Word's worth

January 31, 1996|By Linda L.S. Schulte

ANDY WARHOL was wrong. Everyone won't just have 15 minutes of fame. One day -- soon, I suspect -- we all will have our very own talk shows.

What a proliferation of pundits and pontificators we have already. Even with Phil retiring, we've got Oprah, Geraldo, Sally Jessy, Jenny, Maury, Faith, Charley, Montel, Leeza . . . Leeza? Who are these people and what, aside from loose lips, gives them the talent to pose as talk-show hosts?

Some became talk-show hosts because they failed at other slots, like, say, news anchor.

''Sorry, Faith, but since you were unable to read the carefully orchestrated, prepared scripts given to you, we're now going to put you in front of a live audience and to spontaneous questions of great substance.''

That makes sense to me.

The unbridled explosion of talk-show hosts obviously leaves talk shows pressed for unique talk-show subjects. That's why we have such thought-provoking themes as ''disabled comics,'' ''women with cup sizes of G and up'' and men who slept with their baby sitters.''

OK, you're a cynic

Now, slap me and call me a cynic, but if these are the best messages for this glorious medium, then the late Marshall McLuhan, wherever he is now, must be reduced to thumb-sucking.

Frankly, it's my belief that talk shows have led to the demise of independent thinking in this country. Politicians prefer to talk up a subject instead of taking action on it. Voters prefer to be talked to than to do the talking. We've moved from an active to a passive republic. Our lives -- much like talk shows -- have become spectator sports.

The sad part is that, since the talk-show format is a phenomenon of recent origin, all those great people missed opportunities for being the perfect talk-show host: Tom Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt (fireside talks?), Dorothy Parker, Perle Mesta. . . .

Visionaries can only imagine the future for talk-show formats. What is the future for the Talk Show cable channel? Imagine, talk-show hosts from 6 in the morning until 2 a.m.

Eighteen different shows a day . . . seven days a week . . . 126 possibilities. . . .

Maybe that's when I'll get mine.

Linda L.S. Schulte is live and on location in Laurel.

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