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On Media, Crusades and Divas


"You look more like Mini-Me, from where I'm grazing"

I snuck out for some long-overdue golf last night and, as a result, woke up this morning a little stiff, sunburned and generally wooly. Gingerly sipping a Diet Coke, I padded into my office and absently flipped on the television, booted up the systems and generally started about my day.

I'm not sure how long it was before I noticed the disturbing lack of noise. Probably less than a minute as I tend to be over-sensitive to "quiet" and/ or "peace". Regardless, I shot a glance at the offensively muted TV and flinched at the site of a familar bald head filling the screen... my own!

"[Hideous expletive]" I internally monologued about the ad playing silently on CNBC, "What's with the expression on my face? I look lobotomized. I look like..."

Allow me to digress for a moment before jumping into my personal humiliation. I've been looking for a way to talk about this whole television thing with you Minyans for a while now. For the last couple months I've been shuttling back and forth to CNBC to shoot segments of Fast Money every Friday night (during On the Money at 7pm Eastern). Even beyond the hallacination-inducing hours I'm spending in airplanes I've been helping "shape" the show to whatever extent I can, trying to overcome my lack of any official authority with a pincer-attack of 1. Having Opinions 2. Sharing them Verbosely.

I don't presume that Fast Money is dominating conversation in trading pits around the Street. I don't know how many readers even watch financial television in general, let alone CNBC. But I personally leave CNBC on in the background all day. It's part of my daily habit and has been for over 10 years. So, no matter how many hours a week I'm spending in the creation of Fast Money, regardless of the fact that it would be natural to have expected (indeed hoped) for that labor to result in televised output, it's jarring in a not wholly positive way to find yourself plugged into a Squawk Box ad-loop, popping up on television with an innane soundbite ["Nobody wants to look like a pinhead"... for which I'm so sorry] every 12-odd-minutes.

I'm not linguistically facile enough to make my point gracefully. I feel uncomfortably like Naomi Campbell tubthumping on the challenges of finding good domestic help by even raising the topic. The point is, I think it's good for Fast Money to be creating "characters" for the cast members using quick cuts and sound bites. It makes sense, from a show development standpoint and I'm openly rooting for Fast Money to be a monster hit (and the first step towards MackeNBC, but that's another column). Still, I'm acutely aware that every repetition of such a soundbite makes me, personally, look more like a pin... er... it's not my proudest broadcasting moment but rather part of a larger work in process.

Which brings us back to to the positive aspect of my experience this morning when, to my horror and embarrassment, I confused myself for Howie Mandell.

Howie Mandell: Nemesis and doppleganger

Nothing against Mr. Mandell. I actually enjoy Deal or No Deal quite a bit and I don't normally watch a lot of evening game shows. I should hope for a fraction of Howie's exposure in the coming years.

I'm just saying... confusing anyone for yourself is a deeply wierd experience. It's like forgetting your own birthday or something. And if you're going to confuse yourself for someone it would be nice if it were a longstanding role model or, at the least, as the result of catching a glimpse of some pleasing characteristic of someone else's.

"Oh... you're watching Conan" you might imagine yourself saying "for a moment there, with the helmet, I thought you'd found tapes of my week at broadsword camp".

When, instead, you think you see yourself in a clip of a gameshow host who once blew a blood vessel by using his nose to inflate a surgical glove he'd pulled over his own head it can cause some dark personal reflection about your career choices. Just trust me on this.

So, because I've gotten emails asking where I've been and because it's taking a ton of mind share, the answer to "what are you doing lately?" is Fast Money (FM). The bits, for now, are regular Friday night segments of On the Money (M-F at 7pm NYC-time). FM is a work in progress but I think it's going to be great. The rotating cast is smart and energetic, the concept is exciting and the opportunity is large.

The work entails finance, media and running my mouth; three things I enjoy a great deal. The Bigger Picture is bringing the energy, insight and provacative (read: snarkily baiting) attitude of Minyanville to television, via the existing 800lb gorilla's channel.

I invite you all to check out the show and let me know what you think. Beyond that, all I ask is your forgiveness for my less-frequent writing schedule and your indulgence if some of what I do write is off-stock-topic, at least while I'm legging into this opportunity. The learning curve is steep and there's no safety net between me and the jagged rocks of looking like a bald-headed gameshow host.

But the Journey is a blast and seems very much worth taking; even at the risk of additional Mandell moments.
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