brucekluger.com

    The New York Times, March 12, 2000

    Sunday Business: My Money, My Life
    An Old-Boy Network, Coming Up for Air

    By Bruce Kluger


    Last month, Oxygen Media, the $400 million TV-Internet
    venture created by Geraldine Laybourne, the former
    Nickelodeon executive, had its grand debut. While some
    critics expressed reservations about Oxygen's all-women-
    all-the-time mission, others applauded its ambitious programming strategy.

    Last year, I tried to join the intrepid team of writers, Webmasters and others behind
    Oxygen, only to have my resume swiftly boomerang.

    I thought that perhaps my sex had something to do with my unsuitability to breathe
    Oxygen's rarefied air. But rather than smart at being excluded from the club, I
    decided to start my own network, just for guys. I'd call it the Blowhard Network, and
    its inaugural lineup might look something like this:

    6:30 A.M. Morning Stubble. A leisurely show aimed at the 21st-century man. The
    first half-hour alternates between sports reports and interviews with Ashley Judd;
    the remaining 90 minutes features power-tool demonstrations and highlights of
    Olympic trials (events: women's gymnastics and women's diving).

    8:30 A.M. Meditation. A half-hour sermonette by guest speakers expounding on
    sociopolitical theory and strategies for global peace. This week's host: Pamela
    Anderson Lee.

    9 A.M. Grunt. Today's exercise regimen: preventing carpal tunnel syndrome with
    isometric thumb exercises that can be done at home, using the television remote.

    10 A.M. Monday Morning Quarterback. Contestants watch video clips of the
    previous day's National Football League games, then vie to complete phrases like:
    "You call that a pass? It was more like a...."

    11 A.M. Cooking With Frank. This chef's culinary arts program is geared to the
    21st-century man. Today: The blender is your friend; Ring-Dings and Ho-Hosa
    subtle difference; and speed-dialing Chinese takeout on your cell phone.

    NOON Midday Sigh. Today: Stay-at-home dads discuss keys to success, including
    hiring the right nanny, selecting the best videos (The Sound of Music, 174 minutes)
    and finding the nearest Laundromat.

    1 P.M. The Stooges Report. William F. Buckley Jr. and Morton Kondracke lead a
    round table of academics discussing the cultural significance of Larry, Moe and
    Curly. This week, panelists from the Brookings Institution ponder the question:
    "Why Shemp?"

    2 P.M. Spend Bill Gates's Money. Contestants vie to disburse $1 billion of Mr.
    Gates's fortune in an hour. Purchase choices are limited to boats, buildings, aircraft
    (excluding space shuttles), dot-com start-ups, baseball teams, small Caribbean
    countries and any doodles by Da Vinci not already owned by Mr. Gates.

    3 P.M. I Want My Man TV. A music video program that features a carefully
    constructed playlist of artists aimed at the 21st-century man. Included: Jennifer
    Lopez, Madonna, Shania Twain and Bananarama. Also, hourly replays of Bruce
    Springsteen's 1984 hit, Dancing in the Dark, featuring Courteney Cox as an extra.

    5 P.M. Hot Air. The first half-hour alternates between sports reports and interviews
    with Catherine Zeta-Jones; the remaining 90 minutes features stereo equipment
    demonstrations and continuing highlights of Olympic trials (women's judo, women's
    water polo).

    7 P.M. Harry and Velma. This sitcom follows the foibles of a blue-collar couple living
    in suburban Indianapolis. Tonight: Harry is so impressed with Velma's apple cobbler
    that he sells his barber shop to raise investment capital for her new Web site.

    8 P.M. VelmaOnline. Series spinoff. Tonight: When Harry's lawyer implores Velma
    to hand over a stake in her billion-dollar Internet company to her ex-husband, she
    begins buying other Web sites to divert the flow of profits. Guest appearances by
    Martha Stewart, Jeff Bezos and Judge Judy.

    9 P.M. 'Who Wants to be Kept by a Media Mogul? Contestants vie for the
    affections of mass-media baronesses. Grand prize package includes a BMW sports
    coupe (license plate: BOYTOY) and a separate trust fund.

    10 P.M. Man to Man. Tonight: Hugh M. Hefner, the septuagenarian founder of
    Playboy magazine, and Bob Dole, the former senator, swap Viagra stories.
    Animation by Pixar.

    11 P.M. Tattered Robe. Blowhard's answer to Pajama Party, Oxygen's Friday night
    celebrity sleepover series. Tonight: Four men from Buffalo drink beer and fall
    asleep in their La-Z-Boys.

    12:30 A.M.-6:30 A.M. Snore. Classic reruns. This week: Remembering Gilligan's
    Island, including a nonstop Gingerthon.