Live from the scene

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2001

This editorial appeared in today's Los Angeles Times:

Overheard cell phone conversation:

"Bernie? It's me. I'm on the freeway. Listen. I just got a great idea for a fall series. It's like reality TV only faker. OK, we get a crew and camera in a chopper. We fly over a different big city every week. We pick a van out of traffic and just start filming from the air. Wherever it goes, we go. Freeway. Local streets. The mall. We're filming.

"Well, nothing happens Nada. Does anything ever happen on 'Friends'? Nothing is the point, man. It's TV. Nothing has to happen. We just follow this car everywhere. People will eat it up. At home. In the office. They love wondering what's going to happen next. Can't help themselves. Remember O.J.?

"No, trust me, it's OK. We don't promise Shakespeare. We just show this guy driving all over. He doesn't even know we're filming. We won't show his face or plates. Sure, he might be doing errands for his wife. So what? If he waves us off, maybe he's threatening. He might have a gun, you know. Maybe he'll really run! No scriptwriter, Bernman. No rewrite. No permits. No actors. No residuals. We hire a couple of voices. They speculate about this mystery man, what he's running from, how futile it is, his dangerous driving, who he's calling on the cell, what's in the van. Better yet, who's in the van? Maybe a hostage! 'Sure, the driver might be a salesman. Who's to know? It's candy for the eyes, Bernie. You watch. You wonder. You turn it off. Next week there's another one.

"We'll call the show 'Chase!' Like 'Cops,' only the guy's got his shirt on. We'll sell sponsorship of the camera - make it, say, the Kodak ChaseCam. After 58 minutes we announce: 'We're resuming our regular programming.' Bernie, Bernie, they do it all the time in L.A. Did you see Wednesday afternoon? Five stations for over three hours. Today, it's forgotten and there's a new summer movie out. What're you afraid of? You think some paper's gonna write an editorial?"

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