Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Jeff Jarvis on the FCC & Indecency

Jeff Jarvis, the BuzzMachine blogger, who created Entertainment Weekly and was TV critic for TV Guide and People magazine, appeared on my KMOX show today to talk about the FCC's crackdown on indecency.

The discussion included: his investigation into the shockingly small number of Americans who complained to the FCC about Fox's "Married By America" (which earned the network a $1.2 million fine, the largest in history); whether indecency is, in fact, out of control on TV and radio; and how Americans should handle their complaints and let the marketplace rule the airwaves, not the government.

Listen to the conversation here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Billy West

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked to Billy West, one of the most gifted voice men in show business explained how he does the voice of Popeye, why he dislikes some celebrities doing animated voices, and how he feels about people who complain about his work.

Listen to the conversation here.

Monday, November 08, 2004

What Now For Democrats?

In the aftermath of the president's re-election, there's a lot of teeth-gnashing among Democrats about "what does our party do now?" Here's the answer: Stop choosing lousy candidates.

You'd think they would have learned this lesson in the 1980s, after the debacles of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. Even most Democrats didn't believe John Kerry was the best option for America's future. The problem was that none of the other candidates in the primaries was any better.

America wasn't going to elect Howard Dean, Wesley Clark or the field entry of Al Sharpton/Carol Moseley Braun/Dennis Kucinich. The Democrats didn't have a Bright Shining Star, they had The Best We Can Do, which is not how you win the White House. The election didn't come down to Bush vs. Kerry; it came down to Bush vs. Not Bush.

For 2008, the Democrats have to find someone who can pull off the Regular Guy act. Americans aren't attracted to the aloof brilliant thinker. Those are guys they called nerd and dweeb in high school, who never had dates and got picked last for the game. They probably went on to become vascular surgeons and run hugely successful multinational corporations, but those people aren't who get elected president of the United States.

Americans want someone with charisma who looks and acts like he's in control and can get others to do his bidding for whatever principles he stands for. This is the 21st century; Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson wouldn't stand a chance.

President George W. Bush pulls off the Regular Guy act brilliantly. Sure, he went to Andover and Yale and lived a life of incredible luxury, but people still see him as the kind of guy you'd want to hang out with. He may have been only a "C" student in college, but he was a "C" student at Yale, not St. Louis Community College at Meramec. People who write him off as stupid don't get it.

Ronald Reagan had the same magnetism -- more, actually -- the leader of a cause who acted like a cowboy with an aw-shucks demeanor and played the role of underdog against those tough bad guys of The (eastern, establishment, elite, ultra-liberal) Media.

Bill Clinton had It, too. He was a Rhodes scholar and total policy wonk who could stay up all night long debating legislative ideas and opportunities. Yet even his enemies said he could charm the pants off of you (or himself, unfortunately).

Dubya's dad, Bush 41, didn't have It. He rode into the White House on Reagan's coattails, but then couldn't convince America he was enough of a Regular Guy to get a second term. (His real problem was that the Regular Guy in his family was his wife, Barbara!)

So now the Democrats have to look for a Regular Guy for 2008. Is it Hillary Rodham Clinton? No. Too much baggage; the red states already hate her, she can't win them over, and she can't play the part. If America's going to elect a woman, she has to be more Oprah than Hillary. Oprah Winfrey could give them a car and make them love the idea without telling them about the tax bill that comes with it.

Is it John Edwards? No. He can be folksy, he has an undeniable connection with people, and friends who've seen him in person tell me he's one of the best stump speakers ever. But Edwards couldn't even deliver his home state for Kerry. He would have to overcome the "loser" label, and no one has done that since Nixon.

So, who will it be? Whoever their Regular Guy turns out to be, most Americans haven't heard of him. Yet.

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This column originally appeared as an op-ed piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bob Greene & The Presidents

The columnist and author was on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about his book, "Fraternity: A Journey in Search of Five Presidents." We talked about what it was like meeting Richard Nixon for the first time, how Jimmy Carter reacted to being satirized, the piece of memorabilia Gerald Ford kept from a woman who tried to assassinate him, and how George HW Bush dealt with a swastika in the sand.

Listen to the conversation here.

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin made a rare radio appearance on my KMOX show this afternoon. Our conversation covered her TV career from "Laugh-In" to her own specials to "The Tonight Show" to "The West Wing," her movies from "Nashville" to "The Late Show" to "I Heart Huckabees," plus how she develops characters and whether getting awards ever gets old.

Listen to the conversation here.