Television (Part II).
BY BRAD KLOZA
CNN, Thursday, November 9, 2000
Commercial. “What is within reason to you?” a voice asks. The camera is panning very fast along the surface of the sea. “Is riding a waterfall down the face of a Mayan temple through shark-filled waters within reason?” A woman shoots down a water slide set in a temple-like facade, into a clear tube that goes beneath the water. In the water, there is a shark.
“Is dancing beneath a dome of golden seashells within reason?” The camera spins in a huge ballroom with a 100-foot ceiling capped by a lit dome with seashells engraved in it.
“Is unearthing the royal towers of a lost city that has risen from the sea within reason?” Pretty fish underwater. A shot from shallow water revealing the blurry image of a grand palace ashore.
“This year, will you expand your definition of what is within reason to include… Atlantis?” Long shot of a hotel. “Atlantis. Once upon our time.”
Judy Woodruff at CNN asks Greta Van Susteren, a lawyer/journalist reporting from Florida, what will happen if the court agrees to hear the cases Florida citizens have filed against the state alleging irregularities in the voting process. Van Susteren says, “We simply don’t know,” and “We are in uncharted waters,” “We have no idea,” and “No one knows at this point what the court will do,” and “No one has any idea.”
A man wearing a baseball cap can be seen behind and to the right of Van Susteren. He’s talking on a cellular phone, smiling, and lowering his head just enough so that his face can be seen in the frame. He keeps giving the thumbs-up signal, smiling, talking on the phone. He starts to laugh and covers his mouth with his hand.
Woodruff asks what kind of judge will hear such a case. Van Susteren says, “I’m not sure — I think they’re elected to the state of Florida. But let me tell you what lawyers do do, is we shop around a little bit when we have some option, to find a judge that would be particularly attracted to our viewpoint.”
The man flashes the thumbs-up signal once more.
Commercial. A woman walks down a city street while talking on a cellular phone. She is wearing a shiny red jacket, a bright green T-shirt, and blue jeans with red leather patches. She has short, spiky brown hair. She looks up and sees a clothing store, and walks in. All the time a song is playing: “I know where I’m going and I know what to do / Ooh…. I got a new attitude!” When the woman walks out of the store she is wearing a new outfit, a shiny orange skirt, yellow shirt, and baby blue vest with ruffles. People on the street notice her and turn their heads.
Voiceover: "Introducing something totally new from Verizon Wireless — it’s called “New Every Two.” We’ll give you a new digital phone up to a hundred dollar value every two years for free when you sign up for a two-year agreement."
The woman walks into a Verizon store while talking on her phone. She hands this phone over and gets a brand new one handed right back to her. Then she is walking down the street again, talking on her new phone. Next she walks into a hair salon. When she emerges her hair is no longer black, but red; no longer spiky, but styled kind of high and poofy. She smiles and puts her new phone back to her ear and walks off. “I got a new attitude!”
CNN resumes its special coverage called The Florida Recount. Jeff Greenfield says, " The longer this story drags on, we hear more and more voices for a swift and statesman-like resolution to this unresolved presidential election. The Gore and the Bush campaign teams seem to be getting testier and testier."
Commercial. A man in a car is stuck in heavy traffic. He is impatiently tapping his steering wheel and sticking his head out the window to look ahead. “Come on,” he says. “Come on!” The people in the car next to his are older. One has a small dog in her lap. They are both more patient than the first man and look at him with contempt. Voiceover: “Its roomy interior makes it incredibly comfortable. Its 200-horsepower makes it hard to sit still.” The man is agitated and animated (“All right!”) and as the camera pans back and away we see that he is not actually in traffic, but on a slow-moving ferry carrying some 20 cars across a body of water. “This is it people! Let’s move! On three!” The new Chrysler Sebring LXI sedan.
Woodruff introduces CNN’s Leon Harris as moderator of a discussion among about fifteen voters from West Palm Beach. “Yes I am here in West Palm Beach — just arrived here,” Harris says. “And it’s my pleasure to be here with a lively group — they’re quiet now.” He points to the group and smiles. “I told you guys not to lock up on me when the cameras came on.” They all smile nervously. Soon enough though, they become animated over the issue of the confusing ballot, and are all talking at the same time. Then Harris cuts them off and goes to a commercial break.
Commercial. “To a rat, the city is a banquet,” a man’s voice says. Two cartoon rats feast on the city’s trash.
“Did ya try the rack a lamb?” one rat asks, in a stereotypical Brooklyn accent.
“Da soup is divine!” says the other.
The voice continues, “A melting pot of tastes and textures.”
Rat number one asks, “Should we do Chinese er Eye-talian?”
The voice says, “Well, you dirty rats, the party’s over. The city of New York is asking every New Yorker to put trash in cans and put a lid on it. Because the more you feed them, the more you breed them.”
The rats no longer feast. “Ya just can’t get a good meal in this town anymore,” one says.
Voice: “Help send rats packing.”
Back to the group discussion. The room is split over the need for a re-vote. Harris gains and loses control of the proceedings several times and finally tries to put an end to it all. But the voters are talking over him. Harris looks alarmed, and he is holding his hands up. “All right,” he says, “All right… Well I’m sorry, but… but that’s… that’s going to have to be that last…” But it is no use, the voters are all talking.
“They said that that was it and the votes cannot be changed,” says one man over the din.
“Okay, okay,” says Harris. “We…”
A woman cuts Harris off to tell her story. Harris holds his hands up for quiet, but the woman continues.
“I’m sorry,” Harris cuts in, “but that’s going to have to be the last of it. We’re up against the clock right now.”
Back in the studio, Bernard Shaw says, “Wow… that… was priceless.”
Commercial. It is the Atlantis commercial once again, but with a different voiceover: “You say you want to get away from it all. How far do you want to go? Another state? Another country? Or another world? Where you can ride a waterfall down the face of a Mayan temple through shark-infested waters. Where you can dance beneath a dome of golden seashells, and dine with all the creatures of the sea. Where your room is suspended in the sky, and reality is suspended… indefinitely. How far do you really want to go?”
SUGGESTED READSIn Response to Harold Bloom’s Introduction to The Best of the Best American Poetry
by Eric McHenry (5/28/1999)
CNN’s Political Team Has It Covered
by Pete Reynolds (1/10/2012)
RECENTLYI Feel Like NPR Doesn’t Like My New Radio Show Idea
by Dan Kennedy (4/24/2015)
How to Find Love: Lessons from an Old Maid: Letter to Adults Who Are Also Having Zero Sex
by Connie Sun (4/24/2015)
Open Letters: An Open Letter to the Former Owner of My Queen-Size Bed
by Catherine Tung (4/24/2015)