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My Three Favorite Live TV Mistakes of 2007
December 27, 2007  | By David Bianculli
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.



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...



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.




Kirk Woodward said:

Also astounding when the remaining Beatles entered the Cirque auditorium was the large section directly behind them that appeared to have no idea who they were, a difficult feat to pull off.

Comment posted on December 27, 2007 8:54 AM

Eileen said:

Thanks for the heads-up on the Kennedy Center Honors. It was a classy, entertaining two hours, putting many of the other shows to shame. Robert DeNiro was a delight, and it was very touching to see not only Diana Ross, but her children, cry as their mom was honored. The presenters, so to speak, were all great. I've only seen one other awards show which compares, "The Mark Twain Awards".

And, David, please give your readers the good news -- CW11 will once again be presenting the 24 Hour Honeymooners' Marathon beginning at midnight on December 31st. There is no, repeat no, better way to ring in the New Year.

Comment posted on December 27, 2007 9:05 AM

Ron Casalotti said:

If you still have it recorded, check out Patti LaBelle?s reaction to losing to Team Lachey. After Tracy Morgan clumsily announced the winning team "right here", Team Lachey bursts out into joy. Team LaBelle, also on stage joined them in a group celebration, with I beleive the bulk of team's Shelton, Rowland and Bolton as well.

Then, just as the camera pulls back to a wide shot, if you look carefully at the top left part the scene (downstage right to you theater buffs) you can make out Miss Patti skulking off the stage solo, leaving the choirs, and apparently any semblance of sportsmanship, behind.

Comment posted on December 27, 2007 9:52 AM

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