TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



Is Disney Doing a Mickey Mouse Search for CEO?

March 14, 2005 12:00 AM

Disney dissidents Stanley Gold and Roy Disney have gone public with complaints that the process of finding a new chief executive is "a mockery" because outgoing CEO Michael Eisner is expected to sit in on interviews with candidates. But some believe the whole thing is just a big show in any case. Sources told Blink few of the high-profile names mentioned for the job, such as Viacom's Leslie Moonves and News Corp.'s Peter Chernin, have even been contacted. This is interpreted to mean Disney's board is just going through the motions and the job will go in June to the lone internal candidate, Robert Iger, currently Disney's president. And while he awaits a decision, those sources say, Mr. Iger, his image already smeared in the book "DisneyWar," is being extremely cautious. Sources said that is why there will be no decision on an expensive new NFL contract for ABC and ESPN, or any other big deals that might cause waves, until after the new CEO is crowned. A Disney spokeswoman said the exec search is private, and she wouldn't comment on speculation that some decisions are on hold. Last Friday Disney issued a statement in response to Mr. Disney's and Mr. Gold's allegations: "They have been consistently wrong in the past and this is nothing more than a perpetuation of a campaign of distortions aimed at advancing their own personal agenda." --JAY SHERMAN and ALEX BEN BLOCK

Host Finds Maximum Insecurity

Before Lisa Ling spent an intense month inside the maximum-security men's California State Prison in Sacramento, taping a special for National Geographic's "Explorer," which she hosts, she was warned that inmates might harass her and throw things at her. Instead, she was welcomed with shouts that they had seen her on "The View" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" as well as on "Explorer." They spend a lot of time watching TV. What she found, however, wasn't as reassuring. "There are an estimated 2 million people in American prisons," Ms. Ling said. "What people don't realize is that inside these prisons there are cultures within the culture. [Inmates] have to abide by a different set of rules when they are there." Inmates group mostly by race or ethnicity. Ms. Ling said violence and even murder are daily occurrences, and the gangs run organized crime operations that extend beyond the walls of the prison. "These are human beings," said Ms. Ling, "but they are put in an environment that creates and fosters violence. They have to become that way to survive." Her Nat Geo special runs April 10. --ALEX BEN BLOCK

Get-Well Wishes

Blink's heart goes out to Mariska Hargitay and her father, the legendary Mikló "Mickey" Hargitay, who is said to have suffered a heart attack and is recovering in a Los Angeles hospital. We were truly touched when Ms. Hargitay paid tribute to her dad, who was in the audience, during the 2005 Golden Globes, where she was honored as best actress in a TV drama for her role on "Law & Order: SVU." (They are shown together in this photo from that evening.) Ms. Hargitay's mother was the late actress Jayne Mansfield. Mr. Hargitay immigrated to the United States from Budapest, Hungary, and became a champion bodybuilder, winning the title of Mr. Universe in 1955. He entered showbiz as part of the "Mae West Revue," an early Chippendales-type act. That's where Ms. Mansfield spotted him. According to legend, a waiter asked what Ms. Mansfield would like, and she replied, "I'll have a steak and the man on the left!" They married in 1958 and appeared together in several B-movies, including "The Loves of Hercules" in 1960. Ms. Mansfield died in an auto accident in 1967. --ALEX BEN BLOCK

Putting Brakes on Cycling

Outdoor Life Network made a name for itself in part because of the feats of Lance Armstrong, who has pushed up ratings for the network's Tour de France coverage. But he hasn't done much for the rest of OLN's cycling programming. Now OLN is dropping daily programming of its lesser-known races, such as the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) and Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) because of microscopic ratings yielding around 20,000 to 30,000 viewers. John Carter, senior VP of production at OLN, said this is a consequence of a growing network: OLN can't afford to run programming that loses money and offers up only narrow viewership. Instead, OLN has condensed its cycling coverage to the weekends, with a new series called "Cyclysm Sundays," which recaps major races. It is also starting up a video-on-demand effort for cycling. OLN's extensive Tour de France coverage-some 340 hours in the month of July-will remain intact. --WAYNE FRIEDMAN