THE BLOG

Cable News Confab

08/03/2006 05:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

(WE TAKE YOU NOW TO THE NYC HEADQUARTERS OF AMERICA'S CABLE NEWS EMPIRE [ACNE], WHERE NETWORK CHAIRMAN VICTOR BLODGETT IS IN CONFERENCE WITH HIS SECOND AND THIRD IN COMMAND, V-P ALAN PEEVISH AND NEWS DIRECTOR BARRY PHLEGM)

BLODGETT: So, boys, how goes the war?

PHLEGM: Well, sir, the enemy is still in its final throes, and ...

BLODGETT: Not that war, nitwit. (TURNS TO PEEVISH) Alan?

PEEVISH: Right, the ratings. Excellent overnights, Victor. We're up six points on LNM, two and a half points on MNM, and with any luck, LSMFT will be off the air by All Saints Day.

PHLEGM: A cable coup, sir.

(A "WHOOSH"-ING SOUND EFFECT DRAWS THEIR ATTENTION TO THE 48-INCH TELEVISION SCREEN ON ONE WALL OF THE ROOM. ACNE ANCHOR TODD SPITOON IS DELIVERING THE DAY'S NEWS.)

SPITOON: And now to Paxil-Humana Hospital in East Clintwood, Arizona, and 16-year-old high school junior Terry Ferp. Terry heroically saved the lives of three classmates yesterday on the way to school. Terry, I gotta believe you said a prayer or two before hurling yourself on those rattlesnakes.

TERRY (FROM HIS BED): Well, there really wasn't time to pray. I just ...

SPITOON: Look, you want to debate the existence of God? Fine. Any time, any place. But right now, we've gotta go to commercial. Terry, thanks for taking time out to talk with us. Good luck with that venom thing. And of course, God bless.

BLODGETT (TO PEEVISH): Nice. Let me guess. Your morning memo.

PEEVISH: Yup. Promised a Frappuccino to the first anchor to invoke the Heavenly Father. (TO A PUZZLED PHLEGM) It means to call upon.

BLODGETT: Good work. (TURNING SLOWLY TO PHLEGM) Of course, it's not the same as putting up the pictures and phone numbers of agnostics, like we did that time.

PHLEGM (OBLIVIOUS TO THE SARCASM): My idea, sir. Remember?

BLODGETT: Oh, I remember. They got death threats. We got sued. You nitwit!

(BACK TO THE TV SCREEN, WHERE SPITOON'S BLONDE, BUXOM CO-ANCHOR, TAMMY FELDSPAR, IS ON CAMERA. UNDER TERMS OF HER CONTRACT, TAMMY WEARS A SKIRT ROUGHLY THE SIZE OF A POST-IT. SHE IS IN THE MIDST OF CROSSING HER FAMOUSLY LONG LEGS, A MANEUVER WHICH HAS COME TO BE KNOWN IN CABLE NEWS CIRCLES AS "THE PAYOFF.")

BLODGETT: Jeez, look at those talents. You guys ever see her on the escalator? I followed her up three flights the other day. She turned and caught me looking up her address, and she actually backed down the escalator. God, I love when they blush.

PEEVISH: Which reminds me, Victor. We're ready to go with that Clinton-Lewinsky retrospective.

BLODGETT: Good, good. I assume we stick it to the slime ball.

PEEVISH: Royally.

PHLEGM: We pull no punches, sir. All-new speculation. Compelling hearsay from multiple sources. More theories on Vince Foster, this time from trained psychics. Paula Jones, Tonya Harding and Amy Fisher in silhouette, debating Clinton's legacy. Plus Matt Drudge, Whoopi Ann Goldberg ...

PEEVISH: Lucianne.

PHLEGM: Right. Lucianne Goldberg, Ron Ziegler ...

PEEVISH: He's dead.

PHLEGM: I thought that was Ron Brown.

BLODGETT: They're both dead, you nitwit! Look, just tell me ...

PHLEGM: I know, I know. What about visuals? Well, first off, we've got a graphics package -- with animation -- that'll knock your shoes off. Plus, we have props ...

PEEVISH: Socks.

PHLEGM: The cat?

PEEVISH: The expression. It's "knock your socks off."

PHLEGM: I'll remember that, sir.

BLODGETT: Let's hope so. And, Phlegm, since you're in charge of the actual newsroom -- how many times have I told you? Read a newspaper. Get a dictionary. Look at a map once in a while. By the way, your news writer training classes? I hope you're still warning them about puns and clichés.

PHLEGM: Absolutely, sir. I tell them every day, if there's one thing good news copy can never have enough of, it's puns and clichés.

BLODGETT: Okay, so what do we tell our viewers about that new diet?

PHLEGM: We give them the "skinny."

BLODGETT: And what's our second reference to Hollywood, every time?

PHLEGM: "Tinseltown," of course. Hey, it's right out there on the "Left Coast," in "La-la Land."

BLODGETT: Don't push it, Phlegm. Now, what about the past tense? And the verb to be?

PHLEGM: They don't exist, sir. All verbs are in the, uh, "ing" tense.

BLODGETT: Fine. Now, let's go over the Super-superlative. Do we give our viewers the "latest" news?

PHLEGM: No, sir. Only the "VERY latest."

BLODGETT: And is there anything new under the sun?

PHLEGM: Not unless it's ALL new, sir.

BLODGETT: All right, now, the News-speak Twofer: Stating the Obvious with Cliche. When we go to a Q-and-A with our correspondent on the Hill, what's she doing?

PHLEGM: Ah, the best for last. I love this one, sir. She's "standing by, live."

BLODGETT AND PEEVISH (TO EACH OTHER IN UNISON): He's got it. By George, he's got it.

(MUSIC UP AND OUT AS ALL THREE DANCE OFF)