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Social pressure is about the worst kick to the ghoulies that a man in his prime can take. Rowland McCowan would tell you that himself if he were still around. You can be charging ahead in your career, having new travertine laid in the upstairs bathroom, and turning down more women than most men walk by in a day. Then WHAM ! you're dribbling baby-smush applesauce down the front of your straight jacket and making airplane noises, "Blllblppblblbpopbpbpbppttt!" Why? Because you couldn't hack it anymore.

Rowland McCowan had that very thing happen to him. As you well remember, he was lead anchor of a national news program. He had it all. Just enough fame to get him the good tables at Nobu, but he wasn't so famous that there were paparazzi in his hedges.

He had the Jaguar, the mansion in the hills, and every morning a new, round, sweatered intern walked out his front gate, scootching her mini-dress down in the back, or stuffing her underwear into her purse or wobbling on a broken high heel pump.

Then his boss, the real boss, the billionaire who owned controlling majority of the corporation that owned his network that owned his channel that owned his ass, decided that they would make a run at unseating the BBC as the world news leader. Soon thereafter, Rowland was the voice of America. He was the face, in tan pancake makeup, every night that was beamed into outer space and bounced back down to earth in Myanmar, Mozambique, and Djibouti. It was his visage that pygmies, aborigines, and Englishmen would associate with the United States and he couldn't take it.

They had just picked up China. All 1.3 billion of them were eyeballing him that night. In honor of the newly opened market, Rowland was wrapping up a segment on baby panda bears when he let a gibbering, nasty thought slip out of his head and out his mouth, "Ugly little things, aren't they?"

"Awww, I think the pandas are cute," his co-chair and weather girl, Karen Ahmendjpour, said.

"No, not the pandas," Rowland corrected her. "They're cute enough. Those women feeding the cubs were tough on the eyes, though."

Karen, grasping the opportunity to pull Rowland's pants down in public and take the lead anchor spot, said with a burgundy smile, "Oh, that's inappropriate, but stay with us, folks. After this short break we'll have Chef Jamie on."

"I mean, I wouldn't take that one in the hat to a dog fight."

As the producer was dumping Rowland's feed and the stage director was making the "Cut! Cut!" signal, Rowland's last words, to an audience of the entire planet were, "I'm sorry, folks. I've been drinking."

And that's pressure for you.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, June 1

Sleepover (2004)

TMCXP 9:00 p.m. Can I count sleeping as a hobby? It's what I like to do most. I've done it in two dozen countries on three continents. I've slept in a swinging hammock on the rain forest island of Ko Phangan. I've snored away while lying atop a backpack on a train to Poland. And I've snoozed softly in the torpedo room of a submarine, hundreds of feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. If sleeping is a competitive pastime, I could be a contender for the heavyweight title.

Infarto

AZTECA 11:30 p.m. God, grant me highbrow humor, disassociated superiority, and the strength of intellect to ignore the title of this TV show. Well, that

didn't work. INFARTO! HA HA HA HA HA!

Friday, June 2

Love and a Bullet (2002)

BET 8:00 p.m. She was smashing at the handle on the bathroom door with a claw hammer and yelling, "You can't just walk away! I was talking to you, you son of a --" I was sure the neighbors would hear her screaming and the knob was tilting in its housing at a funny angle, but all I could think was, "Does she know there's a pistol in my closet? Can I fit through that window?"

Saturday, June 3

The Art of Teaching the Arts Workshop

ITVS 11:00 a.m. Talk about insisting upon validity and an inflated sense of your own self worth. The art of teaching the arts? Have you really elevated teaching arts to its own art form? I can blow bubbles in three different spots simultaneously when submerged, but does that mean I get a wall at the Getty?

Bring It On Again (2004)

USA 6:00 p.m. Here's the bottom line: They'll stop making these things when we stop watching them. If we keep giving them money, they'll turn around and make another one. And then where will we be? I say we rip it off, quick, like a band-aid on a hairy patch of your leg. Sure it hurts like a bastard at first, but afterward everything's all lollipops and puppies.

Sunday, June 4

Andre Rieu: Live in Tuscany

PBS 4:30 p.m. I have a really linty bellybutton. Giant wads of fuzz can be harvested from my navel. A week's worth of the hairy crop could yield enough to clothe a baby. And it is far more interesting than Andre Rieu: Live in Tuscany.

Monday, June 5

The Apprentice

NBC 9:30 p.m. Oh, Carolyn. Keep your golf shoes on and make me wear white after Labor Day. I've been naughty, Carolyn. CAROLYN! RAWR!

Tuesday, June 6

Pepper Dennis

WB 9:00 p.m. Jimmy Buffet dressed as a pirate and Dick Cheney dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, staging a dance contest to save their roller derby would be a fantastic show. As it stands, all we have is this piece of crap called Pepper Dennis. But, someday, someday soon, Mr. Cheney, you'll be able to hang that disco ball back up in its spot above the DJ table and we'll all sing "Oh, Christmas Tree." Oh, Christmas tree...Oh, Christmas tree!

Wednesday, June 7

The Daily Show

COMEDY 11:00 p.m. Jason Jones is a talentless hole of suck. He must be related to a producer because anyone with the show's best interest in mind would've held his pants up real high at the rear belt loop, dropped back a stride, and given him the sweet sting of Italian leather in the ass long ago. Now I'm all hot and pissed off and I need a beer. See what you've done, Schmason Schmones?

Thursday, June 8

The Colbert Report

COMEDY 11:30 p.m. You know Colbert has a room where he keeps all of his bridles and whips. He doesn't have any horses, though. Know what I mean? WINK !

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