Friday, February 05, 2010

That Is One Angry Clown!

From the Seinfeld episode The Opera:


Jerry: (answering machine) leave a message and I'll call you back, thanks.

JOE DIVOLA: Jerry, Joe Divola. *Pbt* *Pbt* *Pbt* I have a hair on my tongue, I can't get it off, you know how much I hate that? Course you do, you put it there. I know what you said about me Seinfeld. I know you bad mouthed me to the execs at NBC, put the kibosh on my deal. Now I'm gonna put the kibosh on you. You know I've kiboshed before, and I will kibosh again.

From yesterday's Los Angeles Times Business section:

Doesn't look like comedian turned senator Al Franken is planning a return to NBC's "Saturday Night Live" anytime soon.

In his opening remarks about the proposed Comcast-NBC deal at a hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Franken (D-Minn.) ripped into the deal and the risks it could present to not only consumers but media competition as well.

Franken, who was a regular on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for years and also had a short-lived sitcom on the network called "Lateline" in the late 1990s, dismissed the claims made by Comcast and NBC Universal that the partnering of the nation's largest broadband and cable provider with the entertainment giant would not harm competitors or the public.

"You'll have to excuse me if I don't trust these promises, and that is from experience in this business," Franken snapped.

I was made aware of Franken's attempt to put the kibosh on NBC via an e-mail from Cory. He sees a possible motivation for Franken's conduct that hasn't been much remarked on:

I'm not sure if you watched C-SPAN yesterday but there was a Senate committee hearing going on about the NBC/Comcast merger. When Al Franken got his chance to talk he went after the Comcast and NBC executives with a vengeance, accusing them of being dishonest and interrupting them repeatedly.

I think it's worth pointing out that there's bad blood between Franken and NBC, especially since he left SNL in a huff after he lost the Weekend Update slot to Norm Macdonald. Is he using his political power to settle a career grudge? Nobody seems to be writing about this possible alternative motive.

It would hardly be shocking to imagine that Franken sees this as an opportunity for payback. For all the humiliations he suffered at the hands of network executives. For all the times he felt that they were looking down their noses at him while he was just a performer trying to get by. Now, the tables are turned (literally). He's in the position of power and he's going to use it for all its worth to extract his pound of flesh from NBC executives.

It's hard to say if the story of Minnesota's angry clown will play out more as tragedy or farce. It's easy to say that we're certain to plenty of more drama in this theater of the absurd before the final aria is sung.

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