No, not Monty Python’s Brian Cohen the accidental fake messiah. Brian Williams the intentionally fake actor who played a newsman on TV.
Before we go any further, let’s remember an old saying: “Be kind to people on your way up the ladder. You’re going to meet them again on the way down.” -- anon.
Okay, hold that thought.
Williams is on suspension for six months from his job as anchor of NBC Nightly News for exaggerating events in the life of Brian while pretending to cover a war and other lesser stories from the land of make believe.
NBC has brought back the admirable Ed Wynn lookalike Andy Lack as “Chairman” of the News Division to straighten out the mess Brian left behind and which was not entirely of his own making.
NBC news was the most watched of them all during Lack’s first term at the helm. His successor was right out of the pages of the Peter Principle. Then up through the ranks producer Steve Capus tried to right the ship, but the new owners, Comcast, prevented him from doing much.
First they brought in corporate drone Pat Fili-Krushel, who’d done a lot of television. Things like running the HR and charity offices at Time-Warner and non- news programming at ABC. Notice, the only time the word “news” comes up in her resume, it’s prefixed with “non.” She was installed as News Czar.
This genius then recruited Capus’ replacement Deborah Turness.
Turness had run the ratings- leading pipsqueak ITV television service in her native England.
In his March 8, 2015 article for New York Magazine, Gabriel Sherman -- an actual news guy -- said this of Turness:
(Her) success, and her glamour, made her something of a celebrity in London media circles. The papers noted how she competed in the 33-day Paris-to-Beijing off-road car rally, was once married to a roadie for the Clash, and performed Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” at a major media conference.
A fine resume, wouldn’t you agree?
As all NBC’s nonsense was happening backstage, no one was keeping an eye on the loose cannon Williams who needed and needs “handling.” No one was doing anything about on and off camera chaos which knocked the Today Show’s ratings to second place after 16 years at number one. At the same time, the wheels were coming off “Meet the Press.”
Both Fili Krushel and Turness are mostly out of work. They’ll both get nice offices but no functions at NBC and when the current storm calms -- which it will -- no trace of either will remain.
Meantime, Lack and other big shots will have to figure what to do or not do with Brian. During his earlier reign, Lack had made Williams a star. The two men are said to be close. But it’s said Williams has little support among the peasant class at NBC, and there’s good reason for that.
While moving up the ladder, Williams rightfully acknowledged being pulled from the top, but forgot he also was being pushed from the bottom.
Did he ever extend a hand down? If he did, it was hard to detect.
At this point it’s tough to forecast the next chapter in The Life of Brian, a smart, funny and handsome man whom no one will trust again when his mouth is moving.
If he returns to the air, it will be in a downgraded capacity. And if Comcast can temporarily control its obsession with HR and focus groups and do a little navel gazing, they’ll discover that they have a prime replacement already doing the news: the calm and calming, studious, serious, and believable veteran Lester Holt.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015