TV's Fall

The combined Big Three [networks'] drop in households this season is 8.2%. That's the second-biggest falloff in the 47 years since 1953-54... To make matters worse, this year's hefty decline follows another 8% plunge last year and a 7% drop from the year before. Over the past three seasons, the Big Three rating has tumbled by 22%.

Variety, May 26-June 1, 1997

TO: Robert C. Wright
Chief Executive Officer,
National Broadcasting Company

FROM: Warren Littlefield,
President of Entertainment,
RE: Nevermind the Nielsens; We're the National Broadcasting Company!

FACT: I am not scared. Over the past five years, I have put my full faith in the American viewers and the feast of televised entertainment that is NBC. We have brought joy--day in and day out--to the couches of this country, and we will continue to manufacture that feeling. Seinfeld. Brokaw. E.R. Those three words are words that the other two networks cannot say. And I'm saying them to you right now. I can state with 200% certainty that no one in this office is scared.

What we're talking about, ratings-wise, is an almost undetectable diminuendo: a very, very, very slight slant in the cardinal direction of South. No one in this office is using the word slump.

Nor will the 1997-1998 season resemble anything that has ever been seen on the little-big screen before. ABC says that T.V. is Good. I will counter that that is an act of criminal understatement. T.V. at NBC is mega-bowel-busting fun. Except, of course, when we're engaging and engendering a productive discourse on a national culture of civility, decency, and meaning.

And so I am proud, and not the least bit apprehensive, to announce the following programming highlights of the NBC Fall season.

America's Funniest Snuff Videos: Hosts Bob Saget and Mickey Rourke screen homemade tapes from across the country and around the world. Insured 100% hilarious by NBC's Laugh-Back Guarantee!

Bill Gates's Divine Feet: Watch while abject and prostrate MSNBC execs compete to bathe Bill Gates's feet in torrents of hot tears. In the bonus round, contestants soothe his eminence's "lil'piggies" with salves and liniments; the winners become vested shareholders in the Microsoft Corporation. Join host Don Cornelius and his dancers at the end of the show as they do America's hottest dance, "The Magdalena."

Robert Bork: Fellated?: Has Bork really been borked? Based on Crossfire, the trenchant show that has stimulated and informed audiences for 15 years, Fellated features lively, no-holds-barred debate on the likely sexual practices of one of America's most prominent conservative thinkers and controversial legal figures: Robert "Porky" Bork. Speculating from the right: Phyllis Schlafly and Bo Gritz. Hypothesizing from the Left: Bill Moyers and Harry Belafonte.

Margaret Thatcher: Fellated?: Join the Fellated Four as they face off in this prime time "sweeps month" special.

The Hobbler: Follow Regis Philbin and location host G. Gordon Liddy as they apply "simple-snip" veterinary shears to the achilles tendon of one television detractor each episode. Week 1: Bill McKibben. Week 2: Bill Bennett. Week 3: Captain Kangaroo.

Larry King Presents: Jon Benet--The Friendly Ghost!: Every Saturday morning, America's pageant sweetheart struts her way out of the grave and into your home. Tune in as cartoonist Bil Keane collaborates with animator Ralph Bakshi and Billboard-topping recording artist John Tesh, to bring you "little girls dancing, dancing for gold."

FACT: The audience of tomorrow needs nurturing, not neglect.

Q: When is a 51-inch Trinitron not a 51-inch Trinitron?

A: When it's a fully interactive digital friend! Accordingly, NBC is pleased to announce the following R&D projects with Sony, the global leader in consumer electronics.

  • "The Middle Reliever" Home Catheter. Perfect for four-plus-hour "extra-innings" sessions at the screen, this washable plastic hose drains up to six quarts into a concealed reservoir. Custom-designed "uri-2" applicator nozzle fits men and women, 11 and up. Also comes in "candid" semi-opaque "Funt Shunt," and four-hose family-size. Recommended for shut-ins!

  • "The Tube Teat." You'll never dehydrate again. Hard-rubber nipple attachment lactates Mountain Dew, 3.2 "near" beer, and .20% Methadone solution at 6:00, 10:00, 3:00, and 8:00 (7:00 central and mountain). Yasmine Bleethe workout tape not included.

  • "Lazy Eye" Lid Support: More comfortable than toothpicks; more durable than duct tape. Finally, Must-see-T.V., fully realized. CP

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