It's a long time away, I know, more than seven weeks. But have you started planning for "The Minute" yet? "The Minute." Those 60 seconds of intentionally dead air that NBC has set aside during its Super Bowl pregame show. NBC claims The Minute will provide "a service to the viewer" by giving the viewer time to make a sandwich or go to the bathroom -- perhaps both if the viewer has good hand and foot speed.
Here's what I want to know: Why does NBC suppose its viewers wouldn't go to the bathroom during the game if the need arose? Does NBC think its viewers rent port-a-johns and put them in the den? This casts a whole new light on the name, Super Bowl, doesn't it?
People ask me what The Minute will be like.
Sort of like that.
I, myself, am all aflutter because I don't yet know what I'll do during The Minute. I can make a sandwich during any old commercial; between us, sometimes I leave the room during the game and do something totally nuts -- like answer the phone.
I don't want to waste The Minute on something frivolous. I want to use it to do something meaningful.
Like stop war.
Or end hunger.
Or propose marriage.
It worked for Ahmad Rashad, didn't it?
And by proposing to someone from NBC's top-rated show he kept it all in the family.
N-B-C, let's all be there.
I welcome NBC's hot new trends in TV: zen down-time and matchmaking. By this time next year, instead of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen we could see the Baghwan Sri-Rajhneesh on the Telestrator.
How about that Ahmad Rashad, though? Proposing to Mrs. Cosby right there on the tube. Just a quiet, intimate tete-a-tete for the '80s: two talking heads and a monitor. And you thought romance was dead.
Fifteen years ago, Tom Wolfe wrote about "New Journalism," and how reporters were writing stories that advocated their own socio-political views. Rashad has taken the next step to "Woo Journalism," in which reporters use their status to get a date. The hell with the news, let's party!
"You know I just don't know what got into me. I'm usually a quiet, shy guy. I don't call attention to myself. I'm an ordinary guy with an ordinary name and an ordinary job. Yeah, I take a limo to work, but it's an ordinary limo. I must be out of my mind, Phylicia, asking you to marry me like this, live, on network television. I guess I figured I could get away with it. I'm a star, you're a star. So we can do anything we damn well please, right? And then again, this might help my career."
Stunt? What stunt?
Hi there, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to "The Ratings Game," where we ask the question -- What will you do for a higher share?
Ahmad, we know what you'll do, so let's move on to our other panelists.
"This is Howard Cosell. I'll split my infinitives for you."
"Hi, Pat Summerall here. I'll hammer 500 Tru-Value nails into my forehead."
"Hey, wait a minute, I'm John Madden, and I'll eat a live pig."
"I'm Lyle Alzado. I'm on injured reserve, so it doesn't matter what happens to me. Plus, I'm totally whacko, anyway. So I'll take off my . . . "
No! Stop! Not on TV!
Okay, so we know there are limits. But how about that Ahmad Rashad, though? After all those years in the NFL, maybe all the games seem the same to him. The Jets game; the Broncos game; The Dating Game. What can he do for an encore that would help NBC? Film the whole honeymoon, get Dr. Ruth to narrate, then show it at halftime of the Super Bowl? How's this: The happy couple marries on "Night Court," goes through natural childbirth on "Donahue" and divorces on "People's Court."
Or during the next sweeps period Rashad could join "The Cosby Show" as Mrs. Cosby's secret lover, and after a few weeks they could spin off into their own series: "Cosby II: The Rashads." They could do a reverse "Webster," and raise a white kid.
Okay, Rashad certainly appears to be a nice, bright man, and maybe a lot of you thought that what he did was sweet and delightful. Without doubt it was, as they say, good television. (Look, TV is always looking for ways to marry sports and entertainment. Maybe the Allen sisters ought to be consulted since Phylicia will marry Rashad, and her sister, Debbie Allen of "Fame," already married Norm Nixon.) But talk about tacky. Gag me with a bridal veil. What could Rashad have been thinking? Wasn't it a little nervy of him to presume we all wanted to be a part of his psychodrama?
Sure it was cute. But how dare he? And how dare NBC turn over that air time to Rashad's social calendar. On reflection, the only thing more disturbing than suspecting the proposal was bogus, was learning it was real -- that Rashad could be so self-absorbed, he actually could propose marriage to someone he presumably knew and treat the occasion like an inside joke. The difference between a sit-com and real life ought not be so easily blurred. The next thing you know, you'll turn on the news and see Ricky Ricardo calling out, "Hallo, Lucy, I'm home."