April 30, 2004

Howard Dean will have his own talk show. (Cheap humor: scream show.) I'll believe it when I see it--where's Clinton's talk show we heard so much about?--but here's my advice: don't do it! When has someone prominent successfully started a talk show with full attention focused on him from the first day? You need to work your way into a good talk show, building an audience, while honing your style and making a lot of mistakes. If everyone tunes in to see if you're really any good, at a point when you won't be that good, the show will crash early and embarrassingly. You'll be taunted about your inadequacies from day one.

Anyway, the news of the possible new show appears here in Variety (via Drudge). At first, I didn't notice it was Variety and I was cringing and saying to myself "Who wrote this?" Why is a reporter calling a talkshow not just a "gabfest" but a "skein"? Yesterday, I looked up something about Air America--how's it doing lately, after its big, conspicuous launch, with critcs ready to pounce? I turned up an article (in NEXIS) with the headline: "Two Air America execs ankle." What? Oh, that's Variety, where people can't just leave, they have to "ankle."

But how would a Dean do on a talk show? I have to admit, watching Kerry the other day, I was thinking I miss Dean. Don't you? Wouldn't things be so much more exciting if he were the nominee? Sorry, "presumptive nominee." Oh, I know it's not about excitement. I'm happy to have a boring competent person disappear into the White Hours and do the right things. (Just get to the point, Senator Kerry, and convince me you're competent, so I can stop wasting time listening to you. Feel free to submit it in writing.)

According to "ex-Big Ticket TV topper Larry Lyttle," who seems to be putting the Dean deal together, Dean will be perfect on TV because: "He's a little bit of Howard Beale, a little Dr. Phil and a little Donahue all rolled into one..." The Howard Dean/Beale similarity has been widely noted. So, great--if he'll freak out on camera periodically, we'll tune in, like people used to tune in to Jack Paar, to see if tonight was a night when he'd break down and cry.

According to Lyttle, "The last thing we're going to talk about is politics... [Dean will] look at things like, What happens if you lose a sibling? What about when you're victimized by not having health care?" Oh, yeah, no way that'll verge into politics. We'll steer way clear of that.

UPDATE: A reader--Tracey Berry, a former student--alerts me to a typo up there:
I know that this is a typo: "...disappear into the White Hours..." ... but I could not help but think it sounds very Wasteland-esque -- just the sort of thing that Kerry himself might want to misquote.

"Disappear into the White Hours"--yes, that is (not) going to be the name of my first volume of poetry. I like it as a name for an alter-ego anonymous blog. Or possibly the title of the sort of prestige movie that would star Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore and that I'd kick myself afterwards for thinking I would like.

Alternate response: somehow when I'm thinking about Kerry speaking, the word "hours" lodges itself in my brain.

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