As Stewart gets ready to restore sanity, potty installers will provide the relief

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, October 28, 2010; C06

Days before prospective users arrive, Porta-Potties have started trickling in for Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the Mall this coming Saturday.

WaPo TeamTV's intrepid correspondent Emily Yahr went back to the Mall Wednesday morning to report on the three portable toilets sitting by their lonesome selves on the edge of Third Street on the Mall.

Those potties were being used by the crew hard at work in the torrential rain to set up the stage and fence off the designated rally area -- Madison Drive to Jefferson Drive between Third and Seventh streets.

After suffering agonies of embarrassment over a news report that the Marine Corps Marathon had rebuffed the RtRSa/oF's offer to join hands and share potties this coming weekend -- the marathon will be run the next morning -- the organizers of Stewart's rally have rebounded in a big way, hiring the largest portable potty company in the country, United Site Services, to provide relief to Saturday's rally attendees.

USS Vice President Bob Barton tells the TV Column that the order was placed a mere two weeks ago, for 450 of your basic portable johns, another 50 handicapped-accessible toilets and one Platinum Luxury Restroom Trailer, which appears to be destined for use by Stewart and entourage.

"Some of these things get booked a year in advance. This is short notice. We will often, on some weekends, be sold out in a particular location," Barton said, explaining it's difficult "and not economical" to ship toilets from, say, Boston to Washington.

Which is why Barton thinks that Porta-Potty that Larry King presented to Stewart on "Larry King Live" last week -- when Stewart made yet another pilgrimage to CNN to sneer at the network and sell some books -- is pure horseradish.

"Nobody would ever ship a toilet that far," Barton said dismissively. While he admitted he did not know exactly what it would cost to ship the toilet from Los Angeles to Washington -- because he's never attempted anything so harebrained -- he noted, "It's a big box of air and weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and is seven feet tall and roughly four feet square."

Meanwhile, to rent a single portable toilet for a back-yard barbecue, a wedding or a rally to restore sanity, depending on what market you live in, costs you only about $80 to $120.

It's unclear which Platinum Luxury Restroom Trailer Stewart's camp has secured for the rally -- the company has several models among its fleet of 150,000 portable toilets. The company's Web site says its Platinum Luxury Restroom Trailers "offer the ultimate in elegance with interiors that provide all the comforts of home.

"Featuring finishes such as premium wood, faux marble, Corian, and richly stained wood paneling and cabinetry, these trailers will delight guests at even the most formal events," the description goes on. "Porcelain toilets are fully enclosed in private stalls and urinals are partitioned. Heating and air conditioning, powered ventilation, concealed plumbing, hot and cold running water, decorative mirrors and accents, make these restroom trailers the perfect option when you want the very best."

"They're usually for VIPs," Barton explained.

Saturday's rally is small potatoes for USS, which services 24 states -- it provides the portable restrooms for the Rose Bowl Parade and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., for instance, including servicing all those tailgate party and VIP tent needs.

But the company does a lot of business on the Mall -- it was one of the suppliers when President Obama was sworn into office.

"We supplied a good chunk for the Obama inauguration," Barton said. "We did about 1,200 toilets and dozens of restroom trailers."

The inauguration, he said, "cleaned out every portable toilet in the D.C. market. . . . As far as we know, it was the single largest portable toilet event that has ever happened in this country."

Hits and misses

CBS attracted the most viewers in the fifth week of the new TV season, making it five weeks in a row that it has done so, a feat no network had accomplished in five years. NBC copped the the most watched Sunday football game ever. But ABC finally coughed up answers for fans of some of its new series. ABC wins.

Here's a look at the week's victories and tough breaks:


"Better With You." This show about a hot young preggers chick, her older uptight sister and their bickering parents averaged under 7 million viewers last Wednesday, accomplishing the near impossible: it made its lead-in, "The Middle," look successful with its 8.5 million fans. ABC ordered a full season -- how could it not? Besides, "Better With You" is not ABC's least watched show Wednesday night (see "The Whole Truth" below).

"No Ordinary Family." Michael Chiklis is patriarch of a family that sprouts superpowers after an accidental dip in the Amazon, and last week around 7 million people were buying into it -- not bad considering it's a new drama series trying to self-start at 8 p.m. Tuesdays opposite the country's most watched series -- which, no, was not "Dancing With the Stars" (19.3 million viewers) last week, but rather CBS's "NCIS" (19.4 million).

Vikings-Packers game. Vikings QB Brett Favre's return to Green Bay (in a 28-24 loss) was catnip for nearly 26 million football fans last Sunday, which means it deposed this season's "Sunday Night Football" Redskins-Cowboys game (25 million) to become the most watched "SNF" game ever.


"The Whole Truth." Turns out Jack Nicholson was right -- people can't handle "The Whole Truth." Or, at least, last Wednesday only 4.5 million people could. So ABC will not order more episodes of its new Jerry Bruckheimer legal drama starring Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney.

"The City." Will Whitney Port have to go find a real job? "The Hills" spinoff star's MTV show is not being brought back for a third season, the network told the star, who naturally turned around and told syndicated radio host Ryan Seacrest. MTV is replacing Port with another model: Her "Hills" co-star Lauren Conrad has started work on a new reality soap for the basic cable network.

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