‘Wonderful World of Ted Koppel’

Mar 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Last week, after David Letterman decided to stay at CBS, Ted Koppel received a call from his boss, Michael Eisner, chairman of The Walt Disney Co., who was in Paris. Mr. Koppel had just issued a statement asking for “serious corporate backing” for his baby, “Nightline,” in light of the fact, as Mr. Koppel noted, “There must be a great many talented comedians who would welcome the opportunity to take over the `Nightline’ time slot.” Mr. Koppel reportedly said the phone conversation with Mr. Eisner was “warm and friendly.” However, what exactly was said during that phone call has not, heretofore, been made public. Electronic Media, though, has obtained a transcript of that conversation, which actually was a conference call that included Bob Iger as well. (Hey, you think Bill Carter’s the only guy who can get this stuff?)
Michael: Hey Ted, wowie kazowie! What are you doodly-do-doing? Bob?
Bob: Hi, Ted. Let’s get down to it: We took your suggestion-we’re buying Bozo and are bringing him back to take your time slot.
Ted: I said comedian, not clown.
Michael: Same difference.
Ted: And I was being facetious. What I wanted was a strong show of support.
Michael: And we’re giving you that. We’re offering you the same stuff we offered Letterman, only better.
Bob: Yes, better. First, we’re sprucing up the show by giving it a new name.
Michael: You know-like we did with “Fantasia 2000.”
Bob: “Nightline” will become “Daytime.”
Ted: “Daytime”?
Michael: Same difference.
Bob: And we’re moving it to Playhouse Disney.
Ted: The kids thing?
Bob: Only old people watch you now.
Michael: Kids, old people, same difference. And you’re getting a great lead-in.
Bob: “Rolie Polie Olie.”
Michael: We’re already working on promos. Bob, give him the Zowie.
Bob: Oh, yeah, yeah, listen to this: Stay tuned for Teddy Koppel and all those really hungry kids in that real far away place. Zowie.
Ted: Zowie?
Michael: Zowie’s Olie’s sister. Come on, don’t kid. I know you watch this stuff. We were gonna have Olie himself do it, but the bastard wanted extra money. Toons! Veyismier!
Ted: You’re not serious.
Bob: We knew you might be concerned, so we’re gonna repurpose the show as well.
Michael: This you’ll like. It’s also going on our ESPNEWS channel.
Bob: Only there, we’re calling it “Knightline” and Bobby will fill in when you’re off.
Michael: Plus-tell him.
Bob: OK, OK. Plus, we’re thinking of starting a new ESPN channel. We’ve already got a million of them. Almost cradle to grave. Only ESPN Classic isn’t quite the geezer thing we were hoping it would be. So we’re in talks to create ESPNAARP. Perfect for you.
Michael: If that goes through, you’d probably have to get a co-host.
Bob: We’re thinking Lawrence Welk. Stayed tuned for the champagne news and the champagne muse.
Ted: Isn’t he dead?
Bob: I told you he might be negative.
Michael: Give him the big surprise.
Bob: We’re also putting the show on ABC Family. And you’ll be back in late-night there, in the slot between Pat Robertson and paid programming.
Michael: Paid programming does a big number for us. God, if we only owned the Juice Man. Listen, I’ve gotta hang up in a sec and go open another theme park. Tell him the other ideas.
Bob: Promos for the show on tapes and DVDs of “Corky Romano.” Since no one saw “High Heels and Low Lifes,” we’re gonna rebrand it on video with the tag “A Ted Koppel documentary.” Who’s to know? We do “Win Ben Stein’s Money” on Comedy Central. Stein schpein. It’ll become “Win Ted Koppel’s Money.” Then there’s our SoapNet. We were thinkin’-
Ted: I don’t know, gentlemen. This all seems pretty goofy to me.
Michael: Ted, in this company Goofy is a good thing.
Chuck Ross is editor of Electronic Media.