Friday, December 28, 2007

Behind the Scenes



I hope that everyone had a good Christmas. Santa was good to me this year - he brought me a lot of great presents.





And one of these presents happens to be a DVD called Behind the Scenes at Imus in the Morning, It's a two-hour, no-commercials interview of McCord and McGuirk, and it originally aired on C-SPAN in April of 2000. It's moderated by the excellent Brian Lamb, who hosts the program and who founded C-SPAN. This interview took place on Mr. Lamb's morning show, and it apparently aired live on a Saturday morning. Probably the only people who have ever seen this interview are the camera crew, their immediate families, and myself.


Mr. Lamb is a sharp guy and an excellent interviewer, and he askes every single question that you could possibly conceive about the show. “Thorough” does not even describe them - “stalkeresque” is a better word. What do you do every day? What time do you wake up? How do you get to work? What time do you leave? What do you call your boss? Are you married? Does your wife have a sense of humor? Do you say what’s on your mind when you‘re on the air? What country did your parents come from? Do you like John McCain? What makes you decide to travel places when you do the show? What is a “news bunny”? How about this Rob Bartlett? Is HE married? Does he use a full-piece orchestra when he records his songs? Can you buy his songs on the Internet? How’s the limo driver? Will this Ranch talk ever stop? And on, and on, and on. Brian Lamb has his own morning show, but I strongly suspect that he owns a Tivo.


The program contains a lot of trivia about the show, stuff that a fairly new listener like myself have never heard before. For example, I learned, among other things, that:



- The nickname "the I-Man" was not coined it a fit of pathetic sycophancy - it was actually invented by Bob Raissman, columnist for the New York Daily News and owner of a manlier moustache than you.


- The character of "the Cardinal" was first conceived as a solution to a cumbersome live advertisement on the station. The New York State Lottery had bought ad time during the show, and Imus had been paid to read out the daily lotto numbers. Unfortunately, reciting numbers over the radio becomes a bit tedious, and they sought a way to jazz up the reading. Someone suggested having a "priest" character read the numbers, and, hence, the Cardinal was born.


-Lamb asked the two men if they could remember any time where they believed that the show had "crossed the line." It took them a good five minutes to come up with a concrete example, but here's what it was: Back in the spring of 2000, during the thick of the Elian Gonzalez crisis, Imus had joked over the air that, ha ha, what if the situation became so bad that the feds had to bust into Elian's house, dead in the middle of the night, and steal him from the arms of his aunt? And then they forgot about it and went about their way, until one day they they turned on the news and it actually happened.


There are also a lot of old-school clips of the show, including the Cardinal (before he became Egan), Bernard interviewing and mocking random people on the street, and other classic moments. At one point, they show a clip of the Cardinal singing “My Wild Irish Hos.” (Memories…how sweet they are.)

And then there are the phone-in viewer questions. Even if you have zero interest in the Imus program and find the two men boring, you will love the callers. You may have heard that only smart people watch C-SPAN. You heard wrong. Some can‘t form coherent thoughts. One guy calls in with Microsoft conspiracy theories. One woman, admittedly one of the smarter ones, yells at one of the men to "get your hand out of the Vaseline jar." (C-SPAN gets pretty racy on Saturday mornings.) A good deal of the callers seem to be coming down from their meth binge the night before. The moral of this story, boys and girls, is that the C-SPAN call screeners will let anyone on.

But my favorite? One of the callers is a woman who sounds like she‘s in her eighties. When she is asked her hometown, she proudly announces, “Hannibal, Missouri - Mark Twain’s home!” She then describes how she took care of her late mother (!) until her death, and how the Imus program brought her mother so much joy during her final days on this Earth. And then she says: "And I got to the point where I told my mother, 'Don't call me because I'm not gonna come in your room while you've got that filthy stinking I-Man on. There's not enough money in the world for me to take the berating and the putdowns and the horrible horrible things he says." Seriously, that made me laugh out loud.

And then there are the “offended” callers. And there are plenty of them. I love your show, Charles and Bernie, but why must you make fun of our President? I would recommend your show to my friends, Chuck and Bernard, but I can’t because you swear so much - why must you take the Lord’s name in vain? Bernie, you must be a jerk because you once called Al and Tipper Gore “ugly,” and what kind of sick twisted person does that? One guy lectures them, saying that, gentlemen, it‘s a great thing to have a sense of humor. But your mind is like a computer - you put garbage in, you get garbage out. Why, Mr. Lamb, do you spotlight these horrible savages, sitting right here in front of you?

One callers screams at them for using “racial slurs“…and then calls them “faggots.”

The “race question” gets asked more than once by the phone-in guests. Both men are forced to make about three speeches each on how, yes, this is a satire show, and that no, they are not racists, and that they are obviously joking when they say over-the-top ridiculous things on the air. This is an equal-opportunity show, and as Bernie says, “if Romanians were in the news, we would make fun of Romanians. But they’re not.” Even Brian Lamb looks a bit overwhelmed by all these accusations. One caller, sticking up for them, proclaims that “anyone with an IQ over two” knows that this show is simply satire.

This is really the only downside to the DVD - the fact that you, the viewer, know exactly what will happen in the future when you hear this. And it’s depressing when you realize that you’re hearing the voices of 2007 in 2000.

But then again…you’ll be watching this movie in 2008.

In sum: You. Must. Get. This. It's awesome. If you are an Imus fan, then this is the DVD for you. If you like to watch three grown men try to reason with crack addicts on the phone, then this is also the DVD for you.

(And in case you're curious, because I know that you are...more Imus C-SPAN DVDs can be found here.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Morning Wars

Were you up on the morning after Christmas, at 8 AM-ish, watching Chris Matthews host Morning Joe on MSNBC?

Well, in case you weren't, he apparently said that Joe's program is vastly superior to Imus'. In fact, I shall give you the mediabistro quote, because their version is pretty darn awesome:


"This is the greatest show in the morning. This is better than Imus! Haaaa."


Haaaa, indeed. Well, at least he didn't drop the F-Bomb.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas From The Family

Merry Christmas!

If you 're in a festive mood, listen to the Imus Christmas Mix that I compiled last month.

Or, you could listen to the traditional Christmas songs of Blind Mississippi White Boy Pigs Feet Dupree, particularly the one about Santa's secret.

But my favorite? Try listening to Charles reading The Polar Express. A note of caution: this one REALLY tugs at the heartstrings.

May you and your loved ones have a blessed Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Last Action Hero

I am probably the only person who finds this funny - but since it is timely, I shall post it in the hope that you share my twisted sense of humor.

Chuck Norris has sued the people trying to publish the eponymous "Chuck Norris Facts" that circulated the Internet. Examples: "Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he's never cried." Or, "Chuck Norris only takes 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes." Or, "There is no theory of evolution - just a list of creatures that Chuck Norris has allowed to live."

Now, what does this have to do with the Imus in the Morning program? Well, when the "Chuck Norris Facts" email reached me, one of his movie posters was attached to the document. The poster is supposed to show Norris in all of his butt-kicking glory...and it does, in ways that none of us could imagine.

The poster comes from the movie The President's Man II: A Line In The Sand. But when the studio wanted to distribute the movie to foreign markets, they decided to change the title. They wanted to create a title, and a poster, that would make the movie instantly recognizable as a top-notch action film. They wanted something badass, something frightening, something more macho and manly than you could ever imagine. And they succeeded.



I have no idea what happens in this movie, but it likely involves giving roundhouse kicks to Al Roker and bad grammar.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lovable, Huggable, and Funny

Your Friday morning Imus roundup:

-The always excellent Neil Best did a profile on Warner Wolf. It appears that he's in for the long haul, which is beyond exciting. By the way, Bernard was the one who described him with the title quote.

-"That's some nappy-headed prose there!"

-David Hinckley profiled the Elf-Tones yesterday. It'll be interesting to hear them this morning. Hopefully they'll be better than "Mrs Robinson".

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Question

Here's something that puzzled me as I listened to Monday's Jim Nantz interview. I'd love to hear your thoughts, because for some reason I just don't understand this.

Ever since the show came back, the I-Man has been adamant on the fact that he should have been fired from CBS, no questions asked. The guests will fawn over him, tell him that they missed him. And he shuts them up and tells them that he got what he deserved.

Now, I understand that part of this is refusal to make excuses for last April's events. And that's fine.

But here's what I don't get. If CBS should have fired him, no questions asked...then why did he intentionally make Les Moonves $20 million poorer?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Warner Wolf is Back!

It was announced over the weekend and proven true this morning: Warner Wolf has returned to the Imus in the Morning program, where he will do sports updates on the hour. I don't know how long he'll be there, or if this is just a temporary thing, but I believe that he'll be giving sports reports on the show for at least a little while.

How awesome is Warner Wolf? He made a cameo appearance in Rocky IV. That's the one where Sylvester Stallone singlehandedly destroys the Soviet Union and ends the Cold War. It's also the one where fellow boxer Apollo Creed dies. (I truly am not spoiling anything here, because he dies within the first ten minutes of the movie.) But here's the important part: Warner Wolf does commentary on that ill-fated match, where Apollo is killed by the Evil Soviet Boxer who looks like Vanilla Ice on steroids. So, theoretically, one could claim that in the movie, Warner Wolf actually outlives Apollo Creed. For you see, that is the coolness level of Warner Wolf.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

That's the Gayest Thing I've Ever Heard

I have no words for this.

Well, actually, I do. But I'm taking the biggest test of my life tomorrow and heading home shortly thereafter. So, for right now, I'm letting the thread title suffice.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seasons' Greetatations

A few years back, the venerable Daily Show decided to "investigate" the state of homeland security during the Christmas season. And who would have better advice than our favorite private eye and security expert, Bo Dietl?

It turns out that Imus in the Morning is not the only television show that exploits Mr. Dietl for entertainment. Here, Bo shares his expert advice and limited language skills to a horrified correspondent. In other words, it's Imus with slightly younger people and a laugh track.

(On an unrelated note, there's a random guy about 2/3 into the video who looks exactly like Bernie. To the point where it's creepy. See for yourself.)

Be sure to watch until the very end, when Bo poignantly explains the meaning of Christmas to children. If it does not bring tears to your eyes, then you are not human.

Bo Dietl Appears on The Daily Show - December 1, 2005

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Never Trust The Quiet Ones

Some interesting items in the news:

-Ron Kuby wrote a whiny article about being fired from his radio gig.

I felt bad for Kuby and his partner, Curtis Sliwa, when Imus got hired at WABC. They had a substantial fan following, they had stuck up for Imus during the controversy, and they seemed like good guys. And now, after all that, they were getting the shaft.

I remember how some Imus fans went over to a WABC fansite and started heckling the C&K people, telling them that their favorite show was crap compared to the new program. This was a bad idea for several reasons, namely that it was really rude and probably lost Imus some potential listeners and fans. But also: how would you feel if a bunch of Joe Scarborough fans started spamming the Imus sites, telling people that they should just get used to Joe and how he's a demigod? Yeah, that would suck really hard, wouldn't it?

Anyway.

So, I felt terrible for them, and I still do. But I will never forget listening to the WABC stream at about 3 minutes before Imus' debut, and hearing Sliwa completely trash Imus and the guys before introducing them. It was actually pretty hilarious and completely out of nowhere - I was sitting there at my computer, laughing and going "WTF." But still, not very classy.

I hope they find some sort of solution. Here's a thought - maybe Imus can stay at WABC, and then Curtis and Kuby can replace Al Sharpton's radio program. I think that situation would make everyone happy.

- Sid Rosenberg interviewed Bo Dietl the other day on his radio show. One would think that a Sid - Bo conversation on censorship would be so insane that it would make the radio explode, but they're actually fairly lucid.

That said, they have an interesting discussion about the Imus in the Morning program. And Bo reveals something really surprising: he claims that Al Roker is a huge fan of Imus' program. Of course, this is Bo talking, but still.

-Finally, some saintly person put up the Whittaker Chambers moment on Youtube. There is a good reason why Charles going insane equals Youtube gold.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Interview With The Vampire

Did everyone catch the “Ten Most Fascinating People” interview last night?

It was interesting. And the content leading up to it was pretty epic in its own right. Justin Timberlake was asked, “So where did sexy go?” Then we had to watch the two Myspace founders create a page for Barbara Walters. “So, if I were an alien coming down from space, would I have to get on Myspace?” Classy.

Barbara did ask some decent questions. You may have seen that headline on Bill Clinton attending his wife’s potential Cabinet meetings - well, that came from a question that she asked him on this program. (And Imus is apparently more influential than Bill Clinton, if we are to believe the profile order.)

The actual Imus interview was good. (Imustruth has the video.) She describes him as the guy who invented shock jockery and who does a wide assortment of noble and crazy things. It seemed pretty fair – Mr. Imus didn’t seem as “whipped” as he did when he made all those apologies. I will say that he looked a lot better on the MSNBC cameras than the ABC ones. ABC doesn’t have Tom Bowman working for them, I guess.

But I had a disturbing realization shortly afterwards – and no, it was not hearing that the ex-Spice Girl married to David Beckham is more influential than Imus. (Seriously.) It was a segment they did on controversial leader Hugo Chavez. Apparently the Venezuelan leader hosts a daily morning show, entitled Al√≥ Presidente, in which Chavez obsesses over all of his enemies, talks about political issues, and mocks Americans. And I thought, “Holy crap. So WABC hired a Latin American dictator.”

My parents actually called me to remind me of the interview. “You know,” said Dad, “I think that Imus looks like Keith Richards’ mother.” But he didn’t say it in jest; he said it in a concerned voice, like a father who worries about the people influencing his child.

What can I say? I like “fascinating people.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Deep Thoughts

So what does everyone think?

First show – loved it. It’s still so hard to believe that yes, they are back. Just as it was hard to believe last April that they were gone.

I missed the second show yesterday, which apparently was a good thing. You know your second show has bombed when its ineptitude makes Drudge Report. At least it kept their names in the paper.

Though I have to ask - was it really "one of the ugliest technical train wrecks in recent radio and TV memory," as claimed here? I would think that prize would go to Janet Jackson in 2004. THAT was pretty ugly. Incidentally, I don't think the world is ready for a "wardrobe malfunction" on Imus.

But today’s show was better, or so I've heard. Right now I’m waiting for it to load on the Imustruth site. (I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but that is an excellent site. Not only does the owner seem well-connected – he was the first guy to get the names of the two new castmembers – but it always has up-to-date information. Also, the webmaster posts his collection of archived shows, which is my favorite aspect of the website.)

As for the new sidekicks? I will say this: they show promise. But when I was waiting all these months to hear the show, I was waiting to hear Bernard and Lou, not two unfamiliar voices. And that would be true whether they were black OR white. Some people have been disappointed in them, and I think it's for that reason: they're not Bernard and Lou.

I’m happy that we no longer have to pay attention to the whiny naysayers. The fans won, and they lost. I briefly looked at some of the negative press (in a gloating sort of way), and I found this gem from an activist in Rhode Island: “I’m committed to nonviolence, so the only thing I can do is violently turn the radio off.” Now, how does one violently turn the radio off? Do you repeatedly throw it against the wall until it stops? Do you vigorously yank out the plug? Also, the man claims to be a nonviolent person. So he only makes exception to his lifestyle with appliance abuse? Was he traumatized by “The Brave Little Toaster” as a child?

However, there is one thing that the Imus show MUST change. Yesterday I tried listening to part of the repeat on imusonair.com. It came in fine, but for some reason the Imus show has these endless commercial breaks consisting of nothing but Public Service Announcements. Naturally, the PSAs are voiced by the most annoying little children on Earth. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love children. I want to have them someday. But Heaven Forbid I have preachy PSA children with shrill voices. One of the commercials started with a little girl who said, in a childlike voice, “I am six years old. I love dolls. I love soccer. And in 3 years, I will love alcohol.” That made me laugh so hard. (Seriously, I am a horrible person.)

The commercials on WABC aren't so bad. I love the Hackensack hospital one (so sweet), and the others are OK. The only one that annoys me is that anti-Enron one, where the people are hideously laughing and the angry announcer goes, "Are you tired of taking it to the chin?" Whenever I hear "taking it to the chin," I always think of an unfortunate Bernard joke.

Tomorrow: the Barbara Walters interview. I will take bets as to whether Imus or Barbara will start crying first.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Last-Minute Info

I can't concentrate.

I've been trying to do homework for who knows how long, and failed at that. In a few hours I'll try to fall asleep. I'll probably fail at that, too.

I'm a little concerned about WABC right now. At the top of their page, they still have Curtis Sliwa and Warner Wolf on the logo; and Curtis and Warner are still listed as the morning personalities. Uh, guys...things have changed...

So here comes the last-minute important information. I certainly hope that WABC's web stream will hold up tomorrow morning, but it may be as functional as their website updater. So here are all of your "screaming" options, just in case:

WABC

96.9 WTKK in Boston

1340 WTAN - Clearwater

imusonair.com/

Less than seven hours to go...

The Last Goodbye

On today, Imus Eve, I thought you might enjoy listening to this...

It's Imus' "Farewell Show" from October 7, 1987, right before his station switched stations to WFAN.

Charles is there, reading the news. Incidentally, his top story from that day will either make you laugh or make you cry. I'm not sure which one to do myself.

Still, despite this being an Important Day, Imus doesn't really understand why everyone wants him to say farewell. "After all, when you turn on your radio on Monday, I'll still be here."

Imus in the Morning's Last Day On WNBC - October 7, 1987

For Your Consideration

- Mike Huckabee will be a guest on the program this Tuesday at 7:30.

-We have a new affiliate: WTAA 1490 AM in Atlantic City.

-David Hinckley keeps doing his part to educate the New York masses about the I-Man's return. Good job, David.

-Here's the AP article that's being printed everywhere about the Imus comeback.

-Finally, a sweet article about the I-Nation.

I can't believe I'm typing this...but less than 18 hours to go!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Well, It LOOKS Official...

I don't know if this is real or not...but here is the link to what might be the official "Imus in the Morning" website.

(BIG BIG THANKS to iloveimus.com, who found this. He also did some detective work, and the site looks legit.)

imusonair.com - Bookmark it!

What's Going On in the World?

Less than 48 hours!!!!

- The NYPost repeats the "black sidekick" rumor and doesn't really add anything new. But what I found interesting was the fact that ABC Radio is guarding his identity as a "state secret." Why would they do this if he's an unknown?

-EXCELLENT comeback/censorship article from Marvin Kitman at HuffPo.

-Starting Tuesday, the boys will be broadcasting from Cablevision's Rainbow Studios in Manhattan for the first three hours. Then they'll have to cross the street to broadcast the last hour from WABC's studio. It sounds a little weird, but it's been done before - I believe Opie and Anthony do something similar to this on their program.

-One new affiliate: WHDQ in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.

-Bo was on The O'Reilly Factor last night. Apparently he talked about Imus. (I didn't see it.) Someone told me that Bo claims he's not allowed on the first show. Hmm, I wonder why?

Anyway, I searched for a transcript from the Factor last night, but I couldn't find one. But they did have a video of O'Reilly interviewing Alf. When Alf and Bo Dietl are battling for time on a network news station, then something is terribly wrong.