I want to tell you a story about my favorite episode of Newhart, Bob Newhart’s second sitcom. In this series, Bob was a humble Vermont inkeeper named Dick Louden, who, as the show’s producers searched for sharks to jump, became a host of a local cable TV talk show. (They never jumped that shark, by the way. The best episodes came after Dick started his TV gig.)
Dick kept his show low-key and respectable, as PBS as possible, against the wishes of his cheesy, more FOX-like producer, Michael (my hero, Peter Scolari). Dick’s idol was newsman Edwin Newman, and in the episode I’m going to tell you about, he actually books Newman as a guest. But Newman cancels at the last minute, and the fill-in guest is a phony spoon-bending psychic from the mall. Grumpy about losing his A-list guest for this clown, Dick calls the psychic a “weenie” on air. In typical Bob Newhart style, this is the extent of him blowing his cool, and afterward, he’s mortified at his momentary breach of journalistic decorum.
To his surprise, though, ratings go through the roof, and before long, his producer is intentionally booking lunatic guests who will bait Dick into calling them “weenies”. They even add a peanut gallery of overhyped audience members chanting, “WEE-NIE! WEE-NIE! WEE-NIE!”
Dick gets caught up in the spectacle and basically morphs into Jerry Springer, though I should add that this was four years before Jerry Springer’s talk show debuted. This was satire at its finest, people.
Have I mentioned that I love this show?
Well, I always thought that I’d make terrible television because I’m not a weenie shouter. I’m more like Dick at the beginning of the episode — quiet, reserved and just a tad sarcastic. Somehow, though, a few weeks ago, I was approached to do weekly roundtable segments for a new show that’ll be airing on HLN (the former Headline News, CNN’s sister network) called Raising America with Kyra Phillips. The premise of the show is to report the news through a parent’s eye and with correspondents who are parents like me. Hey, I’m a parent like me! No wonder they picked me!
I didn’t announce my big news on this blog, because I was roughly 100+% convinced that, as soon as they saw me do some sort of rehearsal, they’d realize they made a terrible mistake and they’d find someone else to be their token “Dad blogger from a nontraditional family in the Northeast”.
Today was the rehearsal. A few minutes before I was scheduled to Skype in for my segment, a producer sent me a list of topics we might discuss, including this one, Snoop Lion to Educate Children on Smoking Weed. Here’s all you really need to read from that article:
The rapper said he would be happy to provide guidance to the eight and nine-year-olds he coaches at the Orange County Junior All America Football League on how to avoid irresponsible drug use.
‘It’s not that I would ever push weed on our kids,’ Snoop explained.
‘But if they wanted to, I would love to show them how. The right way, so that way they won’t get nothing put in their s*** or overdose or trying some s*** that ain’t clean.’
A great topic for discussion, but I could only imagine how a panel of parents would react. We’d all just be trying to out-shout each other with our condemnation of Mr. Lion. I figured my only way to stand out was to go a different route and play up the snarky cynicism. “I’m pretty sure if you read the rest of that quote, Kyra, it ends ‘and please be sure to mention my new album while condemning these views.'” I practiced my zinger a few times to get it just right, then dialed in for the session.
Because of how they setup their Skype connection, I couldn’t see who I was talking to, but there was a man and a woman on the panel with me. When Kyra raised the topic, the woman jumped right in with something like, “Well, pot is legal in Colorado now, so maybe Snoop has the right idea.”
Wait… what? She agrees with him?! I could hear a voice chanting softly in the back of my head… “Wee-nie! Wee-nie! Wee-nie!”
The chant partially drowned out whatever the man said, but he didn’t challenge her premise. If I remember, he seemed to think kids smoking pot was inevitable, so why fight it?
Kyra could clearly tell I was bursting to say something. “Jerry, do you want to comment?”
“Yes, well, pot may be legal in some places,” I began, calmly, “but IT’S NOT LEGAL FOR 8 AND 9-YEAR-OLDS!!!!!!”
So I took the bait. I lost my cool. Here I was, against every instinct I had, arguing with people about current events on TV. (Granted, it was just a rehearsal, so I can’t show you the footage. The best I can give you is this.) “Anyway,” I went on. “I doubt even Snoop believes it. I’m pretty sure if you read the rest of his quote it said, ‘And by the way, my new album drops this fall!'”
It got a laugh. Zing! He shoots, he scores!
Suddenly, I’m starting to believe this may actually happen. I mean, I may still go all Cindy Brady when my big debut actually comes, but I think I’ve managed to trick the producers into thinking I can be interesting television for now.
So here it is, my official announcement and my plug for Raising America with Kyra Phillips, weekdays from 12PM-2PM on HLN, premiering Monday, February 4th.
My first segment is scheduled for Friday, February 8th, but I’ll be promoting it more as the date approaches.
Watch out, weenies! Here I come!
This is fantastic! They are so lucky to have you!
Hilarious! And so cool! Congratulations.
Congratulations! And, remember, we’ll be watching and chanting “wee-nie, wee-nie”!
Thanks… really hoping I end up as an ovation, not a diatribe. 🙂
I will be tuning in! 🙂
Tivo is locked and loaded!!
Locked and loaded? Are you sure that’s your Tivo? Not that I’m trying to make you mad or anything. Put the Tivo down slowly…
Oh huzzah! And bring back “Wee-nie! Wee-nie!
I’m dying to drop a “weenie” sometime as my little in-joke. 🙂
That was a pretty incredible zing. Talk about troll bait. Kudos for turning it around and pointing out that all that guy wants is publicity.
Right? Seems pretty obvious. My other rehearsed line, which I didn’t use, was that Snoop is an OK rapper but a great businessman.
Way to go, Jerry! I can’t wait to see you in action-you are amazing and always full of interesting surprises.
Congrats! This is great news!
This is fabulous!!!!! Just a pity us in Australia will be unable to see what will be, I suspect, mandatory viewing.
Thanks. By the way, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have an Aussie named Kylie reading my blog. 🙂 And I’ll try to post video after one of my segments airs if I can.
In the words of Sting and the Police, – “I’ll be watching you” – congrats. I’m a regular viewer of both HLN and CNN. Would love to see the expression on your children’s faces when they see their Daddy on tv.
Pretty sure their reaction to seeing me on TV will just be, “Why aren’t we watching Elmo?”
Shocking! I thought your favorite episode of Newhart was the one with Miss Julie Brown as Buffy Denver….the first one, of course.
But really, this is sooooo cool! I’m really proud of you.
Theives are sometimes hurt during robberies too. Better have the police do some seminars on how to safely rob someone. Ya know, just so no one is hurt…
Zing! Wanna write some one-liners for me to use? 😉
Thanks, and you’re right, I love Buffy Denver, too. I guess I always appreciated when they would make fun of TV, which was why I was so happy to see Peter Scolari.
That’s pretty exciting. I too, love Newhart. I’m excited to check out the show and hear some more zingers 🙂
It was ME who you were arguing with! Of course the book is a publicity stunt. Snoop’s suggestions may not be the best guideline, but better that then the kids they’ll be trying it with for the first time. And pot IS legal in a few states! Don’t parents have drinks with their kids for the first time? How is pot that different? Of course I was not suggesting this for 8 and 9 year olds. My only point was that for kids, knowledge is power. Looking forward to talking again on Raising America. Am I still a weenie???
Ha! Thanks for commenting, Mara! I apologize for not learning your name, though I don’t think I would’ve used it in this post anyway, because all I could give was a hazy recap of what you said, and clearly you had a larger point to make. You’re not a weenie on this one… though who knows. I look forward to sparring with you again in the future! 🙂
Me too! The show is going to be great. Looking forward to it. And there will be some points where you can totally call me a weenie, I may deserve it 😉
The same goes for you. May the best weenie win. 😉
We don’t get that channel in Latin America so I won’t be able to watch it…any chance i can catch it online?
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Just discovered your blog, and this is the first post I have read, you write beautifully and your family are wonderful, I have settled down with a cup of tea and I am about to read all the previous posts, I’m looking forward to getting to know you.
Thanks, Beffster! Glad you found the blog. Happy to have you aboard!