Learning Channel Switches To All-Gilligan Format

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Vol 31 Issue 21

Model Railroading A Harsh Mistress

UTICA, NY—Tom Collins, a 49-year-old data technician and father of seven, announced Monday that model railroading is a harsh mistress. "Model railroading, like the Sea, can be a kind lady, but make no mistake, she can also be a cold and angry harpy," Collins said. "In times of yore, men tested their mettle against the Sea, but in these modern times, a man proves his virility one way only: building, maintaining and running a model-railroad set-up in his garage or den." Collins advised using Testor's-brand epoxy glue for miniature trees and letting them dry for at least 24 hours.

Area Teens Find Once-In-A-Lifetime Love

VALDOSTA, GA—Despite living in a harsh, unaccepting world in which their dads won't let them have the car past 11 p.m. on Fridays, area teens Brianna Fahey and Kurt Mulroney have found true, once-in-a-lifetime love in each other. "We have something that many never find, no matter how long they look: our soulmates," the teens, who have been officially 'going out' since May, said Thursday. "No other love could ever be as special as ours." When asked what was so special about their relationship, Fahey said, "I totally love Karl. He wants to have sex all the time, and I even want to let him. That kind of connection only happens when it's true love." The couple expects their first baby in approximately eight months.

Rat Fancy Magazine Fails To Catch On

NEW YORK—Despite massive market-saturation and advance promotion, the first three issues of Rat Fancy, a new monthly magazine devoted to rats and the people who love them, has failed to generate the level of consumer interest necessary to continue publishing, editor Frankie DelGabrio said Monday. "Despite being packed with rat photos, true-life stories about rats, and helpful rat-care tips, it somehow hasn't found its audience," DelGabrio said. "The June issue, which features a precious, full-color centerfold of a hungry rat family approaching a sleeping baby in its crib, will sadly be the magazine's last." Added DelGabrio, "I love sweet, cuddly rats with all my heart."

Rupert Murdoch Acquires Cable

LOS ANGELES—Media-industry giant Rupert Murdoch made perhaps his most significant move ever Monday, acquiring cable for his L.A.-area mansion for an estimated $35 a month. "This puts me in strong TV-watching position well into the next century," said Murdoch, who, according to a Wall Street Journal report, also paid a $50 hook-up fee as part of the deal. "With some 50 channels now in my possession, my vast media empire cannot be rivaled." Murdoch acquired the stations by using his vast holdings and market influence as leverage against his local cable provider, who, sources say, approved the deal within four to five seconds. Murdoch promised that the cable acquisition will pave the way for "a historic ass-couch merger."

U.S. Anachronism At 'All Time High,' Says Truman

INDEPENDENCE, MO—At a press conference Monday, former president Harry S Truman declared that U.S. anachronism levels are at "an all-time high." Responding to the recent rash of jitterbugging, British taxation without representation, and talk of the Teapot Dome scandal, the deceased leader called on all citizens to "join me and Bess in saving up scrap iron for the war so our boys over there can drive the Spanish back." Truman also urged citizens to use caution when using whale-blubber-burning oil lamps.

Bill Gates Grants Self 18 Dexterity, 20 Charisma

REDMOND, WA—Microsoft head Bill Gates, already considered by many to be among the most powerful men in the world, further increased his powers Monday, augmenting several of his key statistics to near-immortal levels.

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Learning Channel Switches To All-Gilligan Format

ROSSLYN, VA—In a move considered inevitable by cable-industry insiders, The Learning Channel announced Monday its decision to give up attempts to package educational material for the commercial television market. Beginning July 15, the network will switch over to an "All-Gilligan" format.

A preview of The Learning Channel's new programming. TLC officials say that in the future, viewers can expect to see fewer science specials and more head bonks involving coconuts.

"To hell with learning," said Mark Almond, head of programming for the struggling network at a press conference announcing the changeover. "I mean, who were we kidding? A commercial station with programming that focuses exclusively on educational topics? Who wants to sit home and watch a bunch of penguins laying eggs or some crap like that? Gee, that should really pull in the ratings."

"Christ!" Almond added. "Who needs it?"

According to a network press release, under TLC's new format, viewers will enjoy 24-hour Gilligan availability.

"Beginning July 15 on The Learning Channel, there will be Gilligan, and the Skipper, too, as well as the millionaire and his wife," read the press release for the new format, which is being heavily promoted by TLC with the new catch-phrase, "Learning? Pfft!"

The format switch is considered the most significant cable-industry retooling since The History Channel adopted its current all-Hitler format in 1994.

TLC officials say that many new programming formats were considered by the network before the decision to go all-Gilligan, including: all-Danza, all-psychic, all-Manimal, and all-spandex aerobic crotch thrusting.

"We opted for the Gilligan-centered programming strategy after research indicated that there was no other show--whether sitcom, game show, drama, cartoon, musical-variety, or anything else--that required less intelligence to watch and comprehend," vice-president of programming Bob Hile said.

Plovis-area nine-year-old Timmy McWimmy, a member of TLC's new target demographic, was pleased with the announcement.

"It's funny how they can't get off the island. When Gilligan tries to get off the island he always messes up, and then they have to stay," McWimmy said, moments before spilling a popsicle on himself.

Sub-literate pre-teens, however, are not the only demographic group the all-Gilligan format targets.

"The widely varied cast of characters presents us with many opportunities for broad-based market penetration," TLC sales director Martin Vogler said. "The presence of Ginger, the movie star, provides the kind of sex appeal for adult male viewers that our learning-directed programming sorely lacked. Also, the wholesome Mary Ann draws viewership among mothers between 30 and 55; the Howells will attract high-income 55- to 70-year-olds, and the presence of the Professor ensures that there will still be enough science-based content for us to retain our old viewers who might still be interested in learning."

The fact that most Americans have already seen and memorized every episode of the critically panned mid-'60s sitcom is "of little to no concern," TLC executives said.

"Studies show that easy recognizability of deeply ingrained icons plays a greater role in positive viewer response to a program than does the desire to follow an unfamiliar narrative," Vogler said.

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