Moral crusader Bill Bennett got his boxers in a bunch this October over the ”cultural pollution” emitted by all those talk shows and their hosts. But to be fair, the genre had its moments, which we hereby acknowledge with some well-deserved prizes.
The Hugh Grant Certificate of Remorse goes to Oprah Winfrey, not for eschewing sleaze, and certainly not for dissing her still-benighted colleagues in print, but for making a teary confession that 20 years ago, she once smoked cocaine.
A Feathered Nest of Pure Canard Down goes to Jerry Springer, who took time out from egging on transvestites to record Dr. Talk, a hokey country CD with such self-justifying lyrics as ”There’s Oprah, Phil and Sally/And Jerry Springer too/A little dose of a talk-show host/You won’t seem quite as blue.”
The Statuette for Best Talk-Show Acting goes to the Blockheads. In February, members of this comedy troupe slipped onto The Jerry Springer Show. One, as the ”husband,” confessed to his ”wife” that he had slept with the ”babysitter.” The hoax did not amuse Springer—he’s suing for costs and damages.
The Make-a-Wish Lifetime Achievement Award goes to host Danny Bonaduce, the Partridge Family alum, who earned his mike with a past that reads like a list of talk topics (”Child Stars Turned Sunset Strip Junkies!”). Bonaduce was one of the savviest of the new crop, even if he did get his butt kicked by a female American Gladiator.
The Dr. Frankenstein Memorial Box Spring goes to Phil Donahue. The silver-haired granddaddy of all trash talk shows couldn’t compete with his own spawn. In August, his slipping ratings forced New York’s WNBC station to drop him in favor of Sally Jessy Raphael.
A My Own Backyard TM Cleanup Kit goes to Procter & Gamble. The hygiene giant pulled its ads — worth an estimated $20 million a year — from many of the daytime yakfests, claiming to be offended by the high raunch factor. This from the company that produces the hormone-drenched soap operas Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
— A.J. Jacobs and Lisa Milbrand