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Monday, February 26, 2007
Everything I Ever Needed To Know

...I learned from watching Quiz Show. This is one of my favorite movies from 1994, and this is from the scene just before the Senate hearings on the fixed game shows.

Dick Goodwin:
The questions are to take no longer than five minutes. You're to receive the questions in advance, and I'm to thank you for the courtesy of attending this hearing.

Martin Rittenhome: Mercy. What a grueling line of inquiry.

Dick Goodwin: Must have a familiar ring, the questions in advance.

Martin Rittenhome: Would you excuse us for a moment, please? And take this, please. Thank you. Young man…

Dick Goodwin: The ratings went up if the same contestant came back week after week. There was only one way for that to happen. You had to know that.

Martin Rittenhome: Young man, I sell over $ 1.4 million a year worth of Geritol. That's the kind of businessman I am. That show, Twenty-One cost me $3-1 /2 million year in, year out. Sales went up 50% when Van Doren was on. Fifty percent. So the very idea that I was unaware of every detail or aspect of that show's operation...well, frankly, it's, it's very insulting.

Dick Goodwin: So you knew.

Martin Rittenhome: (grinning) That's even more insulting.

Dick Goodwin: You had to know. That's what you just said.

Martin Rittenhome: It's not about what I know. It's about what you know.

Dick Goodwin: You don't know what I know.

Martin Rittenhome: You know that Dan Enright ran a crooked quiz show.

Dick Goodwin: Oh, he never informed you?

Martin Rittenhome: (grinning again) Did he?

Dick Goodwin: Let's see what he says.

Martin Rittenhome: Dan? Look, Dan Enright wants a future in television. Okay? What you have to understand is that the public has a very short memory. But corporations, they never forget.

Dick Goodwin: He's not that stupid. He knows he's through.

Martin Rittenhome: Oh, no. He'll be back. NBC's gonna go on. Geritol's gonna go on. It makes me wonder what you hope to accomplish with all this.

Dick Goodwin: Don't worry. I'm just gettin' started.

Martin Rittenhome: But even the quiz shows'll be back. Why fix them? Think about it, will ya? You could do exactly the same thing by just making the questions easier. See, the audience didn't tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money.

Rob Morrow, the guy best known for Northern Exposure plays the attorney in the movie, and the executive in the scene was played by Martin Scorcese. Scorcese won his first Oscar last night for The Departed, but he should have gotten one for this scene. That kind of brilliant smugness ought to be rewarded.

posted at 7:06 PM

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