The Insider

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Valentine’s Day promo pulls its weight
Some viewers in the Green Bay, Wis., market may have to put in a little extra time at the gym this month. Three times a day during the first two weeks of February sweeps, Fox affiliate WLUK-TV’s morning show “Good Day Wisconsin” aired a Valentine’s Day promotion featuring an animated graphic of Cupid and a young couple sitting on a bench. If the Cupid character hit the couple with an arrow, the winning caller would receive a 21/2-pound box of locally made Seroogy’s Chocolates, worth $25. If Cupid missed, the winner would get microwave popcorn. “It’s been a fun interactive piece leading up to Valentine’s Day,” WLUK General Manager Bill Zollar said. “We’re trying to be interactive and have fun with our viewers.”
Billy Tauzin’s magical media tour
Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., may have plenty of problems with the TV news media, but free publicity isn’t one of them. Before and after his daylong hearing last week in which he hauled news executives before his committee to testify-under oath no less-about their election night errors, he made appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and C-SPAN to take his concerns directly to the public. ABC’s “Nightline” devoted its Feb. 14 program to the hearing and the issues it raised. Shortly after the election, the lawmaker suggested that the major TV networks may have been involved in a conspiracy to help the Democrats on election night, but he now says his suspicions were unfounded.
Howie Long enlisting for `War’
Former NFL pro and current Fox Sports commentator Howie Long is getting ready for battle. He is signed to host TBS Superstation’s March 28 reality special “War Games,” and sources told the Insider that Mr. Long is very keen on the outdoor survival game and is pushing to serve as regular show host now that Turner might expand it into a weekly series. “He’s intensively involved in the show,” said one source close to the production.
Another piece in the CNN puzzle
CNN is closer to launching a show that could help change the weekend face of the network from “Capital Gang” geezers stuck inside the Beltway to 30-somethings talking about politics and pop culture that people outside D.C. might be able to relate to. On tap is a still-untitled half-hour show expected to debut early next month, whose diverse core ensemble would consist of Salon.com’s telegenic and politically astute Jake Tapper, the in-demand Robert George of the New York Post and New Republic Senior Editor Michelle Cottle. A fourth chair will be filled by a rotating quartet of writers for CNN’s sister Time magazine. There’s a fifth chair under discussion that might be occupied by a series of outsiders including Christopher Caldwell, the Weekly Standard contributor who has done well as part of the roundtable on Wolf Blitzer’s “Late Edition.” Among those who reportedly passed on an opportunity to be part of the ensemble: conservative pundit-pinup Laura Ingraham.
His first guest could be Monica
What’s the answer to CNN’s ratings woes? Well, CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld thinks it may lie in giving a big-name celebrity a talk show that will draw viewers in. Mr. Schonfeld, who appeared on “Fox News Live” last week to plug his just-published book “Me & Ted Against the World,” about the start of CNN, suggests CNN hire a “really big name” to replace Larry King. “If I were CNN I’d be talking to Bill Clinton and trying to get him to take over Larry King’s job,” he said. “If (AOL Time Warner co-Chief Operating Officer) Bob Pittman isn’t making the phone calls right now to Bill Clinton, I’d be very disappointed in him.”
Fox hopes Hays helps `Bette’ take off
A lot could be riding on how veteran comedian Robert Hays is able to revive the ratings for CBS’s struggling sitcom “Bette” as he starts taping his first episode as Bette Midler’s new TV husband, Roy, this week. Mr. Hays-who starred in two “Airplane” movies and has a recurring role on Fox’s “That `70s Show”-replaces Kevin Dunn, who was released from the 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. (ET) Wednesday sitcom in December. Although “Bette’s” pilot was considered one of the best by ad agency executives at last May’s upfront network presentations in New York, the freshman has languished at a 3.2 rating in adults 18 to 49 and a 6.5 rating/11 share in households this season, according to Nielsen Media Research.