Connie Chung, Torch Singer for a Night
By JACQUES STEINBERG - Published: June 20, 2006
Those who caught a glimpse over the weekend — either on television, or later on the Internet — of the torch song that Connie Chung warbled to mark the end of her short-lived program with Maury Povich on MSNBC, take note: She says she meant her performance to be a gag. [It was a great gag!]
Video: Connie Chung's Farewell (youtube.com)
"I sing off tune so perfectly," she said yesterday, "I just find it's a great way to capture the audience."
Ms. Chung, in a shimmering evening gown and long white gloves, slithered atop and around a grand piano while singing a version of Bob Hope's signature song, "Thanks for the Memory," in a style best described as evoking a tipsy Marilyn Monroe. At one point Ms. Chung even shook her behind at the camera. The lyrics — written by Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show" and executive producer ofMs.Chung's program — mostly made fun of Ms. Chung and her husband, Mr. Povich, whose own long-running talk show tends toward seamier material than did "Weekends With Maury & Connie."
A sampling of the lyrics: "This half a year flew by/My Maury, what a guy/Instead of asking, 'Who's the daddy?'/He could talk Dubai."
Asked if she had required a drink beforehand to get through lines like that, Ms. Chung, a former co-anchor of the "CBS Evening News," laughed, then said, "I should have had a drink before I went on."
Thanks in part to the Web site Youtube.com, clips of Ms. Chung's rendition have been rocketing through cyberspace. Not everyone, it seems, got the joke.
The media-centric Web site Gawker.com was reminded of something Dave Barry once wrote about Richard M. Nixon's resignation remarks — "a semicoherent speech about his mother that may well rank as the single most embarrassing moment in American history." The site then added, "The 37th president can finally rest in peace."
Did such barbs sting? "I always have a hard time with them," Ms. Chung said. "I decided what the heck?"
"Weekends with Maury & Connie" — a half-hour program in which the two hosts sought to comment on the news through analysis, point-counter-point and humor — was at least partly intended to counter the conventional wisdom about each of them, she said. "It showed Maury was a thinker, a reader, an intelligent news person," Ms. Chung said. "It showed, on my side, that I can have as much fun as anyone."
The show, which was broadcast for six months, on Saturday mornings at 10 (and rebroadcast throughout the weekend), never caught on with viewers, drawing an average audience of slightly more than 200,000 on Saturday mornings. The cable channel quietly noted its demise earlier this month.
Throughout her career Ms. Chung, 59, has periodically sought to show that she has a sense of humor about herself and her work. She was a frequent guest on David Letterman's late-night talk show, particularly when it was on NBC.
And this is hardly the first time she has sung off-key, as a gag, publicly. She once did so on "The View," serenading Barbara Walters after she announced her retirement from "20/20." And about a decade ago, she said, she did so at an awards dinner, crooning to Dan Rather (with whom she had been briefly, awkwardly paired on the evening news).
Of her singing, she gloated, "It makes Maury cringe."
--and in an off-key range of five keys, ALL OF US can cringe right with him, and my dogs can howl, too!
Connie, "we thank you, so much"
Abbe Buck, once a singer