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Published: Tuesday, 5/7/2002

`Billy Bob' could test TV topics

From: Producers for Clinton: The President, The Man, The Talk Show Host

To: On-air talent, AKA, Bill Clinton

Re: Program content

Sorry you couldn't make the meeting on programming strategy, Bill. But we understand: Cincinnati needed you more as a mediator of race relations. We only regret that we aren't already in production. Whatta concept!

Ex-prez/talk show host sets Queen City's wrongs right! See it on the next `Billy Bob!'

Oh, yes. About the name change. We realize you prefer Clinton: The President, The Man, The Talk Show Host.' But focus group research indicates most viewers find this title cumbersome.

Plus, TV Guide would have to abbreviate the living snot out of that name to fit the time grid. Frankly, Bill, we believe CLNTN: TP, TM, TTSH sounds more like the acronym for a European Union trade initiative than a talk show.

Besides, focus group research indicates the highly sought-after category of “most likely talk show viewers'' feel very much at home with Billy Bob Today!' Trust us: Audiences are gonna love it!

As you know, Bill, the producers feel strongly that Billy Bob Today! must re-think programming strategy. We appreciated learning your thoughts on this subject in that riveting 38-page memo of last week. While we agree you've come up with many “novel'' topics, focus group research indicates that most viewers (hard though it may be to imagine) find these topics dull.

For example, no one denies that your idea for the debut show - “The Electoral College: A Study in American Institution-Making And Subsequent Discussion of Modern-Day Relevance'' - isn't novel. But could a 30-minute talk show do justice to such an expansive topic?

Indeed, the time allotted for discussions with your guests is even less than originally planned, given the saxophone opener we've decided on. Focus group research indicates that most potential viewers (68.3278 percent) favorably recall your appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, in which you played sax with the house band while wearing Ray Bans.

The producers have wisely chosen to respect this statistic by starting each show with a light-hearted, “fun'' musical segment in which you play sax/banter with the house band while wearing cool shades, provided by a top sponsor.

We recognize this strategy reduces the total amount of time remaining for current events chats with your news-oriented guests, to say nothing of shrinking the time to plug upcoming books/movies/albums of your entertainer guests.

And, while we're on that subject, the producers feel a guest ratio of 1:4 (news to entertainment) is in keeping with feedback from focus group research.

An ideal show might include one newsmaker (Joceyln Elders, say, on “My Views About Sex Were Right!'') and four entertainers (maybe Martin Sheen, “I'm Not Really The President But I Play A Really Smart One On TV,'' Harrison Ford, “What It Was Like To Play A Sexy President In A Big-Budget Action Movie,'' musician Mitch Ryder, “Why `Devil in a Blue Dress' Will Always Be A Classic Oldie,'' and, finally, author/TV talking head Michael Beschloss, “Presidential Biographies Can Be Smart AND Sexy!'').

In closing, we are certain Billy Bob Today!' will be a ratings smash.

By the way, have you considered having work done on your nose?

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at roberta@theblade.com or call 1-419-724-6086.



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