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The Insider

Mar 5, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Public broadcasters showing some muscle
Are public broadcasters becoming a force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill? Don’t laugh. The Public Broadcasting Caucus, created late last year by Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, has mushroomed to more than 50 House members of both parties and expects to grow larger. The group educates members about issues faced by public TV and radio stations, from funding to technology to regulation. Rep. Blumenauer thinks the caucus may be able to help the industry avoid future scandals by providing “objective feedback before problems arise.” Will caucus members offer bills to help the sector achieve its legislative goals? “It’s possible that they will be offering legislation. That’s not the primary thrust,” the lawmaker told the Insider during a phone interview last week. Democrat Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and GOP Rep. Zack Wamp of Tennessee are among the founding members.
Red flag for NASCAR cartoon’s crash episode
Is it a case of art imitating life, or vice versa? Going into a long-planned Feb. 24 telecast of the animated series “NASCAR Racers” on Fox Kids Network’s Saturday morning lineup, network executives and NASCAR pulled an episode about a “veteran driver” of the race circuit who accidentally crashes into a retaining wall. Maureen Smith, president of FKN, said the episode was replaced out of respect for NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who fatally crashed into the wall Feb. 18 on the final turn of the Daytona 500. “It was an episode about a veteran driver who crashes into the wall. Everyone thinks he is dead, but he has a hurt neck and ends up going to a hospital,” Ms. Smith said. “It was really a message about automobile safety, but our friends at NASCAR gave us advice to hold the episode in recognition [of] the sensitivity of Mr. Earnhardt’s passing. This was really a case of art imitating life.” The crash episode will air March 10. It will be dedicated to Mr. Earnhardt.
Digging up `Mole’s’ pro bono legal work
Everyone knows that Denver undercover cop Steven Cowles won the $510,000 grand prize Feb. 28 in ABC’s “The Mole” reality series
finale. But after Chicago lawyer Kathryn Price was revealed as the dreaded Mole, the big question is whether she got paid something larger than a typical retainer for playing the show’s planted foil. There has been some speculation that Ms. Price was paid in the low six figures, but one production source suggested it was instead in the high-five figures. Executives at Stone Stanley Entertainment, the producers of “The Mole,” said that while Ms. Price was essentially considered “an employee on the payroll,” that fact was considered a matter of confidentiality. Throughout the nine-episode run of the series, during which Ms. Price and the other nine contestants traveled to four countries free of charge and stayed in five-star hotels, she worked overtime to thwart and manipulate the contestants into tripping up-something that some people would argue befits a lawyer. Undoubtedly, the national exposure was great for Ms. Price, an aspiring screenwriter, but “Mole” pay may have been miserly compared to her legal fees.
Mel Brooks: to be or not to be a Court TV reporter
Funnyman Mel Brooks wowed Court TV ad sales clients in Chicago last month at a personal backstage meeting following the opening performance of his critically raved hot new Broadway-bound show “The Producers.” Mr. Brooks, who’s a personal friend of Court TV CEO Henry Schleiff, told the lucky members of the theater party: “I can’t wait to bring the show to New York, where I can really follow my true passion-to be a Court TV reporter. I spend all my downtime watching those trials.”
Eisner a high-priced talent scout
The Walt Disney Corp. Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner may have been a talent scout in a previous life. That may account for why he had such a hands-on role in ABC`s search for a new morning co-host for the “Live With Regis.” Mr. Eisner last week admitted he played a part in ABC’s picking Kelly Ripa as Kathie Lee Gifford’s replacement. “I was involved,” Mr. Eisner said. “I liked that she was cute. I liked that she was in `All My Children.’ I liked that she was pregnant.” Mr. Eisner added, “And I liked that she brought out in Regis a real spark and lit up the show.”