[from my book His Name is Cwiz – here is a deleted scene/chapter]
The Feud with Anchorwoman Jane Valez Mitchell
When Cwiz was inbetween jobs after returning from his travels overseas, he would come home with nothing to do. The rest of us were in school, or working regular full-time jobs, and he was supremely bored. Cwiz’s elegant solution for boredom was to become a thorn in the side of the KCAL Channel 9 afternoon news team.
Every afternoon, at 3:40 p.m., the local news show on KCAL 9 had a guest interview, to delve into some “important” topic at length and in depth. Often, the guests were local experts or authors of a new book, and they were invited to discuss the subject on air. During the interview, the phone lines were opened up, and viewers were invited to call in and ask the guest a question. And that is how Cwiz found something to do every day, at 3:40pm.
He called in, each day at the same time, told the phone screener that he had a question for the show’s guest, and then he prepared some completely ridiculous question to ask to embarrass the show’s hosts.
This went on, day after day, again and again. Eventually, the KCAL switchboard operators got wise to him, and started using caller ID to make sure he did not get through. But while it lasted, it was pure magic.
Here is a partial transcript of an edited video Cwiz had kept in his closet of these call-in segments that he taped. The video was spliced together years ago, and stored on a dusty VHS tape, and I recently reviewed it for you. This is only a sampling of the clips on the tape.
The video begins with a man speaking about the “vernacular laboratories of southern California.” The guest is some sort of expert on language and/or slang and is sporting huge black rimmed glasses and his hair is tightly swabbed down to his head. Two news anchors sit on director’s chairs next to the expert.
One of the anchors, a woman named Jane Valez Mitchell (“JVM”), sports a tight short haircut, and is dolled up as you would expect a newswoman to be. Her sidekick, the anchorman, has helmet hair and a suit a la Ron Burgundy.
JVM says, “Ok, we have Caesar in Sun Valley, who has a question.”
Cwiz starts in with a thick East Coast accent. “Yeah, first of all, it’s Fountain Valley, not Sun Valley.”
JVM says, “Oh, sorry about that. Fountain Valley. You sound like you’re from New York.”
“Nah, I’m from Juh-zeeee actually.”
“Ah, you see? I knew it.” JVM gestures wildly at the camera and laughs. “I heard that aggressive tone of voice and knew it had to be someone from New York or Jersey.”
The expert nods and says, “There you go. There you go.”
Cwiz continues, “Anyhoo, so….” but now the Jersey accent is gone.
The expert cuts in and says, “Oh yahhhh,” in a Fargo accent, meaning to comment on Caesar’s changing accent.
Cwiz says, “Oh, you’re from Fargo now, eh?”
The expert says, in a bit of a huff, in an even thicker Fargo accent in an attempt at humor, “Hey now, we’re trying to work with you here but don’t take too much time because this is my deal here, now you understand, my deal. We’re trying to work with you here.” The expert had clearly just seen the movie Fargo and had worked on his William Macy impersonation to the delight of innumerable dinnerside companions.
Cwiz says again, “Anyhoo, my question is what’s this whole thing with these pathetic California guys who say what’s up dude all the time?”
JVM jumps in and says, “Guess what, Caesar, you’re out of here.”
The expert then opines on the origin of the word dude.
The clip opens up with rainbow colored lines, shaking, and twisting on the screen. Then the rainbow curtains fade into a fifty-something woman in a red blazer and white frilly blouse explaining how to cook turkey on Thanksgiving. Her hair is up in a bun. A blue colored banner is displayed beneath her as she talks which says: “Barbara Recio, Registered Dietician, Glendale Memorial Hospital.
JVM says, “Alright, let’s take a question. Skip, from Huntington Beach, are you there?”
Cwiz (Skip) says in a high strange voice, “Hi how are ya? I have two boys at home, 10 and 11, both of which are about 35 lbs. overweight right now. They’re both little fat boys.”
The camera pans in tight on the expert’s puckered lips. She is stifling a laugh, but fails and the edges of her mouth start to crack upward.
Cwiz (Skip) keeps going. “So what can I do to make sure my little fat boys lose some weight? I mean, the gravy is the worst part, and at this rate, I’m afraid they’re not gonna kiss a girl until they’re 35.”
JVM jumps in, “Okay Skip, I think we got the point. Thank you.”
The expert says “Well, I think you could give the boys skinny gravy and save some calories, you know, cut the cream from the recipe.”
This time the screen fades into a very young and handsome Clive Owen. Yes, that Clive Owen, but this was around 1993.
“Kip from Fountain Valley, you’re on,” says the male anchor with the hair.
Cwiz (Kip) says, “Hello, did I get on?”
“Yeah, you’re on.”
Cwiz has taken on an effeminate sort of high pitched voice. “No way, okay, I never get on, that’s great.” He drags out the word great for several long seconds.
Clive Owen starts laughing.
Then Cwiz (Kip) says again, “Hmmm, that’s great. Really, that’s so neat that I got on this time.”
Helmet Head says, “Okay, so what’s your question, Kip?”
JVM, sitting between Helmet Head and Clive Owen, looks down and tries not to lose it. You get the sense she knows this voice by now.
“It’s just so neat that I finally got on. Wow. Neat.”
JVM says, “Ok, thanks Kip.”
JVM says, “Well, I have a question for you, Clive. You know when I first saw Schindler’s list, it was obviously, um, very …” The clip ends.
The clip begins with expert Vicki Iovine, an authority on babies and child rearing, smiling with her eyes, and looking deep into the camera’s dead soul.
She answers a question apparently just asked by another caller. “Maybe you don’t feel that amorous, but just get in there, start kissing, and fake it in the beginning. Because I think halfway through, you’re gonna say, ‘Oh yeah, I know why we used to do this, this is fun.’”
Vicki starts laughing. JVM and Helmut Hair start laughing with her.
Vicki says, “But just remember to use your contraceptives.”
Helmet Hair says, “Octavio, from Fountain Valley, go ahead.”
Cwiz (Octavio) says, “Hey, how ya doin? My question is a little embarrassing, it has to do with my daughter Willameena.”
JVM cracks a half smile and starts shifting uncomfortably in her seat, seeming to brace for what she knows is coming. You can see her thinking: Omigod, it’s him again.
Cwiz (Octavio) continues. “She’s four months old now and at night, late at night, she makes this sound while she sleeps. I don’t know if it’s normal or not.”
As if Cwiz had planned this whole thing out perfectly, Vicki the expert says, “Well, can you imitate it?” Vicki smiles hugely at the camera, seemingly giddy with anticipation.
Cwiz (Octavio) immediately howls out in a baby voice. “Waaaaahhhhhhhhhhh”
JVM says, “Good job, Octavio. One more time!”
Cwiz (Octavio) does it again.
Vicki says, “Does she do this once a night or all the time?”
Cwiz (Octavio) says, “She does it like 5-6 times a night.”
Vicki says, “Well, I don’t really know. She could be dreaming or self-soothing.”
JVM says, “Our producer says her daughter did it, and she was just using her muscles so…but very good imitation Octavio, let’s move on.”
A silver bearded man, sitting in the studio chair in a suit, sparkles in self-assurance and authority. He is an expert on the stock market.
“I would admonish a healthy amount of concern going forward. We may not have bottomed out yet. But no need to be an alarmist either.”
Helmet Hair says, “Ok, let’s take a call. Keko from Fountain Valley.”
Cwiz (Keko) says, “Hello,” cough cough, “Sorry, I’m nursing a cold.”
Helmet Hair winces at the coughing.
Cwiz (Keko) continues, “My question is about my mutual fund. I’ve been investing $350 a month for the past two years with the company but I got a little suspicious when I started having to write my checks to Jimmy the stock guy.”
The expert looks shocked.
Cwiz (Keko) continues, “Is that normal, because Jimmy says I’m not making any money and he says I keep losing it. Is that normal?”
Then Keko’s cough attack comes back. “Ahheck, reehhghg.”
JVM says, “Ok Keko, thanks.”
Helmet Hair says, as if Keko never existed, “What’s the significance of October in the stock markets?”
For this one, you need a little background. There is a radio station in Los Angeles called STAR 98.7. In the 1990s, for a period of time, they had a contest where the 98th caller would win $100 every time they said “Star 98.7” in ten seconds. Obviously, the idea was to say it as many times as possible as fast as you can in ten seconds.
Meanwhile, over on KCAL 9, they were going about their business, diligently interviewing an expert on costume parties.
JVM says, “Let’s take a call. Sammy from Huntington Beach, do you have a question?”
Cwiz (Sammy) says, “Hello.”
“Did I win?”
Helmet Hair says, “Yeah.”
Cwiz (Sammy) says, “Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7, Star 98.7.”
JVM looks pissed. “I think you won a trip to the funny farm, Sammy.”
But then, as Helmet Hair starts to ask the next question of their expert on costumes, you see JVM put her head down and totally lose it.