By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jun 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Let me start by saying that I was taught by nuns from first through eighth grade at St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic School in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, the sisters of St. Basil.

Some of the sisters were great teachers, others were not. Some were wonderful human beings, others were not. But all of them were human beings. They were not caricatures or stereotypes, and they weren't cute little elements to put in an advertisement.

I'm not going to make a federal case here, but I am regularly saddened by the use of nuns in TV, a phenomenon that goes back at least as far as Sally Field's ridiculous "Flying Nun," back in the 1960s.

Most recently, there's a Glidden commercial, a cool, colorful way for the paint company to sell its wares with a great Electric Light Orchestra soundtrack. Smack dab in the middle is a group of nuns painting their convent, and then, they magically appear out in the open air, dancing, because, apparently, that's what nuns do when they finish painting.

Here's the Glidden spot I'm talking about:

It's easy to see it as innocuous, but I have a couple points:

Yes, there are nuns who still wear habits, but most do not wear the traditional garb. They are out in society, rather than cloistered as they do their work.

Two, nuns are spiritual women, like many spiritual people in our society -- some of whom do wear traditional garb. Imagine the same scene with dancing men in Hasidic clothing? How about women in Islamic veils?

You wouldn't see it. It would spawn protests at least (not something I'm recommending by any means).

But the trivialization of nuns as cartoon characters isn't seen as insulting to these women of faith.

It annoys me. Not to the level of organizing a protest or calling the Catholic League. I do enjoy a religious joke and I think that religion is a human thing that can be handled comedically. I'm hardly a prude in that department.

But Catholic nuns are not a joke. They're not a device for advertising. They're women who've dedicated their life to a spiritual mission.

All I ask is that their mission isn't obscured by the silly way they're presented on the small screen. There, end of rant.

On TV: The nearest auditions for the next season of Fox's still-hot "American Idol" are June 28 in St. Louis. Here's the complete schedule if you think you have a shot and are willing to travel.

  • The second season of HBO's successful "Game of Thrones" will begin filming July 2.
  • Discovery Channel is working on a documentary on "SEAL Team 6," which was behind the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, according to
  • CBS has picked up Norah O'Donnell from NBC. She'll be the network's new White House correspondent.
  • Gov. Scott Walker will guest host CNBC's "Squawk Box" for two hours starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
  • And I was on Wisconsin Public Radio at 6 this morning talking about media coverage of Weinergate. You can find the audio today at the WPR website.

Stephen Colbert molds the young: Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert addressed the graduating class at Northwestern University, offering his wisdom to a group entering the wider world:

Here's part one of the video (the audio's better than the video):

Here's part two:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.