The Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2001
Pro-Choice Push-Ups Fight Fox Flab for CNN
By Bruce Kluger and David Slavin
your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
AOL/Time Warner has named Walter
Isaacson, the former managing editor of Time
magazine, to head CNN. This occurs just one
week after a liberal media watchdog group
condemned rival Fox News Channel for what
it believes is Fox's chronic conservative slant.
"Good journalism doesn't have to be boring,"
declared Isaacson, who at Time was known
for his coziness with the Clinton
administration and penchant for stories with
entertainment appeal. Precisely what kind of
programming does Isaacson have in mind?
Cooking with Carville: Move over, Emeril. Capitol Hill's Ragin' Cajun Jim Carville
swaps his legendary spin-machine for a 10-speed Cuisinart as he whips up Big
Easy recipes for viewers, seasoning his banter with his trademark peppery patois.
Most popular dishes: Blackened GOP Grouper ("As fishy as Trent, as crusty as
Strom") and Carville's Special Creole Pizza ("It's the oregano, stupid").
Robbins & Sarandon: This all-left answer to Fox's popular Hannity & Colmes stars
Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, who champion the plight of the underprivileged,
direct from their VIP table at Elaine's. The show's most popular segment, a monthly
"Oppressed Fest" telethon, raises funds for the hosts' pet causes, such as the
inclusion of Mexican migrant workers in the song, "The Farmer in the Dell," and
their ongoing protest over the appalling lack of Native American characters on the
HBO series The Sopranos.
Big Brother Baldwin: An ingenious blend of reality TV, political pot-stirring and
sibling rivalry finds screen star Alec Baldwin facing off with actor-activist brothers
Billy, Stephen and Daniel in a series of heated competitions, including fighting over
the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine. The program ends after Week 1, when
viewers vote all of the brothers off the show.
Barney!: In this early morning kids' show, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) dons
purple pinstripes and teaches tolerance to the toddler set via his signature brand of
funny filibusters and silly songs, such as "If You're Living an Alternative Lifestyle
and You Know It, Clap Your Hands." Among Barney's regular guests is Stanley the
Storyteller, who delights children with such engaging tales as "Spencer Has One
Mommy, One Daddy, Several 'Uncles' and Some Weird Guy Sleeping on the
Woody Harrelson's Hemp World: Former Cheers star and public demonstrator
nonpareil Harrelson devotes 30 smokin' minutes of broadcast time to the magic of
marijuana. Helping the actor light a fire under his campaign for the legalization of
pot are panelists Willie Nelson, Whitney Houston and former Supreme Court
nominee Douglas Ginsburg. (Bill Clinton appears, but doesn't inhale.)
Aerobics With Asner: If you thought you loved TV's pugnacious Lou Grant, wait
until you see him in a leopard bodysuit. In this grueling, hour-long fitness program,
unrepentant liberal Ed Asner forces flabby conservatives and corpulent corporate
fat cats to bend to his will—literally—through such exercises as Pro-Choice Push-
Ups, Free-Speech Free-Weights and Asner's piece de resistance, a cardio-
crunching session on the "Lefty Lifecycle."
The MacNeil-Streisand NewsHour: Six years after ending his landmark
partnership with PBS' Jim Lehrer, Robin MacNeil returns to television, sharing the
anchor desk with celebrated chanteuse and self-appointed public servant Barbra
Streisand, who offers up such trenchant commentary as "Yentl and Yasser: The
Road to Peace?" and her Peabody Award-winning screed, "The President Has Two