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September 18, 1998 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-18

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 18, 1998 - 13

wisecracks k(
eye on target
The Washington Post Crisis.' W
Keith Olbermann, anchor of Crisis' so
MSNBC's "White House in Crisis," NBC tele
isn't above poking fun at himself. He named 'W
once described his program as "The Sorenson
White House Isn't in Crisis but We'll in 1985 as
,Keep Calling It That Because There's in Los Ang
a Graphic." seconds w
Another time, after turning the blown aw
;'wrong way, he muttered: "Doing this Sorenson sz
15 years, can't tell which camera is best at ha'
on." and jocks.
With one heck of a boost from thoughtful
Monica Lewinsky, the 39-year-old Viewers
former sportscaster has quickly the year-
established himself as perhaps the jumped 87
most thoughtful of the cable guys 196,000 hi
chewing over the sex scandal night numbers by
after night (and he's a twice-nightly a comfortat
man, beginning with "The Big universe.
Show"). Those w
Major stories have a way of mak- say the nigh
ing media careers. Watergate gave us "For somec
Woodward and Bernstein. The Iran mind, it's n
hostage crisis boosted Ted Koppel. thing over
The Persian Gulf War was Peter Fenn. "I thi
Arnett's moment in the sun. The O.J. frustration.
case unleashed a legion of made-for- Whateve
TV lawyers. Plenty of loudmouths ESPN anch
are vying for the mantle ofAmerica's ing himself
Monica Maven, but Olbermann (who local Emm
labels each show "Day 196" or "Day Skyhook/K,
233," as if we're being held hostage) now has a
avoids the shrill partisanship of many possible imf
of his compatnots. Olbermar
Yet his wisecracking ways also - he doesn
contain the seeds of contradiction. becoming
Olbermann sometimes insults people does a dai
and then apologizes. He has journal- SportsFan R
ists on every night but, lately, refuses ing Clintor
to be interviewed by journalists. He "Ask, Mr. P
gave an eloquent speech at Cornell writes a we
University on how his conscience Illustrated's
would no longer permit him to end- often-contra
lessly exploit the Monica melodrama range of hun
- then kept on exploiting. ly complain
"Somewhere along the way he that Mark M
began to self-flagellate, says one wasn't that
MSNBC staffer. "He's done so well homers wer
with this vehicle, yet he kind of Ruth's day.
wants to crash the vehicle." The anch
Still, for a scandal that has become controversy
a tawdry soap opera, Olbermann's pitchman in
irreverence often strikes the right mercial -a
note. When Newsweek's Howard corporate b
Fineman talked about the Clinton was at ESPN
investigation turning into "pure, new book o
naked politics," Olbermann shot other publi
back: "Pure, naked politics is what first, and wa
got us into this mess in the first ESPN's pop
place." year for app
When President Clinton was busy sion on a
apologizing to one audience after Olbermann I
another, Olbermann intoned: "If you afterward,
want one, send a self-addressed, expired.
stamped envelope to the White Sometime
House." outraces his
And when Olbermann was about cyber-gossip
to ask historian Doris Kearns Fox News sh
Goodwin whether Clinton was hang- gone from
ing on until Jan. 20 so Al Gore could modem to an
run for two full terms, he said: a television
"Forgive me for lapsing into cyni- sponsible ne
cism that" been created by 225 days Worse than
at this desk." than Chris
Olbermann's ironic asides are Geraldo Riv
delivered from an ironic distance; he Show."' Olb
sits peering owlishly into a camera in apology to
Secaucus, N.J., while nearly all his Roger Ailes.
uests are in Washington. But 01be
Says Democratic strategist Peter eruption cam
Fenn, a frequent guest: "I love his Cornell, his a
historical references, I love his MSNBC w

irreverence, I love his sports analo- Lewinsky sto
gies. He's kind of like a Cajun cook heaves in th
- he puts all kinds of spices in his moral sensor
show." even hear it,
"He's always holding the media's ratings that
feet to the fire instead of talking when they s
about those evil politicians," says hour a nigh
conservative pundit Laura Ingraham. from my stu
"Keith is terrific at using wit and told my empl
humor to ensure that we guests don't not continue
take ourselves too seriously." the endless
Erik Sorenson, MSNBC's vice choose what
president, raves about his star: "I right over wh
love Keith. I love 'White House in smart. I await

yep his

Suburban sitcoms offer a black and white rerun

e love 'White House in
much that the entire
vision network is now
'hite House in Crisis."'
n hired Olbermann back
a KCBS-TV sportscaster
eles. "You can't spend 30
ith him without being
ay by his intellect,"
ays. "Of all his skills, he's
ving fun with highlights
But he's always been
and resourceful."
have noticed. Ratings for
ld "Big Show" have
percent, from 105,000 to
ouseholds - minuscule
y broadcast standards but
ble franchise in the cable
ho work with Olbermann
itly grind is taking its toll.
one with a quick, facile
ot easy to cover the same
and over again," says
nk there's a good deal of
r his foibles, the former
or is a master at reinvent-
f. Once nominated for a
iy for "Kareem - the
areem - the Joker," he
center-court seat for the
peachment of a president.
nn may be a tad eccentric
n't drive a car - but he's
a cottage industry. He
ly commentary for the
Radio Network. (On urg-
n to seek forgiveness:
'resident, or resign.") He
ekly column for Sports
Inside Baseball. His
nan opinions span the
man endeavor. He recent-
ed on "The Big Show"
cGwire's 62nd home run
t big a deal because
e so infrequent in Babe
or has a penchant for
- he once served as a
a Boston Market com-
nd he has ticked off his
osses before. When he
N, he waved a copy of his
in the air. He wrote for
cations without asking
s briefly suspended from
ular "SportsCenter" last
pearing without permis-
Comedy Central show.
left "SportsCenter" soon
before his contract
s Olbermann's mouth
s brain. He lambasted
Matt Drudge and his
ow, saying Drudge "has
being an idiot with a
iidiot with a modem and
show on the most irre-
etwork in America. ...
Magic Johnson, worse
Matthews, worse than
era, worse than 'The Big
ermann wrote a letter of
Fox News President
rmann's greatest moral
:e during the address at
lma mater, when he said
as overcovering the
ry: "I'm having the dry
e bathroom because my
is going off, but I can't
I'm so seduced by these
I go along with them
ay do this not just one
t but two. I awakened
por on this subject and
oyers that I simply could
doing this show about
investigation. I had to
I felt in my heart was
at I felt in my wallet was

t their answer."

Los Angeles 'Times
HOLLYWOOD -George and Louise "Weezy"
Jefferson, the affluent black couple at the core of
"The Jeffersons," moved into the neighborhood of
racially tinged TV comedy more than 20 years
ago when they "finally got a piece of the pie," liv-
ing in a luxury high-rise apartment where they
had to contend with their white neighbors.
"The Jeffersons" reflected the upward mobility
of minorities, and that trend has continued dra-
matically - both on television and in reality -
in the 13 years since "The Jeffersons" went off
the air.
But instead of "movin' on up," as the theme
song of the "All in the Family" spinoff rejoices,
two shows premiering this fall seem to be
"movin' on back" to a premise that treats black
people moving into white suburbs as a fresh phe-
nomena, as well as a launching pad for comedy
laced with stereotypes of blacks and whites.
The new shows, Fox's "Living in Captivity,"
which premiered last Friday to lackluster ratings,
and ABC's "The Hughleys," which debuts
Tuesday, will be the second and third series in
less than a year revolving around blacks who
leave their urban environments for the suburbs.
The first, "For Your Love," which starts airing
on the WB network Thursday after an initial run
on NBC, has at its center a black newlywed cou-
ple who move next door to their married white
Yvette Lee Bowser, creator and executive
producer of "For Your Love," which she said is
more about three couples - two black and one
white - at different stages of relationships than
about racial conflict, said she is somewhat mysti-
fied by the debut of two shows with such similar
"People of color have been living in the sub-
urbs for decades," Bowser said. "It's really not as
earth-shattering as these shows make it seem."
Controversy already has started to cloud the
new entries. Some television writers and critics
have blasted them as being filled with outdated,
offensive images of both blacks and whites.
In addition, D.L. Hughley, the star, producer
and co-creator of "The Hughleys," has accused
Fox of ripping off his idea, saying "Living in
Captivity" contains many of the aspects of the
pitch he made to Fox when the series was still in
"Our show is about real life, while Fox just
thought this was a catchy genre to get into,"
Hughley said.
Fox executives and "Living in Captivity" pro-
ducers denied Hughley's accusations.
Some insiders have questioned whether viewers
will be confused by three comedies featuring
blacks in suburbia. For instance, "Living in
Captivity" uses a device that appears in "For Your
Love" in which the three main couples are shown
in their respective bedrooms talking about a
shared dilemma.
But Bowser and the producers of the new
shows maintain that their respective projects are
distinctive enough to overcome comparison, and
that viewers will be able to appreciate them on
their own merit.
And those behind "Living in Captivity" and
"The Hughleys" maintain that, pilot episodes
notwithstanding, race will not be the primary
focus of the comedies, and that future episodes
will take satirical looks at life in the suburbs,
such as stress, security systems, sex and com-
muter woes.

Courtesy of For Broadcasting
Three new sitcoms featuring black casts who move to the suburbs join "Living Single" in this fall's lineup.

"The fact that there are several shows doing the
same thing doesn't really matter," said Matt
Wickline, a co-creator and executive producer of
"The Hughleys." "We're all really doing different
things. The notion of blacks moving to the sub-
urbs is just an idea that is out there that is hap-
pening more and more."
Diane English, one of the executive producers
of "Living in Captivity," along with Joel
Shukovsky and Tom Palmer, said in an interview:
"Our show was always a broad satire of suburban
life. We wanted to deal with a different subject
each week, such as the proliferation of Prozac
into these areas, and security systems."
In the pilot for "Living in Captivity," which
aired last Friday, radio disc jockey Curtis Cooke
(Dondre T. Whitfield) and his pregnant wife
Tamara (Kira Arne) run into problems immedi-
ately with their white neighbors when they move
to Woodland Heights, an immaculate, gated com-
The uncouth Carmine "The King of Mufflers"
Santucci (Lenny Venito) has a black lawn jockey
and immediately suspects his new neighbors
when his backyard grill disappears.
Another neighbor, writer Will Marek (Matthew
Letscher), is more subtle about his misgivings,
but even his prejudices come out when he and
Curtis go jogging and Will accelerates as he
relives an incident in the city where he was
mugged. He imagines Curtis chasing after him
with a ski mask and a gun.
And Curtis, who apparently did not examine
the racial makeup of his new community closely
before moving in, reveals his own bias during his
first trip to the supermarket, where he runs into
Will for the first time and remarks, "I've been
roaming up and down these aisles for an hour and
there's something I can't seem to find: black peo-

He also quips that the population makeup
"explains the five-gallon jars of Miracle Whip."
"The Hughleys" stars D.L. Hughley as Darryl
Hughley, a vending machine company owner who
moves with his wife, Yvonne (Elise Neal), and
their two kids to a fancy suburb. In the pilot,
when an elderly female neighbor asks him to take
out her garbage, Darryl complains to Yvonne,
"It's starting already.
We're living around white folks for five min-
utes and already they're telling me to fetch their
Later, when Darryl's black friend Milsap (John
Henton) visits, he says Darryl's new surroundings
put him in danger of "getting his ghetto pass
revoked" and that he is on "the slippery slope to
losing your blackness."
Milsap says he fears that Darryl will start
drinking cappuccino instead of Kool-Aid, will
drink out of frosty mugs instead of jelly jars and
will pay his bills on time.
Hughley said his show was based on his real-
life experience, when he and his family moved to
Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley a few years
"Some things have been exaggerated for this
sitcom," he said. "But it's about leaving where
you're comfortable and having to adjust to a new
environment. The racial issue is not something I
will focus on every week. I'm not going to get on
a soapbox. I'm just trying to tell a story honest-
English said she doesn't regret the controversy
around "Living in Captivity" and that it might
turn out to be a positive in terms of getting atten-
"When you have a black lawn jockey in a show,
you know you're not going to get passed over.
And you can't please everyone when you do
something that gets away from safe TV."

Infinite opportunities.
Dynamic careers.

T7m Atwell

joined GE in 1995,
and immediately
began sparking ideas
for GE Lighting.
Today, he's a GE Quartz
Information Systems
Team Leader.

You have a future here.
Please Join Us for
Meet the Firms
Friday, September 25th
Office of Career Development
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of M
Women's Basketball
Walk-On Tryouts


October 19, 1998
7:00 pm @
Crisler Arena.


q%% i

3 pitCongregation
Seed of Abraham Zera Avraham


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