Tesh's brazen gushing is out of this world

Media Watch

July 26, 1996|By Milton Kent

Apparently, there is a group of otherwise logical people among us who believe that former "Entertainment Tonight" anchor John Tesh is an alien from outer space. The tabloids have reported it, and Tesh acknowledged on a recent talk show that the story was out there.

Alas, the rumors aren't true, but the aliens could hardly have picked a better candidate to numb the world, or at least the United States, for subsequent conquest than Tesh, based on his work for NBC this week.

Tesh, who covered cycling and gymnastics in earlier days at CBS and NBC, has sputtered inanity after inanity, tossed in hype and added a few inconsistencies to spew a toxic brew at viewers as lead announcer on gymnastics.

He has been thoroughly over the top in gushing platitudes and attempting to extract drama from almost every situation, virtually engulfing his colleagues, Elfi Schlegal and Tim Daggett, along the way.

Tesh's jingoistic call of the scene after Kerri Strug's final vault Tuesday night was right out of the Brent Musburger Book of Overannouncing, although he did attempt a more reflective approach in last night's women's all-around finals.

Tesh, an accomplished musician whose weepy pieces have accompanied the coverage, was apparently brought on to reprise his Barcelona assignment because of his supposed appeal to women.

That rather sexist proposition presumes that women are suckers for a pretty face and a great voice and want Tesh's style over, say, Dick Enberg's substance.

Of course, that's exactly the strategy you would employ if you were an alien commander planning an attack of Earth.

Mission successful, John. Return to base.

Soon.

The good

At the top of last night's prime-time telecast, NBC stayed commercial-free for the first 27 minutes to show viewers the women's 800-meter freestyle swim race and the men's 50-meter race in their entireties. It was a rarity in American commercial television, a time when audiences could savor a moment without the crassness of ads to interrupt it.

The bad

Of course, with all that uninterrupted time, there was plenty of opportunity for crassness, and neither Dan Hicks nor Summer Sanders disappointed.

Hicks' lead-in to the 800, billed as the farewell to the career of Janet Evans, was incredibly mawkish and maudlin, which is saying a lot, considering most of the features and setups we've seen have been sappy, syrupy and loaded with saccharine.

As for Sanders, who truly means well, her shameless rooting for Evans was inexplicable and unforgivable.

NBC officials promised that the words "we" and "us" would have no place in their Olympics booths, yet Sanders did it twice, during Evans' qualifying race Wednesday and again last night. If she's going to have a future in this business, someone had better give her some quick lessons in professionalism.

Pub Date: 7/26/96

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