HOUSEWIVES and schoolgirls have been losing sleep over tall, dark and handsome Tom Snyder for some time now, but for mostly different reasons, Snyder's new early morning talk show promises to provoke a minor case of national insomnia. The issues raised the first two weeks were tough, complicated and significantly more interesting than the guests themselves. If this continues, Tomorrow will provide welcome relief from Johnny Carson's embarrassing sexual drivel and Dick Cavett's earnest but patronizing good intentions, and, more importantly, start a trend toward 24-hour programming.
Snyder began his career at NBC news in Philadelphia. When he moved to an anchorman's role in Los Angeles, Philadelphia's station was bombarded with protests from viewers--mostly female, mostly suburban--who had grown accustomed to his easy humor and pleasant informality during even the gravest news. In Los Angeles, his clowning has drawn some professional criticism but he continues to receive high ratings. Ironically, Snyder has created an image of being relaxed in a news format and aggressive on his talk show.
Snyder is more the interrogator of Tomorrow than its host. His questions are abrasive, leaving few stones unturned while exploring controversies ranging from the end of the sexual double standard to author Jessica Mitford's grim refusal to be fingerprinted as a teacher at San Jose State. Thinking nothing of interrupting a guest, Snyder plays a merciless but even-handed devil's advocate. At times, he is downright impolite.
But above all--at least compared to its competition--Tomorrow is interesting. Standing rigid in his spartan set, Snyder delivers serious monologues that, despite clumsy rhetoric, usually make points more memorable than the tunes from "Stump the Band." Probably, some guests will stomp off his show, but undoubtedly, many sets will remain on after Tonight.
How long the show will run will be determined by how the public receives Snyder's penchant for rudeness. The audience is out there--ABC's In Concert proved that much. Tomorrow is the next big step toward the 24 hour programming networks have been threatening--not old movies, but starmaking, money-grossing productions. The investment in Tomorrow is small, and if the show fails, the experiment will definitely be repeated.
Most people, of course, are asleep before Tomorrow begins, and Snyder is not the polished product that a major network would spring on a nation of wide awake mild-mannered consumers. But a bedtime attack on the Nixon administration caps a day a whole lot better than "Will you look at Doc Severinsen's suit?"