Media Circus: Replacing the Voice of God

by , May 18, 2005, 3:04 PM
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With Dan Rather, Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw all hanging up their "Voice of God" (VOG) credentials (wondering, as they do, if anyone was listening anyway), it's strategizing time at the networks and even the cable channels. A slate of options are being presented by perky 30-something marketing types clutching Nielsens and demographic spreadsheets. Here's what they've come up with:

- News Nomad (ABC): Equal parts "Amazing Race" and "Nightline," News Nomad follows the story, literally. With a posse of Gen Y geeksters in tow serving as a Greek chorus-cum-focus-group, our lean and shaggy correspondent (Ashton Kutcher?) travels the world sniffing smoke at the Vatican and joking with British troops in Mosul, among other things. Tag line: Feeling the news where it happens

- Animal Planet's World Report (Animal Planet): Spunky Animal Planet surprises everyone with its entry into news with this digest-style show. Featuring newscasters walking or playing with their well-groomed pets during the broadcast, "APWP" also features plenty of pet tips, plus the hip but avuncular "Farmer Dude" doing the weather from his designer ranch. Tag line (with apologies): Mews you can ewes

- The National Times (ABC): This "scripted news magazine" format breaks ground with segments featuring either completely false news stories or highly doctored versions of real ones. Hosted by disgraced journalists Armstrong Williams and Stephen Glass, "The National Times" takes the idea of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. A crack team of creative writing grads supplant traditional reporters, and anchor slots go only to Victoria's Secret models and recently retired NFL and NBA stars. Tag line: Give your brain a rest already!

- Mr. & Mrs. News (NBC): A simple adaptation of reality show popularity contests such as "The Bachelor," this limited series will feature 20-somethings inhabiting roles such as "Hunky Wonk" and "Amiable Bimbo" to determine which male-female anchor pairing plays best with the widest audience. Content ranges from puppies-in-baskets style featurettes to in-depth series about weight-loss pills and Pilates regimens. Tag line: Hard bods, soft news

- Daily Revelations (Pax): With the day's news filtered through the lens of the New and Old Testament, it's hard to miss with this hard-hitting yet compassionate news show from Pax. Attractive, "pastor-y" hosts deliver news-like reports to a live "congre-media-gation" whipped into a frenzy over incendiary stories ranging from abortion and stem-cell research to creationism in the classroom and the latest outrages from the likes of Michael Moore and Paul Krugman. Tag line: Showing the light, leading the right

- The Warlord (MTV): Afghanistan is a fascinating country full of rival tribes, runaway opium, heroin production, and a president who safely rules over roughly 7.3 acres of the country. In this scripted reality show, Dan Rather is ensconced in a heavily fortified compound and given the title of "The Warlord." Holding court each day, Rather, in flowing robes, issues fatwahs (sometimes even against CBS executives), while leading a pack of potential regional warlords through a vigorous series of trials. Some news is thrown in along the way as well. Tag line: You're Fatwah'd!

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