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Denis, you wanna piece a me?

Jan 21, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Well now, let’s see … on “Late Show With David Letterman,” a big fat bald guy, playing me in a sketch, sat in a chair demanding to be fed Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. On that Craig T. Nelson’s creepy cop show, Nelson instructed a puppy to pee on one of my columns. Garry Shandling made a fool of me-with my help-on an episode of “The Larry Sanders Show,” plus the bum owes me $10,000.
And now this: ABC’s poverty-row toughie Denis Leary (what kind of sissy Dennis spells it with one “N”?) and pulpy producer Peter Tolan, one of the overpaid writers on “Larry Sanders” (I sense a vast right-wing conspiracy) called me a “son of a bitch” at a so-called press conference to promote their so-called drama series so-called “The Job.” Additionally, they threatened to “kick” my “ass” and that of distinguished Los Angeles Times critique de television Howard Rosenberg, too. As well.
Of course, Howard and I could take these two pampered pasty-faces any day of the week (except maybe Sunday when I’m tired). Their bilious bellicosity I find most jejune. It was all part of a headline-grabbing stunt designed to publicize the show, except it didn’t grab a single headline anywhere that I know of, mainly because none of the other critics want to write about me or Howard.
A little respect
By the way, “The Job” is not officially a drama. It’s not officially a comedy. It’s a dramedy, I guess, which is the category for comedies that aren’t funny and dramas that aren’t dramatic.
TV critics, meanwhile, suffer more than their share of malignment, if there is such a word (I think I had my wheels maligned just the other day) and have a harder time than Rodney Dangerfield in getting a little respect. This is partly because of the roughly 280 million Americans out there in Television Land, about 250 million of whom are TV critics themselves, and they cannot imagine anyone getting paid for doing what they do every night for free.
However, they should keep in mind that those professional critics get paid very very little, extremely little, practically nothing-especially compared with Mercedes-driving, Rolex-wearing, Pratesi-sheeted powderpuffs like Denis Leary and Peter Tolan, either of whom or both of whom isn’t fit to press the pants of a distinguished critic such as myself nor indeed the distinguished pants of my distinguished colleague Howard Rosenberg.
Please, don’t get up
And how many of our distinguished colleagues rose to defend us during the scurrilous savagery of Tolan and Leary? Not a one. Nary a scribe. The little titmice sat in their seats giggling and chortling and jealous as hell that Howard and I were being attacked and not them. These namby-pamby sucker-uppers pelted the “creative” team with such penetrating queries (pardon my French) as, honestly and seriously, “Can you please come and do a session every day during the press tour?”
Oh, me-ow. Give me a break. What a sellout. What a wuss. What a pantywaist. What happened to critical mass, critical consensus and, of course, the ever-popular critical shortage? (I don’t know exactly what that has to do with it, but I’ll bet it’s critical.) The assembled TV critics put up about as solid and unified a defense as the Taliban. Few of them, as it happens, live in caves, however appropriate such housing might be.
Rustling a response
Tolan and Leary apparently found themselves very amusing, as during this shocking excerpt when they and actor Lenny Clarke discussed the kind of audience reaction they hope for with their little series:
Denis Leary: “Our job on the show … is not just to make people laugh. We want violent laughter. We want people to fall out of their chairs. We want food to come up, drinks to be spit out of noses.”
Lenny Clarke: “We want heart attacks.”
Denis Leary: “Yeah, we want heart attacks.”
[Laughter], says the ABC transcript of the session.
Lenny Clarke: “We want a lawsuit.”
Clarke may get his wish on that one. I am going to consult an attorney. Just as soon as I finish suing David Letterman, Craig T. Nelson and Garry “Fat Ass” Shandling.
Now where was I? Defending my profession, I hope, as well as motherhood, fatherhood and hot apple pie. Have you ever noticed that there are about 574 movie “critics” on television but no TV critics and no syndicated series that features a couple of TV critics working over the medium and its programming? That’s because TV shows don’t buy time on other TV shows the way movie studios do. And because any actual criticism of television that aired on television would cause executives at the networks to have subcutaneous myocardial infarctions. Hey, I know my medicine. I mean, I need my medicine.
The Tolan-Leary performance will probably prompt many TV critics to revisit “The Job” and gush all over it again. If only the series were as entertaining as that promotional appearance. Maybe I should revisit it, too. I’ll decimate it. I’ll massacre it. I’ll slather it with venomous drool. What network is it on by the way? Oh, ABC? Well then-never mind. Those boys have suffered enough.