Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
NOT FADE AWAY
IN 1995, AT THE HEIGHT OF THE TV talk craze, 21 shows (seven of them new) vied for the attention of audiences interested in transsexual psychics and girls who steal their mother's boyfriend. The airwaves were quickly saturated with increasingly sensational chatter, and viewers seemed to tire of what former Secretary of Education William Bennett called cultural rot.
Currently there are only 15 gabbers left. Which led us to wonder: What does a canceled talk show host do?
Some take it in stride, like Carnie Wilson, who is designing a large-size clothing line, making an exercise video and recording songs with sister Wendy and dad Brian. "We had on some real wackos," says Wilson, but she looks back on her show's one-season run as fun—"the best experience of my life."
Being canceled in January was a horrible experience for Charles Perez, a former producer who loved being a star. "It was like a death," says Perez, who claims that he "collapsed for a day" after getting the news. Perez just drove cross-country in his Bronco and is pitching a new talk show with his sister, New York City TV reporter Michelle Dabney-Perez.
Some canceled hosts revert to former careers. Ex-Partridge Danny Bonaduce still hosts his Chicago radio show, and Beverly Hills, 90210 's Gabrielle Carteris will return to acting. Carol Burnett's ex-sidekick Vicki Lawrence has joined the lecture circuit, speaking on health issues to women's groups.
And then there's loudmouth Morton Downey Jr., who has struck out at the talk show plate three times before. But the 63-year-old talkmeister is now preparing a late-night news wrapup show called Uncle Mort's Tavern. "If I don't get it right this time," says Downey, "I'll keep trying."