Late Night Shows Return

The DVR has two tuners. Tonight, I recorded Letterman and Leno simultaneously.

The truth is, I wanted Leno to suck because I’d like to see the writers prevail against the producers. I’m not going to lie. Over the long run, what they get will help a lot of others… maybe someday me.

Letterman first. You’ve read by now, he’s bearded.

Because of a deal his production company cut with the writers, he was back with a full crew. It is a strategic move on the part of the writers to put NBC at a competitive disadvantage. Leno has no such waiver.

The show was fresh. Robin Williams was manic. The prepared bits weren’t anything special, but the show has been allowed to catch its breath and was very enjoyable.

There was more than one gratuitous nod to the Writers Guild, including the top-10 list. Alan Zweibel and Nora Ephron were among the ten writers presenting.

The writers continue to win the PR war versus the producers. So far, it’s a Pyrrhic victory.

Leno also came back fresh. I was surprised and disappointed the monologue and a taped bit were pre-written. The Guild had hoped there would be no written material. There will be cries of “scab” tomorrow.

I understand Jay’s in a tough position. On one hand, his writers are striking. On the other, his mortal opponent, David Letterman, has a full staff.

Should he risk a fatal blow to his show in order to morally support the writers?

Leno claimed to have written the monologue and other material himself. I can’t imagine how that’s true.

The big guest was Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate. Huckabee is very at ease on TV and came across warm and approachable. He played bass guitar as they came out of commercial.

People applauded the intricate guitar lead, but that wasn’t Huckabee’s part. It made no difference. A ‘guy off the street’ jumping in with that band is still impressive.

Jay’s show was entertaining, for Jay’s show. I suspect tomorrow’s ratings will show writers to be overvalued and Leno outranking Letterman. The real effect won’t be seen until later in the week… or maybe next.

The producer’s great strength in this fight is, they’re a faceless monolith who sell no product directly to consumers. In essence, they’re anonymous.

Faith And Politics

I am Jewish. No surprise there. I have mentioned it enough times on the blog.

I’m not a particularly observant Jew. As with many other Jews, I look at my “Jewishness” as much an ethnicity as a religion.

I don’t think Jews have found a shortcut to heaven. In fact, Jews don’t believe in heaven. We are not the only nor necessarily the best religion.

I respect my friends who have religious beliefs different than mine.

God knows (he really does), I’ve been in enough churches during my 23 years in Connecticut! I’ve spoken to church groups and church schools. I was honored to eulogize my friend Kevin at a Mormon ceremony.

With all this having been established, I am troubled by things I read which suggests some people running for the White House feel it’s a job for a Christian.

Oh, it has to be the right kind of Christian too… maybe not the Mitt Romney kind. Maybe not the Rudy Guiliani kind either. Is Mike Huckabee OK? Depends who you ask.

We are a secular nation. Unlike England, for instance, there is no state church here. We are a nation of laws, not doctrine. Our leaders are elected by the people, not anointed by God.

In essence, I’m hoping the first amendment covers me when it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It is right for Christians, or any other group, to act in concert to advance their agenda. It is wrong to do that to the exclusion of others.

My Jewishness should never cause me to be uncomfortable in our society. At the moment, it does.