Quick Study

Toward the end of Thursday night's how, my New York producer said to me in my earpiece, "let's tease the winner -- and loser -- of "The Apprentice" (search). They are going to be on the show tomorrow. We now know who the winner and loser are. Bill won."

I "nixed" it... or at least sort of. Because of limited time during commercial breaks, and because I can't talk to her during the time we are on the air, I could not, or did not accurately explain why I was resisting doing it. I was actually only "half" resisting and apparently I was not clear and did not get that message across to her. I was actually willing to "tease" that we had the "winner" and "loser" on the show but I did not want to use their names. My producer in New York must have thought I did not want to do it at all and so it never appeared in the script as I was saying good-bye at the end of the show.

Why did I resist their names? Easy! Last year during the first live news "cut in" on our show one night, and at about 12 minutes after the hour, Fox News Channel reported the news of the winner of “American Idol.” I can't hear the "cut ins" so I don't know what is being reported. It was big news since the country loves “American Idol.” About 20 minutes after the hour, I began to get a string of outrage e-mails. The e-mails read something like, "How could you ruin it for us? I am having an ‘American Idol’ party and you ruined my party by announcing the winner! Because you announced the winner of ‘American Idol,’ I will never watch your show again etc."

I happen to read these e-mails during the commercial break of the show and wondered, "What are these people thinking about? I never mentioned anything about ‘American Idol’?!?!" During the show the e-mails continued to pour in -- people were madder than hell at me. The number of e-mails was astounding... the outrage only grew.

Midway through the show, and during the break, I asked my producer what was going on since we did not once talk about the winners of “American Idol,” or mentioned the show. I told her about the e-mails pouring in and it was bizarre. It appeared to me to be out of left field. At first she did not realize why viewers were so mad at us and then it came to her that maybe the "cut in" had revealed the names of the winners. She pulled up the "cut in" script -- we have nothing to do with the live news "cut ins" - and there it was! The names of the winners of “American Idol! “

The furious viewers live on the West Coast. With the time change, and with the delayed broadcast of “American Idol,” our "On the Record" comes on before “American Idol.” We obviously come on at 7 p.m. PT in California. Thus, our news “cut in” ruined it for many “American Idol” fans on the west coast who wanted to watch the show. And, of course, the viewers did not realize that the "cut in" is separate from our show and thus why I was the target of wrath.

The "cut in" people were told and the "news" was not repeated in the second live "cut in."

Having had this experience, I did not want to name “The Apprentice” winner. I am a quick learner.


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