Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maybe Next Time

The New York Times says that Jon Stewart is the next Edward R. Murrow.

Damn. I wanted to be the next Edward R. Murrow. Stewart has his own TV show, adoring fans who'll assemble to watch video of cars going into a tunnel, numerous Emmys, roles in classic American films like Big Daddy. He gets to be Edward R. Murrow, too?

After a two-hour screaming fit and promises of retribution that I have no intention of delivering, I drank some vodka, settled down and thought: Hey, I don't have to be Edward R. Murrow. He's not the only revered journalist around. I could be . . . Eric Sevareid! Yes! Sevareid was the same generation as Murrow, cut his teeth during World War II, also worked for CBS. But he never got the glory that pretty boy Murrow received. Sevareid was the real deal. That's who I'll be the next as.

"Sorry pal. Sevareid's taken."

That voice again. I thought I'd killed him in a ritual murder in the woods. But ritual murders, I've discovered, rarely take. Or maybe I shouldn't have left him laughing at my efforts. Whatever the case, the voice was back, clucking his tongue in defiance.

"What do you mean Sevareid's taken?" I asked.

"Stephen Colbert's the next Sevareid," he replied. "Didn't you know?"

How could I possibly know that? But I didn't want to reveal my ignorance, so I played along.

"Of course I knew," I said, pouring another vodka. "But I'd heard that Colbert turned it down. He wants to be the next Cronkite instead."

The voice was skeptical. "Where did you hear that?"

"Oh, you know, friends in the biz."

"Is that right?"

"Yep. Colbert's got a big hard on for Walter Cronkite. Religiously watches old tapes of the guy. He even does a tribute show about Cronkite announcing JFK's assassination."

The voice smiled. "You're lying."

"Oh?" I drained the vodka. "You in the mind reading business now?"

The voice leaned back, crossed his legs, filed his nails. "Okay, I'll humor you. If Colbert's Cronkite, then who's the next Peter Jennings?"

I chuckled as if this was the dumbest question I'd heard all week. But the voice had me. I tried to bluff my way through it.

"Jennings? Please. That's easy. The next Peter Jennings is -- "


"Craig Ferguson?"

The voice erupted in derision. "Ha! I knew it! You're so predictable!"

It took every fiber to muster a veneer of dignity. "Well then," I replied, head held high, affecting a fleeting English accent, "who is the next Peter Jennings?"

"There is no next Peter Jennings. He's not up yet, not for another two years."


"And when he is, Jimmy Fallon gets him."

"That doesn't seem right."

The voice rose, put on his overcoat and hat.

"Right has nothing to do with it. These are secret arrangements. God, you're clueless."

I pondered the implications. If Fallon's the next Jennings, that means Chelsea Handler's the next Connie Chung, which could only lead to --

"Jay Leno as Jesus Christ."

The voice was correct. It all made sense now! Leno came back from the network dead to judge the living and usher in the End of Days. How could I have missed that?

"Because you watch false gods," the voice answered on his way out the door. "I'll be in the woods if you need me."

What I needed was another drink. I looked to my Bobblehead collection of local news anchors for comfort, but all I received were cold, motionless stares. So I went to a movie. Reese Witherspoon as a perky bear baiter. Looked to be good.