Deliciously bad TV broke out of the gate early in 2009, literally as the ball was dropping in Times Square.
Inexplicably, CNN booked its increasingly shape-shifting pretty boy Anderson Cooper (who went from fluff to hard news and seems to be cycling back to fluff again, recently taking swims with Michael Phelps) for a special AC 360 to usher in the New Year. In a move best described as "Bravo-style programming," the "news" channel paired the Silver Fox with comedienne Kathy Griffin, pretty much locking in the older-gay-men-at-home-on-the-couch demographic.
And didn't they make an awkward pair?! Like a fixed-up date. Griffin clearly came loaded for bear, with a batch of questions designed to trip up the much-speculated-about Cooper. Her queries about Gossip Girl and who he was wearing had AC collapsing in nervous fits of giggles, and eventually calling her "honey," like two BFFs sipping pink cocktails and commiserating over worthless men.
But their cringe-y pas-de-deux was the show's bright spot, amid some of the lamest "coverage" I've ever seen -- and this from a marquee cable channel. Even though Times Square emptied out totally at 12:03 a.m., the cameras kept rolling while Kathy & Andy struggled to keep up the façade of unbridled fun. Behind them, trash blew across the forlorn neon jungle like tumbleweeds through Silver City, and the only people visible were guys with ladders dismantling the set.
As befitting its status as a wide-ranging news org, CNN reached deep into its coffers and outlaid about $50 to bring viewers the festivities from: Key West (where a single camera was trapped in the back of the crowd providing indecipherable shots of a drag queen doing something); New Orleans (where the ground correspondent angrily described the crowd as "belligerent" and fled, first to an empty restaurant, and then to the safety of a second-story balcony); the sidewalk outside Shrek the Musical; a 5K "fun" run in NYC (where the correspondent huffed through reporting exactly nothing and the only other joggers seemed to be furries -- two lobsters and a rabbit); Las Vegas (where a demented Coolio -- remind me again ...? -- rattled off greetings to his 29 kids); the fuzzed-out Grand Canyon ("sent from my BlackBerry," I think); and at 1 a.m., a badly edited round-up of sparkly things dropping in various Central Time Zone hot spots.
But viewers -- hopefully mellowed by booze -- who sat through this TV turd in its totality, were well rewarded right before 1 a.m., when CNN dropped its own ball, and failed to cut away promptly from Times Square to a commercial.
Lucky for us that's exactly when Griffin -- irked by the few stragglers in the streets who were heckling her and AC -- leaned over the well-brought-up Mr. Cooper to shriek: "Shut up! You know what -- screw you! I'm working! Why don't you get a job, buddy? I don't go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth!"
Oh no, she's didn't! Oh yes, she did. YouTube sees all. Happy New Year, and God bless you, live TV -- don't ever change.