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New morning TV is more of the same

It's not a law yet, I'll grant you. But we can hope can't we?

It's a brand new year after all. New York State has a new governor, Oprah Winfrey has her OWN new TV network, Paula Abdul is back on the air weekly after tonight and CBS's new cast for its morning news ratings laggard has officially gone on the air.

So maybe -- just maybe -- some legislative body somewhere will pass the "Michael Lohan Law" prohibiting parasitic family members from parading mercilessly familiar family dysfunctions on TV at 7:30 a.m. on the very morning that their gruesomely troubled older daughter was scheduled for release from court-mandated rehab.

But no. That wasn't the case Monday morning.

So there was Michael Lohan -- surely among the most dreaded TV presences of the 21st century -- on the, uhhh, new CBS "Early Show" on Monday telling us that his daughter Lindsay ought to go right from rehab into such sedate and presumably dignified pursuits as hawking her line of handbags rather than bellyflopping noisily back into the pool of moviemaking and nocturnal admissions into L.A. clubs.

He also told us what every grown-up American has known for many years now -- that the poor screwed-up kid probably didn't stand a chance unless her battling parents got on the same page. That she might not stand a chance anyway in a family that seems to have long ago decided on the worthlessness of living a genuinely private life doesn't seem to have occurred to him.

On the subject of Lindsay Lohan, it seems to me that someone probably ought to observe that a very beautiful young actress with a talent that's, at best, middling and an addiction to mind-altering substances that almost rivals her addiction to cameras would have trouble growing up even if she were in Topeka or Tupelo. Put her, though, in a Hollywood milieu where it's considered a kick to go commando while nightclubbing and it's an ongoing soap opera that veritably begs for cancellation.

Well, there, complete with appearance by Michael Lohan, was the second segment of the brand-new CBS "Early Show." On Oprah's OWN network, at the time, there was a 2008 documentary on three doctors called "Deliver Me."


It occurred to me at that moment that perhaps watching any television at all in the early morning was not the optimal way to -- as Oprah herself might put it -- lead your best life.

On the "new" CBS Early Show, we also had Marysol Castro, the resident pint-sized peppery one (Chris Wragge is a full head and a half taller), showing us a tape of how she joined Brooklyn's Polar Bear Club on Coney Island on New Year's Day to take a dip into water that was 33 degrees while the air outside was 47 degrees. It was, she informed us, "very fun" which was not at all enjoyable to hear for anyone with a full understanding of the impropriety of combining adverbs and nouns in that particular way. But then, the relentless torture of the word "fun" as an adjective probably tells you as much about the demographic malaise of all morning TV news as anything else.

On the "Today Show," for instance, on Monday, there was a segment on "Princess Boys -- when boys dress like girls." And then, after an informative CBS segment on flu, we had a long taped report on the new cast's LA publicity road trip, singing along to Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" and such. "The Early Show's Excellent Adventure" they called it.

Meanwhile, on "Good Morning, America" Gwyneth Paltrow was telling those who didn't know already how much she learned from Beyonce to perform in her movie "Country Strong," opening Friday.

Let's admit that the CBS new morning game plan isn't entirely bad. They're obviously betting a lot on the chemistry of the four youngish principals of "The Early Show" -- Erica Hill, Chris Wragge, Tonawanda native Jeff Glor and Marysol Castro. And they do seem watchably slick and youthful in a completely cliched TV host way.

Maybe that's why the most memorable part of my morning TV adventure on Monday was the canned public service announcement in the middle of "The Early Show" featuring Nelson Mandela who told us, "Even in the grimmest times, I have seen glimpses of humanity that assured me that man's goodness is a flame that can never be extinguished."

Comforting to know. And now let's hear what Michael Lohan has to say about that


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