There's always a risk compiling this list with a few days left in the year - one major New Year's Eve gaffe could throw off the entire ranking - but barring some last-minute blunders, here are my three favorite live TV mistakes of 2007.
#3) "MISS TEEN USA PAGEANT," NBC.
This is the most famous one of the year, most likely: Miss South Carolina, 18-year-old Caitlin Upton, being asked a question about national student proficiency in geography, and answering with a reply so devoid of sentence structure, content and coherence that it became a viral video overnight.
By year's end, more than 20 million people had viewed the clip on YouTube, and in one of this month's first-run episode of ABC's Boston Legal, footage of Miss South Carolina's fumbling filibuster was presented in evidence in a court case indicting the U.S. educational system. I suspect you've seen the original footage already, several times, but just in case, or for a year-end refresher, you can find it here.
#2) "CLASH OF THE CHOIRS" finale, NBC.
As live shows go, NBC's Clash of the Choirs went relatively smoothly - until the very end, when guest Tracy Morgan was introduced to announce the winner of the week-long live TV competition.
The battle was between Patti LaBelle's hand-picked choir from Philadelphia and Nick Lachey's hand-picked choir from Cincinnati. As the tension mounted, Morgan was told to open the envelope and read the name of the winner. But he didn't read it. Instead, after a very awkward silence, he pointed to his left and identified the victorious choir as "This team right here!"
Then, as Lachey's team jumped for joy, he added something that rhymed with "Team Racy" - and "Team Lacy" was as close as he got, until he heard and parroted the correct pronunciation as "Team La-SHAY."
Mispronouncing names during a live broadcast is no major sin - as a print guy now talking and reading on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, tricky names are one of the things I fear most. But whether Morgan's difficulty was with reading (ironically, a comic subplot given to his character on 30 Rock) or simply with familiarity, it doesn't excuse the fact that his only job, that night, was to read the name of one of two teams on live national television.
Anyone backstage could have told him, had he asked, how to properly pronounce the names of the two choirs in contention. I wonder: Had the victory gone the other way, would he have said the diva's name accurately? Or would he have pointed with his right hand to "This team right here!" - and congratulated "Team LaBelly"? Here's the clip...
#1) LARRY KING LIVE, CNN.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Cirque du Soleil's LOVE, a dazzling Las Vegas show built around the music and legacy of The Beatles, King interviewed surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. King asked them about, among other things, the non-surviving Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison.
Only thing is, after asking Paul about his memories of the day Lennon died, King turned to Ringo and said, "George, where were you?"
Paul, bless his heart, called King on getting Ringo's name wrong. King said he was thinking of George because he was going to ask about him next. Paul didn't buy it.
"No you weren't, Larry," Paul said. "You got it wrong" - at which point an embarrassed King smacked Sir Paul playfully with his interview notes.
Not knowing a dead Beatle from a live one? When you're as much of a Beatles fan as I am, that's the most memorable mistake of the entire year. Watch it here, if you like... then, after you're through cringing, let it be.