Is Bill Clinton the next Oprah? (nytimes, reg. required)
May 2, 2002 9:40 PM   Subscribe

Is Bill Clinton the next Oprah? (nytimes, reg. required) Bill Clinton is looking into the possibility of hosting a daytime talk show. Regardless of you personal and/or political feelings towards Clinton, how do you feel about someone who was the leader of the U.S. becoming a talk show host. For those of you not in the U.S., do you think the general population in your country would view one of their leaders doing this differently than Americans will? (LA Times story)
posted by m@L (19 comments total)
Clinton: Tonight on the Uncle Wille show "Lesbians who cheat on their partners with men!"
Crowd: Willie! Willie!
posted by riffola at 9:44 PM on May 2, 2002

Next Oprah? Heh, I'd like to see how he'd handle a show on sexual harassment or rape...
posted by gyc at 10:05 PM on May 2, 2002

I think the idea that someone who has served as President of the United States has given up his right to choose what else he may want to do with his life is preposterous, unfounded, and profoundly anti-American.
posted by rushmc at 10:06 PM on May 2, 2002

he'd be the best talk show host ever. he'd be so good it might even restore his tarnished legacy as president. the man was born to be a talk show host.
posted by boltman at 10:13 PM on May 2, 2002

From the link: "Daytime talk shows... have generally seen their ratings slip this year... Two prominent hosts, Rosie O'Donnell and Sally Jessy Raphael, are ending their shows."

Raphael didn't end her show. She was blatantly fired due to low ratings. However O'Donnell shouldn't be lumped in the same category. O'Donnell has chosen to leave her show for personal reasons, and is passing the baton to Caroline Rhea. Ratings for O'Donnell are still comparatively solid and she's leaving while she can still give herself a Johnny Carson-like send off without looking like a complete dork.

Some of these talk shows are actually better quality than others. There have been rumors and 'talks' recently between Donahue and network executives. Due to the crappy talkshows like Raphael, Rikki Lake, Springer, Jenny Jones, Maury, and a score of nameless others, there's a definite opening in the market for talk shows that actually get it right.

If Clinton did do it (and I sincerely doubt this is anything more than hot air) he'd aim for the "Town Hall Meeting" approach, kinda like when Peter Jennings does specials with a selected audience and talks about pertinent issues of the day. I say it'd last about half a season. Initially people would tune in for the novelty, but when it turns out as boring as his saxophone playing, people will change the channel.

But Ron Reagan went from being a two bit actor to being president. Why couldn't Clinton go from president to talk show host?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:19 PM on May 2, 2002

I can't imagine how this isn't just a ploy for him to get to something bigger. After all, daytime tv really, really sucks, and I'm not sure I'd want to go anywhere near that timeslot. Nothing but recycled talk show guests and court shows. Wasn't ABC looking for some new LATE NIGHT talent?? Now that'd be the sax totin' ex-pres that I know. Although the best lik

fyi, Phil Donahue has been signed to msnbc, joining the cable news wars rather then the network talkshow circuit.
posted by 10sball at 10:41 PM on May 2, 2002

Re: Donahue: Ooh right! Crap. I knew that. I forgot. But then I don't get cable, so cable news doesn't often stick in my brain.

Re: Koppel: I don't think ABC's gonna be able to kill Nightline easily. It would be a major PR fumble if they did. What they need to do is convince Koppel's people to to innovate and redesign. Back when Nightline first started, it was born out of necessity. It was successful because it answered a need and fulfilled a gap in latenight television. To keep Nightline fresh they need to figure out what cable news shows (their competition which didn't exist a decade or two ago) are not offering - and that's where Nightline needs to go. Otherwise ABC will have no choice but to wave goodbye to Koppel. Nightline used to be the T-Rex but it's turned into a fossil.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:01 PM on May 2, 2002

I'd love to see Bill as a talk show host. I agree with boltman, it would make amazing television.
And there is nothing all that strange about the transition from politician to TV personality. Doesn't anybody remember that Jerry Springer used to be Mayor of Cincinatti?
Still, from Bill's own point of view, it would not be a smart career move. Certainly not if he wants to be an "elder statesman," or enter the US Senate eventually.
posted by Rebis at 11:13 PM on May 2, 2002

Clinton is very well prepared- his life is a Jerry Springer episode...
posted by ayukna at 12:41 AM on May 3, 2002

And there is nothing all that strange about the transition from politician to TV personality.

Increasingly both jobs seem to require exactly the same skills set. I can certainly imagine Perma-Smile Blair glad-handing visiting American movie stars here to plug their rom-coms.
posted by CatherineB at 3:44 AM on May 3, 2002

Might be therapeutic for the country to see what happens when Mr. Clinton attempts to put together a televised discussion of the issues of the day, while a certain segment of the phone-in public hurls personal insults and talks trash. (Given the number of divorced men in this country, prohibiting every man who's had an affair from expressing a political opinion would give us a matriarchy in short order!) If Clinton is willing to do this, instead of something more "elder statesman-like," I'd say it's an interesting opportunity for all of us. Might even raise the level of debate a bit.
posted by sheauga at 4:23 AM on May 3, 2002

something more like regis, only with monica as co-host?
posted by quonsar at 5:38 AM on May 3, 2002

Will there be strippers during commercial breaks? Girls on trampolines?
posted by adampsyche at 5:45 AM on May 3, 2002

My immediate cynical thought is Clinton sees this as a way to step 'back into the game' - there's this unwritten rule that ex-presidents don't overtly criticize the sitting president, or at least if they do they try to do so as tactfully as possible. But if he's a talk show host, well, all bets are off. And if the show finds an audience it offers him the ability to have an impact on the public debate about the issues of the day in a high profile way that no other ex-prez (at least as far as I can recall) has had.
posted by Tempus67 at 6:08 AM on May 3, 2002

I think he could be a consummate host for a certain kind of program, but I'm not sure that would be on network TV -- and I doubt he'd do it for cable's lower ratings and pay. This would have to be some kind of pay-for-play contract, because NBC (or anybody) can't bet $50M and get squat. They'd have an embarrassing situation like CBS did shuttling Bryant Gumbel around from news magazine to interview show to news magazine to ... hey, moving' on up, Bryant! It's breakfast TV all over again! I don't think Clinton would stand for multiple time-slot, format, show-title, and other changes.

He's not right for daytime, either -- and I don't see an interview show succeeding in prime time. Maybe a political replacement for the absymal Last Call, along the lines of Politically Incorrect, is more what they're thinking. (I mean, the daytime thing is SO off I smell disinformation.)

Remember when Donahue was really Donahue, and had world leaders on his show? That's the only way I see Clinton doing this, but Phil got swamped by the slew of sludge -- not even so much the trash shows like Springer or the revamped Rikki Lake (who actually tried to do a serious show in the beginning), but by the Oprah-esque housewifey shows. I've just seen a tremendous race to the bottom the last several years (based mainly on promos) -- there are like five shows that work: makeovers, long-lost relatives, surprise secret loves, insanely cheap shows using funny/hidden/shocking video, and i-have-a-secret-that-will-break-us-up shows. Oprah's just about the only one who can compete in the niche of relationshippy, overlooked disease, fixing your life shows. And nobody does cooking or hobbies and crafts anymore. I'm sure almost all the hosts have higher aspirations -- Rosie certainly does -- but they can't keep it up and make money year in and year out.
posted by dhartung at 7:25 AM on May 3, 2002

I think he would bring the most unique personality and viewpoint to a talk show. Aside from his personal follies, the man has had the commander's view for most of the 90s.
posted by will at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2002

I'm with boltman. Clinton having a talk show is the best idea ever. I would tivo it every day.

Zach: Nightline already is what the cable news lacks, that's why smart people watch it. It doesn't have to do anything to stay "fresh" -- it's a current-events show.
posted by palegirl at 9:43 AM on May 3, 2002

I would not be at all surprised if Clinton ran for President just so he could be on TV all the time. He strikes me as a real media whore. Personally, though, I think he should start with a cable access show and work his way up. Bill's World! Party time! Excellent!
posted by kindall at 9:54 AM on May 3, 2002

Clinton is very well prepared- his life is a Jerry Springer episode...

Clearly, you don't watch Springer. Clinton's life would be a major snorefest for those used to the tripe sensationalized (and often manufactured) by Springer and his ilk.
posted by rushmc at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2002

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