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'Allie' Star Makes a Curtin Call on 'Crumbs'

February 6, 2006 12:00 AM

It pays to be nice to your subordinates. Back in the early 1980s Marco Pennette dropped out of New York University to become a production assistant on the CBS sitcom "Kate & Allie," where his duties included getting lunch for star Jane Curtin. From there, Mr. Pennette moved up in the business, eventually creating and writing comedies of his own, including ABC's current midseason sitcom, the semi-autobiographical "Crumbs," which draws from his mother's institutionalization. ABC suggested Ms. Curtin play Mr. Pennette's mother, creating a professional role reversal. "I was the one freaked out by it," he said. "She was terrific. She treated me like her boss." It has also made Mr. Pennette thoughtful of his own underlings. "I'm going to be working for them one day," he said. -Christopher Lisotta

KTLA Shares the Stealth

The video of a San Bernardino County, Calif., sheriff's deputy opening fire Jan. 29 on unarmed 21-year-old U.S. Air Force security officer Elio Carrion in Chino, Calif., following a high-speed chase has been described as "startling" and "graphic"-but it can no longer be labeled "exclusive" after a decision by KTLA-TV news director Jeff Wald. "The act was so heinous it needed to be circulated," said Mr. Wald, who obtained the tape Jan. 30 but released it to the public after exclusive airings that night and the next morning. The grainy video shows the deputy shooting Senior Airman Carrion three times from point-blank range as Mr. Carrion stands up from a crouched position following what some believe are the deputy's verbal instructions to "Get up, get up." Local resident Jose Luis Valdez shot the tape of the incident, which took place outside of his home. Police were given the original tape, but Mr. Valdez sold a copy to KTLA for an undisclosed amount. Despite criticism that repeated airings paint a bad picture of Los Angeles-area police, Mr. Wald said he felt it necessary to get the truth to the public and plans to continue showing the tape as developments in the ongoing case arise. KTLA was also the first station to air footage of Rodney King being beaten by police in 1991. -Danielle Lee

Nat Geo Channel Goes To School

In conjunction with National Geographic Channel's "The World's Most Dangerous Gang," in which "Explorer" investigates the international gang MS-13, the network is visiting one of the most dangerous places of all: high school. The network is embarking on a high school tour in several cities, where the special will be screened for ninth-graders, followed by a Q&A session with reporter Lisa Ling and local anti-gang experts. "Schools have determined that it's an important subject to meet head-on," said NGC President Laureen Ong. Naturally, cable systems are also getting in on the act, with local operators sponsoring each stop. After all, at-risk youth make up a key young male demo. -James Hibberd

The Name Game

Last week, TelevisionWeek challenged its readers to come up with a better moniker for the new CBS-Warner Bros. joint network, whose name, The CW, landed with a thud in the minds of many. The most frequent suggestions: XYZ, NOW and The WBC. One reader went for the retro name Dumont Network, while the most colorful submissions were WUP ("The WassUP Network"), NOP ("No Old People") and PWUN ("Please Watch Us Network"). The most curious submission: OBC ("Ocean Broadcasting Company"). Of course there were plenty of FM radio-style names utilizing the "The" word: The Mix, The Zone, The Choice, The Prime-and Blink's favorite, The Blend. Our thanks to all who responded. -Tom Gilbert