Let’s expand TV’s anchor talent pool

Dec 15, 2009 5:05 PM
Burnt Offerings by Stan Bergstein |

Nausea need not be a job description

Once upon a time, not too many years ago, the boys who write sports – there aren’t that many girls – may have known about Tiger’s prowlings, and all the ladies who now say they carried his clubs.

They would have kept it to themselves, however, with a smile or a smirk. They were, after all, some of "the guys," and a mistress or more was part of the game.

Then came the Internet, and everyone in the jungle, including the Tiger, was fair game. Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and all the rest like nothing better than to tear a Tiger to shreds, and in this case of world gossip they can reach around the earth in seconds, and in this case had big time help: the Tiger himself.

One Internet posting, with a dozen or more photos of a gorgeous Elin Nordegren when she was a spectacular teen-age model in Sweden, was accompanied with a headline reading, "What the ____ was he thinking?"

The answer, of course, is that he wasn’t thinking. For a guy who makes tens or hundreds of millions a year, and whose face is known worldwide, the idea that he could keep extramarital affairs to himself is preposterous, so much so that when he hit the tree the reality hit him. He suddenly realized he was Tiger Woods, known everywhere, and the game was over. And he and his bride, in their panic, tried to stonewall an avalanche.

Whatever Elin did or didn’t do with the golf club, and whatever happened to Tiger’s face, either as a result of that or not, became wild speculation, with the aid of both parties.

It is an absurdity, as it was Sunday night on CNN when newsreader Don Lemon assembled a panel of "experts" who know nothing more about the events in Florida than you or I, but repeated themselves and their theories over and over.

CNN developed this "panel of experts" approach during the run-up to the last election, and continued it afterwards, with the same bland faces, the same screeching voices and the same nonentities, over and over.

Television today has built a cadre of women, mostly blonde, and mostly with high-pitched nasal tones, that has made it a medium of annoyance.

It would be a blessing to its viewers if the people who make the talent calls did so while those getting the auditions were hidden from view, and mellowness of voice rather than prettiness of face were the prime consideration.

There are hordes of intelligent women with pleasant voices out there, women smart enough to understand that understatement and pleasing tones could carry them further than the fastest shreekers now on the tube, if only the talent scouts had the good judgment to seek them.

Erica Hill is the best example. She has a mellow tone, and has developed her own facial assets – the shutting eyes, the whimsical Mona Lisa smile, the use of her natural dimples, the sexy mouth – that seemingly fascinate her frequent partner Anderson Cooper and millions of others out there in Lalaland.

Rachel Maddow is another. Both she and Hill are easy on the eyes, but more important you can listen to them and not think you are hearing the cackle of witches.

Is it incidental that both million dollar talents are brunettes? Are the talent scouts deceived by the peroxide parade?

Which leads us to the subject of the sideline interviewers of football telecasts.

Some of them are very good, asking pertinent questions that can be answered briefly by coaches facing limited opportunities to talk to their troops at halftimes.

Others leave the coaches looking bemused, or annoyed, at the shallowness or stupidity of the mini-interviews. "What do you plan to do to stop their running – or passing – game?" is one that the coach plans to discuss for the next 15 minutes with his players, not in 20 seconds for the interviewer or her audience.

At least some of them don’t scream, even over the crowd noise. That in itself makes them candidates for bigger and better things, if only television executives realized their value over the chalk-on-blackboard scratches of their current crop of newswomen.

But that’s probably for another, and better, world.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Stan Bergstein