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Speaking Deutsch

What's the big idea that keeps ad-man-turned-CNBC-talk-show-host Donny Deutsch running?
Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
"24", Jan/Feb 2006

(continued from page 2)

Deutsch takes it all in and comments: "If I'm running that team, I can't have a guy like that on it."

In a side development, former Cowboy and ESPN analyst Michael Irvin has been caught with a crack pipe, which he claims was left in his car by a friend. The producers have decided to throw it into the mix of the show, which regularly takes eclectic turns.

The second segment will be a complete change of pace. It will feature Robert Shapiro, one of O. J. Simpson's attorneys, whose 25-year-old son, Brent, died of an overdose of the drug ecstasy only six weeks earlier. The lawyer and his wife, Linell, are promoting drug abuse awareness and also want to announce that free living wills would be available at certain times on his Web site.

The back story is that the son had a history of drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager, had appeared to have licked it, and then had a relapse. Deutsch wants to know if he was a good kid. He is told that Brent was back in school and was getting straight A's at the time of the incident, but the look that flashes over the host's face seems to show that his concern is how he will sensitively shift gears through segments that have such different tones.

In his dressing room, Deutsch is being made up and discusses his wardrobe changes for each segment. He loses his T-shirt and dons the first of two closely fitted, collared shirts (no tie) he will wear that day. Once in an interview with a female reporter from AdWeek, he took off his shirt to demonstrate that his was the best agency since he was the fittest of all agency CEOs and could kick the others' asses. Deutsch works out obsessively, and it was meant as a joke, but it backfired when many in the industry took it as an act of braggadocio. (Not familiar with the physiques of other Madison Avenue executives, this reporter is ill-equipped to comment on his relative muscle tone.)

Deutsch's preparation for the show does seem rather brisk, however, and he explains that he prefers to be abreast of the issues discussed but not overbriefed, to keep discussion fresh. "With the right amount of research, I am learning from the guests during the show." A sign on the dressing room wall seems to reflect that approach: Sometimes you have to ask the wrong question to get the right answer.

On the set of Studio B, Deutsch leads with Long, who asserts that if Owens is allowed to skip out on his contract, it will set a dangerous precedent for other disgruntled players who may decide to trash their teammates as a ploy to free themselves before their obligations are up.

"So what's your solution?" snaps Deutsch, whose style is to keep the show constantly moving, even when it makes it seem desultory.

"Act like a professional," answers Long, and it's on to a discussion of Irvin, which the host caps with a rhetorical question: "Are you buying that story...or is it a boy who cried wolf?" Long says it's a plausible argument.

The segment continues with a series of harangues and good-natured kidding with Long and Jackson. Both guests agree that while Owens is a disruption, he is a very talented player. Neither, however, will back off his position on how he should be treated. Deutsch dictates the tempo with provocative questions and his willingness to switch gears by discussing other sports controversies such as the Minnesota Vikings and their "booze cruise" fiasco.


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