1997: Suspects, Usual and Unusual
by L. Brent Bozell III
The old year is slipping away, but there's still time for
one more parade. Join me in the reviewing stand as Tinseltown's Winners and
Losers of 1997 march by.
Winner: "7th Heaven." This wholesome Monday night
show from the fledgling Warner Brothers network is now the fastest-growing
drama on prime time television. The conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that
family-oriented programming is as popular as the 8-track tape; WB chief Jamie
Kellner gambled that the conventional wisdom was wrong - and he was right.
Loser: NBC entertainment boss Warren Littlefield. The new
raunch ("Union Square") isn't drawing like the old raunch
("Friends"), and if your Nothing But Coitus network is based on
raunch, kiss the ratings goodbye. (In the past year, NBC's prime time
viewership has fallen 10 percent.) And it gets worse. He may lose
"ER" (to another network) and "Seinfeld" (if its eponym
decides to call it quits). Memo to Mr. Littlefield: Try family programming.
NBC has aired virtually none of it since the Bush administration.
Winner: Charlton Heston, whose Kennedy Center honor
confirmed his status as an American cultural icon. To conservatives, he's also
become a political treasure, which raises the hackles of our next...
Loser: New York Times columnist Frank Rich and his smirking,
sneering attack on Heston a few days after the KenCen ceremony. Heston's
politically irresponsible (for opposing gun control), a lousy actor (his Oscar
notwithstanding), and not bright enough to understand the sexuality of
"Ben-Hur" (Rich, long obsessed with gay issues, thinks the movie is
actually a homoerotic tour de force).
Winner: Drew Carey. Asked by Reason magazine for his
feelings about government, he stated, "The less [of it there is] the
better... You should never depend on the government for your retirement, your
financial security, for anything... All the government should be [is the]
Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines." Not only that, but he has no use for
Barbra Streisand or the Kennedys.
Losers: Know-nothing actor Alec Baldwin, a self-described
"ferocious liberal" and aspiring officeholder, who told New York
magazine that the House of Representatives wouldn't be worth his time; he sees
himself instead as a U.S. Senator or governor of New York. My, how times
change. After John Quincy Adams left the Presidency, he served his country
again as a member of the House. One hundred fifty years later, the star of
"The Getaway" thinks the House is beneath him. Lord willing, Little
Lord Alec will choose to run for office and learn a lesson in humility at the
hands of New York voters.
Winner: Nickelodeon, whose nightly half-hour (8 to 8:30) of
original children's programming has earned it a million more viewers in the
past year. Next fall, the cable web will expand this to the whole 8 o'clock
hour. Watch Nick's audience increase even more. Then watch the major networks
learn nothing from Nick's example.
Loser: Yoko Ono, for telling Rolling Stone, "I think
it's very good that society is getting more and more musical. I really
envision a society where?in court, the lawyers would present the case by
singing, or the politicians will make a speech and sing it." This from a
woman who once recorded an album featuring her yelling, just yelling, into the
microphone - and called that music.
Winner: Steve Allen, whose June speech broadsiding the
television networks for airing trash (and calling the executives responsible
for it "merchants of filth" leading America "down a moral
sewer") was a thorough shock to an industry unaccustomed to such
Loser: The University of California-Berkeley, which offers a
class in "The Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur." I wish I were
Winner of the Year: William Donohue, president of the
Catholic League. For his efforts against Disney/ABC's "Nothing
Sacred," this perpetual-motion machine deserves a salute from all
Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who are fed up with the
anti-Catholic bigotry that continues to rear its head in Hollywood.
Loser of the Year: Disney/ABC. Either "Nothing
Sacred" or "Ellen" probably would have been enough to win this
title for the Mouse. Taking no chances, however, ABC not only aired both these
grossly offensive series, but subjected the nation to a massive publicity
campaign on behalf of each. One hopes that for Christmas, someone bought
Disney a clue.
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