News Quiz

No. 296: “Lies! Damnable Lies!’

“It is simply untrue,” an ABC spokesperson testily announced Monday. What is?

Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to

Tuesday’s Question (No. 295)–“The Gielgud, the Bad, and the Ugly”:

Following an outcry from, among others, Academy Award-winner Sir John Gielgud, the Smithsonian Institution has canceled a program. What was the program, and the problem?

” ‘Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson: Unparalleled Kings of British Stage and Screen.’ The problem was that Gielgud has nothing left to lose and was willing to show up with a truck bomb if necessary.”–Greg Diamond (Jon Delfin had a similar answer.)

“Thanks to Gielgud and fellow Brits, museum-goers ‘from ages 5 to 105’ won’t be able to attend the ‘Hands on History: The British Aristocracy’ exhibit, which encouraged attendees to examine life-sized models of past sovereigns and then hypothesize which members of the royal family might have been syphilitic.”–Michael Fein

“The ‘Look at Me! I’m John Gielgud, and I’m a Stuck-Up Sissy-Pants! Boo Hoo Hoo!’ program. Sir John formally announced that he was neither stuck-up nor a sissy-pants, while sniffling and blowing his nose into a frilly lace handkerchief.”–Francis Heaney

” ‘The Kenneth Branagh Film Festival’ was canceled, due to excessive scenes of Branagh in close-up, SHOUTING SHAKESPEARE, while the MUSIC SWELLS and SWELLS, and he SHOUTS and …”–William Considine

” ‘Eat Your Liver’ was the program, and the problem was that, according to Sir John, ‘It tastes yucky.’ When it was pointed out that there are starving children in Asia who would love to have some nice liver to eat, Gielgud replied, ‘Well, then, my dear boy, send it to them.’ “–Floyd Elliot

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Tim’s Wrap-Up

How odd that John Gielgud and the Smithsonian are fighting with one another, since they are, in many ways, so alike. Both are old, both are revered, and as a result, people tend to focus on the highbrow exploits of both, while discreetly ignoring the lowbrow. The Smithsonian may be exalted as the repository of American culture and get high marks for whenever it hosts, say, a monthlong exhibit on the hardships of the pilgrims. But, let’s face it, a disproportionate number of visitors just want to see Archie Bunker’s chair. Similarly, when Sir John Gielgud’s obituary is written, the Shakespearean plays and films will figure prominently; less likely to be discussed are the roles in Caligula, First Knight, and Arthur 2: On the Rocks. (Luckily, Quiz participants aren’t so kind.) One might think they’d team up, to feature a monthlong show of John Gielgud, sitting in Archie Bunker’s chair, explaining the pilgrims to passers-by. But one would be wrong.

Arthurian Answer

The program, as Floyd Elliot and others knew, was titled “Foie Gras: A Gourmet’s Passion”; Gielgud, along with other animal-rights advocates, protested the evening, which was to consist of a panel discussion followed by the distribution of bits of liver. Apparently, the method of producing foie gras–which requires that food be crammed down the throats of ducks and geese–is offensive to the activists, to say nothing of the geese. Seems to me that an equitable compromise would be to have the foie gras crammed down the Smithsonian visitors’ throats, but nobody asked me. Nobody ever asks me.

A Correction From Ian Austen

I hate to dispute the abilities of News Quiz’s crack research team but given the recent trouble over Great Lakes’ greatness, nitpicking seems to be this summer’s thing. Your answer to the Quiz’s No. 293, “Sporting Life,” said that Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was filled with people watching a bloodless rodeo last weekend. As someone who lives dangerously close to Montreal, I can tell you without actually having visited the Big O that it was a bloodless bullfight. To be more exact, it was described as a Portuguese-style bullfight. Is that because Portugal supplies most of the world’s Velcro–or is it cork? Perhaps I should look that up.

Test Your TV Knowledge Extra

Last season, over 8 million households tuned in for the average episode of Nash Bridges, a Friday-night TV program starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin, airing on CBS. Is your home one of them? And if not, can you figure out which of the following plot synopses are real, and which I’ve arbitrarily made up?

A) “Skin Deep”: Nash and Joe team up with a tough-talking NYPD Special Crimes Detective (Penny Marshall) in order to track down a famous fashion model’s deadly stalker.B) “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen”: The Korean War ends. Nash can’t bring himself to tell Joe goodbye.C) “High Impact”: Somebody is threatening to kill the mayor.D) “The Dance”: Nash lies and promises everyone that Davy Jones will be coming to the school dance; at the last minute, Davy shows up to save the day. (Special guest star: Davy Jones.)E) “Imposters”: Nash and Joe must find the stolen wig of a Cher impersonator.F) “The Favor”: Phillip Michael Thomas guest stars.G) “Boomtown”: A sleep-deprived Nash must track down an ingenious bomber targeting a corporation he feels has wronged him. Meanwhile, Cassidy tries to conceal her nudity in a school play.H) “The Puppy Episode”: Nash has something to tell everyone.I) “Home Invasion”: A Chinese home invasion gang turns homicidal.J) “The Slow Week”: Nash and Joe keep waiting for the phone to ring, but it doesn’t. So instead, they spend the week catching up on paperwork, cleaning up their desks, and going home a little earlier than usual.


A, C, E, G, and I are all real Nash Bridges episodes. The remainder are not.

Weeklong Extra

A headline from Monday’s Daily Variety: “Dutch regulators issue equal-access guidelines.” Participants are invited to find, in an actual newspaper or magazine, a less enticing headline. The deadline, which had been originally announced as noon ET Wednesday, has been arbitrarily moved back to noon ET Thursday. Get cracking.

Lowest Common Denominator

The dim prospects for a third Arthur movie.