August 15, 1988 12:00 PM

by Gerald Sussman

Rarely has there been more dramatic confirmation of the axiom that says you can’t tell a book by its cover. The cover of this book, for one thing, is funny. A variation on supermarket tabloid front pages but devoted entirely to items about TV newscasters, it has a half dozen bright lines. The pages inside might as well be blank. The cover line “Dan Rather’s Secret Passion: Vivisection,” for example, leads to a stale three-page parody in which the author has Rather say, “Raccoons have pretty large brains. They’re fun to study. Woodchucks are great for their glands and digestive systems.” Sussman, a former National Lampoon editor, also includes sections called “Geraldo Rivera’s Artificial Lips: The Untold Story” and “Why Roger Mudd Will Never Have an Affair with Joan Collins.” A page of supposed nicknames includes “The Zit” Rivera, Chris “Melonhead” Wallace and Ted “Boogers” Koppel. Everything else runs along the same third-grade level of sophistication. (Quill, paper, $6.95)

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