Maury Povich was just another steely-eyed news anchor until sensationalism came to call in the mid-1980s. The show was the tabloidy "A Current Affair," a muckraking syndicated program that offered tantalizing stories on cheerleader hookers and mass murderers who crochet. Mr. Povich's booming bass voice made him a perfect candidate to read aloud the segment's sordid intros. The show became so popular, of course, that Mr. Povich left it. What personality in America today, if offered his or her own talk show, wouldn't jump at the chance?
And so today we have "The Maury Povich Show," a syndicated talk show, that is doing very well in the ratings. During a recent break in shooting, Mr. Povich talked about his show and his wife, television newswoman Connie Chung.
Q: Have you noticed that everyone in America seems to have his own talk show?
A: I know. It's because talk shows, if they are a hit, are so profitable. To me, a talk show is to TV what baseball is to sports. They are a national American pastime.
Q: Who's one person in the world you would never want to see as a talk-show host?
A: George Bush. Talk-show hosts don't use cue cards, and he'd be lost without them.
Q: If you could have a dream guest appear on your show, who would it be?
A: Greta Garbo.
Q: But she's dead.
A: Exactly. Wouldn't that be a great scoop?
Q: Who did you believe: Clarence Thomas, or Anita Hill?
A: I had a lot of sympathy for Anita. It's not that I don't believe him, but I think all the criticism of her was because people do not understand about sexual harassment, how it can be hidden within the soul.
Q: Have you ever been sexually harassed?
A: (Laughs.) I can seriously say, no one ever ever ever asked me for sexual favors in the newsroom.
Q: Have you ever sexually harassed someone?
A: I did it the other day, in a way. Eighty percent of my staff are women, and I am a big hugger. I put my arm around my producer. And then, suddenly, I thought to ask if that was unwanted. She said, "If it was unwanted, I would tell you." I'm really aware of this issue now. We had a show not too long ago on backup dancers of rock 'n' roll stars, and we had posters up, and I looked at 'em and ripped 'em down.
Q: Who are the three women in the world that you most admire?
A: That I admire? Barbara Bush I admire a lot, for having to put up with that kind of notoriety. Let's see . . . You don't want to hear the three women I fantasize about, huh?
Q: That's much more interesting to me, actually. Who are they?
A: (A giggle.) Other than Annette Bening?
Q: Annette is one. Who's two and three? And you can't mention Connie.
A: I can't mention Connie? Oh, God! Let's see . . . who do I fantasize about? The girl [Jeannine Turner] on "Northern Exposure" is one, that's for sure. Julia Roberts is another. But actually, I think Connie knows about my fantasies about these women. Although I don't think she knows about Annette Bening. [Warren Beatty's co-star in "Bugsy," the mob movie set for Christmas release]. Connie used to be friends with Warren Beatty, you see, and Annette is pregnant with Warren's child.