Commentary

Manic Depression And Media Impressions

If you have your health, you have everything and -- if lucky -- your spry self will give way to good TV ratings.

In this regard, I'm concerned about Jane Pauley and her health. It has been disclosed in a new book by Pauley that she has been a manic-depressive for the last several years.

Daily Variety has been concerned about something more, however. NBC's "Dateline NBC" has conveniently scheduled an exclusive interview with Pauley on Sept. 1, just two days after her highly touted daytime syndicated talk show debuts - also produced by an NBC division. All to give the show marketing lift.

The trade paper cites NBC Universal Television President Jeff Zucker, saying he shouldn't lose out on the interview with a big TV personality. He should know, being a longtime newsman himself. He was the executive producer of "The Today Show," where Ms. Pauley worked for years.

Critics have issues with TV news programs that promote entertainment programs owned by the same company. But I don't. The late night newscast on the CBS affiliate in Phoenix does a special feature on the "Survivor" finale - after the network's broadcast of that finale. Newscasts have been crossing the lines for years. This doesn't matter. Why? Because in the age of the Internet, there are now thousands of ways of getting news from reputable organizations.

Many local TV stations focused their late news coverage on Pauley's illness - and, oh yes, by the way -- the fact that she has this new TV show. Yes, it's a sad and bad illness, and many people have it. USA Today ran a story in Thursday's edition about her new show and book - but never mentioned the illness. That's because the news wasn't released by its press time.

Books of this type are generally used as marketing tools. We've seen the ploy a thousand times before - all to gain spin for a movie, a TV show, or music release.

NBC says the interview on Sept. 1 is to promote the book - not the TV show.

Excuse me, while I clear my throat.

Something troubles me - something that no press organization has touched on as yet. Why has Pauley waited until now to disclose her illness - just before the launch of her show? I'm sure there is a good reason. Does she mean to gain sympathy among her daytime viewers - mostly older women who may have the same illness? I hope not. Lets say these viewers aren't interested. If her show gets a 1.0 - low for a syndicated daytime rating - a possibility even for the likes of Pauley -- it'll give some people a bout of depression.

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