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Christine O'Donnell haunted by Ghost of TV Appearances Past

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, November 12, 2010; C01

Christine O'Donnell, the tea party darling from Delaware, was fighting late-night terrorism when she declined to appear on Bill Maher's weekly HBO show during her recent Senate campaign, she explained to NBC late-night host Jay Leno on Wednesday.

Maher had a boatload of O'Donnell clips -- more than a decade ago, she was a frequent guest on his previous late-night show, "Politically Incorrect" -- including one in which she talked about having dabbled in witchcraft (hence her "I'm not a witch" campaign ads).

As Election Day neared, Maher told viewers he would run an O'Donnell clip every week until she came on the show, which she never did -- so he did. Run the clips, that is.

"I wanted to do the show. We just couldn't get it worked out," O'Donnell told Jay on "The Tonight Show." "And then, my sister and I were watching the show when Bill made his threat, and I just thought . . . whether it's a comedian or a terrorist, you should not respond to threats."

And speaking of the Ghost of TV Appearances Past coming back to haunt O'Donnell during her campaign, Jay quickly worked the conversation around to the subject of masturbation. That had been the subject of another of those pesky clips -- this one from her appearance on an old MTV show. In Jay's defense, David Spade was his other celebrity "get" Wednesday night, and, being the gracious host he is, Jay was only trying to find a topic of interest to both his guests.

"How did that even come about?" Leno wanted to know of the MTV clip.

"I used to be a liberal. I used to be a lot of things that I'm not," O'Donnell explained. "I was a kid with a new opinion. And for me that was more of a ministry opportunity than a political statement."

(When O'Donnell appeared on the MTV series "Sex in the '90s," she was the president of Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth, which promoted abstinence. In the clip, she contended that "the Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery" and "you can't masturbate without lust," so it was no substitute for abstinence.)

"So, it's not so bad now?" Jay asked.

"I'm not even going there!" O'Donnell giggled.

Oh, and O'Donnell's gotten lots of "interesting" offers since the election, ranging from the usual book deal to a reality TV series.

One lame "Delaware Shore" Jay gag later, O'Donnell assured viewers that she was not interested in doing a reality show unless it was like that 30-minute ad her campaign produced, highlighting how various political issues affected the lives of everyday people.

"I would like to do something like that -- like a watchdog-type show," she explained.

TLC -- you listening?

Kanye: A ratings tale

Once upon a time, a former president of the United States, whose time in office included Hurricane Katrina, Sept. 11, 2001, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a financial meltdown, wrote a memoir in which he pointed to Kanye West having said that the president doesn't care about black people as being the worst moment of his two terms in the White House.

The former president did a national TV interview to sell a few books, in the course of which he got asked about that surprising comment. The TV network, thinking it was on to a good thing during a November "sweeps" ratings derby, invited Kanye to come on air and react to the president's comment for all America to see.

And Kanye agreed to do that little thing.

But Kanye did not appreciate the many audio-visual bells and whistles that the TV network brought to the interview, which it kept playing in the background during the interview to gussy it up. This distracted Kanye while he was trying to answer the questions that were being put to him by the Handsome "Today" Show Anchor (a.k.a. Matt Lauer).

And, being the outspoken guy he is, Kanye expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms, both during the interview and via Twitter after it was over, with cracks such as:

It was very brutal and I came there only with positive intent

and

I wish Michael Jackson had Twitter!!!!! Maybe Mike could have explained how the media tried to set him up!!!

Suits at the TV network began to dance the Happy Dance at the thought of all the ratings that were going to land in their laps when the taped Kanye interview finally aired.

Overnight, across the television firmament, on-air talent began to gaze at their navels intently, trying to decipher the deeper meaning of it all.

A copy of the interview somehow got leaked to a national newspaper, which gave its readers the inside dope.

The network suits danced the Happy Dance some more.

Then came The Big Day: The Kanye interview air date.

"How am I supposed to talk?" West was seen snapping Wednesday while video and audio was playing in the background as he tried to answer a question. "I'm hearing it while I'm trying to talk."

When the audio was turned down, he added -- reasonably, we think: "Please don't let that happen -- it's, like, ridiculous."

But the network -- knowing a good thing when it saw it (a.k.a. Another Kanye Incident) -- went ahead and ran more video-with-audio while Kanye was trying to answer other questions.

"I didn't need you guys to prompt my emotions," Kanye bristled. "I don't need all the jazz."

After the taped interview concluded, the Handsome Anchor -- with his sensible co-anchor at his side lending support -- harrumphed for a few minutes in his anchor-chair about the craziness of it all, explaining that's how network TV interviews are done, folks.

And the ratings poured in.

'Rubicon' crossed out

AMC announced Thursday it would not renew its conspiracy thriller "Rubicon" for a second season. The series is about an intelligence analyst at an NYC-based think tank who begins to suspect he's actually working for members of a secret society manipulating world events.

When "Rubicon" officially premiered on Aug. 1, AMC bragged that the unveiling set a record as the most watched debut of an AMC original. Over its 13 episodes, the show averaged about 1.6 million viewers. But more than half those fans were at least 50 years old. The network targets 18-to-49-year-olds.

On Thursday, AMC issued this explanation-ish about its decision to whack the show:

" 'Rubicon' gave us an opportunity to tell a rich and compelling story, and we're proud of the series. This was not an easy decision, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a phenomenally talented and dedicated team."

Translation: "Did you see our 'The Walking Dead' numbers?!"

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