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This column strikes back

Innovation seems to be in short supply, or, at least, an undesirable commodity around Los Angeles. This summer, we're going to see more sequels, adaptations, television series writ large, and franchise spinoffs than Indiana Jones could shake a bullwhip at. And the number of knock-off reality series premiered or sold has reached stratospheric proportions.

Following the time-tested motto of "Why be first when you can be second?", it's time to entertain some ideas for modifying this column's format to reflect what the movie going and television watching audience seems to want.

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The Surreal Column. bringing in B- or C-list celebrities to write the column. The benefits of this are obvious: I get paid for not doing any work, and readers all over the world are able to settle those nagging questions about whether Webster genuinely could write a better column than I do. On the other hand, the rotating column could quickly descend into a series of desperate pleas for letter-writing campaigns for another MC Hammer tour, or the revival of poor '80s sitcoms. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

Fear Factor: The Column. After taking requests from readers, I would see how much the Monitor would be willing to pay me to eat disgusting things or to engage in physical challenges. Satisfaction would probably be low, though, because seeing me write the words "I just plunged myself into a barrel of writhing snakes" is probably less interesting than watching it. And, of course, there's the little matter of my being a coward.

The X-Column. Using the superpowers that came from a freak mutation in my genetic makeup, I battle crime and opine on matters of cultural import. This one actually doesn't sound too bad. Except for the supervillains.

Jeremy and Hutch. Following in the steps of the forthcoming Hollywood update of the '70s cop show, I'd trade wisecracks with a telegenic partner while making sure the streets were safe. I've had this problem with growing sideburns, though, and I'd have to renew my driver's license, and you know how those lines at the DMV can be ...

VH1's 'Behind the Column'. Over the course of several installments, readers would learn the whole sordid story behind how this column came to be: the backroom deals, the raw ambition, the eyestrain from watching all that television. Interviews with family members, personal friends, and cable providers would tell all. Not that there's that much to tell.

Lethal Column VI. On my last day as a columnist, I end up taking on a young, brash kid with a death wish - he'll print anything. After a series of close run-ins with the FCC and some of the state's leading libel lawyers, he teaches me a little bit about life and I teach him a little bit back.

How to Lose A Column in Ten Days. Dedicate the next installments of this column to writing such provocative, inflammatory statements that the Monitor would have no choice but to fire me. This doesn't seem like such a winner, long-term, but maybe it has some hidden potential.

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So there you have it. Check back to this space regularly. You never know when Webster might be writing.

Jeremy Dauber is a playwright, theatre director, and screenwriter.


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