BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Minutes before the WB's portion of the Television Critics Association press tour began, my good buddy Keith Marder patted the notes in his pocket and said, "Here's your column right here."
It's become a tradition with us. Keith, the WB's director of corporate publicity and a former TV critic himself, always opens the WB's presentations with a few jokes. I always cobble those jokes together into a quick and easy column.
Keith's funny. I'm lazy. It's perfect synergy.
It makes his mom happy, too. And, the one time I didn't do this a couple of years back, both Keith and his mom were disappointed.
I'd hate to disappoint them again, so here goes. . . .
"I always knew Tom Cruise would end up with someone from 'Dawson's Creek.' I just thought it would be James Van Der Beek," Marder said.
"Katie Holmes, though, she looks in love to me. If she was this good an actress on 'Dawson's Creek,' she would have won an Emmy."
"You must have heard by now that Tom claims to know the entire history of psychiatry. I don't think so. He obviously skipped the part that said if you go on a talk show and jump on a couch, you need Ritalin."
"I heard Martha Stewart's version of 'The Apprentice' is coming along rather well. She's already selected her first challenge — whoever removes their ankle bracelet first gets to leave the house."
"I hear that Pat O'Brien and Bill O'Reilly are teaming up to co-host 'The Reverse Call-In Show.' Instead of taking calls, they'll call people and sexually harass them."
"Seems like the theme of this year's (program) development was scary stuff. We have 'Supernatural.' ABC has 'Night Stalker.' NBC has its (fall schedule)."
"By some accounts, NBC was down as much as a billion dollars compared to its 2004 take. I guess (NBC-Universal president) Jeff Zucker is a shoo-in for the second season of 'The Biggest Loser.' "
"Earlier this year, two right-wing groups came out with a startling announcement that Barney and SpongeBob are gay. Seriously, Barney I get. But SpongeBob? I know what you're thinking — or course he's gay. He's animated.
"But you tell me — what gay man would wear those shorts with that tie?"
"After watching 'I Want to be a Hilton,' this hotel (the Beverly Hilton) wants to be a Marriott."
"I think the best part of Kirstie Alley's show 'Fat Actress' was the title. You knew exactly what you were getting. . . . In retrospect, we should have named 'The Starlet' — 'Bad Actress.' Or we could have named it after (judge) Faye Dunaway — 'Desperate Actress.' "
And when the critics sort of ooooohed at that one, Keith commented, "You never met her."
"Frankie Muniz is so old, Fox should change the name of his show to 'Malcolm in Middle Age.' Dewey is so old, even Michael Jackson stopped watching."
As for Michael Jackson, "You know what that trial proved? Rich, white people could get away with anything."
And then there was the semi-annual Shannen Doherty update, a staple of the monologue ever since Doherty ditched "Charmed" and dissed the WB on her way out the door.
And it was almost too easy this year, what with UPN firing her from a sitcom it picked up before the show even got on the air.
"It's gotten to the point that Shannen's no longer good enough to even keep a job on UPN."
"On top of that, I heard she was a victim of identity theft — and they returned it."
"Now I know what's at the bottom of the hatch on 'Lost' — Shannen Doherty's career."
"That was a little mean," he added.
But, c'mon, that's funny stuff!
Thanks, Keith. Say hi to your mom for me.