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Les Marcott

Making My Pitch

Does the world really need another television show? Not no…but hell no.  But that won’t stop me from making my pitch for my own. Everyone may or may not get their 15 minutes of fame, but it appears that eventually everyone may very well get their own reality show.  Even the incarcerated get in on the act.  All their freedoms are taken away but one – the freedom to be a star.  Just check out the programming on various networks devoted to the prison population.  But my proposed show wouldn’t be criminal in nature, it would be political (I might be contradicting myself here).  A camera that would follow me around as I muddle through the day would be extremely boring.  Clearing brush from my rancho pequeno, reciting lyrics from obscure Appalachian folk songs, and opining about the lack of rain would get me cancelled after one episode.  So much for reality.

I have been a news junkie since childhood. I remember when watching the CBS Evening News was a big deal.  It was pretty much the only deal on our TV.  From the last years of Walter Cronkite to the emergence of Dan Rather, this program was my window into the world of American politics and current affairs. As more channels became available, I broadened my horizons with such shows as Meet The Press and This Week with David Brinkley.  I guess it was in the 80’s, when I discovered the syndicated (primarily to PBS stations) political affairs program The McLaughlin Group.  Hosted by the bespectacled owlish figure and former priest and Nixon aide John McLaughlin, this show rocked my world.  McLaughlin usually pitted two conservatives against two liberals as they bantered back and forth about the issues of the day.  They usually talked over one another in order to get a point across but McLaughlin always got in the last word.  The last segment was a forced prediction concerning a topic of McLaughlin’s choosing directed toward his exasperated panelists.  I couldn’t wait for Friday nights to watch these combative pundits to get it on if only for 30 minutes.

So what I propose would be primarily focused on politics but not entirely.  It would also include a segment on food and beer, and a musical guest spot.  This is not your father’s Meet The Press.  Though original in nature, I would still borrow from shows and programs I have watched and admired.  As one old sage once remarked, “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal”.  I’m still in the borrowing phase.  Can this type of show work?  Sure. A popular car show, Wheels with Ed Wallace albeit on radio incorporates American history and rock and roll into the flow of everything automotive.  Wallace seemingly does it flawlessly.  Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates fame), showcases a catered meal from a well regarded restaurant during his show of musical collaborations. 

My guests would not be the same old tired politicians answering the same old tired questions.  They would be people you’ve never heard of but should?  For instance, have you heard about the Harvard law professor running for president and the reason he’s running?  Probably not.  Have you heard about Jim Webb?  He's a former Navy Secretary (under Reagan) and Democratic senator from Virginia.  He recently dropped out of the Democratic race for the presidency.  He is pondering an independent bid for office expressing the sentiments of many who do not feel comfortable with the two-party duopoly.

As for my panelists?  I would still pretty much stick to the formula of having people of different political stripes bashing it out, edgy and volatile. Boring would be the kiss of death or a fate worse than death would be relegated to CSPAN2.  I would seek out such personalities like former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, folksy progressive and former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower, rabid conservative guitar hero Ted Nugent, and Jesse Jackson (remember him), author/musician/political candidate Kinky Friedman and a veteran of The McLaughlin Group Pat Buchanan. All of these guys might be down, but not out.  At this stage of their respective careers, they don't mind pissing people off and I don't either. And yes I realize this is an all male clique, just as The View is an all female entourage.  I might even encourage on air cigar smoking to get things more offensive.  And while the show would be heavy on testosterone, it would take a female producer to keep me on track and keep the show from falling off the rails.  Believe it or not, I did do a little research. The best of these shows have females at the helm.  There is a valid criticism that political discourse emanating from most "public affairs" programs is the hit and run type.  But the medium of television is what it is.  Detailed analysis is great, but you're always up against the clock. My goal would be to try to adhere to the tenants of F. Scott Fitzgerald, "...someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.”

The food and beer segment would primarily show that people of various political inclinations can at least fellowship and sup together unlike our representatives in Washington who would actually be closer in their political persuasions than my group would be.  Start out with Tex-Mex fare and some fine Texas craft beer and you got the makings of a wonderful experience.

The show would end with a musical guest. Perhaps someone who hasn’t been heard of for a while like one of my songwriting heroes Graham Parker.  Where have you been Graham?  The latest pop tarts and act of the moment need not apply. Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen has the built in advantage of having a beer named after him.  And it's not a gimmick.  Pedernales Brewing Company has crafted a fine pilsner brewed with honey, German hops, and Texas Hill Country well water.

There's my pitch.  Of course this show only exists within the confines of my mind. The devil is always in the details along with the lawyers and TV executives.  But if that doesn't work, I've got about  a hundred more ideas.  Have you heard about  my idea of documenting the Texas chili  cookoff circuit...?

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Les Marcott is a songwriter, musician, performer and a Senior
Writer and columnist for Scene4. His latest book of monologues,
stories and short plays, Character Flaws, is published by
AviarPress. Read his Blog
For more of his commentary and articles,
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©2015 Les Marcott
©2015 Publication Scene4 Magazine




November 2015

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