The news is out, and it's not good

Kevin Cowherd

April 03, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

The 11 o'clock news:

11 -- Breezy opening theme. Splashy montage of life in the big city interspersed with grainy high school yearbook-like shots of news team personalities. Anchorman appears to be gazing at the ceiling and smiling. Anchorwoman seems to be studying her shoes and smiling. Weather guy is smiling. Sports guy is smiling. Memo to news director: Might be time to ease staff off those prescription sedatives.

Music fades. Suddenly a voice intones: "NEWS IS OUR BUSINESS! OUR ONLY BUSINESS!" Hoo, boy. Fasten seat belts.

11:01 -- Uh-oh. Both anchors look grim. Lead story is a man who shot two passers-by and barricaded himself in his house. Interviews with shaken neighbors reveal he was "quiet" and "pretty much kept to himself." Boss says he was a model employee. Landlord says he always paid the rent on time.

"Clearly," says reporter at the scene in standard-issue trench coat, "Vincent J. LaTrec was a walking time bomb. Unfortunately, he picked today to explode. Now back to the studio."

11:04 -- More bad news: Another homicide. Victim wore three beepers, expensive rings on each finger and had $10,000 stuffed in one pocket. Answered to street name "Dr. Feelgood." Reporter at scene says slaying may be "drug-related. Now back to the studio."

11:06 -- New revelations about Bill Clinton. Democratic presidential front-runner now admits to underage beer drinking, but claims he "didn't swallow it." Exhausted and weeping at news conference, Clinton begs to be publicly flogged. Contacted for a reaction, Jerry Brown offers to have six-inch spikes driven into the palms of his own hands.

11:08 -- Here's a story you gotta love, says anchorwoman. Puppy lost at a rest stop along I-95 in Delaware walks 300 miles to rejoin family in Virginia! Anchorman appears misty-eyed.

"I had a puppy once," he says, voice breaking. "Queenie. Best dog I . . ."

Anchorwoman rolls her eyes and says: "We'll be right back."

11:10 -- News is progressively more depressing. A plane crash in Hong Kong. Four dead in Gaza after rioting. Opposition fighting flares anew in Azerbaijan. Anchorman seems pale and shaken. Genuine concern for Azerbaijani refugees? Or painful memories of Queenie still flooding back?

11:12 -- Health reporter is up next. Nutritionists at Johns Hopkins University now recommend the average American triple his or her yearly intake of legumes. Off-camera, anchorwoman asks floor director: What's a legume?

11:15 -- Weather is next. Weather guy launches into detailed explanation of high-pressure system sweeping down from Canadian Rockies. Keep an eye on this low-pressure system off the Gulf of Mexico, he adds. I have one question: Is it gonna rain tomorrow?

11:16 -- Weather guy drones on about flooding in Ohio, 12 inches of snow in Buffalo, a crop-killing frost in Florida. He goes to weather map. He goes to cloud cover map. In a wistful aside, weather guy says: "Y'know, I had a puppy when I was a kid, too. Little cocker spaniel named Snowball." Anchorman can be seen dabbing at his eyes with a Kleenex.

11:17 -- "Here's the five-day forecast," says the weather guy. What, so soon?

11:20 -- Movie review of "My Cousin Vinny" starring Joe Pesci. Reviewer says he found it tasteless and contrived. I make a mental note to go see movie right away. Given reviewer's track record, film will be up for an Oscar next year.

11:23 -- Time for sports. Sports guy's blazer looks like it was fished out of a Goodwill bin. Anchorman says: "Big night in the NBA, huh?" Sports guy says: "All the highlights next plus spring training news, the PGA tournament, and a Michael Jordan dunk you gotta see to believe!" Anchor guy nods enthusiastically; last basketball game he watched was during Kennedy administration. During commercial break, he asks floor director: "Who's Michael Jordan?"

11:25 -- "Here we go!" says sports guy. We're speeding dizzily now through tape of Knicks-Celtics, Orioles-White Sox exhibition, Fred Couples sinking 25-foot putt. Suddenly tape shows a drunken hockey fan taking off his pants. "Hey, look!" says sports guy. "Our own Ted Morris was in the stands!" Anchorman laughs good-naturedly, but remark will provoke fist fight with sports guy in parking lot after the show.

11:30 -- Closing theme. Anchorman promises an update tomorrow on "that remarkable puppy story." Anchorwoman flashes icy smile and says: "Good night, everybody." Camera pulls back to reveal all four members of news team smiling and chatting amiably. Inadvertent open microphone captures female voice saying " . . . cares about your stupid dog, anyway? I can't believe you . . . "

Credits roll.

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