Archive for November, 2011

How’d Herman Cain do on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’?

November 9, 2011

The many faces of Herman Cain — four of ’em, at least! — as he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Monday night.

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2011 — Jimmy Kimmel made the most of a guest who was a rarity for him and his ABC late-night show — an exclusive appearance by a prominent newsmaker and leading candidate for president who just that very morning had been accused for the fourth time of sexual harassment.

The appearance was no less of a triumph for the candidate himself — Herman Cain — who demonstrated strength and great humor in the face of adversity and, in the process, probably gained support — at least among the roughly 1.5 million who watch “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Why we admired Jimmy’s performance: He handled the candidate with just the right combination of seriousness and humor.  These kinds of guests are a challenge for late-night hosts, who feel much more comfortable kidding around with showpeople such as actors or fellow comedians.

But when a guest appears from outside the world of showbiz, some late-night hosts — such as David Letterman and Jay Leno, for example — tend to put a brake on the comedy and the segments have a way of falling flat.

Not so with Jimmy Monday night.  Even with Cain waiting backstage, Jimmy spent about half his monologue talking about the latest sexual harassment allegations leveled by Sharon Bialek with help from publicity-hound attorney Gloria Allred — probably because Jimmy knew the audience had to be well-informed on the topic before he could talk about it with his guest.

And that’s exactly what he did.  “So how was your day?” Jimmy asked Cain casually to start the segment.  “All things considered, I’m still alive,” Cain said with a smile.

“Have you considered hiring Gloria Allred as your attorney?” Jimmy asked.  “Let me put it to you this say,” Cain fired back, “I can’t think of anything that I would hire her for, OK?!”

Why Cain gets an A-plus from us: Sure, Jimmy Kimmel’s not a hard-nosed journalist, so some might say Cain got off easy with this opportunity to answer questions on national TV from a comedian who’s not a newsman.  But Jimmy pitched him all the relevant questions and Cain knocked them out of the park.  Plus, we give Cain props for showing up in the first place.  Under the circumstances, we were betting he wouldn’t.

For those of us who hadn’t really paid attention to Cain, the performance was very impressive.  He flatly and forcefully denied this latest sexual harassment charge, told Jimmy that his own wife instantly disbelieved it, and then found more than one opportunity to hammer home the goal of his campaign — to fix the economy.

He laughed at all the appropriate moments too.  In other words, his appearance didn’t have the effect of deadening the whole show, as these things often have on the late-night shows.

“I know to you, it’s a distraction,” Jimmy said of the sexual harassment accusations.  “But to me, it’s my life!”

And Herman Cain just laughed and laughed.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

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Look who’s howlin’ on CNN: Adam Buckman

November 6, 2011

NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 2011 — TV Howl’s Adam Buckman was on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” hosted by Howard Kurtz.  The topic: How’d Brian Williams do with the premiere of his new prime-time NBC news mag, “Rock Center,” last Monday? Check it out right here:

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Remembering Rooney: My favorite Andy story

November 5, 2011

ROONEY’S LAST STAND: Andy Rooney’s final appearance on “60 Minutes” on Oct. 2 (Photo: CBS)

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2011 — Andy Rooney was crusty, cantankerous, curmudgeonly — all words you’re reading in the obituaries for him today.

But he was also courageous — in the manner of the best journalists — as my favorite story about him illustrates.

It’s a story from 1995, about the time Andy excoriated, without mercy, the then-owner of CBS, Laurence Tisch, in one of Andy’s syndicated newspaper columns.

Of course, Rooney was then employed by CBS, which was paying him millions for his commentaries on “60 Minutes.”  And yet, here came Andy anyway, biting the hand that fed him (and just tearing it off at the proverbial wrist) and literally daring Tisch to fire him.

The impetus for the column — which was carried in more than 150 newspapers — was the pending sale of CBS to Westinghouse.  So, to mark the occasion, Andy decided he would give the world his own summation of what CBS had become under Tisch’s nine-year reign.

Tisch was a wealthy New York investor who had assumed control of CBS in 1986.  He then set about cutting costs, laying off employees and selling off parts of the company such as the publishing and music divisions.  By 1995, he sought to cash in on his investment with a sale to Westinghouse.  The deal was in the works, but not completed, at the time Rooney wrote this column in August — which meant that Tisch was still firmly in charge of CBS and could have fired Rooney.

And few would have blamed him either because Rooney went after the boss with a vengeance, blasting him for everything that was wrong with CBS — from the low ratings of its prime-time shows to the worn carpeting Rooney observed in the company’s landmark headquarters building in New York, known as Black Rock.

The carpet portion of the column is my favorite passage: “[CBS staffers],” Rooney wrote, “began to notice the carpets in the hallways were dirty.  Spots where people had spilled coffee with milk and sugar were left uncleaned . . .  The deterioration in maintenance standards was all the more noticeable because for years . . .  it was one of the most handsome office buildings in the world.  Under Larry Tisch, Black Rock acquired many of the characteristics of a slum housing project.”

“He could fire me,” Rooney wrote of Tisch, “but I’m part of what he’s selling [to Westinghouse] and money means too much for him to do that.”

As it happened, Tisch personally made an estimated $2 billion on the Westinghouse deal (according to Wikipedia).  He died in 2003.

The column Rooney published that summer weekend was so personal that he even included Tisch’s wife, Billie, in his “critique” of the family’s stewardship of CBS.  And yet, Andy said at the time that he never heard from any Tisches after the column ran.

“I don’t think they care very much,” he told me when I rang him up at CBS.  And that was another thing I loved about Andy — you could get him on the phone just by calling the CBS switchboard and asking for him, and he would pick up his own phone.  That’s how “old-school” this guy was.

He was a real piece of work — the genuine article.  And though he was 92 and had lived a very full life, I’m still sorry to see him go.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com


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