Admit it: For a moment last night you wanted to turn the sound down on the set and just watch the muscles on Claus von Bulow's prognathous jaw bumping and grinding in the night like the hips of an ancient stripper.

But then you would have missed him telling ABC's Barbara Walters how he will never divorce his wife Sunny, who lies in an irreversible coma, to marry his companion Andrea Reynolds, who now lives with him:

"I think that is a sort of act of abandonment. I believe in marriage but I don't think that that is what is necessary to show somebody that they belong to you and that you belong to them."

And if you are a hardcore von Bu low follower, you stayed up into the middle of the night to watch CBS' Charlie Rose quiz von Bulow about his marital "arrangement," how he said Sunny permitted his extramarital dalliances with Alexandra Isles and others:

"There's no deception if there is collusion. And tragically, in the years after '71 she lost interest. But she was a fair and decent human being. So, provided I kept it discreet, she had no objection. And I kept it discreet . . . I didn't have affairs with any of her friends."

Ah, the von Bulow affair, at once gilded and sleazy. Not a moment too soon the case, which ended Monday in von Bulow's acquittal on two counts of attempting to murder his wife, will pass into the annals of trivia. Newport Babylon.

Von Bu low and Reynolds are flying off to the Mediterranean soon and, after their holiday, he is planning to take a job with the Getty family in London. There will be a book, of course -- "I've put down about 300 pages," he told Rose -- but last night should be about the last we hear of it all.

The evening began with some shameless advertisements. Dan Rather flacked the Rose "Nightwatch" interview on the "CBS Evening News" and ABC "World News Tonight" did the same for Walters' "20/20" piece.

Walters came on like gangbusters (or crimebusters), operating under the preposterous premise that she could put von Bu low on the stand, something that never happened through two trials. But the interview was a scattered dud with Walters barking questions that did little more than prove that she has followed the case in the press and with von Bu low doing little more than flashing bemused smiles and dismissing questions answered weeks or even years ago.

Toward the end of this interview for interview's sake, Barbara Walters asked the sort of what-kind-of-poodle-would-you-be-if-you-could-be-a-poodle question that she seems to have patented:

"Mr. von Bulow, if Sunny were possibly to come out of the coma, what do you think she would say?"

Yes, she did ask that. And in the gloom of night, you could hear millions of viewers slapping their foreheads in wonder. Von Bulow said his wife would be his "strongest defender."

Rose's interview produced somewhat better results.

"I just want no active hostility on my part," von Bulow said of his stepchildren and principal accusers, Annie-Laurie Kneissl and Alexander von Auersperg. "From what they say, I think that's a long shot.

"I'm 59 years old in August. I'd just like to lead my own quiet life, stop being a celebrity, stop being an issue and let the three children get on with their lives."

Rose asked von Bulow about his visits to his wife's hospital bed and the answer, despite all the unctuous blather of which he is capable, was strangely moving.

"We did in early 1981 and early 1982 when Sunny first went into the coma. I lived in Boston and went three or four times a day. Once one realized there was no hope, I went on praying irrationally for a miracle . . . Now, it's a question of memories."