Okay, let's run through the end of the world again. Now where the heck is Walter?
"THIS is WAL ter CRON-kite."
Oh, hello, Walter. Look, stop the gypsy-dancing a minute, would you please? And tell them to put some more pancake on your nose or we're going to get an awful glare.
"And the rocket's red glare! The bombs bursting in air. . . ."
Walter, please, would you stop already with the singing? We only have 20 minutes to rehearse. Now, do you remember how we open the show?
"Yes, I do, and in no uncertain terms. First I come on television screens all over the length and breadth of this great land of ours and I say, 'THIS is WAL ter CRON-kite and the Armageddon News Team. The United States and the Soviet Union have launched nuclear missiles aimed at each other, and, within a matter of minutes, as the crow flies . . .'"
No, Walter, it's not right. Depressing. Depressing! They'll be tuning out in droves. We might as well hand the ratings over to Roone Arledge right now and be done with it.
"But chief -- That's The Way It is."
Puh-leez, don't lay that one on me, old-timer. Let's find to way to lighten up a little, you know, cool it out. How about, "This is Walter Cronkite. The price of gold plummeted today, the prime lending rate fell to zero and, folks, you won't have to worry about making that car payment next month. That's the good news. And now --"
"Well, I don't know, chief. That compromises my journalistic principles somewhat. By the way, do you think this handmade silk tie looks all right with my $650 suit?"
Yes, Walter, it's fine. Now get your avuncular little tail over there so we can tape the promos. The first one is going to air smack-dab between "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Dallas," so let's make it sing, Walter baby.
"THIS is WAL ter CRON-kite. Join me and the CBS News team tonight for exclusive coverage of our last moments on earth, live via satellite, at 11:30 Eastern, 10:30 Central, right after all the basketball scores on your local station.
Just fine, sweetie, just fine, but could you try it once more, and this time put a little more spin on the ball? We don't want to discourage them from tuning in, you know.
"Please don't call me 'sweetie'."
Oh, of course; sorry Walter. Now once more, darling, and let's just sound a tad more earthshaking, shall we? Okay, boys -- hit the "Cronkite and Company" disco news theme.
"THISSS, is WALLL ter. . . ."
Walter, you're beautiful! Walter, you're gorgeous. Isn't he beautiful? Isn't he gorgeous? You keep taping, Unc. Now where's the guy with the opening graphics?
"Right here, chief. Let me show you what we've got. We open with a big fat closeup of the CBS Eye, see, and then we bring in "Also sprach Zarathustra" and then the announcer says; 'CBS Nnews presents, A Special Report -- Apocalypse '80: Countdown to Meltdown. Then we dissolve to a shot of the globe and we chroma-key Walter's face in, and then we cut to the Amalgamated Oil Company logo, and that explodes into a zillion pretty little twinkle stars.'
Don't like the title. The title doesn't send me. We need something with oomph. How about, "Nuclear Nightmare: Humanity Held Hostage"?
"Chief, it's brilliant. It has style, class, eclat and panache, and that certain CBS something."
You're right, it's no good. How about, "Missiles to Moscow: A Night to Remember"?
"But chief -- who'll be around to remember it?"
Let's not get emotionally involved with the story, kid -- this is news. Okay, I've got it. "Doomsday '80: Final Edition." Terrific. It'll hit 'em where they live! Now, we open with Walter, then we go to Mike Wallace at the White House, then we go to Dan Rather at the Pentagon, then we go to Morley Safer at the Strategic Air Command, then we go to Lesley Stahl at Bloomingdale's then we go to Roger Mudd at Chappaquiddick, and then we go to blazes.
"Chief! Chief! Mr. Paley's on the line!"
Aw, what the heck does that old buzz -- oh, hello, Mr. Paley! Yes, Mr. Paley. Yes yes yes, Mr. Paley. I know ABC's putting on Barbara Walters and Geraldo Rivera and End-of-the-World News Tonight, Mr. Paley. But we're pulling out the big guns for this one, sir. Oh, er, yes -- that was a bad choice of words, Mr. Paley.
"Over in Killarney, many years ago. . . ."
Walter! Will you please stop that singing!Mr. Paley can hear you.
". . . too-ra-loo, ra-loo-ral, too-ra-loo, ra-lie. . . ."
Somebody get Walter some black coffee. We still have another promo to tape.
"But I don't want to tape any more promos. I want to prepare for my broadcast."
Walter, look, it's not like the old days. It's not Edward R. Murrow anymore, Walter. We're more competitive now. Do you want ABC to beat us? Do you want NBC to beat us? Do you have any idea what the HUT levels are going to be on a night like this? We've got to keep up with the times, Walter. We've got to grab those suckers by the eyeballs and glue them to their sets. Otherwise God only knows what the overnights will be.
"But chief. . . ."
"Only God will know. There . . . there . . . There aren't going to BE ANY OVERNIGHTS!"