As far as this summer goes, I think Bob Costas and Katie Couric beat out even Michael Moore (search) for their Grrr! factor.
And that's saying a lot.
The NBC Olympics co-hosts did not make good on their promise to talk less and let the pictures tell the stories during the opening ceremonies Friday. But hey, these two make — Grrr! — Olympic-sized paychecks, so shouldn't NBC get its money's worth?
With such Costas quips as "Oedipus, as you know Katie, is the tragic Greek king who killed his father and married his mother — a sequence of events that seldom turns out well," and Couric banalities like "I love to see all these smiling faces!" (gee, Katie, glad the world's greatest athletes could oblige), it's no wonder the two get paid so well.
I also Grrr!'d every time Katie or Bob would preface a historic anecdote with phrases like "as you know" or "of course." If it's so widely known, why bother pointing it out in the first place? We at home aren't bombarded with Greek trivia day in and day out by production assistants, historians and statisticians — a fact Costas seems to forget whenever he's on TV.
But Katie and Bob weren't NBC's only heavy hitters represented in Athens.
Even that consummate lover of Greek art and columns, Donald Trump (search), appeared a few times in promos for his hit reality show "The Apprentice."
Since NBC is also paying The Donald big bucks for season two ($100,000 per episode), it seems all of the networks' big investments were made to show up for the big day. The Olympics also cost big bucks — some $793 million for the rights to broadcast the Games.
Look, Costas and Couric are both professionals and deserve credit for getting where they are today. But what they seem to forget while performing their broadcast duties is that what is old hat to them is not to the viewers at home. While Bob and Katie are there in the flesh, millions of viewers have to endure bad beer commercials and time delays to watch along with them.
One of my mentors in TV once told me, "Mike, the audience doesn't want to know you until they know you." While the audience already knows who Bob and Katie are, the Olympic Games (search) are not the time or place for co-hosts to be the story. They already have their own shows for that.
One final note for Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports: Perhaps the next Olympics might feature at least one co-host from a different nation. It is an international event, isn't it?
Now For Your Grrrs!
Stephen G. in Missoula, Mont., on frivolous lawsuits [last column]: While working as a promotions producer for an affiliate (non-FOX) news station, I was threatened with a lawsuit because I photographed a woman for a "Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you" type spot. She was an employee and required to participate, but within 30 minutes of completing the shot, she had an attorney. ... Two days later, I was receiving hate mail from activist groups and ultimately had to cut her from the spot. Her "reasoning"? My camera, according to her, forced her into a position of degrading subjugation and humiliation and she complied temporarily because she felt trapped. She stated she was the victim of a type of Stockholm Syndrome and may never be able to be a productive member of society if the spot aired. Oh ya, she also feared for her safety now. Oh, the trauma! Merry Christmas? She dropped the "lawsuit" and was promoted a month or so later.
By the way, I just decided I am offended by the use of Grrr!. Once while hiking in Glacier National Park, I encountered a grizzly bear from a distance, and it snarled similar to your Grrr!. This has reconstituted the trauma, so cry havoc and let slip the ambulance chasers. Of course I am only kidding.
Matt in Ashland, Ore.: So last night my buddies and I decide to make our way to the opening night of "Alien Vs. Predator." While I will withhold my review of the movie, I will certainly not withhold my review of the crowd. One of my biggest Grrrs! is when people applaud a movie in the theater. Now, if you ask me, applause is an act designed to let a performer know you appreciate their performance. When there is applause at a movie, the screen flashing the names of the cast and crew has no clue about what is going on. This isn't a film festival and the filmmakers are not in the crowd. Also, applaud "AVP"? If we have to have applause in a movie, let's reserve it for something that might actually be remembered in five years.
Chris Long writes: Your own "FOX and Friends" is hosting Peter Frampton this morning, and yes, it looks like they have hooked up his talk box. Am sitting here eagerly anticipating the performance, waiting to see if the crowd freaks when he uses the talk box. Holy deja vu redundancy repeated all over again for another time!
The U.S. Army's J. Thompson writes: Is it just me, or are the Olympics for amateurs? Non-professionals? Why is it we’re seeing more and more pro athletes entering the Olympics? You see this most glaringly in the basketball teams. Ever since Michael Jordan and the Dream Team, pro-basketball players have been entering the Olympics. Is it because the U.S. wants to win? 'Cause we don’t have enough “good” players outside of the NBA? At one point, I thought the Olympic rules stated that an athlete could not be a professional athlete in the sport he was competing in. … In other words, if you're someone like Jordan, you can’t enter into the competition. We know that the NBA athletes are good — that they are the cream of the athletic crop in their concentration — but they should not be allowed to participate in the Olympics, I believe. Grrr!
— Of course (thanks, Bob), now that the Puerto Rican team embarrassed those pros, you are perhaps even more accurate in your assessment. Bring back the amateurs. At least they cared! Grrr!
Jennifer L. in Delaware: My own personal Oblivions are my customers. I work for a very large cable company as a customer service rep and I can't even catalogue the number of people I get calling in who think that they are our only customer. They will call in because they're missing one channel out of 300, and proceed to tell me (sometimes with extremely colorful and offensive language ... another Grrr!) that unless I'm going to get a technician out to fix their cable in 24 hours, they're going to disconnect their services. Why? Is QVC having some sale on cubic zirconium that's so rare and once-in-a-lifetime that you'll die if you miss it? Please. There are other people who may have no service whatsoever, but these people don't care. "I pay a lot of money for my service, and I expect immediate attention!" Uh, okay. So others are not paying money? It's one channel. Take a reality check and go find a book to read for the 72 hours it takes us to get some poor tech out to your home so you can verbally abuse him in person while he discovers you simply had a loose connection on the back of your television that would have been discovered sooner had you not refused to troubleshoot over the phone with me when you first called in! Grrr! It must be nice to be the only person in the world!
Jessica in Redondo Beach, Calif.: My Grrr! is directed at the Oblivion parents who ignore the fact that the PG-13 movie rating means parents are strongly cautioned about the content of the film. Yes, this means you may have to see the movie yourself before allowing your child to view it! That's tough, but no one said that parenting does not require constant work. For the mother who took five children under the age of 8 to see "Dodgeball," you might want to get up and leave once you realize what a HUGE mistake you have made. Don't sit through the entire movie just hoping that all of the inappropriate jokes go over their little heads!!! Also, I thought that "Spider-Man 2" was way too violent for a 5-year-old! Grrr!
— Uh, Jessica ... I'm a little confused. Wasn't "Spider-Man 2" rated PG-13?
Allen in Mississippi: I was driving the speed limit at a safe distance behind a car in the right lane of a two-lane highway with a car following closely behind me. At the same time, there were two cars bearing down on us in the left passing lane. As we progressed, I noticed we were coming up to an on-ramp with a car I estimated would be about to merge as I pulled alongside of of it. As I checked out my options, I noticed that if I pulled into the left lane to allow the car to merge, there would only be about one car length between me and the cars behind me — forcing them to slow down (making me the oblivion to the cars in the left lane). I could slow down (making me the Oblivion to the car behind me), or I could stand my ground (making me the oblivion to the car wanting to merge). As I anticipated, the driver of the car on the on-ramp flipped me off because I didn’t allow him to merge. As far as I’m concerned, this person was the Oblivion for wanting me to place everyone in a dangerous situation just so he could merge. So my Grrr! is to all the on-ramp Oblivions who don’t look ahead to time their merge with oncoming traffic.
Andy in Boston: It would seem that even the new Opera House in Boston is plagued by Oblivions. It was intermission at Disney's "The Lion King" on Saturday night and I was waiting patiently in line with my girlfriend for a water. Just as we were next in line at the bar, a guy approached from the right, announcing to his companion that he "was just going to grab a water." As he attempted to step in front of us, I politely informed him, "No, you're gonna wait." He was totally stricken by my audacity. He exclaimed that I didn't need to be pushy and that I was obviously not from the city. I'm sure there are more than a few city dwellers who'd take offense at being equated with that disrespectful Oblivion.
The Porn Guy ... Grrr!
So this week I'm interviewing porn queen Jenna Jameson (search) because her autobiography "How To Make Love Like a Porn Star," written with former New York Times music critic Neil Strauss (search), hits bookstores this month. After interviewing Savannah Samson last week, I'm starting to get a complex around here. Bill O'Reilly is the 800-pound gorilla guy. Shepard Smith is the news guy. Sean Hannity is the conservative guy. And I'm the porn guy. Great. Like I told Mrs. Grrr!: I don't pick them.
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.