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an Episode Guide
by psiongco

Last updated:
Thu, 25 Oct 2018 21:00

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aired from: Mar 1998 to: Mar 1999 19 eps, 7 unaired NBC 30 min stereo closed captioned


In 1998, Dateline, a NBC newsmagazine show, became a success and at one time spanned four nights a week on NBC. Ironically, one of the mid-season's comedy shows was named Lateline. The show's idea was to create a satire of ABC's Nightline by creating a sitcom that showed some humorous late night in-depth stories and the show executives and staff that work for the show. Saturday Night Live writer and producer Al Franken co-created, executive produced and is featured in the half-hour comedy series.

One of the distinctive qualities of this sitcom was the famous Washington political guests and future stars that appeared on Lateline to make it look exactly like Nightline. With news humor and "Technical Difficulties" moments, Lateline was one of many shows, for example Murphy Brown, that poked fun of journalism and broadcasting a national network show.

The show premiered as a 1998 mid-season replacement then was renewed as a mid-season show for 1998-99. With lackluster numbers in its return, it was canceled almost a year to the day of its premiere. In the summer after NBC cancelled it, the series was entirely shown on Showtime including its UNAIRED episodes.

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    1st Season Winter 1998

    Production Credits
    A Markus/Franken Productions in association with Paramount Network Television
    Executive producers: John Markus and Al Franken
    Creators: Al Franken and John Markus
    Producer: Andy Ackerman & Tom Lofaro
    Creative consultant: Earl Pomerantz, Dave Hackel, Anne Flett-Giordano, Chuck Ranberg, Ken Levine & David Isaacs
    Staff writers: Andy Munsey, Geoff Rodkey
    Editor: Briana London
    Director of photography: Lennie T. Evans
    Production designer: Eugene Lee
    Casting director: Allison Jones

  1. "Pilot"
    gs: Dana Carvey [ Carl Pickens ], Robert Prosky [ Boone LeGarde ], Jocelyn Elders [ Herself ], G. Gordon Liddy [ Himself ], Ralph Nader [ Himself ], Lauren Sydney [ Herself ], Jim Moret [ Himself ], Terri Murphy [ Herself ], M. Jocelyn Anders [ Herself ], Natasha Pavolich [ Yelena ], Farid [ Daryll ], Cal Bartlett [ Marlboro Man ], Caroline Aaron [ Voice of Amy Freundlich ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ]

    When Pearce McKenzie, anchor of Lateline, decides to retire, everyone in the country tries to find out who's the new anchor. When Al Freundlich is appointed, the network decides to step in. All of which is Pearce's publicity stunt to become the anchor with the highest salary in the country.

    b: 17 Mar 98 pc: 001 w: Al Franken, John Markus d: Andy Ackerman
  2. "Al Anonymous"
    gs: Jimmy Breslin [ Himself ], Joan Lunden [ Herself ], Arne H. Carlson [ Himself, Governor of Minnesota at the time ], James Lovell [ Himself ], Diana Chang [ Kid Anchor, Jenny Minh ], Pat Buchanan [ Himself ], Caroline Aaron [ Voice of Amy Freundlich ], The McLaughlin Group [ Themselves ], Mark Moss [ Jack Hunter ], Pete Zahradnick [ Techie ], Michael Winters [ Paul Schnur ], Cary Pfeffer [ MFNSN Anchorman ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ]

    The network and the world is finds out that Al is rumored to be the author of the book "Tangled Banners," a very controversial book. Gale decides to produce Kidline, a Lateline kid spin-off. One problem, can Pearce be the new anchor?

    b: 24 Mar 98 pc: 002 w: Steve O'Donnell d: Andy Ackerman
  3. "Gale Gets a Life"
    gs: Barney Frank [ Himself ], Allen Dershowitz [ Himself ], Fred Graham [ Himself ], Charles Chun [ Doctor ], Anthony Jesse Cruz [ Joey ], John Ducey [ Paramedic ], Joyce Guy [ Pearlie ], Pat Harvey [ Herself ], Jonathan Penner [ Paul ], Peggy Roeder [ Nurse ], Lisa Lociero [ Miss Palestine ], Ziad Farid [ Darryl ], Christopher Durang [ Polygraph Expert ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ]

    Since Al gets sick with the flu, Gale has more time to spend with her boyfriend. Pearce starts to fall in love with Gale.

    b: 31 Mar 98 pc: 004 w: Marty Weiss d: Jeff Mehlman
  4. "Buddy Hackett"
    gs: Buddy Hackett [ Himself ], Dick Gephardt [ Himself ], Fred Graham [ Himself ], Robert B. Reich [ Himself ], Stephanie Bowles [ Anchor ], T.L. Brooke [ Mrs. McCafferty ], O'Neal Compton [ Harlan ], Avner Garbi [ PLO Representative ], William Mesnik [ Owner ], Cary Pfeffer [ MFNSN Anchorman ], Fiona Dwyer [ Miss Northern Ireland ], Ellis E. Williams [ Delivery Man ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ]

    One day before airtime, no one has a story for the show. From an Internet source, Vic finds out that Buddy Hackett passed away and has an idea to do a late-breaking tribute to him. Soon all of the show was dedicated to Buddy Hackett and Al's union story was cut off. All goes well until the next day, they all find out that Buddy Hackett did not die.

    b: 7 Apr 98 pc: 003 w: Al Franken, John Markus, Earl Pomerantz s: Stevel Lookner d: Andy Ackerman
  5. "Peace's New Best Friend"
    gs: Michael Dukakis [ Himself ], Bob Uecker [ Himself ], Nancy Walls [ MFNSN Worker ], Michael McKean [ Obermeyer ], Caroline Aaron [ Voice of Amy ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ], Rolando Molina [ Burly Techie ], Scott A. Wordham [ Floyd ], Roma Court [ Make-Up Lady ], Charlie Hartsock [ Minion ], Kimberly Steven [ Flight Attendant ]

    Pearce tries to get Al to give him tickets to an event that Julia Roberts is attending. Feeling that there is no future in Lateline, Gale auditions for a job at MFNSN.

    b: 14 Apr 98 pc: 006 w: Al Franken, John Markus, Earl Pomerantz d: Ken Levine
  6. "Lawyer, Lawyer"
    gs: Jerry Falwell [ Himself ], Mark Harelik [ Skip Fletcher ], Pat Schroeder [ Herself ], Caroline Aaron [ Rhonda Laskey & Voice of Amy ], Bob Glouberman [ Prompter Techie ]

    Pearce agrees to do a charity function at Al's synagogue.

    b: 21 Apr 98 pc: 005 w: Al Franken, John Markus, Earl Pomerantz d: Jay Sandrich

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    2nd Season Winter 1999

  7. "Pearce on Conan"
    gs: Conan O'Brien [ Himself ], Andy Richter [ Himself ], Regis Philbin [ Himself ], Kathie Lee Gifford [ Herself ], Jim Gaffigan [ Del-EX Guy ], Nina Garbiras [ Young woman ], Judah Friedlander [ Techie ], Bob Greensburg [ Sniffles ], Robert Smigel [ Pierce Dummy ], Willliam F. Buckley [ Himself ]

    While doing local affiliate promotions, Pierce has been forced to do a ten-second fake news skit on the show Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Even with the disapproval of Mona, Pierce decides to do more funny "fake news" causing him to not focus on Lateline. Realizing his embarrassment, Pierce halts a planned skit with Conan and his sidekick Andy. Conan and Andy retaliate by making a talking dummy picture of Pierce. Pierce tries to stop the humorous bits about him, but is humiliated once again. Meanwhile, Vic tries to full Raji that he is not getting the bonus because someone in the office disapproves of him.

    b: 6 Jan 99 pc: 010 w: Steve O'Donnell d: Leonard R. Garner Jr.

    NOTE: In real life, the talking picture skit on Late Night With Conan O'Brien uses a picture of President Clinton instead of Pearce's. The news desk of Lateline has been changed since last year to look a more of a replica like the news show ABC's Nightline new set with it's circular desk. The show is now aired on at Wednesdays at 9 p.m, instead of Tuesdays at 9:30 a year ago.
  8. "Protecting the Source"
    gs: Max Wright [ Emile Janisek ], Brian Howe [ Freddy ], John Cunningham [ Bob Cornell ], Jerry Adler [ Judge Fischbein ], Robert Bennett [ Himself ], Barry Scheck [ Himself ], Johnny Lee Davenport [ Court Officer ], Jim Watkins [ MFNSN Anchor ]

    Al investigates a story that causes him to go to prison, if he does not reveal the source. After an accident, only Gale and Al know the source. Vic sacrifices himself to go to prison instead of Gale leaving Al and Vic spending time in maximum-security prison. Gale feels sorry for Vic and tries to get the source on Lateline to testify in front of the source's own boss.

    b: 13 Jan 99 pc: 009 w: John Markus, Earl Pomerantz s: Al Franken d: Leonard R. Garner Jr.
  9. "The Minister of Television"
    gs: Allison Janney [ Helen Marschak ], Bob Elliot [ Wally Van Horn ], Godfrey [ Mfune Umbwebwe ], Norman Ornstein [ Himself ]

    Raji hides his buddy, an African revolutionary's son, in his apartment. When the African revolutionary's son cancels his appointment on Lateline, Raji is fired. Raji's replacement is a woman who happens to have a crush on Al.

    b: 14 Jan 99 pc: 017 w: John Markus, Al Franken s: Steve O' Donnell, Earl Pomerantz d: Ken Levine
  10. "Kids "N" Guns"
    gs: G. Gordon Liddy [ Himself ], Hallee Hirsh [ Jennifer Karp ], Stephen Mendillo [ Carl ], Joe Franken [ Bradley ]

    Al and Raji go undercover to buy an illegal gun to show on Lateline. Unfortunately, the camera was not on. So they go undercover live and try to buy and show numerous illegal guns on the air. After the sellers find out that Al is undercover, G. Gordon Liddy helps Al out when the probe of gun control goes sour. Meanwhile, Vic's daughter mentions to Gale that Vic says he loves her.

    b: 20 Jan 99 pc: 013 w: Cindy Collins, Billy Kimball d: Tom Moore
  11. "Svadharma"
    gs: Montse Viader [ Luisa ], Paul Simon [ Himself ], Judah Friedlander [ Techie ], Christopher Durang [ Expert ], Sunny Mabrey [ Imga ]

    Pearce's mistress seeks revenge after catching him cheating. The mistress seeks revenge by seeing Raji in secret. As gossip goes around the newsroom, everyone tries anything to keep the news from spreading to the head anchor Pearce.

    b: 27 Jan 99 pc: 007 w: Al Franken, John Markus, Earl Pomerantz d: Andy Ackerman
  12. "Karp's Night Out"
    gs: Kelly Curtis [ Shelly ], Alan Simpson [ Himself ], Robert F. Weill [ Maury Lichterman ], Nick Swardson [ Justin ], Judah Friedlander [ Techie ], Frederick B. Owens [ Bartender ], Darrell Carey [ Editor ], Elizabeth Rossa [ Attractive Woman ], Rosemary Clooney [ Singer ]

    Gale forces Vic to admit to having no social life, and convinces him to go on a date while she executive produces Lateline. For her show, she sends Al to an old age home and Raji to a college dorm to produce a show on Social Security. Problems occur including Pearce refusing to anchor the show because Vic is not running it. Can she pull everything together at the last minute, even without an anchor?

    b: 16 Mar 99 pc: 012 w: Kimberly Hill d: Tom Moore

    NOTE: Since they debuted World's Amazing Videos on Wednesday, NBC moved Lateline to Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
  13. "The Christian Guy"
    gs: Brian Van Holt [ Grant Kendall ], Ben Jones [ Redneck ], Phyllis Somerville [ Roxie ], Kristin Chenoweth [ Kristin ], Michael James Burg [ Chris ], Sally Sockwell [ Christian Lady ]

    When Al prepares a news piece on the Moral Coalition's annual "Road to Victory Celebration," Pearce insists that Vic and Brianna book media savvy Grant Kendall (Brian Van Holt), the wunderkind of the Coalition. Vic assigns the story to Gale and suggests she "use her womanly charm" to book Kendall on the show. Gale not only falls for his charm, but uncovers some damaging information that could ultimately destroy his image.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 008 w: ______________ d: ______________

    NOTE: This episode was planned for 23 Mar 99. NBC has cancelled the show and has no plans on renewing it.
  14. "Mona Moves Up"
    gs: G. Gordon Liddy [ Himself ], Jason Krans [ Elliot Feller ], Oksana Babi [ Irina ], Caroline Aaron [ Voice of Amy ], Dominick Dunne [ Himself ], Peter Van Wagner [ Photographer ]

    Pearce is disconcerted when he finds his assistant Mona dating his financial adviser and mixing in his elite social circle.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 011 w: Cindy Collins d: Leonard R. Garner Jr.
  15. "Error Apparent"

    Handsome newcomer Ken Pruitt has his eye on Pearce's anchor chair.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 014 w: ______________ d: ______________
  16. "Requiem for a Horse"
    gs: Debra Monk [ Clare Cunningham ], David Thornton [ Jack Farrell ], Frank Lutz [ Himself ], Rishi Mehta [ Indra Ratu ], Angela Pietropinto [ Lady Viewer ], Jeffrey V. Thompson [ Fat Guy ], Kim Kennedy [ Make-Up Girl ], Laurin Sydney [ Herself ]

    After accidentally killing Pearcešs favorite horse Paycheck during a weekend stay at his country home, Gayle is determined to get Pearce to grieve. Al argues with an audience focus group that wants him to change his "scowling owl" image.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 015 w: Chris Downey, Steve O'Donnell d: Ken Levine
  17. "The Negotiator"
    gs: Charles Malik Whitfield [ Connie Davis ], Fred Benjamin [ Tyrell McLaine ], Michel Moinot [ Waiter ], Tom Kiesche [ State Trooper ], Blaise Corrigan [ Trumbull ]

    Pearce wants to secure the services of hotshot agent Connie Davis and tells Victor to get him on the show. When Connie takes a shine to Brianna, Victor persuades her to date Connie, a decision he feels increasingly guilty about. Al gets caught up in the manhunt for a meat factory bomber.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 016 w: Marty Weiss d: Ken Levine
  18. "Eine Kleine Office Problem"
    gs: Christine Zander [ Ulli ], Arianna Huffington [ Herself ], Senator John Kerry [ Himself ]

    Victor is forced to hire Pearce's spoilt Euro-bimbo girlfriend Ulli. While she's supposed to be looking after the show's guests, Ulli manages to alienate all the staff and the evening's interviewees which leaves Pearce having to fill time with Al discussing the demise of Al's favorite raisin nut roll.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 018 w: Al Franken, Earl Pomerantz s: John Markus d: Barton Dean
  19. "The Seventh Plague"
    gs: Martin Sheen [ Himself ], Rob Reiner [ Himself ], Vanessa Williams [ Herself ], Leonard Maltin [ Himself ], James Eckhouse [ Aide ], Kimberly Clayton Jones [ Assistant Director ]

    A Lateline special tells how Al was hired to play a correspondent in a blockbuster disaster movie directed by Rob Reiner but, due to his constant interruptions about the accuracy of the script, manages to shut down the picture.

    b: UNAIRED pc: 019 w: Al Franken, John Markus, Earl Pomerantz d: Bob Balaban

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Thanks to chriszme for titles and production codes for the remaining unaired episodes.

Thank you to Ian Johns (im.johns@virgin.net) for making this a better complete guide by submitting additional information and corrections to every single show. In my defense, in 1998, NBC started showing credits at the edge of the screen and the letters blurred together. Ian Johns was even able to get all of the UNAIRED episodes that were shown on cable.

Disclaimer: We have no connection with the show. We are just providing information, which we hope other fans will find useful. Any corrections, updates or other comments about this guide may be sent to: lateline@epguides.com.
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