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by Doug Hawley

The Interview Before The Pilot

“This is Jason Atkins for ‘Divertissement Dialogue’ where we find out what’s up in entertainment. Our guest tonight is Duke Hanley. Tell us about your new show appearing on Fox starting June 12.”

“Thanks for having me Jason.  I had been noticing that America’s getting tired of nuts and sluts and excess. The ratings for ‘Jerry Sewer’, ‘Large Loser’ and ‘Keeping up with the Contagions’ have been dropping. I’m convinced that we want to see something fresh and different. My show is about successful people wanting that little bit of improvement in their lives and getting it! A guy doesn’t need to marry his cow or lose 400 pounds to attract viewers. A lot of people want to see a successful banker fulfill a lifetime ambition to kayak the Columbia River.”

“So Duke, tell about your background. I understand that you don’t come from a television background.”

“That’s right Jason. I like to think of myself as a bit of a renaissance man. Physically, I can bench-press 150% of my weight, I’ve completed a few marathons and I’ve climbed short mountains. On an intellectual level, I got my Ph.D. in math and have now written over fifty publications ranging from humor to sci-fi. I think that my varied background equips me very well to succeed in TV production.”

“Sounds great. We look forward to the pilot and enjoying your show for many years to come.”

Excerpt From The Pilot

“Welcome to the studio audience and viewers at home.  I'm your host Barney Green. Let’s meet our first winner on ‘Get Better’, the program that helps the successful meet even loftier goals.”

She is Judy Jackson.  She is a forty year old mother of three and college professor of finance. What is your goal Judy?”

“Well Barney, when I was first married, I had a twenty two inch waist. After having three wonderful children, my waist size has gone up to twenty four. I’d like to lose those two ugly inches.”

“Fear not Judy. We’ve got workout guru Jesse Jergins, who will have you whipped into shape in no time. What’s in store for Judy, Jesse?

“She’ll be put on a two week regimen in which she cuts cream out of her coffee and walks a couple of miles every day. Based on my experience that should be all she needs to shed the eighteen years of neglect that resulted in her minor pudge.”

“Next up is George Snow.  He is a thirty five year old internet multi-millionaire. What would you like to achieve?”

“When I was at Harvard, I concentrated on electrical engineering and scorned the humanities. In order to become a more rounded person, I’d like to become a credible Shakespearean actor.”

“George, we are ready for you. Ian Lear, star of the London stage and acclaimed Shakespearean actor will get you where you want to go. What’s the plan, Ian?”

“Barney, I talked to George before the show, and he is overly modest about his ability in the arts. He is already a first rate painter and writer. Further, in order to sharpen his business skills, he was on the college debate team, which demanded diverse oratorical skills. I also was surprised by his excellent memorization skills and body control. I think that we will have him on stage within a month.”

“Our last winner is a multi-talented entertainer, Martin Stevens. He acts, sings, juggles and tap dances. He is a novelist, movie producer and star. How you may ask, could he do more or get any better? Tell us yourself, Martin.”

“Glad to Barney, but first let me tell you how happy I am to be here with you tonight Barney.  How are the wife and the kids?”

“Died in a fire.”

“Maybe I should just tell you what my little problem is. I love both tap dancing and singing, but I can’t seem to coordinate both. Somehow doing one throws the other off. Can you help me?”

“Got you covered. Joe Simpson, the exercise physiologist and Jane Bulkin, the preeminent expert on breathe control will ease your way into being a tapping –singing idol.”

Interview After The Pilot

“This is Jason Atkins talking to Duke Hanley about the worst TV disaster of all time. His new show “Get Better” was receiving a 1% share with an audience of 350 people when it was cancelled 18 minutes into its hour runtime. Duke, can you tell us what happened?”

“I sure can. This proved that the American viewing audience is a bunch of bleeping bleeps. I’m done. I’m out. They can go back to “Obese Incest” and all of their other bleepy favorites. As soon as I’ve seen my appearance on the Jerry Sewer show, I’m blowing up my bleeping TV.”

"Better" appeared in Down In The Dirt, Literally Stories after the defunct Nugget Tales.