Don Imus & Lenny Bruce’s Lawyer

(Kinda, sorta) welcome back, Don Imus. In a story on Imus’ post-firing legal strategy, we found out that Imus is damn close to inking a new deal. As many as three major media companies have approached him and he’s even playing footsie with Les Moonves for a return to WFAN. It all has to do with Imus’ new lawyer, former Lenny Bruce defender Martin Garbus:

“Perhaps more than anything, it was the lawsuit that changed things. No one at CBS will confirm it had an effect, but after it was filed, network executives began considering the unthinkable: bringing Imus back. Giving Imus his old job wouldn’t just help restore WFAN’s morning ratings—it would quite possibly cost less than having to go to court with Imus. What if, instead of fighting, CBS renegotiated to take Imus back at, say, half the $40 million? Or even a third? “They desperately need the revenue,” says Mainelli. “This is no secret. Les Moonves has said he loves the cash flow that radio provides, but it’s no secret he thinks there ought to be a lot more of it.” What about the protesters? Wouldn’t the same tsunami of anti-Imus forces regather? Wouldn’t the advertisers boycott? Perhaps. But then Al Sharpton started telling reporters that he, at least, wasn’t necessarily against the idea of Imus’s coming back on the air. “The demand was he be fired from a job he routinely abused,” Sharpton told me in July. “There was never a sense that he be removed from making a living.” Where Sharpton goes, advertisers might follow: The door, it seemed, was cracked open.”

Reporter Robert Kolker put a lot of work into this piece. It’s severely recommended — if only for a look behind the scenes at the world of talk radio — check it out.

Neal Ungerleider