Man out of Time

Jesse's cable disconnection

On a more fundamental level, critics like Schultz doubt whether Jesse is really made for TV. As a talk-radio host, Ventura followed what Schultz refers to as the classic rant-and-rave format. "But ranting and raving on the radio is different than hosting a TV show, where you have to do your homework and you have to be interested in your guests. I don't think Ventura wants to do his homework."

Even those who are more optimistic about Ventura's prospects acknowledge that he is weak as an interviewer. "There's no doubt that Jesse's a better interviewee than interviewer. And I think some of that is what they're grappling with. I think they're trying way too hard to make this into some sort of Meet the Press meets [American] Gladiators," says Bill Hillsman, the celebrated political ad consultant whose work helped elect Ventura in '98. "Whether it's going to work, I don't know until I see the format. I don't think the weakness in this is him. I think the weakness is what they're trying to make him do."

Putting the boob in boob tube
Putting the boob in boob tube

Schultz, however, is more inclined to the view that Jesse Ventura is all played out. "Every good star knows that they have to keep reinventing themselves to stay current. Jesse has never figured that out," Schultz offers. He likens Ventura's predicament to that of the silent film star in the Hollywood classic Sunset Boulevard. "He's always hoping that someone will come back for another shoot, ready for his close-up," Schultz says. "I think his career as both a politician and an entertainer are coming to an end. But I don't know that he realizes that."

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