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.



Highest Bidders Get to Walk on 'Housewives'

June 13, 2005 12:00 AM

How much might someone pay for a walk-on role in ABC's hit comedy "Desperate Housewives"? What if we threw in some good wine from Frank Family Vineyards-owned by former Disney TV chief Rich Frank (who with ABC exec Stephen McPherson created a new wine included in the package)-a hotel stay, a limo and a gourmet dinner in L.A.? (Blink, April 4). How about $300,000 and $280,000? That is what the two winning bidders paid at Auction Napa Valley, an annual charity event held at Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif., on June 4 that raised a record $10.5 million. Jay Leno and Teri Hatcher helped the auctioneer push up the price. When bidding stalled at $250,000, Ms. Hatcher teased the crowd: "There's a lot more that I'll do for more money." The winning bidders were Stratton Sclavos, CEO of Internet services firm VeriSign, whose wife, Jody, will get the TV appearance; and Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Wilmington, Del., who own the Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa Valley. Mrs. Copeland said it will probably be she who uses the "Desperate" moment, though it could be her husband, who is a DuPont heir. "It was worth it because we know where the money goes [for health care, children, housing]," said Mrs. Copeland, who admitted the price was high, but said, "You get caught up in the thrill of the moment." She told Ms. Hatcher she hopes her scene will be with the "hot gardener."-ALEX BEN BLOCK

Lawsuits Can be Scary

The deluge of paranormal reality shows, including Sci Fi's "Ghost Hunters" and Court TV's "Psychic Detectives," has given entertainment industry lawyers a whole new dimension of liability to worry about: paranormal-related damages. When drafting participant contracts for his upcoming as-yet-untitled TLC ghost hunting reality show, executive producer Thom Beers ("Monster Garage") said his attorneys had to devise legal language to prevent lawsuits by owners of supposedly haunted structures, should Mr. Beers' team of investigative ghostbusters stir up otherworldly trouble. "It did take some time to figure out," Mr. Beers said. "The lawyers came up with indemnifying the network against 'damages caused by supernatural activity or poltergeists in association with activities in the house.'" Blink loves that the lawyers included both supernatural activity and poltergeists, just in case litigious plaintiffs decided to exploit some sort of afterlife terminology loophole. -JAMES HIBBERD

Indie's New Home

Coming Soon on the Independent Film Channel: the new IFC Center. It is a movie Mecca opening June 19 on the site of the old Waverly Theater in Manhattan with custom-made seating for 210. IFC General Manager Evan Shapiro is moving the site of the network's show "At the Angelica" to the center and renaming it "At the IFC Center." IFC's news operation will relocate from the Arclight Theater in Los Angeles. "We will cover what happens at the IFC Center because what happens at the IFC Center is news," Mr. Shapiro said. The channel and the theater will work in tandem on some scheduling, such as a Spaghetti Western Month on IFC and at the theater, planned for September. There will be a cult series that will run either monthly or as a once-a-year special. Sounding like a kid who can have all the candy he wants from the concessions stand, Mr. Shapiro gushed, "It's wonderful that the network and the entertainment group have this wonderful bricks-and-mortar version of the brand." -JON LAFAYETTE