For those who predict the coming collapse of Western civilization, there’s always MTV for proof. At this year's Television Critics Association summer tour in Hollywood, MTV put on a panel discussion for the press with the cast and creators of a forthcoming series called "Happyland." The female star of the show, actress Bianca Santos, announced the new MTV motto: “Incest is hot, and we’re going to have fun!”
Lisa de Moraes at the Deadline Hollywood website reported the pilot episode of this “soapy teen comedy" -- remember that: this is a show for teenagers -- this show "exploring the underbelly of a popular theme park” includes a clip of Santos making out with the amusement park’s “new hottie,” only to discover... he’s her brother.
Earlier this week, NBC Sports announced that "Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Posner (also frequently spelled "Pozner") will be a correspondent for NBC Olympics’ late-night show with Bob Costas during the Sochi Games."
To call Posner's background "problematic" is like saying that Bob Filner, former Democratic Mayor of San Diego, has a bit of a problem with how he treats members of the opposite sex. Posner is an old hand at defending and dissembling the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the following exchange from 1980 cited by Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):
"When the Daytime Emmy nominees were unveiled Wednesday, some of the more interesting noms went unreported," the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes noted in a blog post yesterday afternoon. Interesting is quite the euphemism in the case of nominee Kevin Clash.
Clash, you may recall, is the Sesame Street puppeteer who resigned last November after allegations of a sexual relationship with a teenager, has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy award. So what exactly was the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) thinking? It's not like the nomination occurred before the lawsuit against Clash was made public.
So, I take it that Lisa De Moraes didn’t go through her paper’s archives before she penned today's TV column in which she re-wrote history regarding Conan O’Brien's turn as emcee for the White House Correspondents Association dinner in April 1995. Yesterday it was announced that the late-night comedian would return this year as the master of ceremonies.
De Moraes suggested the O'Brien bombed the last go-around and seemed to take offense for late President Clinton, who was the butt of many of O'Brien's jokes 18 years ago.
Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes wrote that Daily Show host Jon Stewart "shot himself in the foot" when interviewing NBC's Bob Costas on Monday night's show. They discussed all the fuss Costas caused by pompously editorializing during a halftime break on NBC about how handguns never accomplish anything good.
Costas told Stewart he’d been let off the hook when “Newtown happened.” He said Newtown, “as horribly tragic as that was, if it did redirect the debate and people are now at least somewhat more willing to think about this rationally and compassionately…then that is a good thing.” Don't you love how liberalism equals rational and compassionate thinking? The Post writer reported Stewart pulled the gun on his own foot by bringing up pop culture:
Citing time constraints, Mitt Romney has respectfully declined to participate in Nickelodeon's upcoming "Kids Pick the President" special that is scheduled to air on Oct. 15. In her latest column, the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes attacked the decision, considering it a snub and quoting the reaction from the Obama campaign at length.
"First Big Bird, now Nickelodeon," she began. "What’s up with Mitt Romney and kids?" By contrast, President Obama -- who is known to skip daily intelligence briefings often -- couldn't be praised enough for taking time out of his own busy schedule to take part in the cable TV show.
Media liberals are rooting for NBC’s two-gay-dads sitcom The New Normal. USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco made it number two on his favorite new shows: “For the most part, Normal plays like a lovely, small movie, mixing humorous moments with sweet, gentle grace notes.” Alessandra Stanley at The New York Times tries to make the bold statement: "Gay is the new straight."
Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever is less impressed, given that its producer (Glee creator Ryan Murphy) tends to lose creative steam. But Stuever loves the “deliciously acid” Phyllis Schlafly character with Callista Gingrich hair:
Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes made a big deal on Friday about how Bill Clinton’s extremely verbose Wednesday night convention speech (when you add up seven networks) apparently trumped the season premiere of NFL football (which aired just on NBC.)
Actually, football beat Clinton, until the Post made a special mathematical effort to include ratings estimates from Current TV and PBS (but apparently couldn’t grab the C-SPAN numbers):
“Can’t wait for the stoning-of-adulteresses question,” Washington Post TV critic Lisa de Moraes snarked in a column back in March about The American Bible Challenge, an original game show in development for GSN (formerly the Game Show Network), to be hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy.
Fast forward to this morning’s Washington Post, and readers would find Hank Stuever’s scathing review on the front page of the Style section. Since GSN isn't listed in the Post’s daily TV listings grid – nor is it necessarily a highly-trafficked cable network – it seems obvious that the only reason for a review would be to malign it. And trash it he did.
Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes couldn't resist inserting a poke at conservatives in a sarcastic Thursday piece on a recent cannonball incident involving the Discovery Channel hit Mythbusters. De Moraes emphasized how the popular series is a "darling of conservative Republicans" and overreached to connect right-leaning politics to the wayward projectile that crashed into a house.
The writer led her column, "'Mythbusters' misfires with cannonball stunt" by referencing the latest annual survey from Experian-Simmons, which included a statistic on the favorite and least favorite TV programs of "liberal Democrats" and "conservative Republicans." De Moraes hinted that the mishap was symbolic of the supposedly destructive partisanship that liberals often accuse conservatives of engaging in:
The saddest media bias on display this week was the desperate hunger and thirst for that slice of Ratings Heaven known as Charlie Sheen's Continuing Moral Collapse. He's been All Access Charlie, granting high Nielsens wherever he goes, speaking of how he is High on Himself and "bi-winning" with his two "goddesses" camped at his abode. Network interviewers have tried not to alienate their guest with tough questions. Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes ably brought her trademark snark to this amoral parade. First there was ABC's 20/20 with Andrea Canning on Tuesday night:
"It's no secret that you have an affinity for porn stars," Canning told Sheen.
"Well, I mean, wow, listen to that statement," Sheen joshed back.
It's fair game to discuss whether Bristol Palin arrived at the finals of ABC's Dancing with the Stars on talent alone (instead of being judged with telephone voting). But ABC and The Washington Post were Palin-obsessed enough to actually pay for a poll question on the matter. The headline in Tuesday's paper was "Poll numbers suggest Bristol doesn't have 'Dancing' legs to stand on." (On the website's homepage, the headline was "Poll: Palin a finalist because of mother.") TV writer Lisa de Moraes announced the public verdict:
Fifty-four percent of Americans think Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is one of the finalists on "Dancing With the Stars" because of large-scale voting by viewers who support her mother, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.
Just 14 percent of respondents think Bristol is still in the competition because she is one of this season's best dancers on the show.
Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes displayed her typical snark in reviewing Bristol Palin's "journey" on ABC's Dancing with the Stars this fall. The Post writer even sounded a little overwrought in asserting that Sarah Palin's appearances were causing death wishes in the audience, or as de Moraes put it "death where is thy sting-ish comments." (The writer seems to be mangling the Scriptures. In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 55, the boast "Death, where is thy sting?" refers to the victorious resurrection of Christ, not to a death wish.)
This is not the first time politics has insinuated itself into the show like a snake into the Garden of Eden...But this is the first time the show has featured the daughter of a presumed presidential candidate -- seen wearing a Tea Party T-shirt on the show during rehearsal last week that clearly read: "Party Like It's 1773 with Rainy Day Patriots" -- the same week producers pixilated whatever was going on on the front of Kyle Massey's T-shirt. It's also the first time a presumed presidential candidate has been seen in the audience many weeks rooting for her daughter, in taped sequences at home, being interviewed by show host Tom Bergeron, watching her daughter rehearse, congratulating the show on reaching its 200th episode, etc., eliciting death where is thy sting-ish comments from ardent fans of the escapist fare.
The Washington Post Style section promised an article on CNN's new Eliot Spitzer-Kathleen Parker chat show with this front-page blurb: "Odd couple on CNN: New show pairs a conservative with a Democrat." Inside, in an article surprisingly shy on her typical snark, TV columnist Lisa de Moraes also described the pairing as the "disgraced/rehabbed former governor Eliot Spitzer, the New York Democrat" vs. "Pulitzer-prize winning conservative columnist Kathleen Parker," syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group (this could explain the lack of snark against Parker, if not Spitzer.)
The TV columnist made no attempt to assess whether conservatives felt she was one of them (they don't). She did see this as a turnabout for "Crossfire"-canceling CNN president Jon Klein, but she reproduced his sales chat without much objection:
In an interview with The TV Column, Klein said that Spitzer and Parker "can address an appetite that is not being satisfied now -- the 99 percent of the country not watching" the other 8 o'clock cable news shows.
"We'd like to begin the long, slow, steady process of reaching the underserved....We think America's ready for that....I can't think of two people better suited than these super-intelligent, ultra-opinionated but rational individuals."
Washington Post TV critic Lisa de Moraes was taking after her colleague Tom Shales in hating Elisabeth Hasselbeck, whom she called the "token pretty blond Republican" on ABC's The View. (Shales suggested she resembled an ABC sitcom character who was blond, witchy, and threw nasty tantrums.). Ms. de Moraes wanted to shake her and mock her for asking the vice president about whispering that health reform was a "big f---ing deal" into open microphones:
Biden did not take her by both wrists, waggle her about a bit and call her a nincompoop -- which explains why he's the vice president and we're only entrusted to run a TV column. Instead, he said, good naturedly/contritely: "I was just thankful my mother couldn't hear it. It was a little embarrassing."
Clearly, de Moraes is more the type who would buy the Democrats' "BFD" T-shirt and revel in the profanity. She called it Biden's "girlish enthusiasm over the historic nature of the moment."
Driving through Chick-fil-A to get a kid’s meal for my daughter today, the "toy" that came with the chicken nuggets was a CD-Rom from the public-TV kids’ show Between the Lions. The logos for Boston PBS superstation WGBH and Mississippi Public Broadcasting were right on the CD case.
This underlines how blurry the line is between public television and private-sector merchandising. On Thursday, Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes reported from Pasadena that "PBS President Paula Kerger opened her Q&A at Winter TV Press Tour 2010 by blasting commercial broadcasters" for failing to educate children.
DeMoraes was skeptical enough to include how the PBS boss actually faced challenging questions from a troublesome "critic" on the incessant merchandising of public-broadcasting kids’ shows like Sesame Street (once estimated by the Licensing Letter to offer 1,000 licensed products.) This is terrific:
It was "hobnobber heaven" in Washington after the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night, reported the Washington Post gossips Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger. The Obamas were present, but had no receiving line this year (due to Salahi-gate, we're told). But Daily Show host Jon Stewart and his teary wife met the Obamas backstage:
They told us the Obamas slipped backstage during intermission to greet the performers; Tracey got teary when it was her time to shake the president's hand.
"It was quite a moment," she said.
"If he hadn't stepped on her foot, she wouldn't have cried," joked her husband. "That's what happens to the little people."
Brian Williams and Katie Couric also came down for the shindig, and one ABC reporter dated an Obama administration official:
Hey, Peter Orszag, your date is hot! The lady on the OMB director's arm turned out to be ABC business reporter Bianna Golodryga.
In an unorthodox move, The Washington Post on Tuesday published two book reviews of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue -- one by liberal Ana Marie Cox of Air America radio, and one by conservative Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard. Continetti's is genuinely supportive. Cox's is genuinely snarky. (Obviously, it would have been nice if Hillary Clinton had received that treatment, but let's not overlook the balance here.)
There's also a snarky article by Post writer Jason Horowitz and Michael Shear headlined "The Book of Sarah embraces God & Todd."
Inside the Style section, the headline of the Cox review is "Rogue: Mostly flash, little substance. Surprised?" Isn't "mostly flash, little substance" a beautiful summation of the career of Ana Marie Cox? It's like Katie Couric suggesting Palin isn't deep.
Cox slams Rush Limbaugh in her review for calling the book substantive, even as she later confessed she only read part of the book:
The latest report by the Parents Television Council on violence against women in prime-time broadcast TV drew major-media attention – some of it flagrantly incorrect. Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes complained that PTC should have studied cable shows instead of broadcast shows, and only mangled statistics by a favor of...a million:
The PTC report brings us no closer to understanding the situation. In Feburary 2004, 2.9 children ages 2 to 11 watched those four broadcast networks that PTC whomped on in this study. Meanwhile more than 5 million children watched prime-time cable TV. And, in May 2009, 1.5 million children watched ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in prime time, while more than 7 million children chose cable programming instead.
MSNBC entertainment editor Courtney Hazlett spent all of two minutes on "Morning Meeting" with Dylan Ratigan and still managed to get her facts wrong.
Noting former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's scheduled November 16 appearance on "Oprah," Hazlett told viewers that the former Alaska governor "famously said no to appearing on Oprah" during the 2008 presidential campaign, because Palin knew "you get more publicity rejecting Oprah than possibly going on."
What's more, while Hazlett seems to portray Oprah as doing Palin a favor, Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes today noted that the scheduling move may serve Oprah's best interest by reaching out to disaffected conservative women who used to be fans of her program:
Washington Post TV critic Lisa DeMoraes showed great affection for ABC late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel for bringing a partisan slap or two to the customary interview for contestants voted off Dancing with the Stars. Kimmel snidely asked former House majority leader Tom DeLay about being indicted:
He was brought out onstage in a wheelbarrow, wearing orthopedic booties.
"Do you think this will inspire other indicted politicians to dance?" Kimmel asked him.
"It keeps you out of jail -- that's for sure," responded DeLay, a smile frozen on his face....
"But if, God forbid, you wind up in jail, it's not going to be a good thing for the inmates to see on reruns," Kimmel continued.
After the winner of "American Idol" is crowned, the appropriate action is to congratulate the newly crowned Idol on his success. Yet on May 21 media focus was clearly elsewhere. That day, reports on all three networks' morning broadcasts, marveled at how Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert and gave unusual attention to contestants who did not win, but are still successful, leaving little doubt that these hosts and reporters believe something wasn't right about Allen's victory.
Allen and Lambert are very different. Allen, a married twenty-three year old, is a college student from Arkansas. He grew throughout the season as a performer and was often labeled as humble. Lambert, on the hand, was an edgy performer who has become known for his "guyliner," or extensive use of black eyeliner. Although he was a frontrunner and often praised by the judges, his sexuality was often questioned, especially after photos hit the Web in which he appeared to be kissing another man.
Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes reported Friday that Team Obama is demanding a lot of free TV space in prime time in the next few weeks: a Monday night press conference, a "stimulus" push on the Monday night after that, the 16th, and the State of the Union on Tuesday, February 24. (What about House, and The Bachelor?) Network suits are already whining, but are too afraid of pulling out the Just Say No card:
President Obama's desire to talk -- and talk, and talk -- to the American public could cost broadcast networks millions, and millions, and millions of prime-time TV dollars.
Broadcasters are bracing themselves for the likelihood of three prime-time interruptions in three weeks, totaling at least three hours of prime time -- and ad breaks -- yanked.
"His economic stimulus package apparently does not extend to the TV networks," one network exec noted.