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The Cutting Room: It's the Point Guard Who Matters Most

But the new guy hung in there during the talk about tech stocks, arcane accounting practices and AOL-Time Warner.
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Doing a weekly television show is not unlike playing for a team in the local hoop league. You've got your regulars, folks you depend on to take the ball to the hole when it counts.

This week we found ourselves without our point guard. And as every basketball fan will tell you, it's the oft-unsung point guard who matters most. The point organizes the game, distributes the ball, keeps everyone moving and active. And for us,

Brenda Buttner

is the consummate point guard, an ace host who keeps everything running smoothly.


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But Brenda was on the injured reserve this week, nursing some multiple-strain flu, a description of which made me wince. Before the show we had more than the average tension, wondering how we'd deal with her absence.

Herb Greenberg

fidgeted nervously and the show's producer,

Gary Schreier

, worked with more energy to assure the array of talent waiting in the green room that everything would be OK. You see, even back to the famous first Lost Episode, Brenda has always been there dealing, dishing and operating from the host's chair. But this time the lipstick on the host was a little different.

David Asman

, a


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television regular and a former colleague from my old haunt,

The Wall Street Journal

, stepped in for Brenda Buttner. And it's at times like this that you realize the skill of the professional. Brenda has so elegantly dealt with the manic personalities and the technical challenges of guests in remote locations that we hardly noticed it. But now we had the new guy. And we all felt a little more anxious.

While we missed Brenda, the new guy did pretty well. During the opening segment he hung in there when Herb Greenberg started talking about the insane nature of tech stocks, and he dug in sharply when the talk turned to the arcane aspects of accounting. Sure, we had some missed marks -- every show does -- but for the most part, David Asman kept everything moving smartly. We knew he was an able host when he even tossed a few barbs back and forth with

Gary B. Smith

, the Chartman.

The thrill of the unknown, in this case a rookie host, gave the show a little added pop in some places. My Dad, Bill Kansas, in from Minnesota, enjoyed watching Asman grapple with the unfamiliar terrain. He watched from the control room and marveled at the complexity of a half-hour show. And, of course, being from Minnesota, he marveled at this warm spell we're having in Manhattan.

This show offered a little for everyone. I think the best bit came at the end with the predictions. We had Herb calling for a nasty spill in the


, Gary offering that the Nasdaq was ready to rock to 5K -- and both of them working out how each could be right in the same time frame! And we had a couple of takeover-related predictions.

Adam Lashinsky



(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

making a big purchase, while I forecast a new player in the




Time Warner



But in the end, after being impressed by our step-in host, thoughts turned to Brenda. Nobody likes the flu, especially the nasty strain of this winter, and we all wish her the speediest recovery. It always feels sweetest when the tested point guard tosses you that alley-oop.

Dave Kansas is editor-in-chief of In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at