News - Talk ain't cheap

Mr. Clinton goes to Hollywood

__"Welcome to L.A., Mr. Former President."

"Please, just call me Bill. We're friends, after all, and that way you won't need to use the word 'former.' Not a big fan of that word right now."

"Well, I am very, very sorry. Have you had a good visit so far?"

"You bet. My DreamWorks golfing buddies are out here, the women are flat gorgeous, and I just can't get enough of this In-N-Out Burger. I mean, I inhale that stuff."

"That's great. Well, the network is very eager to hear what you have in mind."

"Super. So here's the deal: When I'm not out giving the same speech over and over again to people with far more money than sense, I watch a little daytime talk — OK, a lot of daytime talk.

"Thing is, there's nothing to it. Nothing. You just stand there, keep your eye on the camera, and act like you care about people. I've been doing that for years."

"The daytime talk market is certainly opening up."

"I know, I know. With Rosie and Sally Jessy packing it in and Oprah set to retire in 2005, there are some big pumps to fill. And who's gonna fill 'em? Maury Povich? Mr. Connie Chung? No, it'll take someone with a little more gravitas than that."

"Would you have a desk like Letterman ... or just sit there like Merv Griffin?"

"Neither. Remember how I tore up Daddy Bush and the Little General in the '92 debates? Well, that's my format. I want to get out there with the people, like Donahue and Geraldo."

"What sort of topics would you cover?"

"All the classics. Makeovers, eating disorders, bisexual love triangles — anything that strikes an emotional chord. Because making an emotional connection is what it's all about."

"Very true."

"How do you think I got elected? Back in '92, they couldn't have kept me on my debate stool if they'd sewn my pants to it. I was constantly popping up, going over to these poor saps and caring my butt off."

"But that was 10 years ago."

"Just like wooing a woman: Once you've got it, you never forget. Just watch me emote for a sec ..."

"Wow. I'd forgotten how good you were."

"And just think: You're a man. Everyone knows I've got enhanced power over women. I simply bite my lower lip, raise my eyebrows and look very, very concerned. Chicks lap it up."

"How would we keep them coming back for more?"

"Give 'em what they want, appeal to their base instincts, put on a show. Don't you remember the spectacle when I was in office?"

"I sure do. And, frankly, if we could pack that kind of sex and scandal into a daytime talker, we'd have a national phenomenon on our hands."

"Try international. The Europeans love me and the boys in China are big fans, particularly after I let the folks at Loral and Hughes fix their ICBMs. I'd be bigger than Hasselhoff overseas."

"I'm sold. Let's talk dollars."

"Well, as you know, I've been in public service my whole life, I've never made much money, and I've had to defend myself against dozens of baseless lawsuits. Bottom line: I need 50 million a year."

"That's pretty steep, but I think we can work something out. After all, Hollywood takes care of our own, and you're certainly one of us."

"Thanks a lot. You don't know how much that means to me."

"Of course, I should let you know that we would have a pretty rigorous schedule, taping 39 weeks a year."

"Thirty-nine weeks? I was thinking more like 39 days. I mean, I've got things to do. Who's going to keep talking about how I almost got bin Laden? Who's going to supervise the writing of my memoirs? Who's going to walk the dog in Chappaqua?"

"Honestly, Bill, I don't know. But that's the way we do things."

"Hmm. Well, I'll need to run all this all by my wife, of course."

"Of course. Just let us know what she decides."



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