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The Tommies lament the year in TV

Truth and nothing but: After 30 years I got rid of the annual Dumont Awards because they were just too hard to explain annually to successive generations. The Tommies? They're here to stay. Don't tell me that Tom Cruise's couch-jumping, table-banging "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don't" TV tour was old hat.

Hooey. As long as there are celebrities in our new world of Info-garbage, there will be celebrities behaving badly and TV just dying to bring us the news. This year, these awards for TV ignominy and absurdity could be named the "Mels" or the "Kramers," in honor of previously stalwart citizens of Celebrity, USA, who found brand new ways to prove that fame, in our era, is a disease all of its own, just waiting for symptoms -- as Dr. House might say -- to "present." The 2006 Tommies, then:

Most Obvious Reason to Love the Internet Since Music File Sharing and Free Porn: "YouTube."

Who Better?: A character loosely based on Mel Gibson inhabited an episode of "Law and Order." He was played by famous Betty Ford graduate and jerk Chevy Chase. Sometimes, the art of casting is, itself, sublime.

Who Worse?: Rosie O'Donnell said The Donald was no paragon of moral authority on an episode of "The View." Donald Trump then told everyone who'd listen that Rosie was ugly and dressed funny, too.

Not Lovers: Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. Oprah said so herself.

Definitely Not Lovers (Besides, of course, Rosie and Donald Trump): Oprah and James Frey. And Rupert Murdoch and Judith Regan (and her partner in exploitation, profiteer O.J. Simpson).

Missing In Action: Star Jones, formerly of "The View." And Britney Spears' undies. And, until Mark Cuban put him on his HDNET, the outrageously unmourned Dan Rather (his elder colleagues at CBS virtually slammed the door on his behind as he left the building). And, on local radio, the short-lived, political WHLD.

After the Commercial, We'll Have Jo-Jo The Dogface Boy: When the FCC insisted the 7 to 8 p.m. time slot belong to the affiliates, did they envision Channel 2's "Sideshow Hour" with "The Insider" and the new, unimproved "Entertainment Tonight?"

Yeah But Why Not Fine Rosie O'Donnell and The Donald, Too?: The FCC fined "Without a Trace" $3.6 million for an episode in which teens behaved very very badly.

Ugliest Extreme Makeover of 2006: What CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer did to the previously interesting series "Close to Home."

Awfully Good TV Shows No One Could Have Imagined: The predictably short-lived "Book of Daniel" about the off-center life of Aidan Quinn, Super Pastor. And the breathtakingly cynical Jerry Bruckheimer show "Justice," whose first half dozen episodes were the toughest portrait of crass, unprincipled courtroom manipulation TV has ever shown us -- for those who might wonder why, say, O.J., Robert Blake and Michael Jackson went free.

And While We're At It, She Was Good: Rebecca Romijn in the late, generally unlamented "Pepper Dennis."

Good TV Shows, Period: Showtime's "Dexter" and "Brotherhood" and the lamentably canceled "Huff," all better on everything on HBO except "Deadwood" which remained a law unto itself (and, courtesy of angry viewers, will return for two final two-hour movies, after HBO cancelled it).


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