On the mettle to meddle with medals


February 24, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

The Winter Olympics are over, but there is one more set of medals to be awarded -- for the television coverage. And I'm just the guy to do it.

OK, maybe I'm not the guy to do it. But I'm the guy who's going to do it. So there.

In the spirit of the Olympic movement, no network flag will be raised when the award winners mount the platform. And because all the versions of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" are still in Albertville, instead the winners will hear a recording of Arnold Stang reciting Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (yeah, I know, about $2.50 an hour).

On to the winners:

The "You Can Keep Your Hat On" aluminum medal for sartorial consistency: To CBS' Sean McDonough, who opened every bobsled and luge segment wearing the same spiffy hat. It wouldn't have anything to do with his hair line, would it? McDonough's bobsled and luge colleague Lesley Visser was an early contender, but she often appeared without that Dr. Zhivago furry number.

The Godfather of Soul platinum medal for best smile in the face of idiocy: To CBS' James Brown, for enduring U.S. skater Christopher Bowman. During the opening ceremony, Brown spoke to Bowman, who lamely joked about not being interviewed by the other James Brown. You don't suppose the announcer ever heard that one before, do you?

The Ted Turner Colorization zirconium medal for set decoration: To TNT, which made its Atlanta anchors, Nick Charles and Fred Hickman, look as if they were in Albertville. Meanwhile, as several others have pointed out, CBS' Tim McCarver and Paula Zahn, who were in France, appeared to be broadcasting from Manhattan.

The ? and the Mysterians "96 Tears" rusty tin medal for maudlin zealousness: To CBS, for wringing whatever emotion was left in the Dan Jansen story, even when the speed skater himself seemed far beyond the events of 1988.

The Mickey Mouse Watch nickel medal for time travel: To TNT, which had to wait until the next day -- after CBS had its turn -- to show important events. That put TNT as many as 30 hours behind.

The Cold as Ice crystal medal for automaton anchoring: To CBS' Jim Nantz, who wasn't melted in the least by effusive weekend co-anchor Andrea Joyce. You want machine-like efficiency? Nantz has it. You want warmth? Go sit by the fireplace on Pat O'Brien's set. Jim, taking off the tie yesterday didn't help.

The Snooze Alarm down-filled medal for wasting a resource: To CBS, for marooning one of its best announcers, Greg Gumbel, in the weekday morning show, which aired 7 to 9. Gumbel should have been on in prime time. If McCarver had to be so dull, he should have done it in the morning, when we could have gone back to sleep.

The Calling St. George sulphur medal for sitcom exposure: To those ubiquitous promos for "Scorch," a new CBS series about a dragon, which might do the impossible: make viewers miss "ALF."

The Ozzie and Harriet Nielsen cardigan medal for long attention span: To me, for faithfully updating the Olympics ratings each day. And you didn't think you were going to get away without those numbers today, did you? Saturday night's prime-time numbers for CBS were a 17.0 rating and 30 share. Through 15 nights, CBS averaged 19.1/30, 3 percent lower than ABC during 1988's Calgary Games. A rating measures the percentage of all television homes watching a program. A share measures the percentage among homes where television is in use.

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