This is a little bit of fun I thought up a while back when I was in the middle of "The Deal" but it didn’t quite fit. Makes a fairly decent bumper though, so here goes.

The characters are mine, the station is fictional and any resemblance to a real station or personnel at a TV station is strictly coincidental. Other stations mentioned in passing are real, but it’s just a mention. No sex, but it is discussed. If you haven’t read "The Deal" this won’t make a damn bit of sense.


Seventeen Minutes

By M. Ryan

One more fold, a tuck and it was done. She ran a finger around the edges to check the firmness of the construction and then held it between the thumb and forefinger of one hand while she furrowed her brow in concentration and used the thumb and middle finger of the other hand to flick the paper football across the dark cherry desk and into her out basket. Pleased with the accuracy of her aim, Laura Kasdan smiled slightly before turning her attention back to the stack of capital requests spread out in front of her.

Paperwork. This job is nothing but schmoozing and paperwork. Who knew it could be so fucking boring? The computer chimed and she glanced over, her irritation vanishing when she saw the message.


Hanson, C Thursday 7/15/99 2:13pm

Hey. Bad day up there in the big Chair? Did you ever get any lunch?


Laura pulled the keyboard closer and smiled as she typed a reply to the blonde anchor who was probably killing time in the newsroom before going out on a story.

Not a bad day, just a lot of headaches. June brought me a sandwich but it was pretty awful. What are you working on?

The message was clicked away and she grimaced at her inability to concentrate until a reply lit up her mailbox. The leather chair creaked softly as she idly rocked and waited.

Hanson, C. Thursday 7/15/99 2:15pm

Well, my 3 o’clock interview fell apart, much like my story did. Seems no one wants to talk about labor on city contracts being done by out of state workers. I have some things set up for tomorrow. Don’t think I’m going to be able to turn this today. Keith has me writing VO’s but I need a break and was wondering if you had a minute to play?


The workaholic warred with the adolescent and decided that an opportunity to play with Chris in the middle of the day was not to be squandered, so Laura sent a brief reply.

Lead on.

She only had to wait a minute before her phone rang. "Laura Kasdan," She answered, not quite automatically, her full name a concession to her new position.

"Great voice, have you ever considered radio?"

"Very funny. I’ve got about fifteen minutes before my next meeting, this’ll have to be fast."

Chris gave a short musical laugh, "Oh, a quickie. I can oblige. Are you on line?"

"Yep. Where are we going?" Laura clicked open a window.

"One of the production assistants found a little test. Go to this address." Chris read off the URL and Laura typed it in. It loaded quickly and she raised an eyebrow. "The TV News Get-a-Life Test?"

"Mm hmm. This should be fun. Now you have to answer honestly, then we’ll compare scores."

"But I have a life," Laura protested.

"Sure, now you do. This comes under the category of picking your brain and finding out what makes you tick. I’m still a reporter, remember?"

"Whatever." Laura scrolled down to the first question.

Do you regularly watch one or more TV Newscasts per day?

"Of course." Laura shifted the phone to the other ear. "I watch all of them, or at least part of them everyday, it’s our product."

"I think we can both safely answer yes to that one." Chris clicked the yes bar under the question.

Is it possible that someone you know will appear on Camera?

"Are newspeople supposed to be taking this test?" Laura huffed. "Of course I know someone who will appear on camera."

"It gets better. Yes to that one."

Is it possible you will appear on camera?

Chris chuckled "I can say yes, but you can’t."

Do you ever yell at the TV because someone on-Camera did something stupid?

The phone was silent for a moment. "Well, there was last night’s Ten…" Laura started.

"Oh come on, like you never do it? We were lucky Terrence wasn’t picking his nose when we took that live shot. If he actually listened to the cues from the producer he wouldn’t be standing there looking like a dummy." Chris twirled the pencil in her hand and looked across the newsroom at the reporter in question who was scratching his head. "And you’re always yelling at Tom when he ad libs and stumbles.

"Well I don’t get to yell at him in person anymore, so I have to do it by proxy." Laura clicked on the affirmative.

Have you discussed TV news with another person within the last 24 hours?


"Uh huh."

Within the last hour?

"Oh come on."

"That’s a yes." Chris grimaced at the next one.

Have you ever thought about TV news during sex?

"Nope. Never." Laura’s answer was firm and she waited for Chris to respond. Her amusement turned to worry when an answer wasn’t forthcoming. "Chris?"

"Well, not recently."

"But you have?"

"It’s happened."

"With me?"

The uncertainty was there even though question was asked almost casually and Chris smiled into the receiver. "I said not recently, and most definitely not with you."


"So we’re clear on that?"

Have you ever discussed TV news during sex?

"Nope, never." Laura’s answer was the same but she squirmed through the blonde anchor’s silence. "I’m not believing this. Who would you…never mind."

"Trust me, you don’t want to know." The sound of the keyboard clattered through Chris’ muttered comment. "Sorry, thought this’d be fun."

Have you ever had sex while participating, on-camera, in the presentation of a live TV newscast? Come to think of it, if you have, push yes several times.

"Hey, I can answer no to this one." Chris breathed a laugh through the awkwardness that almost buzzed over the line and held her breath waiting for Laura to contribute. She could almost see the other woman’s brow furrow as she decided what to say.

"I think it’s a little disturbing that someone would’ve done it, to think about asking it. Sort of like the warnings on FedEx envelopes not to send blood or other liquids that way. Someone did it so there’s a warning about it."

"Some of the production assistants did a newscast in their underwear once on a dare. Tom had to go pantless I think. Do you think viewers wonder what anchors are wearing below the desk?"

"What happened?" Laura asked.

"To the crew and Tom?" Chris paused thoughtfully, "I think someone ratted on them and they were suspended for a couple of days without pay. Pretty harsh."


"Would you have suspended them?"

"Depends how the ‘cast went. If it was a train wreck, you betcha. But a lot of times when the crew is stunting there’s a lot more energy and everything works out. I like to think I’d have been rational." Laura paused, "But I was pretty unforgiving in Dallas."

Do you own more than 3 things with station logos on them?

Chris laughed. "Half my wardrobe has a logo on it."

"Half? My god! I can’t even imagine that many clothes."

"Very funny. Then there’s pens, pencils, coffee mugs, squeeze balls, water bottles, umbrellas, watches, ballcaps, beach towels, rain gauges, flashlights, my briefcase…shall I go on?"

"Now I know where promotion’s budget is going." Laura clicked the yes key.

Have you seen the movie Broadcast News more than 5 times?

"I saw it once, that was enough."

Chris laughed, "Are you kidding? The flop sweat scene made the movie for me…that and Joan Cusak running the tape down the hall, then she took the header over the drawer...seen that happen. That’s a yes."

Do you own the video?

"Of course you do," Laura said dryly. "Is that it for the sex questions? Why didn’t they ask if you thought about sex while you were watching the news?"

"Do you think about sex when you’re watching the news?" Chris’ voice got lower and she glanced around the newsroom.

"Ah, nevermind."

Can you usually name a station’s market and network when told only its call letters?

Laura’s sense of relief was overcome only by her arrogance. "Any station, any market, anywhere."

"I don’t believe that." Chris was doubtful.

"Try me."


"Tucson, CBS."


"Wilmington, NBC. You’ll have to do better than that."


"Memphis, NBC."


"West Palm Beach, FOX and Shreveport, CBS. You cannot win this one, Chris."

In the process of editing a news story have you ever told someone to "…just push the @#$%& red button?

They both clicked the yes bar.

Push yes if you’re listening to a police scanner right now.

"I can hear it over the phone, does that count?" Laura asked.

"Nope," Chris smirked. "KOMO."

"Seattle, ABC. Keep trying."

Do you know what IFB stands for?

"I have no idea, I just stick the damn thing in my ear."

Laura clicked her tongue reprovingly "Interruptible feedback. Don’t they teach you anything at Mizzou?"

Can you name a station that "Stands for News?"

"KDAL, Dallas." Laura’s answer was dry at the mention of the branding statement at her old station.

"Oh that’s right," Chris mused. "WSB is "Coverage you can count on."

"Yep, a psycho station."


"Coverage you can count on, CYCCO. Fits doesn’t it?"

"Eerily so." Chris agreed.

Have you ever said, "…oh it’ll be easy. Just look at me and try to ignore the camera."?

"Oh yeah."

"Better believe."

Can you recite from memory the top ten Neilson Markets?

"I would bet money that you can."

Laura took a breath, "New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philly, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Washington DC, Detroit and Atlanta. Houston is eleventh, then Seattle, Tampa-St Pete…"

"Okay, okay…WSYT."

"FOX 68, Syracuse. Good try Chris."

Can you name anyone who works for the FOX News Channel?

"That Reilly guy."

Laura drew a total blank. "That’s not news, it’s fluff."


While taking this test has a news operation called, paged, faxed, beeped, emailed, or in anyway attempted to communicate with you?"

Chris opened her email window and saw twelve new messages as her beeper began to vibrate across her desk. "It never stops." She muttered.

"Time’s up I guess." Laura tried to keep her tone light. "Well let’s score this puppy and see how we did." She stared at the screen in irritated disbelief. "I got a 13…Medium Market material? What the hell does that mean! I was a news director in Dallas for Christ’s sake."

"17!" Chris crowed, "Top Ten material."

"I can’t believe this. You outscored me."

"My, aren’t we competitive. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone." Chris stood up and clipped the beeper on the waistband of her skirt and switched the phone to her other ear. "I’ve got to meet this guy at city hall now. Can I see you tonight?"

Laura looked up as her assistant peeked in the doorway. "Kaz, Richard is here with next year’s capital workups, it’s almost two-thirty."

Laura nodded at the secretary and rubbed one thumb along a worried eyebrow. "The Chief Engineer’s here right now and I have a dinner thing I have to go to tonight, sorry. Ah, tomorrow?"

At the other end of the line Chris swallowed her disappointment. "Sure…tomorrow."

"Friday night’s date night anyway, babe. We’ll do something different." Holding the receiver against her ear with a shoulder, Laura began to type quickly, silently cursing a form of communication that was inadequate for her needs, knowing that she left too much unsaid.

In the newsroom Chris ran a hand through her hair. Buck up, she’s got a lot on her plate. "Yeah, tomorrow’s good." The blonde anchor looked up to see her photographer standing patiently in the doorway. "Jody’s waiting."

"Okay then, later." Laura’s voice seemed to be coming from far away and Chris hung up just as her Email chimed.

Kasdan, L. Thursday 7/15/99 2:29pm

Great score, I always knew you were better TV material than me anyway. If I was to show up at your house tonight around 10:30, would you leave the porch light on?


"Just a sec, Jody." Chris keyed the answer and sent it on its way before grabbing her notebook and heading out the door.

In the General Manager’s office the Chief Engineer laid a sheaf of papers on Laura’s desk and pulled up a chair. "Downtime?" he asked dryly, pointing to the paper football.

"Not at all." The answer came with a half smile. "Be glad that’s all I’m kicking." She minimized her mail window but not before she read one last message.

Hanson, C. Thursday 7/15/99 2:30pm

You don’t have to ask you know. Any day, any time.



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