Jewish World Review Oct. 10, 2002 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
Networks cancel sitcoms, dramas; will
air Bush foreign policy speeches
TV nets make about-face as Bush Iraq speech hits ratings jackpot
The major television networks, who elected not to air President Bush's speech on
Iraq Monday night, have done a quick about-face upon learning that the President's
speech attracted 17 million viewers, trouncing the nets' entertainment offerings.
ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox all announced today that they were canceling their new fall
sitcoms and dramas and replacing them with foreign policy speeches by President
Bush, effective immediately.
"Right now, President Bush talking about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass
destruction is ratings gold," said President of NBC Entertainment Jeff Zucker, who is
considering President Bush's speeches as a possible replacement for "Friends,"
now in its last season.
Some TV insiders, however, say that a constant diet of President Bush talking about
Iraq could run the risk of overexposure.
"You could wind up turning George W. Bush into the next Regis Philbin," one insider
In the U.S. Senate, Democratic leader Tom Daschle raised concerns that President
Bush's new role as a Nielsen powerhouse could distract him from the war on
"Producing a full slate of primetime programming is more than the President of the
United States should be asked to handle," Senator Daschle said. "This is a job for
David E. Kelley."
But NBC's Zucker, who has received drafts of the President's next five Iraq
speeches, said that he is confident that President Bush will rout all other
programming in the crucial November "sweeps" period.
"His next Iraq speech is in great shape," Mr. Zucker said. "I have almost no
suggestions for changes, although I do think it could use a stronger joke right at the
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JWR Contributor Andy Borowitz, a former president of the Harvard Lampoon, is a regular humor columnist for Newsweek.com, The New Yorker, The New York Times and TV Guide. Recognized by Esquire magazine as one of the most powerful producers in television, he was the creator and producer of the hit TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and producer of the Oscar-nominated film Pleasantville. He is the author, most recently, of "Trillionaire Next Door: The Greedy Investor's Guide to Day Trading" and "Rationalizations to Live By". Comments by clicking here. Visit his website by clicking here.
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© 2002, Andy Borowitz