PBS' evening newscast isn't going away, but its name is. As part of a new format that debuts Dec. 7, the show will be called PBS NewsHourand Jim Lehrer will team with Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff and Jeffrey Brown as anchors. Lehrer's name has been part of the show's title since 1976, when he joined the year-old Robert MacNeil Report and it became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. MacNeil retired on October 20, 1995.
"If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace," Steve Martin once said on Saturday Night Live. "And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free, in a Swiss bank account."
It's the central contradiction of the holidays: saving the world vs. looting the malls. The second half of the equation is powerful even to the most humanitarian-minded of us, which is why you're reading a holiday gift guide right now instead of a book by Gandhi or St. Thomas Aquinas.
But these days it's not necessarily an either-or proposition: There are a growing number of gifts that multi-task, serving avarice and humanity at the same time. As Greyston Bakery's Joanne Jordan says of her company's Do-Goodie Brownies: ``With the purchase of one brownie, you can not only gratify a chocoholic who you love, but help out people who really need it, all for one low price.'' Read the rest of my story in Sunday's Miami Herald gift guide.
12 Men of Christmas (9 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime) -- On the day of her office Christmas party, Kristin Chenoweth loses her job, gets dumped by her fiance and flees to the badlands of Montana. But, honest, this is a comedy.
Sci-Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible (10 p.m. Tuesday, Science Channel) -- According to this documentary series hosted by Nobel Prize physicist Michio Kaku, one of these days you really might be able to hack somebody to pieces with a Star Wars light saber or blast them to ions with a Star Trek phaser.
Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura (10 p.m. Wednesday, truTV) -- According to this whack-job documentary series hosted by escaped Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, forget ``one of these days.'' The government already has an invisible death-ray machine in Alaska! Sept. 11 was an inside job! Secret societies are plotting our doom! But remember, pro wrestling is real!
Let me program your TiVo! Just click on my best bets for the week at www.tivo.com/guruguide.
I know, I know. You're feeling so triumphant after crashing the mall at 5 a.m. and getting a $2.98 computer and a free soft pretzel. But face it, by Saturday night you'll be broke, exhausted and quasi-suicidal after 36 hours of continuous shopping. Happily, if you live in South Florida, there's a way to erase it. A legal way, I mean. (For the other ways, you're reading the wrong blog.) I'm referring to an opportunity to wallow in somebody else's misery -- specifically, Ed Sullivan's.
Back in 1967, when the Doors had just hit it big with Light My Fire, they were invited to appear on live Sullivan's Sunday-night CBS variety show that practically everybody in America watched. One condition: They had to change one of the song's lyrics, from "girl, we couldn't get much higher" to "girl, we couldn't get much better." Jim Morrison and the rest of the Doors happily agreed. Of course, they were lying. Once they were on the air, they did the song the same way they always did, millions of American teenagers immediately raced out into the streets in search of blotter acid and hashish, and the world quickly devolved into an anarchic hellhole of Lewinskys, Gosselins and Lamberts.
Because the show aired live with no delay, there wasn't much the furious Sullivan could do about it except to refuse to shake hands with the band and send one of his flunkies to Morrison to hiss, "You'll never do the Sullivan show again!" To which Morrison snickered, "We just did the Sullivan show." Sullivan made good on his threat, else we might have subsequently been treated to a televised performance of Morrison's subsequent let-it-all-hang-out performance in Coconut Grove.
Now you can see the whole thing -- I mean, the Sullivan appearance, not the Coconut Grove show -- with your own eyes. WPBT-PBS 2 is broadcasting a special titled Ed Sullivan -- The Sixties at 7 p.m. on Saturday that includes the Doors' performance and Sullivan's icy reaction. The show also includes the Beatles' memorable 1964 appearance on Sullivan from the Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach, for most Americans the first look at the hot new band from Liverpool. South Florida's influence notwithstanding, they all kept their pants on.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our blessings, by which I mean the bizarre collection of programming marathons cable TV is offering up today. TV Land's collection of Roseanne Thanksgiving episodes airing between 9 p.m. and midnight is understandable, and its three-hour burst of Little House On The Prairie between 6 and 9 p.m. at least arguable. But a Brady Bunch marathon from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.?
Then again, that seems pretty mellow compared to 11 and a half hours of watching France and Germany getting blown to smithereens on Spike's Band Of Brothers marathon from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Or the orgy of martinis and blonde Soviet assassins on the seven-movie James Bond outburst that starts at 8 a.m. on Syfy. Or Kyra Sedgewick and her fellow cops smacking around rapists and kidnappers on TNT's Closer marathon from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Or that cranky old House abusing his patients from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The most appropriate of the days marathons is probably the one on Bravo from 4:30 to 11 p.m. Six and a half hours of The Real Housewives Of Orange County will definitely make you thankful -- that your television has an off button.
It might seem a bit early to start handicapping next year's Emmys, but the Smirking Little Liar Most In Need Of A Hard Slapping category has already been wrapped up. Adam Lambert's performance Wednesday morning on the CBS Early Show belongs right up there with "I did have sex with that woman" and "I am not a crook" in terms of grotesque televised untruthfulness.
Defending his performance on ABC's weekend telecast of the American Music Awards-- among other things, he simulated fellatio with a male dancer -- Lambert swore that he was shocked, shocked that anyone thought it wasn't suitable for primetime broadcast TV, even as he admitted concealing the moves during rehearsals the week before.
"I wasn't being sneaky," Lambert insisted, barely able to keep from laughing at his own words. Kids watching? "It never crossed my mind." Oh, by the way, he hopes that the fact that he pretended to have sex on live television won't lead to any inferences about his character or his act: "I hope that people don't put me into a box saying, oh, he's nasty."
Whether Lambert was lying or merely demonstrating abject stupidity when he claimed that he's the victim of discrimination for being 1) male and 2) gay is, I suppose, open to debate. Plenty of straight male performers have have run afoul of broadcast standards on sexual material, going clear back to Elvis Presley's suddenly invisible hips on The Ed Sullivan Show five decades ago. (Not to mention Mick Jagger being forced to alter change Let's Spend The Night Together to Let's Spend Some Time Together.) And the FCC is still coming after CBS over Janet Jackson's infamous costume failure at the Super Bowl five years ago.
Of course, Lambert's not the only liar here. The propensity of show business figures -- particularly those in the music industry -- to hijack live television performances in order to score cheap publicity for sleazy language or behavior is now established beyond the shadow of a doubt. It's time for network bosses to stop exclaiming how surprised they are every time somebody like Lambert exploits the platform that they happily provide.
Tawdry? Untalented? Let's get to the point -- will he bring eyeballs to the tube? No sooner did ABC's Good Morning America cancel a Wednesday performance by purported singer but fer-sure nasty boy Adam Lambert than the CBS Early Show snapped him up. Lambert was dumped from Good Morning America after ABC got an earful of viewer complaints about his sleazy performance over the weekend on the network's telecast of the American Music Awards. (He put his hands, and crotch, in places they shouldn't have been, at least on primetime broadcast television.)
But Early Show, the last-place contender among the morning shows, promptly extended its own Wednesday invitation, and Lambert accepted. Just two grandmas watching on behalf of the Parents Television Council to provide affidavits for its FCC complaint will probably double the Early Show's audience.
Ahhhh, the horrifying power of the Internet in full malicious bloom: Both Gawker and The Huffington Post, among other culprits, have pictures of Katie Couric celebrating her debut as anchor of the CBS Evening News in 2006. Poor Katie -- after a certain number of martinis at CBS parties, Walter Cronkite infamously used to do a striptease he'd memorized from youthfuI evenings he spent in Kansas City burlesque clubs. But nobody was around back then snapping pictures with cell phones.
Lou Dobbs, who left his CNN anchor seat earlier this month amid rumors he was headed to Fox News, says pfffft! to that. He tells Reuters he's thinking of running for a U.S. senate seat -- or maybe the White house. "Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next," Dobbs said. No word on whether he showed his birth certificate.