In praise of repurposing

Inspired by TV's 'Ally,' we find that half a loaf is better than one

Observations

October 03, 1999|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff

Our TV creator, David E. Kelley, who produces and writes all daily network programming (except Saturday's), now gives us another creation in the skinny form of "Ally" -- a half-hour version of his hourlong dramedy "Ally McBeal."

The stripped-down versions of previously aired "McBeal" episodes even have a catchy show business name: "repurposed materials," as Fox calls them. David E. Kelley -- whose repurposed name could be just "Kelley" -- can't help but find more creative ways to enhance our television pleasure.

But why stop with "Ally"? So much else in life could be cut back, too. Other TV shows, movies, books, songs, relationships, teeth-cleanings, newspaper features ... the list is long, too long. The list should be shorter, like this:

* "Monday Night Football": In its repurposed form, only Al Michaels would be heard on the broadcast. Boomer is out. Games, of course, would conclude at halftime.

* "Saturday Night Live": Finally, after 25 years, all those skits that go on too long will be cut in half.

* "Grazed By What May or May Not Have Been an Angel": While promising to shorten its title, creator David E. Kelley brings us a half-hour version of the curiously popular drama "Touched By an Angel." Now helpless, Della Reese sees her career go straight to h-e-... (bad word repurposed, so no double hockey sticks.)

* "Seinfeld": In another bold programming move, David E. Kelley executes the first "triple repurposing." Syndicated "Seinfeld" episodes will be reduced from 30 minutes to 15, then to 7.5 and finally to 3.75 minutes which, after the commercials, leaves .75 minutes for exactly one catch phrase.

* "Star Wars Episode 1/2 ": In gratitude for the multitude of parents who sat through nearly three hours of the new "Star Wars" movie, George Lucas (in conjunction with David E. Kelley) presents "Episode 1/2 ," in which an actual plot surfaces.

* "Simon Sez": Here's the one exception to repurposing. Dennis Rodman's new movie should not have one frame cut. Some art forms should be exempt from creative tampering.

* "A Man in Half": In his foray into publishing, David E. Kelley repurposes Tom Wolfe's best-seller "A Man in Full."

* "Hey": The Beatles' "Hey Jude" becomes a three-minute Top 40 hit with none of that incessant "make it ... better, better, better, BETTER, BETTER, BETTER ... AGGGGHHHHHHH!"

* Marriage: In David E. Kelley's vision, your basic marriage would be repurposed into lively half-hour episodes featuring the music of Vonda Shepard and miniskirts half their original size.

* "The": Also inspired by "Ally," The Sun will begin publishing a repurposed newspaper called The. A prototype issue of The includes stories on politics (Democratic only), sports (thrice-weekly Cal Ripken updates -- down from the current 12), columnist Susan Reimer (just her first and last paragraphs), and highly crafted, narrative features repurposed into 3-inch briefs.

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