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Shill Bill

June 26, 2004|Carina Chocano

Former President Clinton slogged through the talk show circuit this week promoting his 957-page autobiography, "My Life." Along the way, he encountered diffident anchors, indulgent hosts and uncompromising journalists who made him squirm before moving on to Mary-Kate Olsen's eating disorder. For his part, Clinton mostly kept his temper and stuck dutifully, if often verbatim, to his talking points.

Show: 60 Minutes

As seen on TV: With Dan Rather

Airdate: Last Sunday, 7 p.m.

The vibe: Man-to-Dan.

Fashion statement: Clinton's red sneakers add poignancy to tender moment on childhood porch.

Opening shot: "What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your presidency?"

Secret weapon: Rather's never-before-seen video of Clinton's late mother nearly results in a presidential leak.

Burning question: On brokering peace on TV: Just how do you deflect an incoming kiss from Yasser Arafat?

Analyze this: "Maybe mother liked guys that were a little bit rakish."

Upshot: Winsome portrait of Bubba, statesman, sure to give already stratospheric sales that deep-space boost.


Show: Oprah Winfrey

As seen on TV: With Oprah Winfrey

Airdate: Tuesday, 3 p.m.

The vibe: Tell Mother everything.

Fashion statement: Pink tie to match Oprah's pink ensemble, and hello king and queen of the prom.

Opening shot: "Word has it that you're on the South Beach diet."

Secret weapon: Remarkable ability to treat a former president exactly as she would an Olsen twin.

Burning question: On couch-sleeping sojourn: "Wasn't there another bedroom?"

Analyze this: "I was all alone again, just as I had been when I was a little boy."

Upshot: Behold the awesome book-selling power of Oprah.


Show: Today

As seen on TV: With Katie Couric

Airdate: Wednesday, 7 a.m.

The vibe: When infotainers attack.

Fashion statement: Sober blue suit, shirt and tie clash with inane line of questioning.

Opening shot: "A lot of people are going to turn to the index and look up under L.... Does that bother you?"

Secret weapon: Remarkable ability to emulate an Olsen twin while interviewing a former president.

Burning question: On awkward adolescence: "Do you ever still feel like that fat band boy?"

Analyze this: "I saw all the [Easter] eggs and I never got to them in time."

Upshot: Rare chance for "hard-hitting" interview temporarily overtakes "Today's" natural shilling instincts.


Show: Good Morning America

As seen on TV: With Charles Gibson

Airdate: Wednesday, 7 a.m.

The vibe: When infotainers attack again.

Fashion statement: No time to change, but crossed arms complete the look.

Opening shot: "Those who were out to get you, the right-wing conspiracy ... didn't you just hand them the sword?"

Secret weapon: Provocative disregard for decorum falls short of mark, lands squarely in tetchy schoolmarm zone.

Burning question: On the Lewinsky affair: "What the hell were you thinking?"

Analyze this: "Most personal encounters are not entirely rational."

Upshot: Rare chance for "hard-hitting" interview emboldens mild-mannered morning show anchor to use word "hell."


Show: Larry King Live

As seen on TV: With Larry King

Airdate: Thursday, 6 p.m.

The vibe: Tell Larry everything.

Fashion statement: Red tie, white shirt, blue suit but who cares when Larry is wearing lilac, red and black?

Opening shot: "What was that signing like yesterday in New York when you had all those thousands of people?"

Secret weapon: Remarkable ability to interview Clinton as if it's 2004, not 1999.

Burning question: On what matters: "First things first, we got major news today out of Iraq.... What do you make of that?"

Analyze this: "That old business about Venus and Mars ... there's something to that."

Upshot: After a long week of cheap shots, geriatric homages and couchy intimacy, the kid comes back. It's Bill Clinton, Superstar!

- Carina Chocano

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