Wednesday, Aug. 4
It doesn’t get any better than this.
On Friday, Aug. 6, for an
entire hour, you can watch President George W. Bush sit in a boat on a pond in
Crawford, Tex., and fish for bass.
The Outdoor Life Network will
air a very special episode of Fishing with Roland Martin ,
featuring the award-winning professional bass fisherman. The Bush family
confidante (and official fishing pal of George père ) will be tossing out gossamer line with Dubya in hopes of
bringing in Billy the big-mouthed bass.
Does the President catch one?
“He caught a four-pound bass,
and that’s good for a pond that’s only four years old,” explained Mr. Martin by
phone from his headquarters in Naples, Fla. “He’s pretty astute about the
different patterns and the different
kinds of lures.”
He said Barney, Mr. Bush’s
dog, was there, too.
“Barney the dog was there, and
he was really interested in every fish we caught. He licked on ‘em and
what-all. That was fun. It was actually pretty good fishing for the fact that
we only had an hour and a half.”
Mr. Martin said there was so
much security around that they had a hard time finding a camera angle without
Secret Service people in it. Before Mr. Bush arrived, he said, he had asked a
security official whether he could pee in the woods.
“You can, Roland, if you don’t
mind being photographed,” he was told.
Mr. Martin also said that Mr.
Bush was an authentic red state kinda guy. “He dresses the part,” he said. “He
loves to wear around his Crawford ranch a pair of blue jeans and boots. He
built a lake that he’s quite proud of. There’s special structures that are good
for fish, and he’s placed special weeds in there that are beneficial to fish,
and he’s had a lot of help in balancing the pond with blue gills and bass. He’s
proud of the management. He’s done that. It was his deal.”
All right, so who’s a better
fisherman, Junior or Senior?
“I’ve been around George Sr.
more,” he said. “He’s awful good.”
A lot of reporters have been
asking Mr. Martin and his Florida-based business associate, Walt Reynolds,
about fishing with the Bushes. Mr. Reynolds told NYTV he had just about had it
with liberal snoops.
“We fish and we love to fish,
and George Bush fishes and that’s the end of it,” said Mr. Reynolds. “There’s
always some dirty little Democrat trying to be nasty out there.”
No “fishing for W.M.D.” jokes here, folks!
“He’s such a great guy, and
we enjoy working with him,” said Mr. Reynolds. “It’s a shame that some people
don’t see it that way.”
What about Mr. Kerry?
“I don’t think the man has
ever held a fishing rod in his hand,” he said.
Doesn’t kite-surfing count
for anything? Tonight, Outdoor Life has
a show called Killer Instinct , in which an intrepid host
faces down the world’s most dangerous animals. This episode, oddly enough, is
entitled “Bush Detective.” Hey, don’t look at us!
Thursday, Aug. 5
Tonight, VH1 airs I Love the 70′s again. You know, if
you rub your TV screen really hard, the actual title of this program is
revealed underneath: I Hate the 00′s .
Try it! [VH1, 19, 8 p.m.]
Friday, Aug. 6
Tonight,Barney just won’t stop licking Mr. Bush’s bass! [OLN, 122, 8 p.m.]
Saturday, Aug. 7
Forty-three-year-old Ronnie Simonsen may have the most wildly off-putting-and
yet surprisingly effective-reporting style in the TV-news business.
Last week, when Mr. Simonsen
sought an interview with director Rob Reiner at the Democratic National
Convention, he simply pointed at him in a hotel lobby and yelled out, “Hey,
“I thought he would take
offense at being called Meathead,” recalled Arthur Bradford, the director of a
documentary that stars Mr. Simonsen. “But he had a funny look on his face,
like, ‘Yeah, I’m Meathead.’”
Mr. Simonsen convinced Mr.
Reiner to sing the All in the Family
theme song with him, on the spot, trading verses like Archie and Edith while a
film crew rolled tape. “They sang the song and they did a skit together,” said
Mr. Bradford. “Ronnie did an ad lib there: Instead of saying, ‘We could use a
man like Herbert Hoover again,’ they said ‘John Kerry.’”
Of course, Mr. Simonsen’s
method has its limits. When he scored a few moments with Vermont Governor
Howard Dean, Mr. Simonsen asked him to act out a scene from the 1970′s TV show Medical Center , prompting the governor
with his patented imitation of soap actor Chad Everett.
“He wanted Howard to do a
doctor’s skit, but Howard wasn’t too interested in it,” said Mr. Bradford. “I
think he was very cooperative, but also very reserved. We try to get people to
For a guy with Down syndrome,
Mr. Simonsen was pretty quick on his feet. Ron Reagan Jr. notwithstanding, Mr.
Simonsen and the six-person squad of mentally disabled reporters called the How’s Your News? crew were probably the
strangest sight at the convention. And yet they managed to score more big
interviews than a lot of cable channels, grabbing face time with Hillary
Clinton, Howard Dean, Gen. Wesley Clark, Jerry Springer, Senator Barbara Boxer
and Ben Affleck.
The group was lead by Mr.
Bradford, a fiction writer, camp counselor for the disabled and part-time
documentary maker. With the help of South
Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they produced a feature film
about the crew-Mr. Simonsen, Robert (Bobby) Bird, Sean Costello, Susan
Harrington and Larry Perry-who traveled across the country confronting startled
passers-by on the street, microphones in hand, asking them questions like, “Do
you like chicken?” Recently released on DVD, the film-a delicate balance of
sweet and hilarious-had some traction at film festivals and aired on Cinemax in
The same cast roamed the
floor of the Fleet Center in Boston, and now Mr. Bradford was negotiating with
executives at the NBC Universal–owned cable channel Trio to air the results in
As of this writing, Mr.
Bradford was also negotiating with the Republican National Convention to allow
his crew in. He was quick to point out that the How’s Your News? crew was nonpartisan. They had, for instance,
interviewed both Fox News talker Bill O’Reilly and lefty funny man Al Franken.
Mr. Franken seemed to enjoy
his run-in with Mr. Simonsen, although he was a bit confused by Robert (Bobby)
Bird, a Mickey Rooney look-alike who can’t really enunciate words.
“The first guy was great. He and I actually improvised something
based on a premise,” recalled Mr. Franken. (They performed a Mary Tyler Moore
skit with Mr. Franken as Lou Grant and Mr. Simonsen as Mary, with Grant
ordering Mary back on the convention floor to help Ted.) “He was really smart
and talented. And the second guy just talked complete gibberish, because I
think he was more severely Down-syndromed than the other guy. I said, ‘Well,
O.K., I can’t understand what you’re saying, but go ahead.’ I treated him with
respect in terms of body language and tone and stuff like that. I think it’s
kind of neat.”
Mr. Franken said he’d been
ahead of the curve in trying to bring the mentally disabled to TV. “I actually
suggested in my first year at Saturday
Night Live that we have a Down-syndromed actor host our show,” he
said, referring to Chris Burke, star of Life
Goes On , the late 80′s ABC drama. “I pushed for that, and it never
Mr. Bradford said Mr. O’Reilly was also “very nice” and “he took
us seriously.” Mr. O’Reilly, however, could not be reached for comment.
Jeremy Vest, a recent addition to the news crew who suffers from
Williams syndrome, interviewed Ben Affleck. “He dropped the F-word, which made
Jeremy giggle,” said Mr. Bradford. “I think Ben Affleck knows people with
disabilities, because he seemed very comfortable with the whole situation.”
Susan Harrington, who exhibits the least disability of the group,
interviewed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “She was very good, that little woman,”
said Mr. Blitzer. “We had a cute little exchange. I shook hands with another
man who was very severely handicapped, and I could see they were doing a
documentary, and it was a lovely thing.”
Ms. Harrington, he said, “was asking me some good questions, and
she said, ‘When Kerry wins, what will be the policy on Iraq?’”
Mr. Blitzer tried to explain that Mr. Kerry might not win, so
saying “when” wasn’t exactly right. “She wouldn’t budge. She was determined,”
he said. “I tried to explain to her that he might not win and there was a lot
of time between now and November.
“The thought that went through my mind was: ‘This is the Democrat
convention, and you’ve got all sorts at the Democratic National Convention and
it’s good to talk to all sorts of people,’” he continued. “I answered her
questions as I would answer any journalist’s questions. If Ted Koppel came up
to me and said, ‘ When Kerry wins …’,
I would still say, ‘ If Kerry wins ….
Mr. Koppel wasn’t the only ABC News correspondent getting equal
treatment with How’s Your News? “It
was weird,” said Mr. Franken. “When Sam Donaldson came by, I thought he was one
He waited a beat.
“I’m just joking,” he said,
laughing. “I like Sam a lot. I’m just giving him shit.”
Tonight, on Nightline , Mr. Koppel asks Senator Kerry to help him act out some scenes from Alice . [WABC, 7, 11:15 p.m.]
Sunday, Aug. 8
Pitch to Fox executives: The Simple Life 3 , Episode No. 1: “Baghdad or Bust.”
Paris and Nicole accessorize for a trip to Iraq, but run into
trouble with radical Islamic rubes, who alternate between cursing the
Western-corrupted pair and making out with them. Will Bush pull out of Iraq to
save America’s sweethearts? Audience votes by phone.
Tonight, the less-entertaining precursor: The
Simple Life 2: Road Trip . [FOX,
5, 9 p.m.]
Monday, Aug. 9
Tonight, Trio re-airs Outlaw Comic: The Censoring of Bill Hicks , which recounts how the late
comedian and bitter social critic was censored from CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman after telling a few jokes about
pro-lifers and fundamentalist Christians. The barred material is here, but not
the actual performance, which CBS has never released. [TRIO, 102, 10 p.m.]
Pitch to Fox executives: Hannity and Hilton .
Description: Blind Date meets BREAKING NEWS.
Episode No. 1: Sean Hannity meets Paris Hilton for a blind date
at Chi-Chi’s, but trouble ensues when they’re both kidnapped by Islamic
terrorists, who demand the U.S. pull out of Iraq or the love-struck couple will
suffer the consequences. Mr. Hannity, via grainy video: “Mr. Bush, I know what
I’ve been saying on TV, but listen …. “
Very short season, perfect for summer.
Later, Alan Colmes pleads with the terrorists to return that $5
Mr. Hannity owes him. [FNC, 46, 9 p.m.]
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