It was the one-year anniversary last week of the Fox News Channel beating CNN for dominance in the ratings, and since then things have only gotten worse. Confusion has reigned in Atlanta as executives kept mixing up the graph showing CNN’s ratings decline with the graph showing AOL Time Warner’s stock price. A management shakeup has followed with Ted Turner leaving quietly, which is the first time that particular descriptive term had ever been applied to him. As CNN attempts to re-invent itself, cable news consumers will be watching closely; after all, they sure aren’t watching Donahue. The key to CNN’s resurgence may be to copy other successful TV shows because even the Raelians have nothing on television when it comes to cloning. Expect to see these shows in the near future:
Joe Moneyline — A nightly business discussion show featuring one-time wealthy corporate executives who reveal that they’re now $19,000-a-year construction workers. From the producers of the hit ’90s reality show “Temptation NASDAQ.”
American Allies — This reality show brings together a parade of nations who are allegedly our allies but hope to hit the international big time by launching into the same old song about unilateralism and the misuse of American power. Following their histrionic performances, they’re quickly cut down to size by a sharp-tongued Brit played by Tony Blair. In the premiere episode, contestants France and Germany pass their auditions and are set to invade America’s living rooms. However, they then put off any invasion through years of dithering, clandestine business deals with Iraq and backing toothless U.N. resolutions.
Fear of the O’Reilly Factor — Based on the similarly-named NBC hit, it follows the travails of CNN management who would rather eat fish eyes and be immersed in a vat of maggots than check out the ratings that Bill O’Reilly pulled in last night.
Larry King Kimmel Live — The King of Talk and the former Man Show host team up for a nightly extravaganza of testosterone-fueled softball questions. The show’s insistence on serving alcohol during the broadcast leads to regular appearances by Ted Kennedy and, for Larry, a new round of ill-advised marriages.
CCSI: Connie Chung’s Self-Serving Investigation — Propriety ends up in a body bag as the veteran newscaster goes for ratings gold by probing the most important news stories of our time as long as they involve abductions, grieving family members or interviewing rejects from “The Bachelorette.” And, by God, if any of these stories just happen to contain an element of sex, then so be it!
The Aaron Os-Browns — The Face of CNN sticks his neck out and borrows from MTV in this series which focuses on the home life of an absurdly portentous news anchor, his long-suffering wife and annoying kids. In the premiere episode, the Os-brown patriarch sonorously expounds at length, complete with a Robert Frost quote, on living with a collection of incontinent dogs. Later, dad starts once again referring to the broadcast as “this page” and the kids react by getting their own apartment and changing their last name.
Crossfiring Jordan — An attractive medical examiner tries to pinpoint the cause of the untimely demise of humor on CNN’s nightly political debate program. Her verdict: leaden punchline poisoning.
Trading Spaces with the U.N. Weapons Inspectors — It’s a light-hearted turn for everyone’s favorite bunch of professional Mr. Magoos as they inspect an Iraqi VX nerve gas storage facility and then transform it into the epitome of ’70s retro chic. When he sees the lava lamps and shag carpeting you won’t believe the look on Saddam Hussein’s face, wherever it happens to be blown to by precision guided munitions.