This just in: Katie Couric is not a rocket scientist.
Not big news, true, but nice excuse to throw to this nasty little news clip currently posted on My Damn Channel, a fun little Internet destination from brilliant satirist and versatile Simpsons‘ voice man Harry Shearer. (Thanks to Aaron Barnhart’s TV Barn Ticker for pointing me to it.)
Couric has been a steady target since taking over the CBS Evening News and this clip will cause many of her skeptics to go, “See? Told ya.” But, really, she’s just had her pants pulled down the same way so many newsreaders have in the past when these off-air satellite feeds have found their way onto the Internet.
Dumb anchor moments have been career killers in the past. Toronto’s Gord Martineau looked like an insensitive chimp a few years ago when a blooper reel featuring the veteran City-TV anchorman made the rounds. (He immediately apologized but–even after a 30 year career–it dented his rep.) In 2000, CTV Newsnet reporter Avery Haines slagged minority groups and stutterers in off-the-wall, off-the-cuff remarks that somehow made it to air. The skunk-haired announcer was immediately canned.
Couric doesn’t commit any serious slip up here, she just looks like a lightweight, which is probably even worse. Check out her high-pitched, helium giggle and remarks about senator John McCain’s wife’s intense blue eyes. (“She looks like a Husky!”)
As for Shearer, met him in Toronto last year (he was in town to help promote his wife Judith Owen’s singing gig at the Drake Hotel) and found him to be as sharp, smart and funny in person as he is on TV. There’s an edge to Shearer who doesn’t suffer fools easily (remarkable we got along at all). At one point, toward the end of our interview, I dared to broach a sensitive topic–his salary. The five main Simpsons voice artists have banded together on two contract renewal occasions and managed to jack their stipend into the stratosphere; each pulls down an estimated $360,000 per episode or $8 million a year.
Get off my back, Shearer basically said, pointing to the fact that nobody said boo when NFL commentator John Madden stashed the same amount of loot into his bus for working 16 Sundays a year for the network in the mid-’90s–back when Shearer and company, the stars of Fox’s most successful brand, were making a tenth of what they take home today.
You can check out Shearer’s word-for-word response in a Simpsons cover story I wrote in the current issue of Bell TV’s SHOW magazine. I’ll try and post more of that Shearer interview here in the coming weeks. The man is up to speed on everything, especially U.S. (and Canadian) politics (he’s a frequent and articulate contributor to The Huffington Post), his Spinal Tap and other improv film antics and the criminal neglect which continues to plague his adopted home town, New Orleans.