STAY TUNED now for a day in the life of Allen Average, anchorman for the WART-TV Eyewitness NewsCenter Action-News News Team and former security guard at a furniture showroom in Annandale. Allen is up with the sun -- the noonday sun, that is -- and off to Broadcast Hill in Television Town after a quick shave, shower, cap brushing and check for blemishes.
In the car, he repeats "Hi, I'm Allen Average and here's the news" over and over until he gets it just right.
At Broadcast Hill it looks like another busy day for the silver-maned, Gucci-booted Average, who had been voted by his sixth grade classmates as the one most likely to grovel. At the entrance to his office, he is greeted by the station's director of publicity, a tall, tenacious woman who got into broadcasting only because Woody Hayes said he didn't need a bodyguard.
"Now Allen," she tells him, "we've got to get right out to that sandlot ballpark, so put on these rumpled and scruffy clothes quick."
"But why?" Allen asks.
"Because, today's the day we shoot the promo where you play baseball with the Little Leaguers. We're going to run it every 14 minutes on the air to show everybody what a good sport you are."
"But I couldn't catch a ball with a net, and I wouldn't touch a bunch of snot-nosed little brats with a 10-foot pole."
"Don't worry; we'll fix it in the editing."
Allen spends about an hour at the ballpark, smiling and joshing amiably with the kids when the cameras roll and sulking about how bad the lights are for his complexion when they don't. On the way back, he practices saying "Please stay tuned for more news -- don't go away now, y'all" over and over, until he gets it just right.
Back at the station he gets into his Botany 500 (as in dollars) suit and finds the station's director of promotion in his office. The director of promotion is a broad-shouldered, bulbous-nosed chap who only got into broadcasting because he couldn't find Jimmy Hoffa to ask him if he needed a bodyguard.
"Well, Allen, you're just in time to shoot the in-studio promo with your fellow Eyewitness NewsCenter Action News team members. We're going to put you all in sweatsuits and show you playfully jogging through the halls. Then in Studio A we've set up a big trampoline and you all can bounce up and down to your heart's content.This will show the audience at home how much fun you all have together."
"But," Allen protests, "I hate that petty bunch of network-reject back stabbers. Curt Clone is a goon.Carl Clairol is an ape. Alice Afro is a nag."
"Well what about Fat Fred, the funny weatherman, and Burt Bart, the jolly jock?"
"Those two jellybeans turn my stomach."
A few minutes later, however, Allen has joined his compatriots on the trampoline, where they toss and roll merrily when the cameras are on and powwow furtively with their agents when they aren't.
Allen's agent is the notorious Marty Manny, who only got into broadcasting because he wanted to make a gillion bucks.
"Look, Al, puppydog," says Marty. "I know you're contract's up for renewal, but I think we can get you 200 thou a year. We took a little 'Q' survey here and it turns out that three out of five women in the most desirable supermarket checkout lines are more aware of you than they are of Mister Whipple, Queen Elizabeth II, Helen Gurley Brown, Frank Lloyd Wright or Casper the Friendly Ghost."
"Oh," says Allen. "And just who pray-tell is Frank Lloyd Wright?"
"Never mind, bunny rabbit," says Marty.
With only a few minutes to grab peanut butter cheese crackers from the station snack bar, Allen rushes into Studio B for the afternoon Eyewitness News Center Action-News News Update. A makeup person applies a careful new coat of No. 5 to his face and a prop man loosens Allen's collar and tie. A few drops of water are applied to his forehead so it will look as if he is perspiring.
"Allen, honey, could you lean more into the typewriter?" asks the director over the inter-com.
"The what ?" says Allen.
"The typewriter. That big thing there with the letters on it."
"Oh sure, sure," says Allen. Then someone hands him three pieces of yellow paper with great big printing on them and he reads the news update on the air:
"Cancer cure discovered, government overthrown, congressman jailed, tornado strikes, negotiations collapse and movie star reveals super diet," Allen says. "These stories and much, more more on Eyewitness NewsCenter Action News at 6. Yes, we'll have all the news, the news behind the news, and the news behind all the news behind all the news. News that's fast, up to the minute, and accurate and, best of all, exciting! Yes, we care about the news, and we care about you -- in fact, we care about you more than the guys on the other channels care about you -- so stay tuned for more news on your newsiest news station."
"Great!" says the director. "Al, buttercup -- you were really good on that 'up-to-the-minute and accurate' part."
Allen blushes. "Thanks, Joe," he says. But now he must hurry back to Studio A, to tape a promo for the assistant director of publicity and promotion, who only got into television because he was in a bad mood at the time.
Just once over the script and Allen is ready to record. "If you missed Eyewitness NewsCenter Action-News News last week, here's what you missed," he barks into the mike clipped to his $18 tie. "You missed -- 800 killed in South American earthquake! Carl Clairol at the scene of the big suburban kidnapping! Fourteen people rushed to hospital with fast food poisoning! And bloody massacre in Ndwji! Yes, you missed a lot if you missed WART-TV News!"
"Terrific," says the assistant director of publicity and promotion. "Now we'll just put some rock music under that and play it 26 times a day."
"Boy, this has been a busy one," says Allen Average, who suddenly thinks he feels perspiration on his brow and then remembers that it was applied a bit earlier with an eye dropper.
But now it is 6 p.m. and time for the evening news. Allen has changed into another suit and has had his pancake -- that is, his makeup -- refreshed. In the monitor he notices one tiny hair out of place and he pats it down just as he hears the station announcer booming his introduction:
"... and now here with all the news is Allen Average, award-winning journalist and reporter. Yes, when there's news around, Allen is there. He's not afraid to get his feet wet. He's not afraid to get his fingernails dirty. He rolls up his sleeves and gets that story. Ladies and gentlemen... a gian in the profession of journalism... Allen Average!"
Allen smiles briskly into the camera and says, "Hi, I'm Allen Average, and here's the news."