-> -> -> LETTER FROM CRACKERS -> -> ->
I've been on the road for the past few weeks, winging it across
America in search of corporate wrong-doing. As you saw on the
August 25th episode of TV Nation, I was sticking my big spongy
orange beak in the face of some polluters in St. Louis. And just
earlier this week (8/28 - 8/29), I was in Detroit, trying to break up the
big American media monopolies (don't be surprised if we have
trouble getting this on the air; so far it's planned for the September
8th episode -- our last currently scheduled "TV Nation"). Even by
chicken standards, Detroit was a tough town. I was physically
thrown 10 feet by some union-busting goons at the site of the local
newspaper strike. Yee-ow! That smarts! I'm a chicken. I'm not
suppose to fly. Check it out on September 8th -- if it gets on.
I also stopped in a whole bunch of other cities this past month --
Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh,
and Decatur, Illinois. I met anywhere from a few hundred to several
thousand people in each city -- all of them with killer corporate
crime tips. In Chicago, where we had about 3,000 people, the crowd
was so enthusiastic in its anti-corporate fever, the city actually
called in riot police to shut us down. My chicken sense was telling
me to say "Braackk the cops!" but alas, I am protected by several
layers of feathers, foam, and metal -- to say nothing of my giblets of
steel -- while the rest of you only have a few layers of skin to stop
those baton blows. I cut my Chicago visit short. (If your interested
in a really cool write-up about Chicago, check out the article,
"Tongue in Beak," by Steve Johnson, in the Chicago Tribune on
August 14, 1995. You can find it on our web site on the Press
For now, my corporate crime-gathering roadtrip is on hold until we
find out where "TV Nation" will air next. Fox has until December to
decide whether they will renew or cancel us. So keep barraging
them with mail and phone calls to keep us on. Hey, and there's still
a few other networks we haven't been on yet. Send those guys
some letters too. We're available after December. Tell them The
Bird sent you. And keep fighting for Truth, Justice, and a little
thing called Corporate Responsibility.
I am chicken. Hear me Braack. BRAACCKKKK!
************ YURI'S BIO ************
Yuri B. Shvets was employed by the KGB, the State Security
Agency of the former USSR, from 1980 until 1990. In addition to
working at the KGB's Headquarters outside of Moscow, Yuri was
stationed in Washington, DC, from 1985 until 1987.
The following text is reprinted from the bookjacket to Yuri Shvets's
book "Washington Station."
In the spring of 1985, Yuri B. Shvets, an idealistic young KGB
officer, reported to the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C., home
of the KGB's Washington station. His mission: to try to recruit
Americans with access to important political offices, including the
White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA. It was no easy task, and
many of Shvets's KGB colleagues never even made the effort.
Nonetheless, under cover as a reporter for TASS, the Soviet news
agency, Shvets managed to recruit a journalist and former White
House advisor - code-named "Socrates" - whose story has never
been told before.
In "Washington Station," his riveting account of his experiences
spying against the United States, Yuri Shvets describes in
fascinating detail what only a real KGB officer could know: the
daily activities of Soviet spies in our nation's capital, including the
elaborate games of cat and mouse between KGB officers and FBI
Ironically, it was Shvets's successful recruitment of Socrates that
caused him to become disillusioned with the KGB. Shvets paints a
devastating portrait of the Soviet spy agency in the final years of
the USSR. The KGB was a mirror of Soviet society, collapsing from
bureaucracy and incompetence. The head of the Washington
residency was so fearful of FBI and CIA plants that he all but
forbade his officers to recruit new agents. Because of his recruit,
Shvets found himself under constant suspicion within the KGB.
Increasingly frustrated and demoralized, Shvets finally quit the KGB
in 1990 when the Agency began preparing to oppose the democracy
movement in Russia by force.
Yuri B. Shvets is an honors graduate of Patrice Lumumba People's
Friendship University, with a degree in international law. He studied
for two years at the Yuri Andropov Intelligence Institute outside
Moscow. He spent two years in the Washington residency of the
KGB and rose eventually to the rank of major. In 1990 he resigned
his position and in 1993 emigrated to the United States. He now
lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
****** HIGHLIGHTS OF SHOW #6 ******
MIKE TRIES TO HUG ALL 50 GOVERNORS
The new Congress has said it wants to return more power to the
States. If that's where the power is, Michael Moore wants to reach
out and touch that power. Thus he begins his mission: to hug all
Coverage of the O.J. trial is important but does it require 300
reporters a day? Are there not other serious stories to cover? TV
Nation hires it's own psychological operations expert from the U.S.
Army (retired) to help us conduct a "psy-op" program to destabilize
and reduce the massive amount of O.J. coverage.
Sections of Rosemont, Illinois, an affluent Chicago suburb, are
closed off to anyone outside Rosemont. Taking the concept of the
gated community one step further, Rosemont has placed police
guard boots on public streets leading into the city. If you cannot
prove that you are a citizen of Rosemont police instruct you to keep
on moving. TV Nation correspondent Rusty Cundieff goes
to the outskirts of Rosemont to set up our own guard booth
prohibiting the citizens of Rosemont from entering the city of
Everyone knows unions are dying or dead. But there a whole new
group of jobs out there which are just starting to unionize for the
first time. It's like the 1930's all over again - except this time it's not
industrial workers. It's the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad. It's the
topless dancers at a bar in New Jersey. It's the legal prostitutes in
Nevada. TV Nation says, "Show us your union label!"
ENDANGERED WHITE MEN
Tonight TV Nation celebrates the white man's achievements and
explores disturbing signs that the white man is under attack. We
assemble a panel of white male experts to explore the threat from
the white man's natural enemies - women, minorities and everyone
who isn't white. Will the white man vanish like the mighty buffalo?
Or will this sparkiling example of the human species survive?
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED, PART 2
Three weeks ago, TV Nation covered the story of Brian Anthony
Harris, a young African-American man living in Washington, D.C. To
date he has been pulled over and questioned over twenty times
because he either "looks like a criminal" or because his name is the
same as an actual felon-at-large. TV Nation started a campaign
complete with billboards and radio ads to inform all police
agencies, "This man is not guilty" and asked our African-American
male viewers to phone in if they too have been harassed by the
police. Tonight rapper Doug E. Fresh takes their names to the FBI in
Washington, D.C. asking them to tell police agencies across the
country to leave these men alone because they are NOT WANTED!
TV Nation's own candidate for President, Louie Bruno and his
campaign manager Lucky answer our viewer mail.
(: MESSAGES FROM VERONICA :)
* FOLLOW UP ON DOE RUN: For those interested in voicing your
opinion and following up on Crackers' investigation on lead
emissions from the Doe Run plant as seen in the August 25th
episode of TV Nation can write:
Air Pollution Control Program
PO BOX 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
* WRITE WRITE WRITE: Only one more show left after tonight :(
Let's flood FOX's mailbox!!!!!!!
FOX Broadcasting Co.
Director of Programming
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
or e-mail: Fox...@delphi.com
* TV NATION WWW SITE - http://TVNation.spe.sony.com/TVN
I've been told this may be case sensitive.
* TV NATION NEWSGROUP - There is a newsgroup that is used for
the discussion of TV Nation. It is: alt.tv.tv-nation
* TAPES - We are still in the process of making video tapes of TV
Nation available to order. I'll post the information in the newsletter
and on our web site when it's known.
* HATS - Hats are grey denim with red stitching.
$15.00 + $3.95 shipping and handling.
Call 1-800-933-4900, extension 607 and place your hat order .
Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
*** TV NATION POLLS FROM AUGUST 25, 1995 ***
26% of those in possession of a firearm believe that
the second amendment protects their right to buy
81% of those who have seen two or more
"Police Academy" movies believe that
O.J. is innocent.
29% of those surveyed think that the guy
who first put the "Great" in front of "Britain"
probably meant it as a joke
-> -> -> CRACKERS ANSWERS FAQ -> -> ->
WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL THOSE CORPORATE CRIME TIPS WE
First off, I try to get as many of them on the air as possible. Just
getting the info out there is my first priority -- but it's not always
easy. While I am a crimefighter, the vehicle for exploits is a
television network, run by and for the benefit of large corporations
and their advertisers. As Superman had his Kryptonite, I have the
network lawyers, and a most grievous band of trouble-makers
known as "Standards and Practices." As all of you should realize,
one of my greatest feats of superhero-ism is getting on TV in the
first place. (That goes for me and the rest of TV Nation as well.)
Next, we take all our tips and research them thoroughly in our New
York offices to make sure they are accurate. Then we choose one
that is feasible to shoot, will translate well on TV, and will hopefully
have some kind of resolution (it would be pretty depressing if I just
pursued corporate crimes that I was never able to solve; as it is
now I'm barely a minor nuisance to the gory, get-ahead ghouls of
All those tips we don't pursue, will be forwarded to appropriate
activist and social justice groups who will hopefully take action on
them. For instance, many people on the TV Nation staff used to
work in Ralph Nader's office in Washington. Some of the tips will
probable go there. Recently, me and Mike also met with
Congressman John Conyers in Detroit about the newspaper strike,
and he was really interested in doing something about our crime
tips. Some tips will go to his office. Whenever we meet someone
in power who's willing to help us, we let them know the tips are on
All tips are supposed to go somewhere. Whether anything happens
to them is beyond the crime-fighting ability of one chicken. We
need everyone who watches TV Nation to start fighting these guys
too. Even simple little things like letters and phone calls to
corporations have an impact. Many of these companies --
especially the image-conscious ones -- give a great deal
of weight to just one letter. They think it represents the thoughts of
thousands. Peaceful protests are good too. And for those of you
who are lawyers or are thinking of becoming lawyers, just go-ahead
and sue `em! If I could, I would. BRAAACK! Order in the court.
******* ARTICLE TOO GOOD NOT TO SHARE ********
Headline: WHY GROUNDBREAKING TV IS SO RARE
Impatient executives, slow-to-build audiences
stymie innovative shows like "TV Nation"
By Alexandra Marks, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
August 16, 1995, Wednesday
It's 1:15 a.m. in a still bright and bustling Times Square, and a
bleary-eyed Michael Moore has just finished a string of interviews
with people who insist they don't want or need unions. Mr. Moore,
the producer, writer, and host of Fox Television's irreverent ''TV
Nation,'' tosses his microphone in the air, catches
it, and with a sudden burst of energy turns his baseball-capped,
200-pound frame toward the camera.
''It's not surprising corporate America has convinced most people
they don't need unions,'' Moore ad-libs with a grin that cuts through
the weariness. ''Unions have made it possible for most of us to
have decent wages, health insurance, vacation time, and benefits.''
With sex and violence readily available on television, and talk
shows giving vent to almost any kind of social or sexual oddity
imaginable, it's surprising there's anything left that can be
considered controversial on television. But Moore's iconoclastic
documentary series fits the bill.
''What they have to deal with, with us, is not language or nudity
or violence, it's ideas - and that's really dangerous,'' Moore says.
Will Emmy nominee last?
Since 1971, when Norman Lear's ''All in the Family'' first brought
working-class reality and cutting political satire into the sanitized
land of ''Ozzie and Harriet,'' networks have had love/hate
relationships with groundbreaking shows. Many never get on the
air, or are canceled after a short run. Those that survive, at least
initially, often have to fight with network executives wary of
offending sensitive advertisers.
But whether it's ''Maude,'' ''Hill Street Blues,'' or ''The Simpsons,''
such shows have started new trends, expanded television's
boundaries, and proven to have long lives in syndication.
Moore's critically acclaimed show was just nominated for an
Emmy. But he doesn't know if it will survive into the fall.
''I find it extraordinary that a show that was just nominated for an
Emmy should even be associated with the idea of a cancellation,''
says David Mortimor, a producer with the BBC, which airs ''TV
Nation'' in Britain.
But what may seem bizarre to the British with their
noncommercial and sometimes-quirky television, is business as
usual in Hollywood.
''The networks are in the business of short-term, bottom-line,
thinking,'' says Norman Lear. ''In television that translates into 'Give
me a hit on Tuesday night at 8:30, and [forget] everything else.''
What suffers, Lear says, is the innovation and risk taking.
''Any idea that inherently requires some time for the audience to
get acclimated to ... has no opportunity to develop,'' Lear says.
While each of the three major networks has taken risks
throughout the years, in general they remain cautious, relying more
on ratings and demographic surveys than on daring, creative
The advent of cable TV, with its subscriber-based license to air
almost anything, did nudge the three major networks in new
directions. But it took the success of the upstart Fox network to
really push their limits.
''We always talked about doing things to get us noticed, not
gratuitously, but we wanted to do things that no one else was
doing,'' says Bob Greenblatt, Fox's executive vice president for
prime-time series development.
Fox became a network in 1990 when the warm-hearted ''Bill
Cosby Show'' on NBC topped the ratings. So Fox executives
developed the family satire ''Married...With Children'' to be the
anti-Cosby show. The new network put a cartoon, the irreverent and
sometimes painfully honest ''The Simpsons,'' in the heart of its
prime-time lineup. And it developed shows targeted toward teenage
audiences, like ''Beverly Hills 90210.''
Many of their shows, like ''90210,'' had pathetic ratings at first, but
Fox stayed with them. ''Since it takes audiences longer to find our
shows, we have to keep them on longer,'' says Greenblatt. ''The
good news is we've had some really big hits when we did that.''
When ''All In the Family'' first aired, it won critical acclaim but not
much of an audience. It wasn't until the series went into summer
reruns that its ratings soared. The same is true for the perennial
comedy ''Cheers.'' But how is the savvy executive to know if a
season's flop could turn into the next decade's hit series?
That's the art of the business. Executives at NBC first saw
Moore's imaginative flair in his ironic 1989 documentary ''Roger &
Me.'' The film featured the pudgy and jovial Moore traipsing around
decaying and dispirited Flint, Mich., in search of Roger Smith, the
CEO of General Motors. From Moore's perspective, Flint and its
people had made GM, only to be abandoned by the company when
it saw the potential for higher profits elsewhere - yet Roger Smith
didn't even have the courtesy to talk with the people of Flint.
The film's mix of humor and harsh reality tapped a vein that soon
made it the largest grossing documentary in history.
''NBC came to me and said, 'Have an hour, do what you want with
it,' ''Moore says. ''I told them I didn't think they'd like what I came
He came up with ''TV Nation,'' a magazine-style show that's part
documentary, part ''stupid pet tricks,'' which premiered last
summer. Its odd mix of outrageous humor and political commentary
immediately developed a cult following. But it failed the ratings test.
After a short summer run, NBC canceled the show.
''There were a lot of us inside NBC who were pulling for it,'' says
an NBC marketing executive who wished not to be identified. ''Its
ratings were good, but they weren't great, and that's the bottom line
Fox TV executives, thinking they had found the antidote to ''60
Minutes,'' picked up the show this summer.
Moore and ''Crackers, the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken''
have gone to Philadelphia to ask banks why they charge $ 40 for a
bounced check that only costs $ 2.50 to process. He's visited Newt
Gingrich's Cobb County, Ga., an antigovernment stronghold, and
pointed out that the residents there have received $ 4 billion from
the federal government. And he's brought love to the hate mongers,
serenading white supremacists, baking a cake with the Michigan
Militia, and planting flowers at the home of an antiabortion protester
who advocates violence.
''It's the honesty of it, the forceful honesty that's so unparalleled,''
says Abby Fisher of New York, who was part of the late-night crowd
watching Moore tape in Times Square.
''He cuts to what he's trying to say with few words and a lot of
sarcasm,'' says Paul Goldenberg of Philadelphia. ''He's someone
from the grass roots who's trying to get common people to fight
back against things we think we can't control,'' says Mary Beth
Carroll of Ann Arbor, Mich.
While Fox's Greenblatt also spoke glowingly of ''TV Nation's''
humor and the need to give unusual shows time to develop an
audience, he did not comment directly on its future.
Will ''TV Nation'' be on this fall? Watch how it does in the ratings
over the next few weeks.
Copyright 1995 The Christian Science Publishing Society
The Christian Science Monitor