The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0294  Thursday, 31 January 2002

From:           David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 19:38:17 -0600
Subject: 13.0271 Shameless Shakespeare Comparisons
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0271 Shameless Shakespeare Comparisons

Brian Willis wrote,

>Lying in bed Monday night, I was watching a repeat of Conan O'Brien that
>originally aired around Thanksgiving. Conan made a point about the
>airing of Shakespeare in Love on NBC the previous evening which I did
>not watch. He pointed out how disturbed he was to find that at the
>commercial breaks, Al Roker (NBC morning show weatherman) would
>basically advertise for NBC shows by stating "facts" about Shakespeare
>and then COMPARING NBC shows to the plays. He wasn't joking.
>I was amazed to learn that Shakespeare wrote 43 plays and that he was
>responsible for such great theatrical moments as the reunions of Antony
>and Cleopatra, Hamlet and Ophelia, and Romeo and Juliet. I hope the
>second one was a genuine slip up, but how do we complain about the
>obviously unresearched first "fact"?
>Conan very wittily joked about the whole ridiculous comparison by coming
>up with the Oxford list of top 5 literary works of all time. I
>approximate it to something like this:
>   1) Friends: episode where Ross and Rachel get together
>   2) Friends: episode where Ross loses the monkey
>   3) Hamlet
>   4) Frasier: episode where Niles and Daphne get together
>   5) tie - King Lear/Saving Silverman final episode
>Obviously, Conan knows that such assumptions are ridiculous. I was just
>shocked at the audacity of NBC to project knowledge and facts of
>Shakespeare with some shoddy research. Didn't they know that a simple
>call to one of us would have sufficed? Or do they not know how to reach
>us, the "reclusive" academics? :)

I watched most of that airing of Shakespeare in Love, and found the bits
with Al Roker as ridiculous as Conan did.  Somebody complained about it
at the time on the humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup, and I
posted the following summary in response:


I didn't find the commercials quite as intrusive as you did, and I ended
up watching a goodly chunk of the movie while mostly working on other
things.  What I found both hilarious and rather annoying was Al Roker's
introductions to the promos for NBC shows interspersed throughout the
program.  Not only were these intros chock-full of factual errors (at
one point Roker claimed that Shakespeare wrote "43 plays"), but they
attempted to link Shakespeare to NBC shows in hilariously ludicrous

For example (I'm slightly paraphrasing): "Shakespeare's The Tempest
opens with a storm which shipwrecks a group of people on an island.  On
this week's ER, a similar storm causes lots of problems for the doctors
in the ER."

"The Rose Theater [sic] saw the opening of many of Shakespeare's
greatest plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, and
Macbeth.  But we've got them all beat -- J. Lo's first concert
appearance ever, right here on NBC!"

I just couldn't help laughing out loud at that last one.  Not that I
have anything in particular against Jennifer Lopez, but comparing her to
King Lear and Hamlet is just flat-out silly.

Dave Kathman
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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