Alongside viral videos of alcohol-drinking monkeys and balletic race cars, the newest Web sensation is a crooning Connie Chung.
On the Saturday finale of MSNBC’s “Weekends with Maury & Connie,” Chung sang a version of Bob Hope’s old theme song “Thanks for the Memory” to her husband and co-host, Maury Povich. A clip of the performance — complete with mood-setting candles and an accompanying grand piano — is the most popular clip of the week on the video Web site YouTube.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 413,000 people had viewed the video of Chung — a rating that might have saved “Weekends with Maury & Connie,” from being canceled. The half-hour talk show, which featured the two discussing news events, averaged about 232,000 viewers since debuting Jan. 7.
Decked out in a pink gown, Chung sings: “We came to do a show, for very little dough/ By little, I mean I could make more working on skid row/ That’s cable.”
In a pitch far from perfect, Chung mocks Marilyn Monroe before finally slumping to the stage.
“All I want to be sure of is that viewers understood it was a giant self-parody,” Chung told The Associated Press Tuesday. “If anyone took it seriously, they really need to get a life.”
The reaction, Chung said, has surprised her. Media Web site Gawker.com linked the video and called it an “off-key, ill-choreographed, nonsensically lyric’ed song-and-dance routine.”
But Chung doesn’t sound scared off by the criticism. She says she enjoys singing because Povich “so hates it.”
Such routines are a kind of tradition for Chung, who says she picked up her song parody technique from Broadway music writer Douglas Bernstein. He has written what she calls her “ridiculous repertoire” through the years.
Chung, 59, sang a similar tune for Dan Rather (with whom she briefly co-anchored the “CBS Evening News” in 1993-1994) when he was given an award in 2001. She also did the same for Barbara Walters (with whom she worked at ABC’s “20/20”), when Walters left for “The View.”
On Tuesday, she even dished a few bars of that serenade to the tune of “You Made Me Love You.”
“Through your whole career you got the guests I’d die for/ But why’d you have to make Sadat and Begin start to cry for?” she sang, alluding to Walters’ interviews with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
The lyrics for Saturday’s show, Chung says, were written by Lizz Winstead, a co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and executive producer of “Weekends with Maury & Connie.”
A longtime veteran of TV news, Chung has worked for the “ABC Evening News,” “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Today” show and anchored her CNN 2002-03 program, “Connie Chung Tonight,” among others.
Chung says she’ll still read the reviews of this performance.
But even if they boo her off the stage, “it just might have the reverse effect.”