TV REVIEW : A Solicitous Pauley 'Changes' in Prime Time


As we have read again and again and again, Jane Pauley is going through these changes. After being wrenched from "Today" after 13 years, she's being reconstituted for NBC prime-time exposure, including an hour special at 10 tonight broadly called . . . "Changes: Conversations With Jane Pauley."

She did four segments with people going through changes, including be-bop-saxophonist-and-now-recovering-heroin-junkie-convict Frank Morgan, now 56. "At 19, Frank had a record album but was working on a criminal record too," she intones from the most awful script since "Supertrain." "Forgery was his ticket to San Quentin."

Another: Becky did some drugs, skipped some school and fled home a few times as a teen-age brat. That was eight years ago, when Pauley first met her and her folks. Now they all claim to have changed. The parents profess to understand but they still look to be in pain; the daughter, now 23, is married with a baby and, despite fawning by the host, is unrepentant and still a snot.

Another: Comic-in-the-round Louie Anderson talks earnestly about boyhood abuse by his now-deceased alcoholic father (Pauley asks how he was abused; Anderson says he was belittled). Now he's selling his million-dollar house in our town and going off to seclusion to walk a lot and lose weight and find himself.

There are some insightful moments in all this, but the assembly of interview bites is all muddle and mush and the script should be beaten with a stick. Pauley is incredibly solicitous to the point of pain. Her career has been playing wide-eyed, which might have worked in the early morning hours but drags as the day dwindles on. Can a person be too nice?

At least this is the first story you've read about Jane Pauley in the last six months that hasn't mentioned Deborah Norville. . . .

Oh, darn. . . .

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