Top Story on 'Rick's List'? He's Not the First to Fall
By Dino Sossi Posted Oct 8th 2010 08:00PM
Was it just a dream? The meteoric rise, and even more precipitous fall, of Rick Sanchez happened so quickly it felt like, well, none of it actually happened. Snapped from relative broadcasting obscurity in Florida by CNN, Sanchez quickly made a strong imprint on the cable news network. His flamboyant, in-your-face style, seemingly more FOX-like in form than CNN, earned him a devout following. This led to an expanded time slot and even more air time.
After calling Jon Stewart a "bigot" recently on the radio show 'Stand Up With Pete Dominick,' among other incendiary comments, Sanchez was fired from CNN. To try to make sense of this fiasco and what it means for Rick, PopEater revisits some classic media faux pas and what happened to these silly birds who fell from their nests.
Tucker Carlson: Caught in the 'Crossfire'
Does Jon Stewart have a hate-on for CNN hosts? Stewart was once a welcome guest on CNN's flagship debate show 'Crossfire,' hosted by Tucker Carlson of the political right and Paul Begala on the left. Little did they know Stewart's Trojan Horse of comedy was full of an army of stinging criticism. An exchange of classic heated barbs left Stewart unscathed and Carlson's career in tatters.
Result? A couple of months after the episode, 'Crossfire' was axed. Why? Because of the excessive "noise level" of these kinds of shows according to the CNN president -- largely explaining his reasoning along the lines of what Stewart said. Carlson is now a conservative commentator for Fox. Begala is a researcher and college teacher.
Conan O'Brien: NBC Messes Up Late Night TV. Again
This event was so recent, does it even count as history? It's about as strange to write a historical account of Conan's departure as it is to shoot a film about the origins of Facebook. Sorry, they did what?!?
NBC was roundly criticized for lacking a succession plan when then-reigning late night TV champ Johnny Carson retired, causing a battle between contenders to the crown Jay Leno and David Letterman. To prevent a recurrence, NBC announced that Conan would replace 'The Tonight Show' host Jay a full five years before the latter comic's retirement. After deciding that his new gig, a prime time show with mediocre ratings, wasn't making him happy, Leno let his displeasure be known.
Result? The bad? Conan voluntarily gave up his dream job, not wanting to push 'The Tonight Show' to a later time slot and making it 'The Tomorrow Show.' As a result, Jay suffered dearly in the press for changing his mind. The good? Conan made $45 million from the loss ($12 million went to his staff), earned heaps of good will and brokered a deal for a new show on TBS. And Dave was able to release some of the pent up bitterness that had been boiling inside for years in positively gleeful comedic fashion.
Tom Cruise: Falling Off Oprah's Couch
Tom Cruise used to be the quintessential All-American boy. Wholesome. Winning smile. Every girl's dream. And then he went temporarily bonkers. First was his declaration of love to Katie Holmes on Oprah's couch. He really really loved Katie. We mean really. And he wanted everybody to know it. By screaming. And then jumping on Oprah's couch. And then screaming some more. And if that wasn't enough, Tom followed that up a month later with a heated interview with 'The Today Show's' Matt Lauer regarding his main area of expertise – postpartum depression. We're not making this up.
Result? Cruise's film career took a bit of a dive as his box office tallies dropped. 'Knight and Day'? Yep, his career has gone from bright shiny days to dark stormy nights. This craftiest of Hollywood survivors needs more appearances dancing on the MTV Video Music Awards and comedic films like 'Tropic Thunder' with Ben Stiller to rejuvenate his reputation.
Joaquin Phoenix: A Lot of People Move from Music to Acting. But the Other Way Around?
In the long wacky history of live television, a lot of weird stuff has happened. And this may be among the weirdest. Joaquin Phoenix, star of 'Walk the Line' and 'Gladiator,' was absolutely out of his mind during an interview on Letterman. Best word to describe their encounter? Awkward. Luckily comedy-maestro Dave was able to spin the strangeness into tons o' laughs. After declaring that he was giving up acting for rap (!), it seemed Phoenix was lost.
Result? Phoenix was in the Hollywood wilds for months after this broadcast. Then 'I'm Still Here,' a mockumentary directed by Casey Affleck (brother of, well, you know who), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, putting Phoenix's erratic behavior into question. Was it real? Was it an act? Now it seems like the second. We'll see.
Bill Maher and Russell Brand: Too Soon. Too Soon!
9-11 was a horrific national tragedy that scarred this fine country. Afterward, there was an obvious need to discuss America's future. But right away? Not so much.
Bill Maher, on his ironically titled show 'Politically Correct with Bill Maher,' spoke about the terrorists in a way that was incredibly difficult to hear. Brand, working for MTV in London at the time, wore an unfortunate costume right after the attacks.
Result? 'Politically Incorrect' was canceled either due to this controversy (according to Maher) or insufficient advertising (ABC). Maher now hosts 'Real Time with Bill Maher' on HBO. Brand was fired from MTV, moved to the US, starred in Hollywood comedies and became engaged to Katy Perry. Katy, if you decide to fire Russell from this relationship, please let us know.
Dr. Laura: There are No "N's" in Laura
'The Dr. Laura Program' host Laura Schlessinger ran face-first into a media wall when she dropped the N-bomb not once, not twice, but eleven times (!) to a caller during her radio show. To defuse the controversy, Laura went on soon-to-be-retired Larry King's TV program to defend her comments.
Result? During the 'Larry King Live' interview, Laura promised she wouldn't renew her radio contract at year's end.
George Carlin: Comedic Provocateur Says the Words You Can't Say on Television
Carlin's groundbreaking 'Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television' routine was no gaffe but instead a sideswipe on FCC speech laws. Carlin made comedic history with this much-lauded routine, probably one of the biggest artistic freedom of expression cases post-Lenny Bruce.
Result? A radio broadcast of the routine eventually led to a decision by the Supreme Court that helped establish the degree that the federal government can regulate speech on the airwaves. Dr. Laura would be proud.
So What Does This All Mean for Rick Sanchez?
Imploding publicly live, or on tape, doesn't necessarily mean endsville to your career. Sanchez is toxic and won't be on air regularly anytime soon. But as these examples show, this may not be the last we see of 'Rick's List.' Although some of you might want it to be.
Prediction? Sanchez will apologize for his comments, go on tour for his new book 'Conventional Idiocy' (I think I smell a new chapter), let the ruckus die down and get picked up by a broadcaster desperate for ratings. Give it 6 to 12 months. Memories are short, people like to forgive and hey, everybody loves a comeback story.
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