SIGNING OFF Franken The future senator from Minnesota may finally be giving up on Air America Radio—or what's left of it. A knowledgeable radio source tells Radar that Al Franken is leaving "before the end of the year."
That's 23 days and counting. As it happens, Franken is set to leave on a USO tour of Iraq and Afghanistan next week, from which he will return on Christmas Eve. Asked if he has made a decision to give up on the bankrupt network he helped launch in 2003, Franken played coy. "I don't know what's happening," he tells Radar. "It's not set in stone—I need to see what they're talking about."
"They" would be Air America's current management, which is desperately trying to sell the network out of bankruptcy. (Among the creditors: Alan Franken, Inc., which is owed a whopping $360,749.98, according to court documents.) Today marks the deadline, set by the bankruptcy court, for Air America to either arrange a sale or be considered in default on the $2.6 million loan that has kept it afloat since it filed for bankruptcy in October. (That deadline has been extended twice before for lack of a ready buyer.)
According to two sources familiar with the negotiations, Air America is in the final stages of arranging a sale to a small media company, which they declined to name. "My understanding is that everything is done except for the final touches," says one former Air America staffer. "It's a media company—a very small one. I had never heard of it."
Both sources expressed doubt that the new owner could afford to employ Air America's two biggest names—Franken and Randi Rhodes. "There's the question of whether this little company has the money to keep it going," says one source.
"There's no way that their current contracts will continue," says the former staffer. "And the question is, will Franken and Rhodes compromise in order to stay?"
Franken insists he's not paying attention to the turmoil—"I'm Zen-ing it," he says—and he's focused on his upcoming USO tour. And what will he do when he returns? "Fall asleep on the couch." And after that? "I don't know."