‘Nightline’ Ups the Star Power but Delivers Less Wattage

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‘Nightline’ Ups the Star Power but Delivers Less Wattage
By Tom Shales Thursday, December 15, 2005; Page C01
ABC’s "Nightline" might as well be retitled "Night Light," but not because it’s illuminating. No. The late-night news program now is simply more about style than content, and the style isn’t all that special.

… Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran do good anchor work, but the team’s third member, Martin Bashir, might as well be from south Pluto. He is jarringly incompatible with his colleagues, and he slows the program with the old-fashioned formality of his questioning.

He also manages to combine solemn pretentiousness with a hefty trace of the tabloid. After all, Bashir first came to America’s attention two years ago with a lengthy Michael Jackson interview that was highly watchable but also on the sleazy side. You couldn’t feel all that good about having seen it.

… In a "Nightline" segment devoted to the legacy of the late comic icon Richard Pryor that aired Monday, Bashir assumed a grimly serious demeanor as he put very studied, whither-thou questions to Whoopi Goldberg.

Bashir: "How did he help define the role of the black comedian?" Goldberg (emphatically): "I don’t know."

She went on to say that although Pryor’s work had special significance for African Americans, she thought of him as a pioneer for all comedians, a "storyteller" who influenced comics regardless of their ethnicity. She appeared to resent, and rightly, the notion of implicitly limiting Pryor’s identity and impact through the shaping of the questions.

… Bashir’s windy performance clashes so sharply with his colleagues’ that one has to wonder if a two-anchor format might not be better. And Bashir’s stiff British accent — "shed-yuled" instead of "scheduled" — is off-putting on a nightly telecast.

Craig Ferguson gets away with a Scottish brogue on the CBS "Late Late Show," but he’s in the comedy business. The reaction to the new "Nightline" heard most often around the office has been that it’s "just another magazine show."

Full article: Washington Post.com

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