ESPN personality and former Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser is buying a Washington D.C. restaurant and bar called Chadwick’s, and he and his high-profile partners (including Gary Williams and Maury Povich) are giving it a new name.
On Monday, Kornheiser used his podcast to announce that the bar will henceforth be know as “Chatter,” which beat out “Rewrite” and other potential monikers. The new name honors what Kornheiser cited as an iconic quote about a newspaper. Here was the explanation, as transcribed by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.
“Going back to Rewrite for a second, the single most famous line in all things written about newspapers, in all newspaper movies, in all newspaper plays, in all newspaper overviews, the single most quoted and greatest line is this: ‘Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and get me rewrite,’ ” Kornheiser said on his podcast. “And everybody knows what that is who’s ever worked at a newspaper — a decreasing population as time goes on. And that’s why I thought of Rewrite. And then I thought, what about Chatter? And I said ‘Oooh, I like Chatter.’”
Ok, interesting explanation. There’s only one problem: That quote doesn’t seem to exist as Kornheiser remembers.
Steinberg searched for “Cut the chatter, sweetheart” in Nexis (a database of legal and journalistic documents) and found… six Tony Kornheiser columns citing the phrase, all from between 1983 and 1996.
It seems that Kornheiser’s version of the quote is just a bit off. Via the Post:
There are certainly other references to “Get me rewrite,” many of them including the phrase “Sweetheart.” There’s a book called “Hello Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” There’s another book called “Gimme Rewrite, Sweetheart.” There’s another book called “Hello Sweetheart? Gimmie Rewrite.” The New York Times used a similar phrase in a headline. There’s a blog called “Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” Nora Ephron used the phrase “Hello sweetheart, get me rewrite” in a book. David Simon wrote a blog post called “Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” David Frum wrote a piece for The Daily Beast headlined “Get Me Rewrite, Sweetheart.” Sports Illustrated headlined a piece “Sweetheart … Get Me Rewrite!”
But the “Chatter” formulation that gave Kornheiser’s restaurant its name is most commonly associated — at least online — with the works of Tony Kornheiser. Google it in quotes, and you can’t find anything but Kornheiser columns.
- Steinberg’s column, again
- A 1991 Kornheiser column
- Steinberg’s Twitter page, where he had tweeted the phrase
- An archived Minneapolis Star Tribune article that, upon further research, does not use the phrase
- A newspapers.com archive of a 1991 article in the Democrat and Chronicle, a paper in Rochester, New York that does in fact use the phrase, “Cut the chatter, sweetheart”
- A newspapers.com archive of a 1977 article in the Detroit Free Press that includes the holy grail: “Cut the chatter, sweetheart, get me rewrite”
Is it possible that Kornheiser’s understanding of that quote comes from one of those two documented references? Sure. Is it possible that there are dozens more similar usages that haven’t been archived? Yep. Is it possible that, despite the lack of chronicled usage, a version of that quote is passed around newsrooms everywhere? You betcha.
But is it also possible that Kornheiser just named his restaurant after a phrase he thinks is much more universal than it actually is? Absolutely.
If you work at a newspaper and have heard some version of “Cut the chatter, sweetheart,” feel free to let us know.