The Insider

Jun 11, 2001  •  Post A Comment

News Corp.’s timing
With Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., now chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sources speculate that News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch may be having second thoughts about a recent decision to hire Mike Regan to head the company’s government relations operations in Washington. Mr. Regan was formerly an aide to Tom Bliley, the Republican congressman from Virginia who retired last year.
A source said the decision, made while the Republicans were calling the shots in both the Senate and the House, has to sting, particularly because Ivan Schlager, a former aide to Sen. Hollings, also was considered for the important News Corp. post.
But Mr. Schlager, now an attorney with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, represents News Corp. on some issues, and he thinks Mr. Regan was a great choice for the job. “It’s not fair to characterize him as just a Republican,” Mr. Schlager said.
It’s OK, not KO, for CNN’s Sesno
Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, every time CNN Bureau Chief Frank Sesno turns around, someone slaps a bull’s eye on his back. The most recent whispering campaign that Mr. Sesno is on the outs with the news channel’s management may or may not have been triggered by a recent survey of the bureau by management consultants. But the rumors persist, despite vigorous official denials that Mr. Sesno is in any reorganizational peril.
Can `Survivor’ press survive?
The CBS PR department is facing its greatest challenges yet with “Survivor III,” which is to film this summer in Kenya. Not only is the African country politically volatile-assassination and terrorism may be as much a threat as any wildlife in the vicinity of the TV tribal camps-but the top-secret location is a 71/2-hour schlep from Nairobi. In addition to the safety factors that will require more security brain and brawn than on a tropical island or the Australian Outback, there are the more basic logistics involved in shuttling press in and out in a finite time frame.
CBS wants the press in there. Not only does the network want to stoke the national fever for the hit show, but it also needs to send the message that the network has nothing to hide after accusations by original “Survivor”contestants Stacey Stillman and Dirk Been that creator Mark Burnett tried to influence tribal votes and Mr. Burnett’s admission that some B-roll scenes were re-enacted for the benefit of his camera crews. CBS also wants the press out of there after the first couple of episodes have been shot so they have fewer clues about who’s being voted out.
`Race’ goes to Entertainment Weekly
Meanwhile, The Insider knows where to get the most official skinny on “The Amazing Race,” the Jerry Bruckheimer reality show that CBS hopes will do for Wednesdays next fall what “Survivor” did for Thursdays this spring. Keep your eyes on Entertainment Weekly, the only magazine granted access to the show as 11 two-person teams raced from continent to continent.
76er’s mother knows best
What did Allen Iverson’s mom know and when did she know it? The NBA MVP’s 48-point outburst was key to the Philadelphia 76ers’ 107-101 upset of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 6. Just hours before the game, his mother, Ann, called in to “The Beat,” the NBA.com cable talk show that originates live from New York.
Steve Herbst, vice president of series programming for NBA Entertainment and NBA.com TV, swears Mr. Iverson’s mother was not recruited. “She is just a big fan of `The Beat’ and the channel,” said Mr. Herbst, who said she’s a subscriber to Comcast’s Philadelphia cable system, where NBA and WNBA programming has a home on the digital tier. “She simply felt that she wanted to bring home some points on how her son and the 76ers were being underestimated in these playoffs.”
The final word
The Insider is amused, amused at the Hollywood types who profess to be shocked, shocked at the Los Angeles Times’ revelation on June 2 that UPN has no full-time arbiter of standards and practices. Not that The Insider wouldn’t buy tickets, expensive tickets, to a conversation between a dedicated standards watchdog and the WWF arguing the fine points of “Smackdown!” content. But the last time The Insider was rocked, rocked by a standards-and-practices revelation was several years ago, when she received a release announcing the retirement of a KNBC-TV censor who was blind. Yes, blind.