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A NATION SHOCKED AND SADDENED

Anchor person: If you're just joining our broadcast, you can tell from my somber expression and the sad music that there has been another shocking celebrity tragedy. We'll be covering it in our standard Celebrity Tragedy Format, during which we look sad and constantly remind you how tragic this situation is and repeat the only three actual pieces of news we have over and over far into the night. Also you will be seeing a great deal of the special logo that our graphics people have created for this tragedy, which will appear on the screen as a tasteful buffer between our somber coverage and, for example, the Depends commercials. But right now, let's go to our field reporter to see how shocked and saddened the public is.

Field reporter: As you can see, members of the public have spontaneously gathered on the street directly in front of our camera to express their grief.

(The people wave at the camera. Several make "rabbit ears" behind each other's heads.)

Field reporter: Here's a husband and wife who came a long way to be here. How do you feel? Shocked and saddened?

Husband: Definitely.

Wife: We came as soon as we saw the tragic logo on TV. We dropped everything and drove all night with nothing to eat except loose candy corn that we found under the seat.

Husband: We drove 700 miles. We only live 450 miles away, but when we got here we circled the parking structure for several hours because we couldn't figure out how to get inside because we were so upset about this tragedy.

Field reporter: Did you bring your children with you?

Husband: We don't know.

Wife: We just knew we had to be here. When this celebrity died, it was like we lost our best friend.

Husband: Actually, our best friend did die yesterday, but we skipped his funeral so we could drive here and show our feelings about this celebrity.

Wife: She was just like us. A person. We felt so close to her.

Field reporter: This particular celebrity was a male.

Wife: Whatever.

Field reporter (turning to the camera): So there you have it. A shocked and saddened public, grieving openly about this tragic loss in their lives. We are now going to move our camera to the bottom of an abandoned, water-filled mine shaft, to see if we can get a spontaneously grieving crowd to gather there. I am betting the camera person $50 that we can. Back to you in the studio.

Anchor person: We'll resume our coverage of this tragedy in a moment, but first we'll pause for these headlines.

News reader: In the non-celebrity news, the stock market has crashed; war has broken out in the Middle East; a volcano has erupted in Seattle; militants in the rebellious Russian province of Brzkszckrzkzistan, angry over the chronic shortage of vowels, have launched nuclear missiles at the United States, and Vice President Gore has admitted that he robbed four convenience stores, but he contends that this was "well within the current campaign finance laws." On a brighter note, this network has already been awarded two prestigious Emmy awards for its coverage of this ongoing celebrity tragedy, one for best tragedy logo, and one for most uses of the phrase "shocked and saddened."

Anchor person: That is certainly a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy time. And now we resume our ongoing coverage of this tragedy, with the help of Barbara Walters, who never talks to anybody below the celebrity rank of Julio Iglesias. She's going to try to help us gain a better understanding of what, exactly, it feels like to be famous at a time like this.

Barbara Walters: With me to discuss this is an extremely well-known celebrity.

(She turns toward the celebrity and displays a thoughtful frown of concern.)

Barbara Walters: Is it hard to be a celebrity? I am sensitive to this issue because of course I personally am very famous. I am more famous than many of the people I interview, including, no offense, you. My producer has to hold up a sign to remind me which specific celebrity you are. And I personally have found that existing at this level of fame is very difficult, which is why I often display this little frown of concern. Have you found this to be a problem?

Celebrity: Being famous?

Barbara Walters: No, my little frown of concern. I'm thinking of having it fixed.

Celebrity: What's a "fwown"?

Barbara Walters: Thank you. We'll be back in a little while to talk more about my feelings about this terrible tragedy with the U.S. Supreme Court and Whoopi Goldberg.

Anchor person: We go now to the bottom of an abandoned, water-filled mine shaft, where we understand that grief-stricken members of the public have spontaneously gathered in response to this tragedy.

(In the murky water, we see the field reporter, wearing full scuba gear and holding a $50 bill. Behind him is a crowd of people holding their breath and waving. Some are making "rabbit ears.")

Field reporter: Glub glub glub.

Anchor person: I believe he's saying "shocked and saddened."

Field reporter: GLUB! GLUB GLUB GLUB!

Anchor person: My mistake. He's saying "out of air."

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