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The Insider

Feb 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The friendly neighborhood spy
Yes, that was the National Association of Broadcasters’ Nancy Cullen making the rounds of the major network news shows last week from her home in the Washington suburbs. Turns out that Ms. Cullen, NAB’s director of executive communications, is a neighbor of purported superspy Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent nabbed last week for allegedly funneling U.S. intelligence secrets to Russia.
“We’re really shocked,” said Ms. Cullen, who added that she and Mr. Hanssen’s wife have been good friends for 10 years. “His kids played with my kids.”
Syndie TV stars get `no respect’
Like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, actors in syndicated programs get no respect. Just ask “Andromeda” star Kevin Sorbo, spotted by the Insider in golfing duds at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in La Quinta, Calif., Feb. 17. He told the Insider that being named the third “Most Bankable Star” in EM’s Jan. 15 edition was a real morale booster.
The action star dropped other fans in mid-photo op to chat about the fact that syndicated shows rarely get recognized, despite their popularity. “We don’t get nominated for Emmys or anything,” Mr. Sorbo said.
The former “Hercules” star, who boasts an 8 handicap, also said his placement in “Most Bankable Stars” earned him a spot on “Live With Regis” this month. “I was in Los Angeles doing publicity for `Andromeda.’ Regis [who had seen the article] called me to be on the show.” Mr. Philbin held up the magazine on air while Mr. Sorbo was in the guest seat. Perhaps not coincidentally, Mr. Philbin was No. 1 on EM’s list.
Other syndication and prime-time stars chewing up the turf at the golf tournament included “Seinfeld’s” John O’Hurley, “Dharma & Greg’s” Thomas Gibson and “Suddenly Susan’s” Judd Nelson.
No labor, no problem for `Ricki Lake’ show on teen pregnancy
While taping an episode designed to discourage teen pregnancy, “Ricki Lake’s” executive producer decided to take her work home with her.
The syndicated strip’s show runner, Gail Sternberg, continued a season-long campaign against teen pregnancy recently by shooting an episode designed to simulate the pressures of giving birth and raising children.
Several teens recruited to watch the show were originally scheduled to arrive in the early morning at a hospital to face the realities of a live delivery. But when plans at the hospital fell through, Ms. Sternberg decided to take matters into her own hands, waking the teens at 5:30 a.m. to call them over to her apartment to watch a video of a birth on her big-screen television.
“When I realized we had to show them the tape, I didn’t want them watching it on a tiny monitor-I wanted it real and up close,” she said.
After feeding the now-wavering parental wannabes, the youths left with an entirely new approach to parenting. The episode aired Feb. 22.
Prehistoric publicity a mammoth task
Discovery Communications, which has shown a knack for devising clever publicity in the past, may have outdone itself with materials for its March 11 “Land of the Mammoth” special.
Though the press kit contents are pretty standard, the cover comes from another era-literally. It’s made of woolly mammoth fur-or at least a close facsimile.
Discovery’s design department took great pains to find realistic prehistoric fur, Tim DeClaire from Discovery’s publicity department said.
“We even talked about making it smell bad or putting dirt in it because it’s supposed to a mammoth skin sample,” he said. Discovery toyed with labeling the kit “Mammoth Specimen Enclosed.” “But we decided that might cause a stir with the U.S. postal system,” he said.