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Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin get a little lip service from an etiquette expert

October 6, 2010 |  7:25 pm

Hamlin-and-rinna You watched that "Today" show clip and clutched your pearls just like we did when, seated by wife Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin answered his cellphone in the middle of a live interview Tuesday with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

While your comments suggested everything from a publicity stunt to desperation over the call, when the couple learned their Sherman Oaks boutique had been burglarized, we thought we'd go Emily Post for this post: Etiquette expert Lisa Gaché of Beverly Hills Manners weighed in on Hamlin's bold move and Rinna's wifely rebound.

"If something so urgent or terrible has occurred that you cannot be present for the live interview, you should cancel altogether rather than multitask and try to do both,"  Gaché said. "There is simply no polite way to split your attention when the camera is facing you."

A possible loophole for Hamlin could be Gifford's urging him to take the call. Does that earn the guy any lenience?

"Of course! However, I can't imagine her responding to the incident any differently. She and Hoda were trying to be as gracious and accommodating as possible, given the situation," Gaché said.

If anyone comes out a winner in the manners game, it's Rinna for diverting attention from the faux pas.

"In my opinion, Lisa did the best she could to keep the interview focused as she attempted to steer the conversation away from the distracting phone call and link it to their upcoming reality show on TV Land. ... To their credit, they both looked great and maintained their composure throughout, and Harry's formal apology afterward was a nice touch," Gaché concludes.

How do you think the pair stack up in the context of chat-show etiquette? Tell us in the comments section below.

-- Matt Donnelly

Photo: Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna promote her "Starlit" and his "Full Frontal Nudity" at a New York City bookstore on Oct. 5. Credit: Henry S. Dziekan III / Getty Images