or at least spray her with water so that her perky hair falls down ...
Re: Top Model: Do you think there will be a model episode to find the top MALE model? Why are all models supposed to be women? I know the female modeling industry is one of few where women outnumber and out earn the men, but if you want some ratings numbers, a bunch of good-looking, buff men in swimsuits does it for me and I'm sure many other women. We'd like to see if the guys could be as catty as the women (and I'm sure they could)!
Lisa de Moraes: Not any time soon on a network that airs Smackdown ...
For Luv or $: From the previews it looks like he's going to turn out to be a real jerk -- which I think is great!! Why should all of these shows only have decent guys since SO many are not!! It will make the money question that much better (i.e., Is he worth it!?!?!)
Lisa de Moraes: Yes, that is a great twist, if her turns out to be as big a jerk as some of those contestants on Mr. Personality. I'm sorry now they threw in the $1 million twist, because the women would then have had a lot more explaining to do re: why they're sticking around after his promised bad behavior. On the other hand, that may have just been misleading advertising, which of course has never ever happened before on a reality series.
Fame: Is it me or are the performers for "Fame" that much more talented than "AI" or even "Star Search?" I feel kind of bad that they are stuck on that show. I don't like watching it much but the performers are really good!
Lisa de Moraes: Performers are quite good on Fame ... you get the feeling there are a lot more "pros" in this show, who haven't yet made in on B'Way, etc., than on American Idol ...
Arlington, Va.: Thank God "AI" is over so we don't have to hear anymore about that horrible, horrible program. Oh, and I saw the poster for the 1st season's winner/runner-up's new movie. It should be a big bust at the box-office.
Anywhoo, let's talk about a show that is interesting. The "Amazing Race 4" (roaring crowd in the background)!
Who's your fave so far (Josh and Steve), and who do you absolutely detest (model friends and NFL wives)?
And you should check out the TARcon on the final night in NYC. I hear it is tons of fun and you get to meet the racers and PHIL!
Lisa de Moraes: Too soon for me to have faves on Amazing Race ... and watch what you say about AI, except, of course, the AI flick, which yes, looks dreadful beyond description ...
AI Jr.: My daughter had the "AI Jr." program on for all of 10 minutes –- long enough to see one girl sing and then her sister perform –- while the voiceover said something like "how would it feel to have the same dream as your sister, and to have her always outshine you?" (along those lines). They were NINE and 11 years old!
We’ve gone over the cliff. Maybe it’s just because I’m a parent, but there’s no way I’m watching this. That was sickening.
Lisa de Moraes: I like to think of this show as a public service from Fox to warn America about stage moms and the horror they inflict on their children. Where's social services when you need them ...
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: So what's it really like up in New York when all the networks roll out their fall schedules? Is there a lot of sighing and laughing over some of the stuff you guys see? How much of a program do they actually let you see?
Lisa de Moraes: The networks only show very short clips of each show, and I'm always surprised when advertisers give one show a big round of applause compared to other shows. Too often I have seen shows that "clip" well and are awful in their entirety ... there are a few of them this time too ...
Penn Quarter: What does the future hold for "NYPD Blue?" It is still one of my favorites, but the new episodes are nothing compared to those a few years back -- in syndication on TNT and Court TV. Is it simply a matter of ABC not having anything else -- or that Dennis Franz is able to carry the show on his own?
Lisa de Moraes: No way is ABC going to cancel NYPD Blue when it is dying in so many other time slots. It's still doing very well for the network relative to other programming ...
Fort Wayne, Ind.: With Leno drubbing Letterman even more than usual in recent ratings, and Dave making a big deal the other night about NBC's Today doing a profile of Paul Schafer and "joking" at how much that must steam Jay Leno (by name) -- Do you think Dave is getting nervous? Should he be?
Lisa de Moraes: Dave does not need to be nervous because a) CBS makes money on his show, b) his company produces Everybody Loves Raymond. Still, Letterman's people have definitely shut up about how his numbers suck because CBS's 10 p.m. programming does lousy ratings. CBS delivered better ratings and Leno is still whomping Dave ...
Arlington, Va.: I found the beginning of the Miss Universe pageant to be very amusing. When all of the girls were introducing themselves I thought they all looked like skanky prostitutes. Do these women have no self esteem or self awareness?
Lisa de Moraes: That chick on WB's new series "Fearless" is not the only woman who lacks the fear gene; so too do contestants on "beauty" pageants ... and the "what was I thinking" gene.
PBS Reality: Apparently PBS (or the British Co. that did "Manor House") is working on a version to take place during the Jane Austen years. All sorts of dating/courtship shenanigans are supposed to ensue. Hopefully they won't pander to the lowest common denominator.
And while not a reality show, what did you think of "Kean Eddie?"
Lisa de Moraes: I thought Keen Eddie was great ... and I'm not a huge fan of cop dramas. I hear that future episodes are even better ...
Trista Alert: Trista will be on Good Morning America tomorrow to kick-off their "who wants to be the next Bachelorette" contest.
Lisa de Moraes: Good ... I can sleep in.
America's Next Top Model: Have you seen it? I am totally obsessed with watching these foolish girls try and become supermodels. They have no idea that the fashion industry is a real job. They have no idea that they are employed to SELL the items they are wearing. They have no idea that they are merely a vessel for what the industry is trying to sell and their for if they want to give the model a mohawk the model has no say.
It's fascinating. I'm totally hooked.
Lisa de Moraes: No. They're only aware that supermodels make millions of dollars. which is all they really need to know, now isn't it?
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Hi Lisa,
Just curious. What do you think of "For Love or Money?" I didn't think I was going to like it, but I think it's great that they threw more bitchy/materialistic women into the mix. Also, the guy, Rob, is so awful you don't even feel sorry for him. That monotone sexual innuendo of his makes me cringe! And the way he asks the girls he wants to keep to go out: "Um ... yeah ... I ... you know ... um ... what I'm trying to say is ... uh ... you're ... pretty." A total slaughter -- brilliant TV. Also, what do you think of "Fame" vs. "AI?" I actually think Fame is a classier show because it's all about the performances (rather than product placements and re-caps ad nauseum) and they kick off some people in the same episode. And Debbie Allen and Joey Fat One are far less annoying as hosts than Ryan Seacrest. Interested to know your opinion. Thanks!
Lisa de Moraes: I thought Love or Money moved very, very slowly, but promos make future episodes look more promising. Material girl was good casting; loved when she gave him cookies that she had "baked herself." Right. Joey F serves to make us realize how talented Ryan Seacrest actually is ...
New York, N.Y.: Do you think the models on "The Amazing Race" are ever going to extend any effort/break a nail? (I was disappointed that they passed Debra and Steve, who, granted, were out of shape but really sort of Middle America everymom and dad in the best sense.)
P.S. Re: "The Amazing Race" -- what happens when pairs get kicked off to avoid spoiling the surprise? Do they get to bum around Europe (or wherever they wind up) courtesy of CBS and then all meet up and go home together?
Lisa de Moraes: I believe the contestants who get booted all get shipped over to the CBS show "Hack" so that nobody sees them and they're held there until Amazing Race airs.
Washington, D.C.: Leno beats Letterman in the ratings not because Leno is better but because Leno has more mainstream appeal. Letterman is much more off-the-wall, and that's just the way his fans like him. But that doesn't go over as well in fly-over country. Their loss.
Lisa de Moraes: They are both tired old men ...
Dumb as a bag of frozen peas: How dare you insult frozen peas like that?!
Lisa de Moraes: Ah, you must be from the Frozen Peas lobbying group. I am sorry but I stand firm in my frozen pea position: Tasty, convenient, useful in bag right out of freezer when you have a migraine -- but stupid.
Ballston, Arlington, Va.: That Celine Dion song is NOT the same song as Springsteen's "Drive All Night". Sheesh.
Lisa de Moraes: Can't speak to that. I was too focused on the hair, the fact that she can't dance, the whole "what the heck does this have to do with Celine and the song she appears to be singing" Cirque du Soleil thing going on on the stage. I saw it the first time during the TV season, not this repeat ...
Trading Spaces: Hey, what's wrong with Paige Davis on TS? I think she's great. Maybe because she's so hot? Nothing wrong with a little perkiness.
Lisa de Moraes: Hot? Paige Davis?!? Has the whole world gone mad?
Re: Love or Money: Maybe it's got a big twist -- the guy is a JERK, but she only gets the money if she agrees to stay WITH him.
Lisa de Moraes: Now that would be clever -- and they'd have to have a minder who would live with them to make sure they weren't just pretending to shack up together for the money and they could have weekly updates after "Friends" each week ... wow, I need a life ...
Re: American Race Losers: They are indeed kept sequestered until the end of the race, and are flown to the finish line ahead of the final teams to be the welcoming party.
Lisa de Moraes: I like my idea better ...
Most Outrageous blah blah 12.: I believe it's NBC that is subjecting us to the Most Outrageous Game Show Moments. But 12? Does that mean the show is filled with clips that weren't funny enough to make it into the first 11 episodes? Remember the 3rd Bass video to their song "The Weasel", where a Vanilla Ice look-alike gets pummelled? Can we have that done to whomever is putting that garbage on MY airwaves? JHC, I thought we hit a low with "My Mother, The Car". Wait, that was 40 years ago. We've sunk even further into the morass.
Lisa de Moraes: hey! -- My Mother the Car was a brilliant TV show. Part of the golden age of TV. That and I Dream of J. And Mr. Ed. And Petticoat Junction. And ...
Washington, D.C.: Paige Davis is hot. She has a killer body from all the dancing. She was in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway.
Lisa de Moraes: "Hot" and "in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway" in the same sentence -- the world has indeed gone mad ...
Atlanta, Ga.: Hey Lisa, I've been waiting for the Christian Right to come out gnashing their teeth at AR4's use of the term "married" to describe the two guys. You heard anything from them??
Lisa de Moraes: Ssshhhhh! They haven't found it yet ...
The Butler did it: The JM host lost her job when Paul appeared -- he rocked. Bring back the butler! And not on Anna Nicole, or wherever they sent him.
Lisa de Moraes: I miss the Butler. They should put him on CBS's "The Early Show."
Re: For Love or Money: The guy is dumber than dirt!! Why, oh why, did they cast him!?!?!? Was it a geriatrics bar that they found him in?
Lisa de Moraes: Um ... because he has dark hair, blue eyes -- which in Hollywood is Practically Perfect -- and is dumber than dirt or, if you prefer the bag of frozen peas motif, which I think captures his personality so much better ...
Maryland: Did anyone see "For Love or Money?" You could see the girls starting to cringe every time Mr. Blowdryer said, "you're obviously smart and successful, but ..."
I guess he figured that was letting them know they had something to fall back on instead of his love.
Lisa de Moraes: He had learned his one line and he was going to get good use out of it....
Paige Davis factoid: Her real first name is Mindy. Her husband's last name is Page. That makes her Mindy Paige Davis Page.
Lisa de Moraes: Wow. This is SO much more information about her than I need ...
Letterman-Leno, Who cares!: Don't you think the old "talk show host at the desk" format is a dinosaur and should be retired for good when these two finally do?
Lisa de Moraes: No. Just Jay and Dave ...
Washington, D.C.: For the record:
Ryan Seacrest is pure sunshine and a delight compared to Joey FatOne on "Fame." Does FatOne even have his eyes open during the show (literally)? And the blubbering ad lib really just digs the hole deeper.
Lisa de Moraes: Not sure I'd go that far re: Seacrest, but he's so much better than JoeyF who really needs to get shot into space with Lance ...
Keen Eddie: Loved it, but do you think it'll find an audience through the summer?
Lisa de Moraes: Fox has promised to be patient with this show. If they're not, we will punish them ...
Washington, D.C.: Lisa-
Is "America's Most Talented Senior" a sure sign that the world is coming to an end? Wow, it was really the worst I've seen. I felt so bad for the 77-year-old woman up there singing.
Lisa de Moraes: Mercifully, it was a one-shot deal ...
For Love of God: That guy is not only dumb as a bag of frozen peas, he's a defense attorney. As an attorney myself, I would like to assure the American public that he must have slipped through the cracks. We try to make it a little bit harder to get a license for these reasons.
And boy, do I feel bad for his clients.
Lisa de Moraes: I was thinking the same thing as I was watching the show. I bet all of his clients are looking for new lawyers as we write ...
Ithaca, N.Y.: Lisa,
Thanks for the chats. They're great!
Whatever happened to "Lost?" I like Amazing Race but I thought Lost was a better show and concept. Poor promotion? Harder/more expensive to make?
Lisa de Moraes: Thanks. Lost got lost, I guess. I don't think it's ever coming back ...
Silver Spring, Md.: I'd have to agree with the assessment of "American Idol" versus "Fame." "Fame" has better talent across the board, but we so thoroughly enjoy the "Fame Drinking Game" that was mentioned last week. Unfortunately, last night I got to be Debbie Allen which meant that every time she hugged a contestant or said that they were a "triple threat" I had to drink. Rapidly on my way to detox.
Lisa de Moraes: I'm so glad this chat helped add to your "Fame" viewing pleasure ... We are here to serve ...
Columbus, Ohio: I'm looking forward to the Tony Awards on Sunday night. I always find it to be the most enjoyable of all the awards shows. Why does CBS always have so much trouble finding an audience for this one? The performances are usually all really good.
Lisa de Moraes: Alas, most people in America don't care about live theater ... I mean theatre ...
MMMmmmmmm: Paige Davis is SOOOOO hot!
Lisa de Moraes: Ick ... I'm never going to be able to watch this show again ...
Paige Davis: Is her Mom on this chat? Her husband?? She's too perky to be hot. And annoying.
Lisa de Moraes: Thank you ...
Washington, D.C.: Conan is King! Jon Stewart is a very close second!
Lisa de Moraes: Reverse the order and you're on the right track ...
Lisa de Moraes: I am out of time. Thanks for joining me.
That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.
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