Monday, April 24, 2006

Anchor Away ...

Stephen King writes a back-of-the-book column for Entertainment Weekly.

Stephen King, being Stephen King, can write about whatever he wants. I wonder if he has to run ideas by an editor at EW. I mean, he's Stephen King. The man could make use-and-care manuals for small appliances compelling. And, as is the mark of a great writer, he makes it all seem effortless. Then again, for him, it probably is. For some people, writing is like breathing. And he's no asthmatic.

But the point to be made here is that his latest column is about morning news. Stephen doesn't give a rabid rat's ass about Katie's defection to CBS. No, he gets his morning news from "Robin & Company" on Headline News, "CNN's cute baby sister."

Robin Meade is the Robin in "Robin & Company." Robin Meade used to be an anchor in Chicago. And, at the time, I thought she was awful.

So I'm more than a little baffled by lil' Stevie's gush-fest here: "This is a quick intellect, and it's a pleasure to watch it at work."


When I used to watch her (and I didn't watch her often), I would wince at the frequency with which she flubbed words. Anchors have two jobs: to look pretty ("... the beautiful Ms. Meade ... runs a four-hour marathon ... and does so with considerable style and panache [not to mention some killer outfits]" says Steve) and to talk pretty. Looking pretty is the job of your parents, a good plastic surgeon, or the station's make-up artist. Talking pretty is another story. Sure, a nice speaking voice is a gift, but delivering the news is a learned skill, especially if you're reading off a TelePrompTer.

I was surprised when Robin disappeared from NBC's Chicago broadcasts and resurfaced on Headline News.

Maybe I was just catching Robin on off-days. Flubs can rattle your confidence and send you down a slippery slope that finds you flubbing more the more you try to flub less. I had that experience doing radio. I suspect it's worse on camera.

Any Headline News viewers out there? If so, do you share Steve's undying adoration?


Anonymous Ethan said...

Worse than Roz Varon?

Although in fairness to RV, I dislike the role that she is placed in (TV traffic reports - how useful!), not her delivery of said reports. It's the kind of spot on the roster that screams "patronage" to me. Then again, I haven't seen nor heard her since 1999 so whatever.

I don't remember Robin Meade.

I do remember Bob Sirott, whom I loved to hate. Although he grew on me with his promos for "Fox thing in the morning" back when. He asked his co-host (forgot her name) if she'd ever been fired "on the spot" to the point of being marched out of the building and never recovering her personal effects. "No," she giggled. "Stick with me, kid - your time will come."

4:47 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yeah, well Bob didn't fire her, he married her.

And now he's on Channel 5, having gotten the boot from Channel 11, our local PBS outlet.

I met Bob once. He deigned to meet with me as a favor to a producer for the morning show who'd gotten friendly with me when I was in radio and TV at the Tribune. He sat behind his desk in his office and went through his mail the whole time I was there, which was maybe a whopping 15 minutes, if that.


As for Roz, well, I think traffic reports on TV are pretty inane. If you live in the city, they don't really affect you, and if you live in the 'burbs, by the time you get out of the house and onto the expressway, whatever you were told on TV has probably already changed. That's why we have radios in our cars.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I do not watch Headline News in the morning - indeed, I have rarely watched it since Lynne Russell, an anchor who manage to be both smoking hot and tremendously talented, retired in 2001. But I can figure from photos and such of Ms. Meade that Stephen King has found at least two reasons to watch her - four, if you consider she does a lot of work away from the desk. But I've always thought that the reason most news outlets cast tremendously good-looking people in the morning is as a device to wake viewers up from their sluggishness. Another former Chicago anchor, Giselle Fernandez, did a yearlong gig on KTLA's morning show out here, and it was quite common for her to show up to work in miniskirts and low-cut tops. And everyone knew what was going on, and Giselle had/has the figure to get away with it (as those who watched her on "Dancing with the Stars" can attest to). But almost all morning news shows, even the stuff on CNN and Fox, is more about entertainment than news. That doesn't mean many of them don't have the chops to handle things when the stuff hits the fan, but a lot of it is as much about titillation as it is the top stories.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

I watch Headline News in the morning, and I confess to having a slight crush on Robin Meade. I don't think she has a quick intellect, but she seems to recognize that she isn't working for the real CNN and doesn't take herself too seriously. I would describe her personality as "cute", the type of cute that men love and women despise. Still, she's a cutie!

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Sirott was not fired, his contract expired. It doesn't really matter though they weren't going to renew it after Randy King the EVP resigned in frustration at the lackluster line-up on WTTW. The only reason they keep mediocre Carlos Ponce on is to appease the Chicago liberals who "sponsor" WTTW. All local Chicago news is atrocious, morning or evening. There hasn't been a good solo anchor since Fahey Flynn and a good team since Walter Jacobson and Bill kurtis. Having said all that, Headline News is below local Chicago standards.

Go read a newspaper!

1:11 PM  

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