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In TV credits, it’s a jungle out there

Apr 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

News item: Discovery Networks, including the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, is trying to delete, or significantly truncate, credits from its programs.
Once this news became public, it set off pandemonium among Discovery talent. Last week an emergency meeting was called between Discovery founder and CEO John Hendricks and two of his top lieutenants, Judith McHale and John Ford.
Ford: We’re in big trouble with “Funniest Animals.” We’re getting threats from Whoopi the Walrus. She says no credits, no lamb with five legs. And John, that’s funny stuff.
McHale: Puh-leeze! Big trouble with Sally the seal. She’s threatening not to do her routine with the iguanas in the Galapagos.
Hendricks: Have we heard anything from the ad side?
Ford: They’re not happy. They were just about to sign a deal with the Nabisco folks for the debut of “Quackers.”
Hendricks: I’m sorry, I don’t recall-
Ford: It’s great. We’re repurposing all the duck stuff we’ve got. The pilot features thousands of baby chicks fighting off a locust invasion. The ducks don’t care about credits, but the damn grasshoppers do.
McHale: They’re being repped by Jiminy Cricket.
Hendricks: Can this get any worse?
McHale: Oh yeah. Brace yourself. Fred.
Hendricks: No!
Ford: Fred?
McHale: We have the exclusive with Fred, Robert Blake’s cockatoo on “Baretta.” Can you imagine the numbers we’d do?
Hendricks: It would obliterate “Shark Week.”
McHale: The bird was going to go on “Larry King” to promote the thing.
Ford: I’m surprised the bird is still alive.
McHale: It isn’t. And we couldn’t find a cockatoo on such short notice. So we got a talking swan. But we’re making it look like a cockatoo. I’ve seen some test footage. You can hardly tell. But without credits, the swan walks.
Ford: You really think people wouldn’t notice it was a swan?
Hendricks: Rin Tin Tin was actually a small pony.
Ford: I had no idea.
McHale: And this kills our Sharon Stone Komodo dragon special.
Hendricks: Should we move to our compromise position, where we still leave the star credit but kill the rest?
McHale: You mean where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others?
Hendricks: Bring the pigs in, and let’s see what they say.
McHale: Gentlemen, let me introduce the pigs from “Total Zoo.” (To the pigs:) Here’s our proposal. We keep the star credit but eliminate all the other credits. And you guys are the stars.
Potbellie: Hmm. Have you spoken to the emus?
Ford: No, but the kangaroos will go for it.
Porkie: As long as we’re taken care of, the hell with the others. Screw the chimps.
Ford: To hell with the zebras.
McHale (laughing): And the boars are such bores …
On the other side of the glass-walled conference room, a crowd of animals had gathered. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Chuck Ross is editor of Electronic Media.