David Hiltbrand
July 10, 1995 12:00 PM

SURREALISM SEEMS TO BE THE MODE of the moment. Just a week after Michael and Lisa Marie faced off in the Heavy Makeup Competition on Prime-Time Live, CBS news anchor Dan Rather made his bid for pop music stardom on (where else?) the Late Show with David Letterman. Rather shimmied and sang along with R.E.M. on their song “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” The title, of course, is a reference to the most bizarre chapter in Rather’s rather checkered career: the night in 1986 when he claimed that two well-dressed men had pummeled him on a Manhattan sidewalk while repeatedly demanding, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” Based on his Late Show performance, Rather could clearly use a little help in locating the rhythm, but you have to marvel at his willingness to poke fun at himself. That, however, does not make the spectacle any less strange. It was as unlikely a collaboration as Mick Jagger singing “You’re So Vain” with Carly Simon or the Eagles’ Don Henley jamming on stage with Mojo Nixon in a rousing rendition of “Don Henley Must Die.” (Come to think of it, that last pairing did happen.) As Letterman noted of Rather with mock rue after watching him perform: “He just hasn’t been the same since Connie left.”

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