Quick, someone get Oliver Stone on the telephone. The final piece of the JFK assassination conspiracy puzzle has surfaced in the unlikely locale of the debuting CBS Eye on People series “P.S.,” and here it is: The JFK impersonator did it. OK, so Kennedy impressionist Vaughn Meader wasn’t actually anywhere near the grassy knoll in Dallas that day, but at least broaching the possibility here serves to spice up the launch of a drab magazine entry that brings fresh new meaning to the term “news lite.”
Paula Zahn anchors this spectacularly uninvolving weekly diversion from CBS News Prods. whose agenda is to “catch up with famous and not-so-famous people whose lives have taken unexpected twists and turns.”
Uh, sure. In the case of Meader, who was famous for about 12 minutes in the early 1960s thanks to his ability to mimic JFK’s New England intonation, the unexpected twist and turn was that from about Nov. 22, 1963, he no longer had a career. Seems there wasn’t much call for guys who could do comic send-ups of beloved icons cut down in their prime. Meader quickly plummeted into a world of drink and drugs, and these days he looks rather like Gabby Hayes as he sings and plays piano at a honky-tonk in St. Petersburg, Fla.
This story is wholly inconsequential save for what we learn in the epilogue: Tom Hanks has evidently purchased the rights to turn Meader’s tale into a movie. Good luck, Tom.
Yet the Meader segment is the “P.S.” premiere’s clear highlight. A second story details how country legend Patsy Cline’s music remains alive in the work of LeAnn Rimes some 35 years after Cline’s death in a plane crash. In a third seg, we learn how a computer geek named Bruno Lambert cashed in his millions in stock options from Microsoft and blew the joint to drive a race car full-time at Daytona.
Anchored stiffly by Zahn, “P.S.” simply gives us nothing to really sink our teeth into. Just what exactly is the “unexpected twist and turn” that happened in Cline’s life? That she died? Yes, that would certainly qualify as a fork in the road of sorts. The message looks to be that while fatal plane crashes are a big-time bummer, they can do wonders for an artist’s album sales. And life, after all, is about tradeoffs.
Unfortunately, this half-hour is very much consistent with the lightweight tone that drives CBS Eye on People itself. Antiquity blends with mediocrity, creating wall-to-wall monotony. “P.S.” perfectly embodies the lame ideal of a cabler that is neither news nor entertainment but an oddly configured mutant with a lousy sense of direction.