Friday, January 04, 2008

Regis Philbin Glimpses Left

Mikaela says:
I haven't been so amused in a while. Democracy Now is such a mainstay source of my daily news that I barely remember a time before... B.A.G. -- before Amy Goodman.

But when the Iraq War was threatening, I'd wait all day for the show to come on and then huddle around the radio like I imagined people did for WWII... She had me at "protest."

Regis Phillbin discovered Amy Goodman at a dinner party hosted by Phil Donahue & Marlo Thomas! To his eventual horror, he was seated next to Amy, and when he turned to her and asked politely what she did for a living, she answered, “We cover global events.”

Here's him sharing his discovery with co-star, Kelly on their version of a daily talk show:

REGIS: Well, now, excuse me, but what am I going to have in common with someone who covers global news?

KELLY: [sarcastic] What is the global news?

REGIS: The beautiful baby contest? That ain’t going to do it! Santa Claus getting pawed? No! I’ve got nothing in common.

KELLY: Yes. I know what you’re saying. I’ve been there. I’ve been in that anxiety situation, where you realize that you are the weak link at the table...

REGIS: You may be better known than anyone else, because they see you every day on television, but what have we got to say? Nothing.

KELLY: Nothing.

REGIS: We’ve got nothing to say. "So, what do you do?" We talk about nothing.

KELLY: Mm-hmm. And then it’s sweet, though, because like heady people who are very accomplished—

REGIS: Very smart, very sharp.

KELLY:—they’re very good at like, you know, sounding interested, or like, “Well, it must be fascinating, what you’re doing.” I’m like, “It’s very fun. We had hot toys on yesterday. And then, today we’re going to make our own shirts out of waste.”

REGIS: You’re absolutely right. You realize then—

KELLY: You’re lacking contribution.

REGIS:—what you are doing? You’re doing nothing!

KELLY: Nothing! Gosh, how can you stand us? [To audience.]

REGIS: It’s just so sad. It really is. Anyway—

You really have to watch the whole reported exchange here. It's very funny. And classic.

But after you watch it, you realize they have a huge number of viewers, combined with the huge viewer-ship (is that a word?) of other shows just like it -- vacuous, fluffy, oblivious shows about ... nothing. And then there's Amy Goodman with a steadily growing but still small in comparison listener-ship, on "one of the PBS stations" as Regis points out off-handedly. And you think ... what is wrong with this picture?

People just really don't want to know. Even my boss the other day wished that there were no global news so that we didn't have to be depressed about all the horrible things happening around the world. I said, "Being depressed is the least we can do in exchange for the relative comfort and luxury that we take for granted every day. It's our responsibility to bear witness." What I didn't say is that going one step further -- doing something about what happens -- is the really courageous act that some of us sacrifice and some of us are privileged enough to do.

And then there's Regis & Kelly, raking in the bucks, momentarily embarrassed that their whole lives "contribute nothing." Oy.