Check it, Peons: Your CNN Humiliation Compartmentalized

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I think it's pretty safe to say that Talk Back Live was horrendous programming. Irredeemable, actually. Boring guests, lackluster audience participation, ugly set, terrible locale, unlistenable theme song.
As such, when I came across Rob Lathan's blog on a friend's website, I had to share his story with you. The YouTube links are included. The best part of the story is that the man was simply delivering a cake to a CNN conference, and they seized the opportunity to hold him hostage to that awful show. I mean, how often did that happen? How many Fed Ex guys, Jehovah's Witnesses, dog walkers, and singing telegram people did they trap in this same manner? Check this out:

"I finally uploaded the footage from my Talk Back Live appearances on YouTube. The footage is from 1997 - when I was crazy. Now I’m completely sane. (Yeah right.) The first vid is from my very first appearance - which also happened to be my TV debut. At the time I was working as a cake deliverer in Atlanta for a company called Piece of Cake. After dropping off a cake at a CNN conference, a producer asked if I wanted to be an audience member for a show they were taping called Talk Back Live. The producer explained that audience members could ask questions to a panel of experts about a certain topic and that day’s topic was the OJ Simpson Civil Trial. I said yes. Before I went on the set I called my college buddies and told them to tape it. The footage is a little choppy now and the sound goes out at one point, but you should still get the idea. Let’s see if I ask an intelligent question.

At the next commercial break two security guards tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that I was being kicked off the set. And so I went back on my route delivering cakes. But that was not the end of it for me. I went back to CNN Talk Back Live a few days later - this time in disguise. Of course one of the producers recognized me and said under no circumstances was I allowed back on the set again. But after pleading with her for several minutes, she finally relented but said I was strictly forbidden to ask any questions. And so I sat through the entire show without asking anything. But at least I got to express myself with my awesome costume. Let’s see if you can spot me in the audience.

I kept going back to CNN Talk Back Live every single day - each day in a new crazy costume and each day while I was supposed to be out on my route delivering cakes. But I think after a while I just wore everybody out who was involved with the show. On my final visit, I was told that I was officially banned from ever setting foot there again. If I stayed any longer they would call the cops and have me arrested. After a long back and forth of this, I finally agreed to leave and we parted way forever. I went back to delivering cakes without visiting any political talk shows. And CNN Talk Back Live went back to airing programs with mostly normal people in the audience. Eventually CNN Talk Back Live was canceled. And eventually I stopped delivering cakes. But I’ll always look back on those days with fondness. Of the few TV appearances I’ve had since, nothing has been quite as sweet as the time when somebody finally put “The Juice” in his place."

As a side note--does anyone who had the misfortune to work on this show remember this guy and his crazy costumes?


DF said...

This is so funny. That show sucked. I heard a tale that when they started the show, Ted Turner said, "Well, it'll (the set) make a good planter when we cancel this."

J said...

That is hysterical!!!

Anonymous said...

This is "A"nonymous, and I'm an alcoholic too, and sadly, after serving as a grip for crack cameraman Ferre Dollar for more than a year, I never had the pleasure of witnessing Rob, and his many disguises, in the flesh.

I did, however, have the "pleasure" of performing and witnessing the following on the Talk Sh@t Live set:

1) Watching the male VJ's stack and unstack those hideous blue chairs (yes, it was part of my job description as well, but I didn't want to break my acryllic nails);

2) Writing audience members crazy cracker names on those oversized buttons, though the high from the ink was a welcome reprieve;

3) Reggie's being within eyeshot and salvating. Chick-Fil-A too;

4) Watching an orange skinned female VJ (poor wages = cheap tanning beds) whose named has escaped me but I believe it to be Erin, try out to be the audience warmer and being prisoner to hear her end her schtick by saying, "let's get ready to rock the house," and subsequently vomitting;

5) In that vein, whatever happened to Chris the audience warmer (God bless his cheap suits) and Ferre?;

6) Having to sift through Susan Rook's armpit of an office to find her matching "Monet" clip-on earring (women who shopped at the 50% off jewelery counter at Rich's will get that reference) and never finding it;

7) Receiving a compliment from Susan Rook herself on the nail polish color I chose to paint my acryllics with at the walk-in Korean nail salon next to gangster Kroeger at which point I thought, I guess everyone gets paid poorly at CNN then realized she'd prefer to spend her hard earned money on coke for her and gay sidekick from graphics who stroked her ego ad nauseum at the nail dryer;

8) Witnessing an elderly man literally pee himself and soak the "fine" blue chair he was forced to sit on because the obnoxious seat fillers put the fear of God in folks that under no circumstances was anyone allowed to leave their seat during the full-hour live taping (Rob excluded) as a mass exodus was a common occurence after the A block. My sincerest apologies, to-date, to the cleaning crew who had to mop up the mess, as the TBL VJ's revolted and refused to clean it (yes we were asked, rather "told" to do so, but there comes a time in every peon's life where we had to stand-up for ourselves and say hell no to human waste cleansing, but if we earned $22,500 we might have considered it);

9) Having friends and family members tell me how big and fabulous my boobs look on TV;

10) Circle 8'ing a perfect cable in under 10 seconds.

J said...

You crack me up, A! :)

And I totally forgot about Ferre! Hilarious! He was sooo easy to kiss up to and use when I didn't want to do manual labor. I do remember Mike, the other camera guy. I thought he was cute (well, I suppose almost anyone is when you are stuck in the confines of that cheap set.) He had the personality of a bag of rocks, though. I assume that's what months on end of being a camera man for TBL does to you...erases your personality.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED Ferre Dollar. What a doll...a quick google search has rendered success! Check THIS out!

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase ... I love Ferre Dollar, but the grammar is KILLING me.

Susan Rook's Lost Earring said...

This guy Rob should have a plaque in his honor in the CNN atrium.