Tired of Tonya? Of course not!

February 18, 1994|By KEVN COWHERD

Some troublemaker asked the other day if I was sick of hearing about Tonya and Nancy, and of course I said no.

"Are you a communist?" I asked her.

She seemed startled by this.

"What you're saying sounds dangerously subversive," I said. "If I were you, I'd keep that kind of wacko talk to myself."

If anything, I told her, there should be more coverage of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan controversy.

It's an absolute disgrace that they don't have their own 24-hour cable channel ("All Tonya! All Nancy! All the time!").

And there's no reason they shouldn't have their own their radio talk show, where the two, in between taking verbal shots at each other, could discuss the Clinton health plan, the situation in North Korea, etc.

And where are the books?

I keep hearing that a couple of those weepy instant books ("Rush to Glory: The Sad Tale of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan") are on the way.

But then you go to the book store looking for a little light reading about Nancy's knee-capping, and there's nothing there except trash like John Updike's new novel and stacks of books from Joyce Carol Oates.

I'll tell you, there's something very wrong with our society when a hack like Updike gets published and the Tonya-Nancy story isn't even in print.

What cracks me up is all the talk about how this Tonya-Nancy business is bad for the Winter Olympics, because it overshadows the achievements of the other athletes and blah, blah, blah.

Please. Give me a break. Tonya and Nancy are the best thing to happen to these Games since they started serving booze in the media center.

Look at the TV ratings. The ratings are going through the roof compared with the '92 Games in Albertville.

You think people in this country are tuning in to hear how some skinny guy named Sven did in the men's biathlon?

You think they're sitting there riveted by the cross-country skiing like all those crazy, flag-waving Norwegians?

Are you kidding? Americans are watching because they're fired up about Tonya and Nancy. They want to see how this whole crazy business plays out in Lillehammer, who wins, who loses, who comes at whom with a Louisville Slugger in her hands.

You ask me, without Tonya and Nancy on the scene, the other winter athletes wouldn't be getting half as much attention.

If I'm a CBS producer, I'm already thinking of some way we can have an athlete's knee whacked for the '96 Summer Games in Atlanta.

The scandal is also the best thing that could have happened to these two women.

Nancy Kerrigan's picture has been on every magazine cover in the country. There's a TV movie about her ordeal in the works, and she's got a movie deal with Disney all worked out. Plus she's got her own Campbell's soup commercial, along with dozens of other promotional offers.

If someone whacks her on the other knee, she may never have to work another day in her life.

Tonya Harding is an even hotter story, if that's possible.

If it turns out that she wasn't in on her ex-husband 's plot to kneecap Nancy -- and to me, this is sort of like Mrs. John Gotti telling the feds, "No, he never mentioned what line of work he was in" -- she'll emerge from this a full-fledged martyr.

She'll have so many offers for her story that she'll be taking her money to the bank in duffel bags.

Even if she's found guilty and they throw her in the slammer for a couple of years, she'll have made a nice chunk of change in the meantime.

And if either Tonya or Nancy happens to luck out and a win a gold medal at these Games . . . well, you can take whatever cash they've made so far and multiply it times 10.

Meanwhile, CBS is milking the controversy for all it's worth.

The network has even gone so far as to have Connie Chung -- who is not exactly Lt. Columbo when it comes to asking tough questions -- trail Tonya for the past week or so.

The other night I saw footage of an interview taped on Tonya's flight to Norway, during which Ms. Chung lobbed a variation of the old softball: "How do you feel?"

Tonya said she felt fine. Later, Nancy's coach said his skater was feeling fine, too.

There is to be an update on this situation later today when, if all goes as expected, the two skaters will still be feeling fine.

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