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Capitol Chatter from Roger Locust Amherst III ... All The News We're In a Fit to Print

Where's the New Stuff? 

Here's a classic example of the perils of trying to save a few bucks on 
advertising.  We spotted this just south of Sarasota, Florida in July 1999:

Clinton Responds to Starr Summons of Staff

(March 3, 1998, Washington, DC, NNS) With aide after aide called in front of Ken Starr's Grand Jury, an anonymous source in the White House says that President Clinton is, "Mad as hell and not going to take it any more."  With close friend and advisor Vernon Jordan settling in for an extended visit with Starr's panel, the White House has been pondering its next move.

Despite the President's anger, the mood in the White House has improved considerably during the past few weeks.  Staffers who only recently complained about being kept in the dark and "waiting for the next shoe to drop," are now actually grateful they know considerably less about the Lewinsky matter than, say, Jordan.

Even the issue of Executive Privilege evokes less anxiety these days. Once White House spin doctors were terrified that use of Executive Privilege would bring a public outcry of "Cover up!" Most now believe that the majority of Americans know more at this point about Mr. Clinton's sexual proclivities than they care to, and in all likelihood would be grateful for anything that might literally cover up the sordid details of oral sex and adultery.

One sure sign of a change in the air is President Clinton's selection of a new National Security Advisor.  Following a trip to the New York Gala celebrating the 75th birthday of Time magazine, Clinton returned to Washington with a new friend he'd made at the party.  Some feel it's something of a bad joke, but President Clinton for now says he's, "Serious, dead serious," about making Jack Kevorkian privy to the most intimate details of the Lewinsky affair.

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President Clinton's new National Security Advisor has a message for Special Prosecutor Ken Starr:
"Go ahead:  I got something for your subpoena right here, Kenny Boy!"

CBS Attempts to Thaw Olympics Rating Freeze

(Feb. 18th, New York, NY, NNS) Q: What does "Nagano" mean in Japanese?  A: "Want to rent a video?" So goes the joke that strikes terror in the hearts of CBS executives.

When is a hit not a hit? When it's too darn expensive, as anyone in the entertainment industry will tell you.  For months before its release, Hollywood fretted over the $200,000,000 budget for "Titanic", which is on target now to become one of the top two box-office movies of all time.  But it HAD to be, since anything less would never have paid back its enormous production budget and marketing campaign.

CBS faces a similar problem with the Olympics, having paid handsomely for the right to telecast speed skaters, women's hockey, and enough figure skaters to populate half of Iowa.  Complicating the situation is the time zone differences between Japan and the U.S. that guarantee that many events must be presented by tape delay or at odd hours.  The initial results haven't been that promising, with Neilson ratings a whopping 37% below those of the Lillehammer games of two years ago.

So, how do you guarantee that it will be a Hit, with a capital "H"?  There are some tried and true strategies:

A what?  It turns out that CBS drove a hard bargain with the International Olympics Committee, including the right to award a special, officially sanctioned medal as part of the telecasts.  A real gold medal. 

Of course, this kind of agreement can't come without strings.  You can't, for example, award a People's Choice gold medal for Figure Skating, or even for Snowboarding, for that matter.  The IOC wouldn't hear of any medal which would directly or indirectly compete with the actual Olympic events.  And, for its part, CBS knew that just giving the audience MORE of what they already tuned in to watch wouldn't grow the audience.

Extensive market research revealed that while viewers appreciated the atheletes, they couldn't directly identify with them, no matter how many Olympic Moment soft-focus memories they'd absorbed.  So CBS has decided that the medal will be a People's Choice Pentathlon, allowing a variety of competitions, stretching out the broadcast time, and achieving a pleasing alliteration in the event's name. 

So, check out the People's Choice Pentathlon this Saturday on CBS, when host Bill Cosby will lead a field of the leading Olympic athetheles as they compete in events like an Olympic Pizza feed, a high speed through the snow-covered roads of Nagano, give Scott Hamilton a wedgie, the ever-popular donkey basketball, and a special Super Mario Skiing video game developed especially for the Olympics by Nintendo.  Capping the evening will be the awarding of the medal by satellite by David Letterman, including Paul Schaefer singing specially composed "alternative anthems" for the winning countries.

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