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This sitcom on NBC stars Al Franken as Al Freundlich, a vain reporter for the fictional news program "Lateline." Robert Foxworth stars as Pearce McKenzie, the anchor of "Lateline." Vic Karp is the show's executive producer. This spoof of "Nightline" showcases numerous real life politicians, and real Washington bigwigs. Written by
[they enter the studio, and stand next to the desk Pierce sits in. Andy is, for some reason, clad only in a bathrobe]
Pierce should be on his way, but um... In the meantime you guys maybe could rehearse for the cameras?
Yeah, uh, Andy, maybe you should rehearse naked, so the lighting guys can prepare for your glare?
[takes off his bathrobe, revealing that he is wearing very little]
[explaining to a surprised Gale]
Oh, see, the network won't let me work totally naked any more, so I wear a ...
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What have we here? It could only be called "Art Imitating News". I guess that it's possible!
INTENSITY of contemporary occurrences and strong feelings on the part of all of us about such happenings has contributed to our becoming a divided United States. That we all have the right to hold opinions and even more so, the First Amendment Right to express same, is a most familiar American expression and untouchable God given right.
STRONG feelings on both the Left (Liberal) and Right (Conservative) sides of issues has proved to be a catalyst in making ours a nation divided into the "Blue" States and the "Red" States; "Blue" States meaning those traditionally Liberal (being more of a Democrat State)and "Red" being a designation for those generally voting with the more conservative political party (the Republicans, the "Grand Old Party", or "G.O.P." for short.).* Oddly enough, many a political pundit believes this puts our voting populace at just about a 50-50 mark, politically speaking. Others have maintained that we have a population of approximately One Third staunch Conservatives, One Third die-hard Liberals with the remaining people being the non-committed "swing vote"; falling somewhere in between.
SUCH intense beliefs could tend to take anything funny out of a political satire show; but the production team who brought us LATELINE (Markus/Frankin Productions/Paramount Television/NBC Television Network, 1998-99) ever so skillfully avoided any such problems with careful attention to content and management of any situations that were touched on.
CREATOR and Series Star, the very talented Al Franken had the wisdom to avoid making it a spoof of the American Political scene; but rather a parody of the Network News Magazine Program; you know, shows like DATELINE, HANNITY & COLMES, 60 MINUTES, 20/20 and the like. Parodies or "Spoofs" are always a sure-fire laugh getter; with some built in fodder for providing send-ups of persons or regular practices that always seem to please audiences.
ONCE again, the main concentration is focused on the FORMAT and the foibles of a most pompous, conceited and arrogant TV Newsman, Al Freundlich (Mr. Franken) and a whole veritable menagerie of characters as portrayed by a fine group of players, such as: Megyn Price, Miguel Ferrer, Ajay Naidu, Sanaa Lathan, Catherine Lloyd Burns and Robert Foxworth.
SOME very amusing episodes were presented using certain Guest Stars to very good advantage. Our favourite guest was Mr. G. Gordon Liddy (Himself), who displayed a real talent for that which is comic; in doing a self deprecating parody of his famous tough personality and very masculine life style.** We also had enjoyed the talents of Al Franken, both on this series; as well as before its being first broadcast. We just never have agreed with Franken's decidedly Left leaning Politics.
FRANKEN & Company kept things from being offensive to anyone by concentrating on the show, with obvious contrast of the on screen TV show with the uncanny happenings occurring off camera, behind stage. This was somewhat similar to the oft used plot device in THE LARRY SAUNDERS SHOW (Billsten-Grey Entertainment/Columbia Pictures Television/Home Box Office, 1992-98) with Garry Shandling.
LATELINE, at times, looked so very much like a real TV News Magazine, that it was hard to differentiate between the real and the lampoon. That may have contributed to its being assigned to a premature home in the Graveyard of Network Series. It would seem that the "Suits" in the Board Rooms in New York have little sense of humour when it comes to their industry.
AND that, my dear Schultz is really too, too bad; for LATELINE deserved a better fate and a longer run than its part of 3 seasons.
NOTE: * We are somewhat amused that the Red (Republican, Conservative) and Blue (Democrat, Liberal) designations were placed on the subjects that they were. Somebody in charge of the Eastern Establishment News establishment definitely didn't want their "New Left" being designated as "Red".
NOTE: ** Need we mention that this is the true life hero of his autobiographical book, WILL, which was adapted into made for TV Movie, WILL: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF G. GORDON LIDDY (A Shane Company, National Broadcasting Company, 1982) with Robert Conrad in the title role.
SPECIAL NOTE: It is interesting to see that right now, in A.D. 2008, that Al Franken is now a candidate for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Minnesota. We look ahead with great anticipation to our National Elections on November 4, 2008 to see if Mr. Franken can match the success of former Minnesota Governor, Jesse "the Body" Ventura and connect with the voters.
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