The Insider

Apr 9, 2001  •  Post A Comment

A tale of two Kings at CNN
Mr. CNN, Larry King, should be feeling the love from new management. He has been wined and dined by Jamie Kellner, who now rules CNN and all other ad-supported TV networks in the AOL Time Warner world, and was visited set-side by Mr. Kellner’s No. 2, Garth Ancier, the night Dr. Laura Schlessinger was on “Larry King Live” to talk about the cancellation of her TV show. Mr. Ancier “couldn’t wait to go over there,” Turner Broadcasting spokesman Brad Turell said. “Larry is our big star. We love Larry.”
Meanwhile, CNN White House hunk John King is telling some folks that CBS News has talked to him about being lead political correspondent and is telling other folks that ABC News has said it’s willing to split the White House beat between him and resident reporter Terry Moran. Mr. Turell said: “We think John King is terrific. He’s a solid reporter, one of the best in the business.” There are no seconds to that first emotion emanating from ABC News and CBS News, and NBC News opted early on to not play Mr. King the Younger’s shopping game.
CNN: The contract questions
Meanwhile, two of CNN’s prime-time personalities are not contractually locked down. Bill Hemmer, who upped his profile at CNN during the network’s coverage of the Florida election, reportedly has been offered a new deal but has put off signing while he was shopped around.
“We expect to be in business with Bill for a long time,” said a spokesman for CNN, which still doesn’t have legalista Greta van Susteren’s John Hancock on a contract to stay at the network she joined 11 years ago, and which has as its mantra, “She’s been a valuable member of our team for more than a decade and we value her contribution.”
Searching the dial for Bob Costas
It is true that Bob Costas seems to be the “Where’s Waldo?” character of NBC, having appeared only in late-night or briefly in the booth during an NBA broadcast since headlining the Summer Olympics and baseball playoffs last summer. It is also true that he’s been lavishly praised since mid-February for “On the Record With Bob Costas” on HBO-which offers Web site photos of Mr. Costas with his hair parted on his right and on his left (the correct side).
Still, it was jarring to see Mr. Costas pop up in an “Ask CNN” interstitial segment one night last week identified only as host of a show on HBO, which is an AOL Time Warner sibling of CNN.
A CNN spokeswoman estimated that since “Ask CNN” launched at the beginning of the year, about 20 percent of the personalities seen answering a question in the 45-second to 90-second spots have been from outside the CNN family. Mr. Costas was asked who invented baseball, a softball question if ever there were one.
And for the answer to the question of when Mr. Costas will again be showcased on NBC, we turn to the Thoroughbred Times, which scooped the TV-centric press corps by announcing that Mr. Costas will be Tom Hammond’s co-host of NBC Sports’ coverage of the Triple Crown, which starts with the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
Kiss a frog, find a title
One of Fox’s long-awaited reality specials has had more working titles than Cinderella had ugly stepsisters. What began its development process in October as “Who Wants to Date a Prince?” has since been retitled “Searching for My Princess,” then “Looking for My Princess” and, for now, “Princess for a Day” as Fox programming brass, still haunted by the “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” fiasco in February 2000, looks for kinder, gentler show titles.
Fox officials are quick to point out that multiple working titles are de rigueur for most series or specials in development. In any case, there may be plenty of time left for the title search because the network may well hold the special for next season, rather than air it in May. Meanwhile, “Princess” producer Nash Entertainment is considering a Las Vegas- or Los Angeles-based pageant in which 50 women compete for an all-expenses-paid European date with a real-life prince.
The final word
Since 1992, Congress has required the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to compile viewer feedback into a report for the president, who then passes it on to Congress. The report lawmakers received recently from President Bush included these gems mined from some 1,081 e-mails. One listener declared a National Public Radio report on Italian funerals to be “in bad taste.”
One viewer took PBS commentators to task for saying “Democratic Party” instead of “Democrat Party.” One viewer thanked PBS for putting the high quality in high-definition TV. But one labeled an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre” too sexually explicit. Taxpayers may not have a surfeit of dollars in their hands, but it’s nice to know they’ve got plenty of time on their hands.