that indicates an over-hyped event that ends in a spectacularly embarrassing anticlimax
. In short, a promise followed by a huge let down on a massive public scale.
, an acclaimed investigative journalist
who achieved national prominence when he uncovered shocking abuses in New York mental hospitals, caused some controversy in the world of journalism when he abandoned his serious, hard-hitting news style to pursue a career in the world of tabloid
His Tom Foolery
reached an apex in 1986 when he hosted a glitzy special called The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault
that promised -- live on air -- to open a sealed vault reputed to belong to the infamous gangster. What would it contain? For weeks, viewers were teased with the possibilities. Money? Gold
? Jewels? Maybe an iced victim or two. Wouldn't that be totally cool to see a mummified
bullet-riddled corpse come tumbling out and break apart into dust before our very eyes?
Yeah, that sure would be sweet
to see. And why not? America's recovery from the '81 recession was in full swing. Reagan was dealing with the commies. The invasion of Grenada
proved America could flex its military muscle, invade a golf course
, and not become embroiled in another 'nam. For the first time in its history, America could put a lot of its past behind and worry about stupid, inconsequential trashy stuff. Geraldo was the right man to take us there. He just needed the right project. But what
project? Teen models being turned into porn stars? Roswell
? Buried proof that Kennedy was baggin' Marilyn Monroe
And then it happened. Chicago
finally decided to demolish the Lexington Hotel
, a filthy flop house
that was once the palatial
home of Al Capone
. In the basement a sealed vault was discovered. Since Capone lived in the hotel, it was entirely possible this was his vault! Ah ha!
Geraldo hosted The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault
. After about 110 minutes of padding, historical vignettes, rag time music, and Geraldo shooting up a hotel wall with a Tommy Gun
, the vault was finally opened.
In it was found dirt and an old whisky
The show had a 57 rating. Christ, The Beatles
could only muster a 45.3 rating
on Sullivan. It's the highest rated special in TV history (exceeding even the "Who shot JR?
" 53.3 rating) and people in 30 million American homes basically sat with eyes glued to their personality boxes to see a man in a thick mustache
sweep out an empty closet. It was TV's finest moment.
Geraldo , sensing his career might be in jeopardy
, decided to get back into the hard-hitting news business by taking on the War on Terrorism... I mean the War on Drugs
. How he'd fuck up the war on terrorism comes later. He hosted a special called American Vice: The Doping of a Nation
Its climax was, on live TV, watching six DEA
agents storm into a vile drug den, seize the vile drugs, and cart the vile drug type people off to jail where they'd get totally raped in prison. And then much like Lord Vader
stepping into the corpse-littered hall of the rebel blockade runner
, Geraldo was going to be right behind that kevlar phalanx
of machine-gun toting agents. He'd go right up to those vile drug people, get all up in their business
, and call them a name. Mano a mano
. It was gonna be so sweet.
Doors were smashed in! Vile drug people were wrestled to the ground! People screamed. Geraldo identified the man and woman in the house as a hooker and her pimp. The camera searched wildly for mountains of white drug powder right there on the coffee table
, just like we imagined, but no drugs were ever found. After the broadcast the woman, Terry Rouse, sued Geraldo for character defamation. She was not a hooker
. Huh! In 1990 Geraldo gave in to Rouse's $30 million defamation
suit and they settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.