Art Buchwald: Peacetime TV: It's Hell, May 8, 2003

It had to happen sooner or later. The "suits," aka executives, at Monmouth Television Network had a meeting to discuss what to put on the air now that the Iraq war has died down.

Fledgling said: "Ari Fleischer is way down in the ratings. I think we should dump him for 'To Tell the Truth.' "

"That means we have no one to speak for the president."

"So what? We have to think about ratings. We are not in the business of putting someone on the air who doesn't appeal to the 18-to-49-year-old viewers."

Eggerton said, "What about Vice President Cheney?"

Fledgling replied: "We never know when he's going to show up. He insists on doing the show from an embedded hideout, but he repeats the same thing that President Bush and everyone else says."

Lauren chimed in: "That's the trouble. Our lineup is making the viewers tune out."

Limerick asked, "You're not going to cancel Don Rumsfeld, are you?"

Fledgling answered, "He was great when the war was on, but he seems to be at a loss when it comes to rebuilding Iraq."

Limerick continued, "Why don't we put him on late-night opposite David Letterman and Ted Koppel?"

"It's a possibility. There are still some people who long for nostalgia and are wondering where Saddam Hussein is."

Lauren said: "I've got a new show that will knock 'em dead -- 'The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction.' We will have eight men and eight women selected for their machismo and beauty. We'll pair them up and send them to Iraq. The first couple to find a weapon of mass destruction will get a million dollars, a honeymoon in Syria and a red rose from Bush's rose garden."

"Let's do it. What will make it work is that each week the contestants will have to find a new weapon. They will, of course, be equipped with gas masks and duct tape."

"Has anyone thought about a program devoted to people accused of committing crimes, similar to Court TV? We'll do the first one with Robert Blake, then the two snipers in Washington, and so on and so on. With the war over, crime is coming back big-time. O.J. Simpson has a built-in audience."

"I have an idea. Let's dump the same footage of Osama bin Laden we've been using for two years and replace it with something like 'The Sopranos.' "

"Or 'Sex and the City.' The girls could talk about what's going on in Afghanistan, and one would fall in love with a warlord."

"At least we are thinking ahead," said Altman.

Limber said, "We need a Larry King who would interview former alcoholics, strippers and traitors who don't support America."

"How about Geraldo Rivera? I hear Fox wants to trade him for a left-fielder and two draft choices because they're unhappy with him."

"Good idea. He's modest and never blows his own horn like King."

"Now the only thing left to fill is prime time."

"Suppose we do a series on Michael Jackson's face?"

"On Sunday night. We'll knock the socks off '60 Minutes.' "

Fledgling stood up and said, "That's the fall program lineup -- let's wrap it up."