CBS Clocks Out on Airing Reagan's Convention Speech
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, July 20, 2004; Page C07
LOS ANGELES, July 19
CBS News will not cover Ron Reagan's prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention live and in its entirety because it won't have enough words.
"We discussed [airing] it, but we don't plan to do it as of now," CBS News President Andrew Heyward told TV critics Monday. "It's about an eight-minute speech."
None of the broadcast networks plans to carry the speech live. Heyward acknowledged that the very fact the son of a Republican president and GOP icon was going to give a speech at the Democratic convention was newsworthy. But, he said, he thinks it is sufficient for CBS to handle it on "The Early Show" and the evening news.
"To take another hour of coverage for an eight-minute speech, I don't think is justified," he said.
Asked if it was possible to cover an eight-minute speech in under an hour, Heyward responded, "You mean to break in for eight minutes and come out again? The problem with that is you open yourself up to almost unmanageable sets of debates.
"In other words, to say, 'We're interrupting now, here's a bulletin, so listen to the eight minutes,' I just don't feel it's justified," he continued, noting there are "so many places where people can hear Ron Reagan in his entirety."
John Goodman's new CBS sitcom, "Center of the Universe," is DOA.
We know this because of the Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule.
During the semiannual TV Press Tour here, networks take turns conducting Q&A sessions about new prime-time series, and over the years TV critics have noticed that any time Tribune Media Services senior feature writer Jay Bobbin gets in seven questions in one session, it spells death for the show.
This is no reflection on Bobbin, one of the more intrepid members of the media to attend the tour. Even at sessions for the worst show ever made -- and Goodman's new sitcom is definitely a contender -- Bobbin asks his questions with vim and volume. But he is no microphone hog. If he gets in seven questions at a session, it's usually because the other critics have already written off the series and, while there in body, are mulling more important matters, like what's for lunch and will CBS let them bring their girlfriends to the party that night at Dodger Stadium.
Some network publicists know about the Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule and, because people are naturally superstitious in an industry in which no one really understands what separates hits from flops and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, they will cut off a Q&A session after Bobbin's sixth question. "We're painfully aware of the rule," one network rep confided.
Bobbin is tenacious and a credit to his profession, but this is apparently lost on the handful of critics who were unhappy to learn that The TV Column was going to write about the Bobbin Rule. Maybe they were afraid it would hurt Bobbin's feelings to learn about their Jay Bobbin Seven Questions Rule. One critic begged, as a personal favor, that we kill this item because "we need Bobbin and if he dries up, those sessions will become even more dull."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Jean Smart and John Goodman discuss their new show, "Center of the Universe," with reporters.
(Jim Ruymen -- Reuters)
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