ABC Cancels Yeltsin!

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Vol 31 Issue 01

Poor Kwanzaa Sales Disappoint Retailers

WASHINGTON, DC—Kwanzaa officials received sobering news Monday, as the Department of Commerce announced that Kwanzaa holiday sales for the U.S. totalled $178. The figure represents the lowest total since 1992, the year the holiday was invented. At Abe's Kwanzaa Emporium in Los Angeles, rows of unsold Kwanzaa trees were thrown out, while rolls of Kwanzaa-themed wrapping paper gathered dust in giant bins. Even A&M Records' much-hyped holiday CD, A Bryan Adams Kwanzaa, fared poorly, selling just three copies.

Area Pie Hole Shut

TEMPE, AZ—A local pie hole was definitively shut Saturday. After droning on incessantly about matters witnesses say were trivial and "more than just a little" annoying, the pie hole was forcefully instructed by a loud-mouthed neighbor to be shut. Plans to re-open the pie hole are being withheld until it needs more pie.

Oakland Teacher Mistakenly Teaches 'Economics'

OAKLAND, CA—In an effort to abide by the Oakland Public Schools' new "ebonics" instruction regulations, one area teacher mistakenly began teaching the subject of "economics" to her 11th-grade class Monday. Suzanne Byrne, a 13-year teaching veteran, badly confused students when she attempted to explain to them such complex economic principles as stagflation, Keynesian incrementalism, and the invisible hand of laissez-faire capitalism. School superintendent Melvin Washington was outraged upon learning of Byrne's actions, saying: "The voodoo she was teaching involved numbers and complex calculations, which no high-school student can reasonably be expected to understand." Washington insisted that instruction be limited to the study of ebonics, or—in the school's new higher-level Sanford and Son-themed curriculum—the study of "Lamontics," which helps young people better understand Lamont Sanford.

Budget Talks Dreadlocked

WASHINGTON, DC—President Clinton cited "a profound lack of irie vibrations" as the main reason budget talks became dreadlocked this week. Congress and the President had been in negotiations since last October, but according to House officials, a common ground could not be reached due to "a lack of positive riddims." "If only Ras Tafari were still with us," Rep. Glen Browder (D-AL) said. "He would have given us the wisdom to cut back on porkbarrel legislation and get the budget passed." Sen. Al D'Amato (R-NY) added: "Hopefully, we can reach some sort of bipartisan compromise and get this natty dreadlock resolved. Praise Jah." After talks stalled again Monday, legislators tabled negotiations until next week, using the recess to get high.

Unambitious Terrorists Overturn Trash Can

JERUSALEM—The Bedouin Free Army, described by State Department officials as an unambitious offshoot of the PLO, is claiming responsibility for Sunday's overturning of a garbage can near the Western Wall. According to reports, the group intended to bring attention to what they called a "serious lack of pens" in Bedouin Army encampments near the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials had ignored the group's most serious act prior to Sunday, the 1995 slamming down of a phone receiver "really hard," according to State Department files. No one was hurt in the trash can incident, though several pieces of crumpled paper, three falafel balls and a shoe were badly scattered.

Our Street Gangs Are Probably Using Bad Language

While recently wandering the rotting underbelly of my favorite local urban wasteland at 3 a.m., I was accosted by a roughneck gang of thugs who demanded my wallet. With a grandfatherly sense of duty I handed it over to them; then they clonked me over the noggin and ran off.

Murder Down In The Big Apple

Murder rates dropped in New York City for the third straight year in 1996, with total homicides in the city under 1,000 for the first time since the mid-1960s. What do you think of the surprising statistics?

1996 Was The Year Of The Celebrity!

What a crazy year it was! So many big names made news in 1996, it will certainly go down as The Year Of The Celebrity. With that in mind, let's look back into Jackie Harvey's crystal ball...
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ABC Cancels Yeltsin!

LOS ANGELES—ABC announced Monday that it is cancelling Yeltsin!, the struggling two-year-old sitcom starring Russian president Boris Yeltsin.

Though network executives did not give a reason for the cancellation, it is believed that Yeltsin's poor comedic skills—including his oafish, mistimed delivery of his character's catchphrase, "You got that right, sister!"—were to blame.

Writers for the show were also frustrated by the star's frequent comas, which made it "nearly impossible" for the Russian premier to memorize his lines.

"Sooner or later," Entertainment Weekly television critic Owen McCready said, "the stress of doing 26 shows a year portraying a divorced father of three who moves to Pittsburgh to start a new life, in addition to having to lead Russia, was bound to take its toll."

Yeltsin!, which also stars comedian Mark Curry and former 227 star Jackée, debuted in September 1995, touted by ABC as the cornerstone of its much-hyped Tuesday-night line-up. Though the show's debut episode finished third in the Nielsens, it has since slipped dramatically, tying for 54th this past week with CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond.

Until a replacement show can be found, Yeltsin!'s 8:30 time slot will be filled with classic episodes of Madam's Place, the irreverent early-'80s comedy featuring the bawdy humor of wise-cracking puppet Madam and a supporting cast that includes sexy redhead Judy Landers as Madam's comely niece.

Yeltsin! producers were surprised that the show's ratings continued to drop this season, in light of the September 1996 addition of Bosnian leader Slobodan Milosevic to the cast.

"We thought, if the public isn't responding to a Russian political leader in a light-comedy setting, why not 'up the ante,' so to speak, by giving them a Bosnian one as well," executive producer Barbara Baum said. "Apparently, though, the addition of Milosevic to the show's already-impressive supporting cast was a case of 'too little, too late.' It's sad when you put your all into a project, only to see it end like this."

Many television industry insiders say the writing was on the wall for Yeltsin! in April 1996, when the star mysteriously disappeared for several weeks, with an explanation written into the show's scripts that he had "just gone down to the store for a loaf of bread."

Yeltsin's ballyhooed return came in the May 3 episode, in which he walked into the apartment carrying several bags of loaves, exclaiming, "Whew! Now that's a lot of bread, you got that right, sister!" to resounding applause from the studio audience. Many observers, however, felt that the show's producers had not adequately explained his absence from the storyline and suspected them of trying to hide a more serious problem with the program's ailing star.

Baum denies this. "There's no truth to the rumor that Boris was unable to fulfill his television obligations due to a series of top-secret surgeries to remove eaten stage props from his stomach," she said. "The tabloids love that kind of stuff, and I'm sure it sells papers, but it's just not true."

Baum also denied persistent rumors that Yeltsin is involved romantically with Alyssa Milano, his co-star in the 1995 made-for-TV movie Exchange Student 2: Junior Year Abroad.

Yeltsin himself remains optimistic, both about his show-business future and the future of Russia. In a videotaped message from his oxygen-tented sickbed near Gdansk, Yeltsin smiled warmly to reporters, saying, "I hope my fans will all tune in to see me, TV's Yeltsin, in my upcoming role as host of Sightings on the Sci-Fi Channel, debuting in March. The future of Russia has never looked better, and her people have never been stronger or happier. I am strong as an ox. There will be no need for any coup or other governmental overthrow. This has been a recording."

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