Friday , May 24 2024
Phil Donahue is not long for this TV world.

The Truth of Parody

SNL was pretty good this week; and Brittany Murphy, who I remember only as the clueless East Coast transplant in the movie version of Clueless, was an appealing and versatile, if emaciated, host.

What sticks in my mind most, though, is the savaging Phil Donahue took from Darrell Hammond as his own parent network trashed him for his knee jerk liberalism and his pitiful ratings numbers. USA Today picked up on this today:

    Donahue was the subject of a biting NBC Saturday Night Live parody Saturday in which Darrell Hammond played the liberal talk-show host.

    When your own network starts goofing on you, watch out.

    MSNBC, averaging 392,000 viewers in prime time, is a ratings embarrassment for GE. Fox News Channel draws 1.5 million viewers, and CNN draws 983,000.

    Donahue, the king of syndicated daytime talk in the ’70s and ’80s, kicked off his MSNBC gig in July, well aware that he faced an uphill fight.

    ”I go into this fully knowing the challenge,” he told USA TODAY. ”I want to be a player.” By September, with his program virtually ignored by cable audiences, he was telling MSNBC’s Jerry Nachman that unless he made ”noise” by January, he’d be out.

    Though no final decision has been made, executives have told him his chances are slim unless his program, which is running a distant third behind No. 1-rated The O’Reilly Factor on Fox and CNN’s Connie Chung Tonight, can show dramatic improvement.

Donahue isn’t happening because he is too ‘tween: he isn’t a shock-talk host like Jerry Springer, he’s too much of a predictable advocate to be a real journalist, he’s a sentive guy in the era of the neo-manly man, he’s a statistic.

(Another bad sign for Phil: all of his books are out of print. Hmm.)

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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