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With a single puff of white smoke, the cardinals of network television gave the world a new Walter Cronkite last week—and she takes to herself the name Katie Couric. Pity the viewer who tried to dodge all the hubbub surrounding Couric’s “historic” promotion to the CBS Evening News. Or, for that matter, Meredith Vieira’s ascension to Today. For those heathens, there was nothing left to do but rent a video: “Let’s never forget,” newsman Albert Brooks gibed anchor William Hurt in Broadcast News. “We’re the real story!”
Wednesday at 7 a.m.
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“The notion that we’re a family is not just some cheesy promotional device,” says Katie Couric to her longtime Today show colleagues. And what’s a family if not a hotbed of deep-seated rivalries and barely concealed resentments? “It feels like my sister is going off to college,” says second-stringer Ann Curry, expressing the elation felt by every overlooked sibling on such a momentous occasion.
Wednesday at 10 p.m.
The road to racial reconciliation runs right through the beauty shop: “I don’t really listen to, like, hard-core rap…[but] I love 50,” says a black hairdresser to the disguised white Carmen. “Fifties, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s!” Carmen gamely chimes in. Meanwhile, African-American Renee attempts to fit in to “white America”: “I’ve tried knitting,” she says of her multipronged outreach strategy. “I’m gonna try scrapbooking.”
Thursday at 9 p.m.
“One guy with a revolver shooting at the other guy—bing, bing, bing!” says New Yawk tough guy Joey Mangiapane of the inspiration behind his six-barreled coffee maker. But not every explosive invention blows the judges away: “In the real world, you light a match,” says judge Ed Evangelista, pooh-poohing a complex machine aimed at removing “the stink after one has done their morning constitutional.”
Friday at 11 a.m.
Lest anyone doubt that Meredith Vieira has the news chops for Today: “Clap if you’ve had a butt squeeze in a massage!” she commands the audience. And here’s hoping she won’t forget the little people: “You’re both two of the nicest, funniest…I don’t mean—I mean funny-amusing,” says embarrassed co-host Barbara Walters to the dwarf stars of TLC’s Little People, Big World.
Fat Actress: “The Koi Effect”
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The Church of Scientology has its own Works Progress Administration, and it’s called Fat Actress. “She’s sick. Something is wrong with her,” says Kirstie Alley of fellow believer/guest star Leah Remini. Where’s the “assist” when you need it? “Why don’t you do something exotic, like acquire a parasite?” suggests Dianetician Kelly Preston, not quite silently birthing a great new weight-loss idea. —Mario Correa