Night School

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Players On This Song

  • Frank Zappa on the Synclavier DMS

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Notes About This Song

From The Real Frank Zappa Book (1989): "Another miserable flop was a concept for a late-night TV show. In 1987, assisted by Danny Schrier, an aggressive young agent at ICM, I embarked on a depressing journey into the air-conditioned wilderness of TV-Land, pitching ideas to groups of individuals worthy of further anthropological study. It all began with a meeting in the ABC Network office, on or about March 13, 1987."

Then follows a section dedicated to this late-night TV show, called Night School.


A late-night adult program, sixty minutes, five nights per week. Show will be preceded by a warning: "This program deals with reality, using easy to understand colloquial American Language. If you fear (or have difficulty accepting) either of the above, feel free to change the channel. You have ten seconds."

NIGHT SCHOOL will have a 'permanent faculty' and a pool of 'visiting professors.' Frank Zappa will host the show. Daniel Schorr has expressed interest in the position of'PROFESSOR OF RECENT HISTORY.' In that capacity, it would be his job to show raw, uncut news footage from the daily satellite feed, point out the material other broadcasters have deleted, speculate on the possible motivations behind the deletions, and refresh people's memories about recent events connected to each day's breaking stories.

A summary will be provided of what our elected officials really did for their paycheck in Congress each day. Votes on House and Senate business will be treated like sports scores.

Satellite interviews with political figures willing to take the risk will be a nightly feature.

Schorr will be based in Washington. Zappa will be in Los Angeles. Questions may also be asked by members of the live band in the L.A. studio.

Working on a twenty-four-hour delay, yesterday's news footage will be converted on a daily basis into three-minute rock music videos for a segment entitled "NEWS IN HEAVY ROTATION." At least two brand-new music videos will be constructed each day, using Zappa's music (over three-hundred songs in the catalog, on digital audio tape, ready for synchronization), or those of any other artists willing to license their material at a special rate, and agree to ancillary usage, with rights controlled by the production company. MTV has shown interest in a joint venture on this segment. The "NEWS IN HEAVY ROTATION" weekly summary would air on MTV each Saturday. MTV would split the cost of production for the clips, and promote "NIGHT SCHOOL" each day on their channel. "NIGHT SCHOOL" would cross-promote their weekend summary. Other details have yet to be worked out.

The live band will consist of ten musicians and three singers. Visiting musical guests will be encouraged to perform live. Studio facilities will make it possible to produce 'record-quality' stereo audio. The members of the band will double as 'actors' in a purposely cheesey sitcom segment called "THE FUTURE FAMILY."

Whenever a news item warrants it, "THE FUTURE FAMILY" will 'pre-enact' the possible social consequences, twenty years down the road.

Taking a cue from current news policy at KABC-TV, Los Angeles (during ratings sweeps, they either do a week-long 'special report' on 'Satanism' or BREAST CANCER), our late night Psychology Course will deal almost exclusively with sexually related topics. For at least the first month our study course will be "THE HUMAN BREAST... WHY DO AMERICANS LIKE THEM SO MUCH?" (If it is okay to show nude, diseased examples squeezed into a mammographic apparatus at six and eleven o'clock, surely within the context of our home medical course, healthy ones ought to get on the air after midnight.)

Degrees will be offered for twenty-five dollars... call the NIGHT SCHOOL credit-card hot line and tell the nice lady you need to graduate in a hurry. By return mail you will receive a framed degree that looks better than a real one. For one hundred dollars you can graduate cum laude. Each individual NIGHT SCHOOL course offers a degree, so you might want several for your office. We expect that the completion certificate in THE HUMAN BREAST study course to be a favorite.

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