Who Should Replace Gene Shalit on Today? (Hint: Me)

It's a sad day in film culture: After 40 years of raining puns, ridicule and unabashed blurb-addled ecstasy on morning-TV viewers across America, movie critic Gene Shalit is packing up his bow tie and retiring from Today. Shalit made the announcement in a press release, adding that his future plans "embrace publishing, the Internet, radio and commercials." Are you thinking what I'm thinking? No, not "Good luck." More like, "Job opening!"

This is a hallowed position in American criticism, and you'd better believe that Today producers will painstakingly search for just the right person to fill their Critic's Corner. To which I say, "Guys! Over here!" I've been watching Gene Shalit all my life! I know exactly how to uphold institutional continuity in a role (and at a network) that desperately needs it, and if there is God in heaven, NBC might allow me to prove it. To wit:

I can fake the funk!

Shalit was the Zen master of praising films without really praising anything at all, often extrapolating trenchant cinematic themes from arbitrary B-roll footage. And of course when he did add a legitimate nugget of acclaim, he would sell it, son. Take this earth-shattering review of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which features such endorsements as, "See the three-headed giant flying lizard-y dragon!" and "Marvel at Rob Cohen's direction of this prodigious movie with a cast that looks like thousands!" (I am not making this up.) This kind of creative contrarianism is harder than it looks, but I am up for the challenge!

I can hate!

Especially on Funny People!

I can interview!

I like to think of myself as a pretty good interviewer, but it's not like I have to be. I could learn to pitch softballs! Just sit me down in an empty restaurant about six inches away from the talent, and let the awkward earnestness fly!

I can play well with others!

The key to Today is its chemistry, and I know chemistry. I could keep it light with Lauer, and I could roll with Roker. Mixing with Meredith ain't no thing. Hoda and Kathie Lee? They're all right with me! Ann Curry? Actually, I can't stand that bitch. But it would mostly be just like the halcyon days of Gene and Jane, I promise!

I can pun!

As alluded to in the above clip and basically any sentence Shalit has spoken since the Truman administration, the guy knows his way around a play on words. But his retirement shall not hold us back from carrying on the tradition, Shalit? (Groan all you want, it's in my Genes.) Anyway, if Family Guy thought Shalit was bad, wait until I o-pun up a cornball can of whoop-ass at 30 Rock.

I can shill!

These days, a critic is only really a critic if he can move the merchandise. And I'm not talking about movie tickets; I mean products. Shalit knew this years ago, and was way ahead of his time in his pitchman duties for everything from trivia games to camera retailers. Ask anyone who's seen my reel; I do LeBron James's "What Should I Do?" commercial better than he does it himself. (NB: A lot of people don't know Gene Shalit's 1985 Stage II commercial was a key creative influence for The Social Network's Winklevoss twins, but I did! Where can I send my résumé?)


  • The Winchester says:

    I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there, Stu, and nominate myself, as I have a rockin mustache in addition to a more than emphatic use of profanity whilst describing my shills.
    ie: "You wanna see a real fuckin movie? It's called Piranha 3D, and it'll knock your balls through the roof of your skull with it's awesomeness! Fuck Yeah!"
    It's goin on the DVD cover!

  • Furious D says:

    You have convinced me!
    I have started a petition to have you replaced by Gene Shalit!!
    That is what you wanted, right?

  • Dimo says:

    Sorry S.T., but unless your resume says that you have experience as a carnival barker working the Borscht Belt, I can't give you my recommendation.

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    Yes!!!! Thank you! Suck it, Ben Lyons!

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    I see you as more of a cable brand. But may the best fucking man win!

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    Yes, but I worked at Gawker for a year, which is basically equivalent.

  • Bear_Necessities says:

    As The Winchester has already beaten you to the mustache, I'm wondering if you've got the other accessory that is absolutely indispensable for filling GS's shoes: a collection of bow ties.
    If yes, I might be inclined to co-sign Furious D's petition...

  • The Winchester says:

    2-fuckin-chez, Mr. Vanairsdale.

  • Honestly, I think the bow ties are going to have to go with Shalit. I mean, it's a slippery slope! First I inherit the bow ties, then it's the mustache, then that hair and those glasses... then all of the sudden it's like that Clown trailer and Ann Curry's plotting to have me killed. (Which she probably would anyway.) Noooo thank you.

  • Tom says:

    I didn't even realize he was still on the air.

  • raincoaster says:

    I'll give you my vote IF I can have your job at Movieline. I believe I've taken the barista journey about as far as it can go and it's time for a change.

  • Who said I was leaving ML? What does NBC even pay these days? 25 cents a word? 50?

  • Grammar Hammer says:

    Is S. T. Vanairsdale a professional writer?
    "Future plans"? Are there any other kind?
    "Exploitating"? The word is "exploiting."
    I weep for the English language.

  • Well, "future plans" is what it said in his press release, and far be it from me to deviate from the PR gospel! I don't know where you got "exploitating" from? I just went back through and didn't find the word spelled correctly or incorrectly, so... help?
    Also, as Gene Shalit would say, you're kind of an asshole!

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