How do you solve a problem like O’Reilly?
By now I’m certain you have all heard about legendary cable newsman/screaming-guy Bill O’Reilly being pocket-fired by the House of Murdoch while on vacation. O’Reilly was just taking a break in Italy, getting away from the hectic city, the drain of the daily grind, and from watching dozens of advertisers withdraw their support for his show following the news that Fox paid millions upon millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment suits against the former host.
Anybody who claims to hold the moral high-ground, and is then exposed holding the lowest of moral grounds, is going to be in for an easy six months worth of jokes on the national level.
O’Reilly, by offering his unique opinion on the news of the day or by yelling to cut the mic off of guests he didn’t agree with, became the standard bearer for Fox News.
As O’Reilly and “The Factor” grew, so too did the network. He set a bar so high that Fox News, with the typical “well, it worked once, so let’s do it again, but bigger!” line of thinking that comes from every media conglomerate regardless of political affiliation, Fox News tried bigger, crazier personalities to out-O’Reilly O’Reilly.
Remember when Glenn Beck had a show on Fox News? Now, do you remember how long he lasted?
If not for these recent sexual harassment allegations and the ensuing millions spent to make them quietly go away O’Reilly could have stayed on the air for another 10 years.
Regardless of your opinion of him the man knew how to hold an audience’s attention and how to keep that audience coming back for more.
But now professional bowtie wearer Tucker Carlson is going to take over “The Factor” and some rotating head of eerily similar looking people is going to take over Carlson’s current spot, which he got after taking over for Megyn Kelly after she left the network.
So, in the midst of all the name-calling and doomsaying about Fox News (much of it earned, not all of it warranted) people have begun to wildly speculate about what Bill O’Reilly is going to do next.
And by “people” I mean “people on Twitter blindly heaping scorn upon any and all that fall under their gaze.”
Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like O’Reilly has been doing some pretty despicable things to women co-workers over the years, and rightly deserves to be fired. But let’s not pretend that all the Twitter rage is from pure-hearted crusaders and not an easy 30% of it coming from people who just like to get mad at anything, anywhere, anytime.
So, naturally, most of the ragers are saying that O’Reilly will soon be working under the golden arches at McDonald’s or scrubbing the golden toilet at The Donald’s.
O’Reilly working for The Donald is not going to happen; he’s too grounded to find a place in the Trump White House.
And McDonald’s is out of the question because, and I have no proof to validate this claim beyond a deep feeling of certainty, O’Reilly seems like the kind of guy that would rather eat at Arby’s.
Ok, so fast food and the Executive Branch are off the list, what’s left?
O’Reilly is a huge name in TV, but he’s toxic to any news organization right now. As the former host of “Inside Edition” he’s got the chops to become an entertainment reporter, but nowadays those jobs go to washed-up actors and vaguely defined “models” who stand in front of crowds and ask people if they’re excited to see what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast. So scratch that one off the list too.
O’Reilly has media experience, no love for the “mainstream media,” and millions of dollars in the bank following years of buying “GOLD! NOW!! GET GOLD! NOW!” as his commercials on “The Factor” so often recommended.
That sounds like the perfect recipe for a crazy passion project to me! To wit, I humbly submit the following: “Those Who Trespass: A limited series engagement.”
“Those Who Trespass,” for those that suffer from a chronic abundance of taste, is O’Reilly’s Roman à fou novel about ace reporter Shannon Michaels, who has been fired by conspiring network executives and begins a bloody revenge to murder all those who orchestrated the downfall of his career.
Michaels is being chased by ace detective Tommy O’Malley, an NYPD homicide detective who, alongside blond, sexy aristocrat-turned-crime-columnist Ashley Van Buren, pursues Michaels as he kills his way through all of the network news executives.
Terrible? And how! But with hundreds of cable/satellite channels and millions of online distributors looking for content somebody with O’Reilly’s media experience could get this thing off the ground in a month!
The only real problem, other than someone having to tell Bill that he can’t play either Michaels or O’Malley and definitely not both, is that Bill’s going to need a network with no association to Fox or its parent company News Corp.
I know the House of Murdoch says they’re still on friendly terms, but even Rupert “Murdy” Murdoch has enough common sense not to produce a TV show based on your former employee’s book about killing his former boss for firing him. That’s Television 101.
It could have been a problem to find a Fox-free channel even ten years ago, but not anymore. With such deep-cable channels like Ovation, Reelz, Up TV, Aspire, Fuse, TV One, and Pop who have ZERO recognizable programming, any one of them would love the idea of an actual famous person showing up to interrupt their regularly scheduled 24-hour block of “Murder She Wrote” reruns.
All you need to do is pick a channel that has enough cross-over viewership with Fox News to attract O’Reilly’s core audience but doesn’t have enough original programming to preclude adding a 13-hour miniseries of Bill O’Reilly’s bloody revenge fantasies. What channel could offer up such a well-tailored match?
The Weather Channel.
What do Fox News watchers watch when they’re not watching Fox News? The Weather Channel. Would adding a primetime series disrupt their regular programming? Not at all; worst case scenario they bump “partly cloudy tomorrow” an hour and run “hey, remember Hurricane Andrew?” after 11 p.m. Problem solved.
I love this plan. If it works out O’Reilly can start a new media empire of angry formerly-famous people making TV shows out of their poorly conceived novels! Has anybody optioned Sylvester Stallone’s 1978 waste of paper “Paradise Alley?” Call that Denny’s where Stallone hangs out and lock it down!
Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.