“That’s okay, David. I know it wasn’t your fault. It’s just business.”

“You mean, you’re not the least bit angry?”

“TV’s a ratings game. However, I wish the execs would stop giving me suggestions on how to improve the show.”


“For example, they want me to start listing tour schedules, like the routings for Alan Jackson and Jewel, on one of those scrolls across the bottom of the screen.”

“Makes you mad, doesn’t it?”

“Mad? Sure it makes me mad. How would you like it if you were interviewing President Bush, or worse yet, Cheney, and you had to compete for screen space with the dates for Jimmy Buffett? I’m telling you, David, it was bad enough when they screwed up Monday Night Football, but this makes me so angry that I want to walk into the ABC boardroom with my Luger and show them what real news is all about.”

“Oh, come on now, Ted. You’re not that type of person.”

“I’m not? I’ll have you know that us TV journalists are the toughest, meanest s.o.b.’s that ever walked these network halls. In fact, as soon as I heard the news, I wanted to go to the executive parking lot and slash the tires on all of their SUVs. Imagine, me, having to mix the headlines of the day with Angelique Kidjo opening in Denver on March 22, or Poison playing West Palm Beach, Orlando and Houston in May.”

“Sounds like you’re pretty riled up there, Ted.”

“They’ll rue the day they decided to mess with me, David. They want tour dates for Randy Travis or Vida Blue? I’ll give it to them, all right. Right after I tap dance on their puny little pinheads with my size 14 boots.”

“Gosh, Ted, that’s some attitude. But why stop there? Why not take it to the head office?”

“You mean, Eisner? Ha! He’s living in Disneyland.”

“Maybe so, but I’ll bet you’d like to take out your frustrations on him all the same.”

“Don’t tempt me, David. I sat up half the night debating whether or not I should hop a red-eye to Los Angeles just so I could serve him up a knuckle sandwich for breakfast. I mean, to think I should have to lower my journalistic standards by reciting date, city, state and venue for INXS and Guster every night. It makes me want to kill, David. Kill, maim, and then kill them again.”

“Whoa! Slow down, Ted. What was that last one? Kill, maim and kill again?”

“Uh, uh. What are you doing? Writing these things down?”

“Of course.”

“But why?”

“Because you mentioned four things you’d like to do to the ABC brass. Six more and I’ve got my list for ‘The Top Ten Things Ted Koppel Wishes He Had The Guts To Do.” Now, tell me how you felt when you first heard that an ABC exec described your program as ‘irrelevant.’ I’ll bet that really ticked you off, didn’t it, Ted. Ted? Are you still there? Ted?”