'The Glenn Beck Show' signs off ... from TV, at least
Begun on the street outside Beck's current ground-floor studio in midtown Manhattan -- with burly security guards visible around the host -- the last hurrah was 42 minutes (not counting commercials) of remembrances and commentary, delivered straight to the camera in Beck's signature, highly personal style.
It was also live, which Beck remarked would seem very odd if he was indeed "fired" from his show.
No doubt there will be jubilation in many quarters, but most likely from folks who are not regular "Beck" viewers -- of which there are still nearly 2 million a day.
If those numbers had not represented a decline from the nearly three million a day the show once drew, it would still be considered very successful in a time slot when many news viewers are still at work or on the way home.
And "The Glenn Beck Show" still was No. 1 in its time slot against its cable-news competition (not counting HLN's recent surge with its coverage of the Casey Anthony trial).
Over the course of his last hour, Beck recalled the evolution of his show.
It started as something resembling a standard political commentary hour with a monologue and guests. It then changed to something more akin to a revival meeting, interspersed with history lessons, cartoons, mini-documentaries, funny voices, demonstrations to illustrate financial concepts (which have featured a juggler, eclairs, pies, a rabbit and a Jenga game) and an endless series of chalkboards.
As Beck remarked in one clip, "This is the dumbest damn show on air."
A libertarian, a Mormon convert and still a radio host, Beck asserted his program was no longer just a TV show but had become a movement.
Most recently, he used the show to draw thousands of people on Aug. 28, 2010, to Washington, D.C. (at their own expense) for the "Restoring Honor" rally.
After declaring on the show (in a clip shown in the final episode), "I stand tonight with Israel," Beck is holding a "Restoring Courage" rally in Jerusalem on Aug. 24.
Beck got some of his highest ratings for "Founders' Fridays," which focused on the history of the nation's earliest days, in particular on some of the lesser-known figures.
He sold many books, including Friedrich von Hayek's weighty tome "The Road to Serfdom," published in the '40s, and several biographies of the Founding Fathers. Beck also wrote books, including his take on Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and the just-released "The Original Argument," a modern-language version of "The Federalist Papers."
Beck railed endlessly about liberal billionaire George Soros and progressive president Woodrow Wilson, urged his viewers to pray more and sin less in a "40 Day Challenge," and went through a great deal of chalk drawing charts, graphs and trees to illustrate connections he saw among people and world events.
And he cried, frequently, something he joked about on the final episode, saying he "cried more than shows about babies," and put that on the list of the show's "firsts."
Beck also talked often about his past failures and battle with alcoholism.
For better or worse, "The Glenn Beck Show" looked and sounded like nothing else on cable news.
In the last episode, Beck thanked Fox News president Roger Ailes, noting he began his relationship with his boss with "a handshake" and ended it with one.
He also took a swipe at Jon Stewart, showing the dozen or so writers for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" -- which is 22 minutes a night, with guests -- and then bringing out his writing staff of two.
Beck has already announced he is launching GBTV.com, a subscriber Web service that will include a live-streamed two-hour daily show, starting at $4.95 a month.
Firing back at his critics, Beck said, "For those members of the media who are celebrating, I waited for a season. I know exactly where I'm going. And you will pray for the time when I was only on the air for one hour every day."
He also announced something called "Mercury One," with more details to be released at glennbeck.com (if you're a member).
At the end, Beck opened the shades on the studio windows and showed the names of the people who work on the show, written on a chalkboard.
Then, he closed with "From New York, Good night, America," and walked off with his vintage microphone.
On Friday, July 1, FNC runs a John Stossel special in Beck's time slot.
Then, after airing some "Beck" repeats, FNC has announced a summer replacement show called "The Five."
Launching July 11, it will feature a rotating roundtable of such FNC personalities as Greg Gutfeld, Juan Williams, Dana Perino, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Geraldo Rivera, Andrea Tantaros, Eric Bolling, Monica Crowley, Bob Beckel and Kimberly Guilfoyle.
In a press release, Bill Shine, FNC's executive vice president for programming says, "'The Five' brings together an eclectic group of FOX talent whose knowledge of key issues and unique insights will undoubtedly make for a dynamic program."