Donahue on Death Row

May 26, 1994|By Art Buchwald

I KNEW it would come to this sooner or later -- Phil Donahue is asking a North Carolina court to grant him permission to videotape the June 15 execution of convicted murderer David Lawson.

This would be a first for the talk shows and Oprah and Geraldo are gnashing their teeth that their booking agents hadn't thought of it first.

I can't wait to see the Donahue broadcast because the show should set off sparks.

The entire program will have to be moved to Death Row Studio A at the prison and the audience will be bussed in.

The show will probably go something like this: The condemned man is brought into the room, he hugs Phil and then takes his seat in the electric chair as everyone applauds.

Phil has control of the mike. "How do you feel, David?"

"What do you mean how do I feel?"

"Nervous, squeamish, remorseful -- what's going on with you knowing that in less than one hour you will fry?"

"I didn't do it."

"Right."

Then Phil runs up the stairs. "This lady here."

"I saw 'Hard Copy' and I think that David is a skunk. I hope he gets a thousand volts for each crime he committed."

The audience applauds and Phil sticks his mike out.

"The gentleman over here."

The man speaks. "I'm against capital punishment and I think that Before they pull the switch: lights, camera, action!

this whole show is a farce."

The audience boos.

Phil runs down the stairs and says to Lawson, "Did you ever think that you would wind up in the hot seat?"

"Probably when I was a kid, but it was just a fantasy."

"Maybe you should have listened to your mother."

"I know I should have listened to her before my lawyer."

Phil runs back up the stairs and sticks the mike into a lady's face.

"Is it true that they give you a good meal before they pull the switch?"

Lawson responds, "That's what they tell you but I found out that it wasn't true. I asked for a medium-rare steak and they served it well-done. I complained to the warden and he said that it was up to the governor to decide if I could send it back to the kitchen. The governor refused. So I was stuck with a tough steak. The apple pie was pretty good but I passed up the coffee because I didn't want it to keep me awake."

Phil jumps over three rows of guests and a man grabs his mike, "Is there any chance of you getting a pardon?"

David says, "I hope so, even though it might ruin the sweeps for Phil's show."

The man says, "Phil, do you even care if the murderer gets a pardon?"

"The show goes on whether he gets electrocuted or not. David, what would you like the governor to give you right now?"

"Oprah's cookbook."

6* Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist

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