Kirsten's Fan Club
Nadir Nader of Irrelevancy
On behalf of disgruntled Sacramento Kings fans (and all the
people who just plain hate the L.A. Lakers) everywhere,
"consumer advocate" and former Green Party
Presidential aspirant Ralph Nader blasted the National
Basketball Association (NBA) yesterday for what he deemed
Like hundreds of thousands of other armchair referees, Nader
directed his ire toward the officials for Game 6 of the Western
Conference Finals, which apparently took place sometime last
week. (NBA fan, I am not.)
Nader demanded that NBA commissioner David Stern--and the
United States Congress (just kidding)--launch an investigation
into the officiating of the game, which the Lakers won 106-102.
He declared that, if any bias in the officiating is discovered,
the NBA should apologize to the Kings.
Comparing the referees in Game 6 to dishonest Enron
executives (unfortunately, I'm NOT kidding about that), Nader
said: "At a time when the public's confidence is shaken by
headlines reporting the breach of trust of corporate executives,
it is important, during the public's relaxation time, for there
to be maintained a sense of impartiality and professionalism in
commercial sports performance."
Which begs the question: Exactly how much did this guy lose
on his playoffs bet? And when did "the public" start
getting collective relaxation time?
And the biggest question of all (in time-honored multiple
What's the weirdest part of this story?
- It's true.
- Ralph Nader is an NBA buff.
- Major news agencies care what Ralph Nader has to say
about professional basketball.
- Even after the 2002 Olympics, people still actually
believe in the integrity and fairness of televised sports.
Whatever the answer, it's a pretty good day for America.
First Al Gore, then Bill Clinton, and now the ever-present Ralph
Nader have all faded into comfortable irrelevancy. Can we hope
for the same from little Tommy Daschle and the rest of the top
Democrats after the 2002 elections?
Well, it's a nice thought, anyway.
'Bye, 'Bye, Bill
A lot of people have been asking lately what I think of the
cancellation of ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.
Well, frankly, I don't even think Bill Maher is terribly
chagrined over the passage of ABC's Politically
Incorrect with Bill Maher. Don't get me wrong--Mr. Maher
probably isn't thrilled to have lost his job . . . but the truth
is, he lost the show long ago.
I remember when Politically Incorrect was a truly
funny and original product of Bill Maher's strange imagination.
That was a long time ago--long before ABC. The show originally
aired on Comedy Central, a cable network known for not caring
much about focus groups, finicky advertisers or the FCC (Exhibit
A: South Park, a badly-drawn cartoon about potty-mouthed
third-graders that just happens to be one of the cleverest
social satires on television).
During Politically Incorrect's time on Comedy Central,
it--and Maher--truly lived up to the name. While many of Maher's
political opinions sounded (and still sound) as if they were
formed while under the influence of one of the many drugs he
wishes to legalize, he certainly could never have been called
'Politically Correct.' Back then, Maher wasn't afraid to call
things as he saw them (even if he saw them through a haze). He
was enthusiastic and passionate about the issues he cared about.
It was hard to question his sincerity, even if you questioned
his sanity once in a while.
Sure, he's liberal (not a libertarian, as he often claims).
Sure, he's abrasive, cranky, and even (gasp!) mean-spirited.
That's okay. There's room for that in our society.
Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be room for that on ABC.
The several times I appeared on Maher's ABC show were all
during the last year-and-a-half of its run. Though the
producers, writers and support staff who worked on the show were
always incredibly professional and friendly, there was an almost
tangible aura of discontent running through the studio. It sort
of felt like the show was being smothered . . . like everyone,
including Bill Maher, was sort of going through the motions. The
infectious enthusiasm of the Comedy Central days was somehow
This is not to say that Maher and his staff didn't do their
best with what they were given . . . but I saw a quote from an
unnamed P.I. staffer in a news item just after the show
was canceled that seemed to identify the problem quite
succinctly: "ABC has no idea how to nurture a late-night
And how could they? The late-night formula dominated by CBS
and NBC works, and works well. But can anyone really picture
another Dave Letterman or Jay Leno? Those two are the Yin and
Yang, the North and South of late-night variety TV. Most
everyone in America hates one passionately and loves the other
with equal force. A third contender would be ripped apart by the
sheer gravitational pull of these two heavyweights.
ABC definitely needed something different, and they got that
with Maher's P.I.. But they smoothed out and sanitized
all the rough edges and dirty debate that made the show so
eminently watchable on Comedy Central. It is to the credit of
the host, producers and writers that the show often succeeded
despite itself, making people laugh (and think), and landing
several Emmy nominations.
Unfortunately for the intelligent insomniac, ABC has decided
to replace Politically Incorrect with a new variety show
starring Jimmy Kimmel of Comedy Central's The Man Show.
If early reports are any indication, it will be a cheesy,
lowbrow, often vulgar alternative to Leno and Letterman.
Contrasting the content of this new show with that of P.I.,
host Kimmel told Newsweek: "Bill Maher's controversial
stuff is serious, important stuff. My controversial stuff is
nonsense. It's showing a monkey's penis on TV."
Honey, toss me the remote...I think Leno's on.
Kirsten's Fan Club
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