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Howling cliffhanger! Stay tuned!

May 27, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Final column of the season! And … I’m pregnant! And … I don’t know who the mother is! And …I don’t know who the baby is! But special guest stars from past columns will be dropping by to add to the excitement, make penis jokes and spike the numbers!
And-aw-oh! I’m caught in the middle of town in my underwear! Wait til you see the antics that ensue over that one! Extra-special guest stars David Cassidy, Shadoe Stevens, Tea Leoni, Rhea Pearlman and Madchen Amick will be by. Tea will wrestle Rhea. Madchen’s gotta eat a cockroach found in Jeff Zucker’s basement! Les Moonves steps into the ring with Soleil Moon Frye. And David’s gonna be Shadoe-boxing. Laughter? Laughter? What’s that? Oh, I mean, you bet! The computer will generate waves and waves of it.
Outtakes from previous issues have been digitally remastered for a special director’s cut edition of everybody’s favorite weekly TV column except for certain people we could mention (but then that would take up all the space!). Dick Clark will be here to show you what happened the week my fingernails were too long and when I tried to type “old fat Zucker” it came out-well, guess how! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss all standards of excellence, good taste, fair play and common decency goodbye! Mediocrity? We’ll hit new heights of mediocrity such as even, well, let’s say, Sandy Gurshow hasn’t dreamed of.
Out, out, damned execs!
But we never play favorites in this column. For our season-ending cliffhanger, we’ll try to decide mirror-mirror on the wall, who’s the most incompetent ABC executive of them all? Bob Iger? Lloyd Braun? Or Stu “Anchovy Chin” Bloomberg (ex-execs are eligible, and there’ll be lovely parting gifts. Like, really lovely. These guys get more for failing than you and I get for our wildest successes).
Just wait till the fun starts and the fur flies and frick fracks and Birnham Wood comes to Dunsinane! And if you’re an ABC executive, you probably have absolutely no idea in the world what play that last reference is from-nor even that it’s from a play in the first place! Hey-oh!
It’s been quite a season here at the column. There’s been a drastic decline in ratings, our demographics are skewing dead-and-older and even HUM levels are declining. That’s Homes Using Magazines. Where did the people go? Maybe they went to AOL? Nope, that’s going broke too, heh heh heh. Maybe they went to cable. Yup, some of them are that desperate. Maybe they’re all on eBay buying each other’s crap. That’s the great thing about the Internet; ordinary people get to be sponsors and not just viewers, and so they get to misrepresent things and peddle useless junk and mislead the audience just as has been done to them for 50 years or so, not counting radio, of course.
But we’ve got to do something about this audience erosion. I know. I’ve got it. We’ll cut costs. We’ll take a page from the networks’ book, and what a page-depleted book that’s getting to be. We’ll put on cheaper, crummier programming now that the more expensive, uncrummier programming has been rejected. We’ll do a June sweeps full of hoary reunions of people who ought never be reunited. Maybe we can get Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner to sit down and chat. Oh wait-Harry’s no longer with us. Lucky Harry. Harry’s bending an elbow at Gabriel’s Bar & Grill, corner of Hereafter and Eternity streets.
Well, maybe we can get Bryant Gumbel to reunite with Willard Scott. Or Larry King to reunite with his suitcoat.
Anyway, it’s the last column of the season and even though we’ve built in the cliffhanger in the hopes it will force the powers that be to pick us up for next year (you remember-am I really pregnant or just, you know, chubby?), next week’s column could be-and don’t get your hopes up now, Mr. Lack-our last column-gasp-ever, cough! But we’re not going to try to hide that. Hell no, we’re going to try to exploit it. In fact, let’s just say it-tune in next week for the last column ever!
There’ll be outtakes, input, a man standing on the top of a pillar in Bryant Park, people eating bugs, people eating rats, rats eating people, and we’ll reveal who we think John Dean thinks Deep Throat was. Which is more than a lot of season-ending episodes and series finales give you. Readers will also learn that the truth is still out there, and while we’ll pretend we’re going to reveal the truth, we won’t really, because it was just some dumb thing we made up years ago and we never had the foggiest notion what in hell we were talking about-and besides, You Can’t Handle The Truth! So what good would it do anyway?
Listen, if we revealed the truth, it might hurt sales of our syndicated reruns. So we’ll just tease you some more and have lots of portentous images, and some dumb-cluck critics will write about how brilliant we are but that we still don’t quite equal the philosophical depths and spiritual complexities of that greatest and most postmodern of postmodern masterpieces-yes, what else could I be talking about but “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the show that makes “Playhouse 90” and “You Are There” and “Seinfeld” and “Hill Street Blues” and “ER” and “NYPD Blue” look like something found under the sink in Stu Bloomberg’s bathroom!
Recycled gems
Now of course some people may say that by making such a big deal out of the fact that this column is the last of the season and next week’s very well could be the series finale, we are alerting people to the concurrent fact that they are facing a big fat summer full of reruns staring them right in the puss. Yes, it’s true. We are kind of advertising the bad news that we’re giving up for the next 13 weeks or so and hanging out the “Gone to long lunch” sign. But heck, it’s what the networks do, and they’re still surviving, aren’t they? I mean, sorta? Well, of course they are. Where else are you gonna go if you’re an advertising agency and you really want to move a lot of disposable diapers and Zoloft?
And speaking of reruns, which we were a paragraph back or so, we do hope you’ll stay tuned for ours. EM has graciously agreed to open the vault and share with you again-after hours and hours of careful digital remastering, of course-such gems from the column’s past as “Lloyd Braun: Television Genius,” “Bob Iger, Mastermind of Victory” and one of our best, “Michael Eisner-Underpaid Overachiever.” You might also enjoy rereading `”Nightline’-The ABC Series Every Other Network Wants,” “The Tick, The Show That Will Save Fox” and (sorry, but hey, it might be my last chance) “Jeff Zucker-A Class Act.”
Ooh boy, are you gonna love it.