FCC Commissioners Ask: Is This Mike On?

The FCC's first meeting of the year was so collegial. (How collegial was it?)

It was so collegial that some of the commissioners even felt at liberty to try out a little schtick, letting loose with a volley of rapid-fire quips.

Remarking on new Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate's dress (a rather fancy, robin's-egg blue number), Chairman Kevin Martin, a University of North Carolina grad, noted that she “appropriately wore Carolina Blue, and I appreciate her thinking ahead to do that.”

Liberal Democrat Michael Copps then observed that he was sitting to the right of Martin. He joked that the seating “reminds me of the old Johnny Cash tune about the one on the right's on the left, the one in the middle's on the right, the one on the left's in the middle.”

After thanking the president and her home-state senator, Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tate, who pledged at her Senate confirmation hearings to be a consensus builder, responded: “I guess everyone here is not surprised that I am on the far right, but I will borrow from a Johnny Cash [song] as well: I walk the line.”

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, sporting some new chin-whiskers, then offered “a very personal note of thanks” to Tate: “There is something that you have done for me that nobody else could possibly do. I am no longer the most junior member of the commission.”

“Did you grow the beard to emphasize that?” Martin said.

Thanks, folks. We'll be here all week.

Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!

With Congress fine-tuning an indecency bill to rid TV of sex and violence, lawmakers might want to check out the latest snuff films in the nature genre.

On Sunday, National Geographic Channel will air Relentless Enemies, a two-hour special that follows the Darwinian bond between a herd of African water buffalo and the lions who eat them.

Hard as the program strives to show how “this onetime slaughter has developed into more of a duel,” trust us—it's still a slaughter.

Enemies,sure to please any animal-loving Quentin Tarantino aficionado, delivers on what the press release promises to be a “bloody standoff.”

A narrator's ominous voice sets the mood from the start: “It was a violent time when the nightmare of massive predators stalked the land, and nothing was safe. Well, those nightmares are back.”

Although we haven't seen National Geographic's Packs on the Prowl (“from simple feeding frenzies to carefully choreographed violence”), or Elephants: The Dark Side (“why the world's favorite circus act is becoming a deadly problem”), we're guessing that they would run afoul of good taste, if not decency.

With Lethal Swarms and Killer Ants (“Most are harmless, but some have a violent streak”) on Discovery Channel, we long for the innocent days of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Flash! shudders to think of what's in store now that NatGeo has moved Dog Whisperer to prime time. But we hope that anti-indecency-crusading Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) will be watching.

Red-Carpet Rivalry

E! debuted its new red-carpet team featuring Isaac Mizrahi as co-host with Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana DePandi for Jan. 16's Golden Globes pre-show and handily trounced main rival TV Guide Channel and its mother/daughter tag team, Joan and Melissa Rivers, in the ratings.

The E! special, Live From the Red Carpet, pulled in 1.6 million total viewers, while TV Guide's pre-show, Joan & Melissa Live on the Red Carpet, earned 508,000. And while Mizrahi got all the glory for groping Scarlett Johansson, we found his comic stylings a tad too Dadaist.

“I love redheads,” he exclaimed in conversation with fiery-haired Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross. “You know who loves redheads is my dog, who's russet color. Every time a redhead walks in the room, he lights up.”

Flash! thinks it's a shame more people didn't watch Ms. Rivers the Elder comment on the TomKat in Katie Holmes' belly.

“We know the baby is definitely his,” she said, “because they've had the sonogram and it shows the baby is only three inches tall, jumping up and down in her womb.”

The surgically youthful Ms. Rivers also claimed that she would “never again pay a man for sex—that's what my accountant is for.”