The presidential candidates themselves may not have seen the humor in the Florida recount mess, but the NBC networks sure did. Earlier this month, an MSNBC special exploring the lighter side of that chad, chad, chad world,
called Decision 2000: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House, repeated the NBC Saturday Night Live
skit envisioning a George W. Bush/Al Gore co-presidency. At one point in the takeoff on
The Odd Couple
-dubbed The Presidential Couple
-Darrell Hammond's Gore and Will Ferrell's Bush were equally engrossed in some reading material: Gore in a book on global economics and Dubya in Nickelodeon
magazine. Last month, Geraldo Rivera's Rivera Live
on CNBC included that same send-up segment in its otherwise serious recount coverage.
Lamar Alexander, a one-time presidential also-ran and a fellow Tennessean, told Matt Lauer on NBC's Today
last week that "losing can be liberating" for Gore. "I mean, you can watch ESPN instead of CNN. You can go to ball games instead of caucuses," said the former Republican governor. Although Alexander also conceded that "there's more sweetness in winning," Gore may already be listening to his advice, judging from news photos of his post-concession shindig.
The Wire came across an unusual Web site, Downside.com, whose "Deathwatch" page offers cash-flow-analysis graphs that track various companies to their "death dates,"
when they're projected to run out of cash. Excite@Home Corp.'s death date is listed as Nov. 14, which brings to mind that Monty Python
line, "I'm not dead yet!" Other cable-related listings: USA Networks Inc.'s Ticketmaster Online CitySearch Inc. (Dec. 30 death date); High Speed Access Corp. (July 17, 2001); and WorldGate Communications Inc. (Nov. 27, 2001). The site also lists scads of Internet-related companies that seem "doomed as doomed could be," as Martin Short's Ed Grimley character used to say on SNL.
Just over a month ago, Comedy Central took an unusual tack in terms of staff recruitment by running an ad in Entertainment Weekly
's "How to Break into Showbiz" issue. The help-wanted ad was in the form of a letter from Comedy president Larry Divney, wearing a zebra-striped chapeau that network staffers described as a "Pimp Daddy" hat. The ad steered prospects to its Web site for possible openings "at all levels in all areas" except one: president. "That's my job, hot shot," Divney wrote, "and I ain't goin' anywhere for awhile." So how many resumes did that bring into the self-proclaimed "work hard-play hard company?" A network spokesman said it's difficult to determine how many resumes came in response to the Divney ad, unless the candidates made reference to it. Or maybe Comedy's human-resources people are still recounting those resumes with dimpled chads.
By the way, Comedy is among those mulling whether to exhibit or not at the Western Show.
Reason: There may have been 32,000-plus Western Show attendees in Los Angeles but Comedy senior vice president of affiliate relations Brad Samuels said there were few operators among them. Fox Family Channel president of distribution John Burns, however, labeled the exiting networks "shortsighted." In his view, there should be fewer cable shows each year, but he maintained that the National Show and Western Show remain important showcases for programmers, spaced about six months apart.
When it comes to Howard Stern and Kathie Lee Gifford,
the disses keep on coming.
Earlier this month on his CBS/Infinity radio show, the shock jock's latest insult was inspired by Gifford's plug of her upcoming cable movie on The Rosie O'Donnell Show
. After playing an audio clip in which she told Rosie her E! Entertainment Television movie, Spinning Out of Control, will run "after the Oscars," Stern pointed out that E! doesn't cover the Academy Awards-just Joan Rivers' pre-show red-carpet celeb meet-and-greets. What he didn't say, surprisingly, is that her movie will, as a result, face the daunting challenge of trying to score ratings against
ABC's live Oscars coverage on March 25.
Incidentally, Billy Crystal won't be hosting the next Oscars-and cable's partly to blame.
That's because he's producer and director of Home Box Office's 61, a movie about the 1961 homerun race between New York Yankees Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle that will wrap production around that time, en route to an April air date. The baseball nut/comedian, who pointed out in a recent Associated Press interview that it takes months to prep for those hosting chores, added that he'll also be finishing up an acting role in a theatrical, America's Sweethearts, just days before the Oscar telecast.
Turner Classic Movies, which remixed and reedited Elvis: That's the Way It Is
into a mid-January special primetime event accompanied by lots of multiplatform promotional hoopla, has been pondering whether to do much the same with Elvis on Tour, a second Elvis Presley theatrical concert film from the 1970s. Once again, there's a lot of unused footage gathering dust in the vaults. But TCM executive vice president and general manager Tom Karsch is taking a "wait-and-see" attitude. After all, he says, "we don't want to be all-Elvis,all the time."