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Mixed Season's Greetings

December 22, 1991|RICK DU BROW | TIMES TELEVISION WRITER

Merry Christmas to:

GEN. H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF: The TV personality of the year. His briefing summing up the Gulf War was classic, including this evaluation of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: "He is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he is a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man."

MAGIC JOHNSON: For unforgettable grace under pressure in disclosing he tested positive for the AIDS virus at a TV news conference that focused new attention on the disease.

THE U.S. SENATE: For its abominable lack of grace under pressure in conducting the televised Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, making anarchy look like a better system by comparison.

DEBORAH NORVILLE: Life's not fair. But it wasn't for Jane Pauley, either.

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV AND BORIS YELTSIN: They saw the future and it didn't work. Their ABC interview from Moscow with viewers in the United States, amid the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, was pure electricity.

THE COUP MEMBERS WHO TRIED TO OUST GORBACHEV: Not even the Three Stooges could match this gang that couldn't shoot straight and acted like Stalinist hoodlums in the new world of instant TV exposure.

PETER ARNETT: For an extraordinary balancing act and superb reporting as CNN's loner in Baghdad as the Gulf War heightened. And let's not forget his CNN comrades in a Baghdad hotel room who also dramatically reported the start of the war--Bernard Shaw and John Holliman.

RODNEY KING: Videos suddenly became a potential form of citizen arrest after the footage of his beating was shown on TV again and again and again.

PETE WILLIAMS: The Defense Department spokesman was a brilliantly efficient TV symbol of how the government turned the Gulf conflict into a feel-good war--with the complicity of the networks' "tasteful" coverage while their hands were tied by censorship.

WOLF BLITZER: Who could forget that name? Johnny Carson couldn't. CNN's Pentagon correspondent was one of a number of lesser-known TV reporters who blossomed as stars during the war--among them, NBC's handsome Arthur Kent, "the Scud Stud"; CBS' Bob McKeown, who was given a hero's welcome in Kuwait City as he sent back the first live video from the liberated capital, and CNN's Richard Blystone, Christiane Amanpour and Charles Jaco.

RON REAGAN JR.: Hang in there. It'll happen. It was a good show.

"STUDS" VIEWERS: Visit a museum. See a play. Go to a concert. Get a life.

JOHNNY CARSON: The king of TV retires from NBC's "Tonight Show" May 22, but he's still taking shots at General Electric, the penny-pinching conglomerate that bought his network. Sample: Carson says GE "is already planning a sumptuous retirement party. They're pulling out all the stops, bless their heart. They've even said I can make two trips to the Sizzler salad bar."

JAY LENO: Funny guy, but probably no better than a 50-50 chance to make it big as Carson's successor unless he sharpens his interviewing skills. For the long haul, there has to be a sense of depth and panache beyond the gags.

TV NEWS DIRECTORS: With the stunning and perfectly legal foul language of the Thomas-Hill hearings and the also-televised William Kennedy Smith trial, TV's evening news has finally found a weapon to counteract the supermarket tabloids. Onward and upward.

KCBS CHANNEL 2 NEWS: For its billboard ad that promises, "No bitter aftertaste." Or, as some might say, no news is good news.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Sure would be nice if--after being passed up for Carson's job--he finally jumped from NBC to ABC and followed Ted Koppel's "Nightline" in what would be a terrific program tandem.

MARION ROSS: The former "Happy Days" mom is giving the performance of her lifetime as matriarch Sophie Berger in CBS' "Brooklyn Bridge," the best new series of the season.

ABC MANAGEMENT: Thumbs down for being the only network to flatly reject condom ads.

ANGELA LANSBURY: For letting Hollywood's tight little social club have it right between the eyes with her charge that the TV industry here doesn't even watch her successful series, "Murder, She Wrote." Says Lansbury: "Only the public watches. The industry here is barely aware the show exists."

THE MINNESOTA TWINS AND ATLANTA BRAVES: For restoring luster to the World Series with a grand, seven-game TV struggle. And didn't the Twins' Kirby Puckett remind you of Jackie Robinson the way he dug in at the plate and measured the pitcher with short strokes of his bat?

HOLLYWOOD'S FILM STUDIOS: Hey, it's really great to see all those movies drawn from such eternal classics as "The Addams Family," "The Untouchables," "Dragnet" and "Batman." Read any good books lately?

"THIRTYSOMETHING" AND "CHINA BEACH": Gone but not forgotten, especially as ABC, the network that canceled them, slips behind in the ratings.

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