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America's Depedence on Cheap Immigrant Labor; The High-Stakes Industry of Pharma-Marketing; Tips for Frugal Travel This Summer

Aired May 21, 2005 - 13:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: And in the news now another photo of detainee Saddam Hussein surfaces at British tabloid. It shows the former leader behind barbwire. And earlier photos show Saddam Hussein in his underwear. The U.S. military is vowing to aggressively investigating how the unsanctioned photos were leaked.
New video gives us a better view of one of the two missing Idaho children. This video of eight-year-old Shasta (ph) Browny (ph) was just shot over a week a go. Shasta and her nine-year brother Bill had vanished Monday after three dead bodies were found in their home. The search for the children continues today.

A fatal fire is under investigation in Cleveland, Ohio the early morning blaze killed nine people, seven of them children in their home. Fire officials say neighbors tried to get into the home but couldn't because of the intensity of the flames.

In Florida a bus brawl, a school bus driver is charged with misdemeanor battery. Two students whose faces are blurred in this video have been charged with felonies. Authorities in Punta Gouda say the driver tried to get a student to the front of the bus, the fight escalated from there.

I'm Tony Harris more news at the bottom of the hour. IN THE MONEY begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital, this is IN THE MONEY.

JACK CAFFERTY, HOST "IN THE MONEY": Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY, hiring the huddled masses. Americas hooked on cheap immigrant labor. From everything from cutting the grass to cleaning a swimming pool. See what that means for the U.S. economy, it means a lot

Also ahead how to sell a doctor on selling a pill. Drug company reps are hard-driving sales people. Your physician is the customer. We'll ask a former drug rep how the business really works.

And summer travel without the turbulence. The dollars will power house these days, the airlines looking a little shaky. We'll get some tips on finding a vacation that works for your wallet. Joining me today, a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans. CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer.

So the stock market enjoyed its best four days in a row. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of last week since last November's elections. And I was listening to somebody describe the rally as one that was built on hope, hope that oil prices would continue to go down and hope that the Fed was through raising interest rates. And this person said that isn't going happen, not either one of them.

ANDY SERWER, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: It sounds like a wing and prayer. I will tell you something we did have this rebound, Jack, but all is not well on Wall Street. It's not terrible, but there's a lot of nervousness right now. In hedge fund land, a couple of these ESO Tarik (ph) bond funds have been messing up. And also a couple of big deals Toys "r" Us and Neiman Marcus, a couple big buyouts have hit some rough patches as well, a little hiccup there. I think there is some hope that we could see a recovery right now, but also a lot of people trying to get things right.

SUSAN LISCOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Yes, I think that if you're going to hinge it to hope, forget about it. You saw oil come down $47. It's $12 off the all-time highs we saw in March. So that was huge this week. But we're also about a week ahead of Memorial Day weekend. Guess what happens in the summer. Everything slows to a crawl. So what you have to consider at the end of the day is the Nasdaq is still down 6 percent year to date.


LISCOVICZ: The Dow Jones Industrials are down 3 percent. The S&P is still down 2 percent. So the bulls have a lot of work to do. And if you're counting on the Fed and cheap oil prices, good luck.

SERWER: There's a tooth fairy out there, too.

CAFFERTY: Sometimes happens in the summer is something called a summer rally. So who knows? Maybe we'll get somewhere.

LISCOVICZ: A lot of hope.

CAFFERTY: All right, from washing our dishes in restaurants, to killing the chickens that we eat there. Immigrants do a lot of the work that keeps this country running. A recent study shows just how big a role they play in the U.S. economy. It's from a Washington think tank called the Pew Hispanic Center. The researchers found that Latino workers filled 40 percent, 40 percent, of the jobs created in the United States last year.

Of course, plenty of non-Latino immigrants out there working as well. Stephen Moore is the former president of the Club for Growth and he's going to tell us more about America's huge immigrant workforce. He's currently president of the Free Enterprise Fund that is a conservative lobbying group for free marketing ideas. Stephen, we welcome you to IN THE MONEY it is nice to have you with us.


CAFFERTY: Is it necessary, in order to have this discussion to separate legal immigrants from illegal aliens and then talk about what is going on? MOORE: Well I think certainly with the public it is. I think the American public is strongly in favor of keeping our immigrant tradition and allowing the golden doors to remain open. But there is a lot of anger, especially on those border states, statements like Texas and New Mexico and Arizona. Obviously, California with the illegal immigration problem.

LISCOVICZ: You know, Stephen, I think that there will be a large percent of the population that would admit that Americans simply don't want to wash dishes they don't want to pick fruit, they don't want to rake lawns, and that there is going to be a certain group of people who are eager to do it here in the United States. But what gets a lot of people fired up about undocumented workers is the strain it puts on health care, in particular, and education. How do you address that?

MOORE: Well, it's a good question. I was smiling when you said getting Americans to rake the lawn and wash the dishes. I can't even get my teenagers to do that.

SERWER: Me either.

MOORE: But it is true that when you talk about the lower-skilled immigrants -- unfortunately, many of whom are coming in illegally, they are doing a lot of the grunt work, the service work, working in nursing homes, working in restaurants washing dishes and so on, and it does fill vital niches in the economy. But I want to make one important point, though. Let's not think all these immigrants who are coming in are unskilled. If you look at places like Silicon Valley and California and some of the high-tech corridors in Massachusetts and Virginia and other states, that's where we really have the modern day American melting pot, with some of the top minds around the world, are coming to America and making our industries very competitive.

Now, on the issue of health care and welfare for immigrants, you know, I think we should have a policy that basically says immigrants shouldn't be eligible for those programs, especially illegals, until they've been here for a certain number of years. Because we want people who want to come here and work, not people who want to go on welfare.

SERWER: Stephen, we have a situation where obviously we need these workers. That's the truth, that's a fact. There's another truth. Another fact is they're coming into this country illegally, OK?

MOORE: Right.

SERWER: How do we reconcile those two different points, those two issues? You know, short of putting a wall up at the Mexican border, the Berlin wall, the wall in Israel, walls don't work.

MOORE: Good point.

SERWER: I mean, how do you reconcile these two points?

MOORE: You're exactly right, we don't want a Berlin wall around the country, although some people would like to seal off our borders, especially militarize the border. I think President Bush has a good plan to deal with this. His plan would basically say, look when you are talking about agriculture workers for example, and migrant workers from Central America, Mexico, have been picking the fruits and vegetables in this country for 150 years and they're going to continue to do that. Let's let those people come in legally through a guest worker program, give them a temporary visa to come in and do the work that benefits all of us, puts food on our table.

Let's keep track of them. Lets have a lawful system so that employers can't exploit them. Then they'll go back after they're done. Right now you have a system at the border, it's total chaos, because you have people who want to come in and want to work, then you have smugglers, terrorists. And I think if we had a more organized border system we could concentrate our border patrol on the people who want to come in and be criminals and do harm to our country.

CAFFERTY: Accurate or not there's a perception out there that the Bush administration is just looking the other way when it comes to enforcing the immigration law. This group of volunteers, the minutemen, went down there and took up positions along the Arizona border and reduced the illegal border crossings by 90 percent simply by being there, by being a visible deterrent to people crossing the border illegally. Isn't there some pressure on the administration to enforce the laws that are on the books when it comes to this? And if they undertook to do that wouldn't that in and of itself, go a long way to cleaning up this whole situation we're talking about, perceptions, the trafficking of criminals and people like that that come back and forth across the border, terrorists potentially coming into this country? I mean what about the administration's responsibility for this?

MOORE: That's a very good question, very well put. I think if the president is going to succeed on his program -- you know, President Bush did very well with Latino voters with Asian voters. Because he's -- for a Republican and I'm a Republican myself, has been very inclusive and said we're going to be the pro immigration party.

But on the other hand, you also -- if you want to let more immigrants in, which I think Americans are in favor of, you have to get control of the border. You are exactly right and you have got in Arizona, New Mexico, and states like that, they feel like they're under siege from illegal immigrants. It has to be an enforcement component with the legalization and guest worker program.

Then I think we can get the benefits of the labor -- these are some of the best workers in the world that are coming here. You compare us with, for example, Europe, which has a -- they don't have the young workers coming in. And immigration to some extent is almost like a demographic safety valve for the United States.

LISCOVICZ: You know, it's interesting, Stephen, you know, because Japan has an anti-immigration policy. But it's done what it's called mechanization, as opposed to Mexicanization. So it has more vending machines. It has more technology than actual human labor. But that's not a solution either. MOORE: Well, you know, one thing I always hear when I debate some of my friends on the other side who want to close the borders, they say if we didn't have all these immigrants we'd have all these jobs for Americans. We take in more immigrants than any country in the world. We always have, hopefully we always will. Yet today, we have the lowest unemployment rate of virtually any other country in the industrialized world. Comparing the U.S. with, for example, Japan, Japan's economy has been stagnant for the last ten years. So I think the immigrants, bringing in this fresh blood, gives our economy in the United States a kind of vibrancy that is critical to winning and keeping America globally competitive.

CAFFERTY: Stephen Moore is the president of the Free Enterprise Fund, nice having you on the program.

MOORE: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: All right, when we come back on IN THE MONEY the little blue celebrity. Drug reps can turn a pill like Viagra into a star by selling your doctor on the idea. We'll ask a former rep for one of the big pharma companies about the tricks of the trade. You won't believe some of what you might hear.

Plus, summer vacations angels that travel experts know and you don't. Discover some tips for your trips.

And don't try this at work. Get disco lessons in the privacy of your own home -- we are begging you. It's on the fun site of the week.


CAFFERTY: So did you hear the one about the Viagra salesman who walks into the doctor's office? Actually, that's not the start of a joke although it should be. It is the plot of a new book that is not getting a lot of laughs in the pharmaceutical industry. The book is called "Hard Sell" the evolution of a Viagra salesman and it pulls back the curtain on some of the dubious practices drug companies use to sell their products.

Jamie Reidy is the author and he is a former drug rep for Pfizer, and he joins us now from Los Angeles. And Jamie before we start out here, I want to mention to the viewers, we made three efforts to contact Pfizer, invite them on the program, they did not want to come on here and make nice and chat with you. I don't understand why not. What is it that the pharmaceutical companies don't want us to know about the relationships between our doctors and the reps for the big pharmacy companies?

JAMIE REIDY, AUTHOR, "HARD SELL:" Well, they certainly don't want you to know that reps are basically working about 20 to 30 hours a week while pulling down close to six figure salaries. They also don't want you to know that reps are manipulating doctors. We've got data that shows exactly what doctors have prescribed for the previous month so when I go to call on Dr. Cafferty, I know, regardless of what you tell me, whether you're telling me the truth or not, and then I can maneuver you how I want to maneuver you and get you closer to writing drug "x" instead of drug "y."

CAFFERTY: How do you get the information about what Dr. Cafferty prescribes? Is that legal?

REIDY: It is legal. There are third party companies that pay the big chain pharmacies for all their prescribing data. And the wonder of computers allows that data to be funneled down to specific physician I.D. numbers, which then get driven down to each rep in weekly reports.


SERWER: Jamie, I can't tell you how terrifying the concept of "Dr. Cafferty" is to rest of us here on this program, and I'm sure the viewer too. Let me ask you, though, specifically, how are doctors rewarded for prescribing a company's drugs?

REID: Well, they're rewarded two ways. Number one, the insurance companies reward them. I'm not sure if you know, are aware, that each insurance company sets up different deals with the drug companies, to get discounts on one drug if they prescribe a certain amount of another drug. And then the insurance companies then incident vise physicians. They say "forgive me, Dr. Cafferty, as long as you prescribe our preferred agent we will then reward you bonus wise at the end of the year."


REIDY: Cash.

SERWER: Cash bonus to the doctors?

REIDY: Exactly, "if you don't prescribe the preferred agent, we'll send you a couple of nasty letters throughout the year and then you'll get less money from us." From the drug company's side of it, the heavy prescribers are more likely to get more frequent lunches, more frequent dinner invitations that kind of thing.

LISCOVICZ: You know Jamie all I can say, looking at your resume; it's like, what happened to you? Notre Dame graduate, you know, U.S. army officer. And then you're selling those little blue pills. I mean, that was like the easiest job in the world. In fact, you really extolled the fact that you had the "t "to "t" schedule, Tuesday through Thursday, ten clock to 2:00, we like that a lot. But tell me, hasn't the pharmaceutical industry fearing reprisals changed that somewhat, in fact, started policing itself, and toned down some of this stuff?

REIDY: As far as I know, they haven't changed anything in terms of making it tougher for reps to goof off. I was just employed by Eli Lilly until the end of March, before they fired me when the book came out. Hopefully their next drug wills a sense of humor pill, because they can certainly use it. But in terms of what drug reps can do to entertain doctors has certainly been scaled back. In 2002, all the drug companies got together and decided, listen the government's about to police us, so let's do it before the government steps in. So now there's no more golf, no more Laker ticket no more rock concerts. It's not nearly as fun of a job as it used to be.

CAFFERTY: One of my dear friends happens to also coincidentally be my physician, has been for 25 years. And he has regaled me periodically with stories about the drug reps. And the goodies that they always come through the door with in addition to whatever prescription they're trying to peddle at the moment. Want to go to a Knicks game, you want to go out to dinner, yada, and of course the prices of all that entertaining I assume are reflected in the prices that we pay for the prescriptions.

What do you do to fix this? I mean the big pharmaceutical companies are in bed with the federal government if you should pardon than expression. I mean, the amount of money they spend lobbying for things like prescription drug prices, the way that new prescription drug bill was put together so that certain things happen that accrue to them. Is it fixable? And if so, where do you start? How do you do it?

REIDY: I think the first step in terms of was stopping buying love. That's what we were doing. Not only was I out playing golf with doctors; I was trying to talk about drugs, trying to get them to like me better. That's human nature Jack, if the doctor likes me better than he likes the other reps; he is probably going to prescribe my drug.

As far as drug companies being in bed with the federal government, a perfect example is Pfizer is currently negotiating with the FDA the labeling changes for Celibrex and Detra (ph) to me what is the negations, the FDA should say this is the way it is going to be. So I find it very interesting.

SERWER: Jamie are you going to turn this book into a movie? I heard there's some discussion about that.

REIDY: Yes, sir, we have right now a major actor and a major screenwriter attached...


REIDY: I can't....


REIDY: My agent would kill me if I told you guys.

SERWER: He's going very L.A., look at that.

CAFFERTY: You got a role in there for Dr. Cafferty?

REIDY: Absolutely, you guys have me on again; we'll get you in the movie.

CAFFERTY: See you are right back, just like you were when you were with the drug...

LISCOVICZ: Making deals, making deals. SERWER: Yes listen Jamie it sounds like a really interesting book. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Jamie Reidy author of "Hard Sell, the Evolution of a Viagra Salesman." Thanks.

REIDY: Thanks for having me.

SERWER: Coming up after the break, to back you can't fly a whole corporation to Vegas. Time Warner and AOL may be heading for a divorce. Find out how the stock in our parent company is looking.

Plus, funny is money. As the networks roll out their new schedules, see if the sitcom is dead.

And what a big-time CEO can learn from "The Apprentice." Allen Wastler of tells us why a certain boss should tune in to Donald Trump's reality show.


LISCOVICZ: Now lets take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." U.S. Airways and America West are merging. The two struggling airlines are hoping their combined strengths can help them hold off discount airline like Southwest and Jetblue. The merged airline will keep the U.S. Airways name.

It might seem tougher to get a home equity loan. Bank regulators are concerned about the growing number of people getting the loans and they are warning financial institutions to re-examine their requirements. The warnings could result in tougher qualifying standards. Home equity loans have become increasingly popular for homeowners trying to make improvements or just to make ends meet.

And it looks like President Bush wants the maestro to keep waving the baton. A "Washington Post" report says the White House may ask Alan Greenspan to continue as Fed chairman for at least a few months after his term expires next January. Greenspan isn't the longest serving Fed chairman just yet. That record is held by William Martin who had the job for nearly 19 years.

SERWER: What many have characterized as the worst merger ever may be on the road to unraveling this week. Time Warner's CEO Richard Parsons says he would consider spinning off AOL. This news comes as AOL continues to lose subscribers, but its also gaining revenue from the returning strength in online advertising.

Time Warner stock has been stuck between $15 and $19 and $15 and $19 -- a share for two years. But the shares may get a boost from the company's announcement on Friday that it's going to start paying a dividend this year. Time Warner is the parent company of CNN and it's also our stock of the week. Five cents a share. I did the math. I'll get $1.35 in dividends, I think.

CAFFERTY: Let the record show, before we go any further, Mr. Parsons, it was Andy Serwer who used the phrase "worst merger ever" to describe the AOL acquisition. Susan and I had nothing to do with that characterization.

SERWER: A former employee known as Andy Serwer, yes. This company, it's the largest entertainment and media company in the world. But a lot of problems in various businesses, from technology. The music business, piracy. They spun that off. AOL -- people are going to broadband. You look at the movie business, questions there. Cable business, there are questions about the satellites coming in and pirating that business away as well. You know, it's a great company -- I can say that, even though I work here, it is a great company with a lot of great brands. It's been stuck in the mud for a long time.

LISCOVICZ: It's improved. You have to give Mr. Parsons credit for that. He did bring the debt down, still a lot of debt. Settled two government probes for more than $500 million and there has been some stability. But the fact is, AOL is languishing and there is a big "if." it's going to do this free portal service to compete against Yahoo!, Google? So it's a very big if, if that works. And if it doesn't it is going to get spun off and of course the irony is all too great for those of us who remember all too vividly how AOL bought Time Warner with its inflated stock at the peak of the bubble.

CAFFERTY: You mention stock options. That's a great idea if you're one of the executives that has five million share of stock. You mentioned the company is carrying a big debt load. What about the wisdom of using the money that's going to be used to pay these dividends, to bring down the debt load and maybe cause the stock price to move above this idiotic price range it's been in.

SERWER: Well, you always have a question I mean if you're an executive running a company, where you deploy your capital. Do you buy back debt, do you pay a dividend? What you want to do, you hope, is to take that money and reinvest it in other growing businesses. You're looking at these various options and this is the one Dick Parsons has done. But Susan alluded the fact he has paid down some debt already so maybe he is trying to do...

LISCOVICZ: We also bought Adelphia, too.

SERWER: Bought Adelphia, you know AOL is an interesting business because it makes a lot of money, still. It's like a cash cow, like ATT's long distance business same kind of thing. It's shrinking.

But it makes a lot of money. If it's on its own, I think that might make a lot of sense. And at some point quite frankly...

LISCOVICZ: It might improve the Time Warner stock.

SERWER: At some point it probably will move. I'm not saying when. There are a lot of years left in this decade, unfortunately. We shall have to see about that one.

Coming up on IN THE MONEY, no laughing matter. If you're looking for a great sitcom these days, good luck as the networks roll out their new shows. See if the classic sitcom is dead.

Plus, how far will you go to get a cheap flight to Rome. See why catching a jet from London may make sense. Stick around for tips on planning your summer vacation.

And life imitates art. That is if you call "The Apprentice" art. Find out why Donald Trump's reality show may have lessons for one particular CEO.


HARRIS: Hello, everyone, I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Now in the news, President Bush returns a short time from now. He is a keynote speaker at commencement ceremonies at Calvin College. The event in Grand Rapids, the event begins at the top of the hour.

The U.S. military begins using a new laser warning system being used in the Nation's Capital today. When pilots see colored laser beams, it means they're flying in restricted airspace and should turn away. The Pentagon says the goal is to avoid what happened earlier this month when a plane got too close to the White House and forced evacuations. I'm Tony Harris in Atlanta. All the days' news at the top of the hour. Now back to IN THE MONEY.

SERWER: If you loved Raymond your Monday nights might feel empty now. CBS' hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" signed off this week after nine seasons. Some pundits call it a sign of the times, saying sitcoms are dinosaurs in a TV land dominated by reality shows and one- hour dramas. But our next guest begs to differ. This is the director of the Center for the Study of Popular TV at Syracuse University. And he's here to tell us why fewer sitcoms doesn't mean they're going extinct. Welcome to the program.


SERWER: But it doesn't seem like there are any new sitcoms out there so I don't understand how you think they're not dead.

THOMPSON: Well, that's the trouble there aren't any good sitcoms out there. When the best shows on the air now in comedy are "Two and a Half Men" and "Yes, Dear" and "Accord to Jim," that tells you what the state of things are. However, if you go back to the early 1980s and your read the newspapers, everybody was writing the obituary of the death of the sitcom. The most popular show at the time was "Diff'rent Strokes" of comedies and that was down into the lower teens in the ratings.

Then of course "Cosby" came out and started one of the most successful two decades of sitcoms of all time. If you give people good sitcoms are they will watch them in droves. Only a year ago, "Friends" was consistently in the top one or two shows of the week. The reason that people aren't watching sitcoms as much, there aren't any good sitcoms on the air right now.

LISOVICZ: Professor Thompson, you obviously missed all the excitement of Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to dead people. That's one of the new shows for the new season. Of course, that will compete with Patricia Arquette seeing or hearing dead people. That's on a rival network. There is hope, though. Because David Letterman's people some of his former writers, are doing a new sitcom. And the people behind "Frasier," I think are behind another program. So these people have talent, one would think, given their track records.

THOMPSON: The sitcom will be back. It has gone through bad times before. Think it's still probably the most basic and potentially successful program type of all. And I think, you know how they talk about how cockroaches will never die, even when nuclear bombs go off and meteorites hit the earth -- I think the sitcom is probably that bulletproof. I think in the end, after the world has ended, maybe there will be cockroaches watching sitcoms. We're just in a really arid period.

CAFFERTY: There are cockroaches watching sitcoms now, Bob. I don't know how to break that to you. Talk to me about the economics.

THOMPSON: There's cockroaches making sitcoms, and other television.

SERWER: Yes, that, too.

CAFFERTY: Talk to me about the economics of a successful sitcom which eventually somebody like "Everybody Loves Raymond" or "Friends" finds its way into syndication, which is where the real megabucks are, versus the economics of reality shows and the potential syndication market for shows like that.

THOMPSON: That's the thing, upfront reality is great. Doesn't cost money, you don't have a bunch of talent asking for more big raises every year and they tend to get some really good numbers. "American Idol" and "Survivor" and all the rest. The problem is, most of that reality show is virtually useless in reruns. People don't want to watch reruns of something that's already happened. Sitcoms, on the other hand, lots people are going to make wheel barrels full of money on "Everybody Loves Raymond" for year and years and years.

Those things play in the highest profile time slot, dinnertime, when they get the most money on the highest rated stations. Shows like "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Simpsons," "Raymond," "Frasier," those will make money for those stations forever probably. And once they live the high ticket places, they go to TV Land, Nick at Night. That's not going to happen to reality shows, which may end up rerunning on some reality channel to 450,000 really die-hard reality fans.

SERWER: And the other thing, Robert about reality show, the ideas are just getting so far out there long in the tooth. The reality show "The Hot Dog Vendor," we'll have some guy out there pretending to be -- you know what I'm saying, kind of running out of ideas, don't you think?

THOMPSON: Yeah, think reality is never going to go away. It's going to have a shakedown one of these days. We're not going to have as much on five years from now as we do now. But it's joined the pack of what TV does. But I still say the sitcom made NBC for 25 years, out of third place -- if i were a network executive right now, i would have -- the first three things on my list to do would be to develop sitcoms, develop sitcoms and develop sitcoms. Two hit half hour comedy can change the fortunes of a network even though it's also using reality and procedural cop shows and all the rest of it.

LISOVICZ: But in the meantime, as you said earlier, we're in this arid period. In the meantime, looking for money -- there was a story in "The Wall Street Journal" earlier this week there was a show on NBC, which I never heard of, which very few people watch, but the people watching it have a higher level of income and so now those are somewhat more valuable. Are you seeing that at all?

THOMPSON: Right, and that's been -- since the 1980s, shows like "Hill Street Blues" and "St. Elsewhere" are have ratings fairly low, but had higher advertising rates because they have great demographic, upscale people with lots of disposable income and that kind of thing. And we're seeing that in shows like "The West Wing," what's left of it and "24" and a few other shows like that.

I think the biggest problem with comedy right now is that all -- not only the upscale people, but all of us have a much higher demand for how good something is. You know, back in the '80s, '70s we made hits out of shows like "Gimme a Break" and "The Facts of Life," not very good shows ...

SERWER: Those are quality programs, come on.

CAFFERTY: Let me ask you about whether or not it's still economically feasible, for the three major networks -- I guess there are four now, if you count the "F word" network, to dump tons of money into development costs and pilots to get the sitcom off the ground when in fact, the audience, the share of the network audience has been declining fairly steadily for the last 20 years or so.

THOMPSON: It has. We spent the first eight decades of the 20th century building the biggest mass audience ever, we spent the last three decades taking that apart. Nevertheless, if you look again as recently as "Friends" and "Frasier" or for that matter, last week, shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" when you hit, it's true are you have to throw a lot against the wall before you get something that sticks in the way those do. But when you do, it cannot only be a great fortune for that particular show it can change the complexion of your entire night. If you can start the night with "Cosby" all of a sudden shows like "Cheers" which was 43rd in the ratings gets placed after "Cosby" and suddenly it's number two and number three.

So I think, yes, It does behoove them to spend money to develop these things for the long term if not for the short term.

LISOVICZ: Robert Thompson who teaches the most popular course at Syracuse University, the Study of Popular TV. Thanks so much for joining us.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

LISOVICZ: We're not going any place so hang out while we take this break. Up next, pack leader, great summer vacations start before you pull out your suitcase. We have got an expert standing by with some tips for you. And don't laugh. A Web site that makes white suits and platforms okay for guys again. Disco is back on our fun site of the week.


LISOVICZ: A rebounding dollar flat broke airline and roller coaster oil prices. The headlines are enough to give you a headache if you're trying to book a trip on a budget for summer. But Reid Bramblett, contributing editor of Frommer's Budget Travel is here to sort it all out for us. Welcome back.


LISOVICZ: I'll tell you, lately, the headlines are enough for you to just upgrade your TV or fix your deck because hotel prices are going up, hotel rates are going up, we all know about gas prices. Is there really a budget vacation in the U.S. to be had?

BRAMBLETT: There certainly is. Obviously, with the rising price of gasoline and with airfares being so high, it's difficult to do it on a budget, but you can. They say that, I think the figures yesterday said that 2.2 percent more Americans are going to be traveling this summer than last summer and 85 percent of them are going to be getting in their cars and doing it. So they are going to pay dearly at the pump, but can save money by look at online booking sites for cheap hotel rates.

LISOVICZ: Like what kind?

BRAMBLETT: Some of the big ones actually have good, inexpensive rates. If you search on hotel names in particular, look up in a guide book and search the hotel name, call the hotel directly, you can often negotiate a better rate depending on how full they are.

SERWER: All right. Reid, I'm kind of a sucker here. I'm going to Europe with my kiddies next week and obviously it's going to be a bullet-biting experience.


SERWER: What tips do you have for those of us unfortunate enough to be going across the pond?

BRAMBLETT: It's not a misfortune. It's a fantastic time to go. I was actually just over in Croatia and Slovenia a couple weeks ago. That's one of the big hints, to go to Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe because the prices fall off. Not Prague ...

SERWER: They don't have Big Ben there but ...

BRAMBLETT: They don't have Big Ben, there, but you can save money in London as well. One great way to do that is to look beyond the traditional hotels. If you go to the Web site you'll find two dozen alternatives to lodging costs, which quote frankly can be $150 or $200 for a basic, run of the mill hotel run.

But if you want to stay in a B&B, it will only be $40 for a double room. If you want to stay in a flat in London, you can rent that starting at about $70 per night for a week.

CAFFERTY: The other tip that was interesting to me is air travel to Europe. Fly to London, get off the plane there and switch to something else. Tell me how that works.

BRAMBLETT: That's right. That's called the Big Ben switcheroo. And I've got it all described on my Web site The idea is that you can get the cheapest air flights to Europe into London because British Airways and Virgin are competing on that route. And I think the prices I was seeing recently were as low as $269 round trip out of the East Coast, little more if you move West. And from there, switch, usually switch airports from Heathrow or Gatwick to Stansted or Luton and fly a low-cost airline or no frills airline like Southwest or JetBlue back home, but there they're called Easy Jet and Ryan Air. And there are about 40 of them criss-crossing the continent. The one-way fare averages about $50-$60. And that way you can ping pong your way around Europe.

LISOVICZ: What about Argentina, for instance. You say that is a great bargain, for instance.

BRAMBLETT: It is a great bargain. I was saying Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe but the real bargains are in South America, Central America, Asia. You can go to Buenos Aires on a five night hotel package, with your airfare and five nights in a hotel, airfare, I think it's $679. And I have these prices on my Web site at There's a link to all the great package deals.

LISOVICZ: Is it nice there this time of year?

BRAMBLETT: Buenos Aires, yes, just getting into their fall season. And it's the Paris of South America, they call it. It's a very genteel and elegant city. And the crash of the peso a few years ago has left prices are in the doldrums. So you can get first world class and style at third world prices. Steak dinners are ten dollars with Argentinean wine. You can learn to tango for $5.

SERWER: That might be appealing to Susan, maybe doing it with some of the gauchos down there, what do you think, Reid?

BRAMBLETT: Yeah, yeah.

SERWER: What do you think of the whole dollar situation? That's what's really at the heart of this. Any relief there? How do you play that?

BRAMBLETT: Well, it has slipped slightly in our favor. It was about $1.30 to the euro and $1.90 to the pound a couple weeks ago. Now it's about $1.26 to the euro and $1.84 to the pound. That's still a big bite out of your budget which is why you need to use these tips to shave down the price on those big-ticket items like airfare and car rental rates and hotels. LISOVICZ: Reid Bramblett, contributing editor to Frommers Budget Travel. Andy and which learn how to do the tango.


LISOVICZ: Thanks for joining us.

BRAMBLETT: Thank you, Susan.

LISOVICZ: Coming up, "Do the Hustle" and re-"Do the Hustle." You can take disco dance lessons as often as you want (ph) on our fun site of the week.

And if you are more of a foxtrot type or there's something else on your mind, send us an e-mail, the address is First, this week's "Money & Family."

There's no better way to enjoy nature's bloom than planting your own garden. We'll tell you how to keep your outdoors green without having to dig very deep into your wallet. Wear spiked athletic shoes while mowing the lawn. You'll aerate the gas root with each step.

Scatter grass clipping around plants to repel weeds. The clippings are a good source of nutrients. Sprinkle the guard within liberal amounts of ground black pepper to keep stray cats away. The pepper won't hurt the cats, but it will irritate their paws if they try to dig.

Protect your plants by make collars from toilet tissue rolls. Push the roll around two-thirds into the soil to protect plants from the wind. Avoid ant invasions by spreading a thin line of salt across places they want to go. Ants won't cross a line of salt.

To nurture the healthiest tree, shrubs and evergreen, scatter ten unused match heads and one cup of Epsom salts in the planting hole. This promotes new growth and strengthens stems and root.

Happy planting. I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money & Family."


CAFFERTY: A lot of the people who watch "The Apprentice" are young business tycoons hoping to learn something by following that program. But Allen Wastler thinks some already established CEOs could take a pointer or two from the program as well. He join us with more on that and the fun site of the week. Who, pray tell, are you talking about?

ALLEN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: Oh, well, you see, it occurred to me because I'm a big fan of "The Apprentice" and I'm watching it over and over again. I'm watching it. They say the show has no real-world applications. I'm watching it, and then I look, Morgan Stanley having all these problems, hmm, Phil Purcell, Tana (ph). Tan, Phil Purcell. And it just struck me that, if anything, the old guard on Wall Street needs to sit down, watch this show and see what it teaches you about human relationships. CAFFERTY: There you go.

WASTLER: Especially when you're trying to get something done.

LISOVICZ: Because Tana didn't treat her colleagues well.

WASTLER: The thing is, if you watch through the season, she was little miss cheerleader, getting everybody, oh, come on, gang, let's go get it done. But in the final couple episodes, all of a sudden, she turned on her team. You guys are the Three Stooges and you know, just said don't talk to them and talk to me! And when you look at what's happened over at Morgan Stanley with the senior executives who have sort of openly revolted against the CEO and you trace how that sort of came about, yes there's numbers involved, and the stock price sort of languishing.

But you also look at the human relationships involved, the back- biting, just the CEO saying don't pay attention to them, pay attention to me, you get a good lesson in how things work on Wall Street. So, it's one of -- I talked to a business professor who used to use a lot of the episodes in his business class to teach his students about things that go into accomplishing projects. He sort of toned that down a little bit. But he did make the point that underneath it all it's the human relationship affect in business that a lot of people really don't give credence to. And it's a big part of ...

LISOVICZ: Tana got fired, so Phil Purcell ...

SERWER: He's still there.

WASTLER: I checked my favorite futures (CROSSTALK) place to see how the betting's going. They give it about a 20 percent chance that he'll be out by the end of June. He's sort of coming back a little bit. He's been going around, glad handing, making nicey-nicey with everybody. Of course this recent court case with ...

LISOVICZ: Ron Perelman.

WASTLER: Ron Perelman. $1.4 billion you're out all a sudden. That could hurt.

CAFFERTY: Yeah that will knock your odds of surviving down a peg or two. I can't believe -- I thought more of you than this. You actually found a fun site that has to do with disco?

WASTLER: I know. Disco comrade, okay? We scraped around and found a place that give you an introductory lesson if you've been behind the Iron Curtain.

SERWER: You go!


SERWER: They're cooking.

WASTLER: Disco, disco. There they are, showing you the basics. They will also show you some fancy footwork that comes in later, okay. Those sneakers could use a scrub.

SERWER: Oh, it's in slow motion.

CAFFERTY: This is painful.

SERWER: Slow, baby.

LISOVICZ: This is one of the elementary classes, obviously.

CAFFERTY: Look at those shoes.

LISOVICZ: Travolta's Eastern European cousin.

WASTLER: Here they are getting down. Finally putting all the steps together.

CAFFERTY: This is "Saturday Night Seizure."


WASTLER: You rock, people. You rock. So you find it on our show page if you need the disco lesson. There you go.

CAFFERTY: Through for that contribution. Appreciate it. All right, come up next on IN THE MONEY, time to hear from you as we read some of your e-mails from the past week. You can send us an e-mail right now if you'd like. We're at


CAFFERTY: It's time now to read your answers to our question of the week about whether you're considering buying a hybrid car. Claire wrote, "I'd like to buy a hybrid but I've noticed my dealers make a few changes, like leather seats in all of them, and then they jack up the price by 10 grand. When the dealers stop playing games, I'll buy a hybrid."

Janelle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin wrote this. "I'd love to buy a hybrid, but the sedans don't have enough cargo space and I'm finding it nearly impossible to get the hybrid Ford Escape SUV in the Midwest. But I bet Honda will get a hybrid SUV to my area before too long."

And Ann (ph) in Grapevine, Texas wrote this -- "We already have a hybrid and we'll buy one again. It saves us a lot of money, but maybe a little too much. Whenever people ask us about our car, my husband ends up giving a 10 minute demonstration ride. It's time I'd rather use at the shopping mall."

Time now for next week's e-mail question of the week, which is this. Do you think women should be given full combat roles in the U.S. military? Send your answers to Also visit our show page at which is where you'll find the address of our fun site of the week. Check out those disco lessons.

Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY my thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer, managing editor Allen Wastler.

Join us tomorrow, 3 o'clock Eastern Time, when we'll look at the role of women in the military that we just asked you about. With our resources stretched thin, some say it's time for equality in our armed forces, even when it comes to ground combat. That's tomorrow at 3:00. Hope to see you then.


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