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The Insider

Jul 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

More news breaking in Viacom’s group
Joel Cheatwood, vice president for news at the Viacom Television Stations Group, is readying announcements about duopoly-driven newscasts to be produced by CBS-owned stations for sister Viacom-owned UPN stations in the same cities.
The consensus is that by fall there will be a 7 p.m. newscast produced by Boston CBS station WBZ-TV for Boston UPN station WSBK-TV. Everyone The Insider chatted with in Beantown seems convinced that popular Kim Carrigan, who was seven months preggers when the anchor chair was pulled out from under her at NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, is destined to front the WSBK newscast and also seems likely to land a key role on an afternoon newscast on big-sister station WBZ. Ms. Carrigan gave birth to her second child in late June.
In Miami, the word is that UPN station WBFS-TV will, come January, get a 10 p.m. newscast produced by big-sister CBS station WFOR-TV. The Insider is not surprised to hear there’s a search on for a Hispanic anchor for the new newscast. (NBC-owned WTVJ-TV has been producing a 10 p.m. newscast for WB affiliate WBZL-TV since 1996, sharing its 11 p.m. anchor, Jackie Nespral, with The WB station at 10.)
In Pittsburgh, CBS station KDKA-TV is scheduled to produce a 10 p.m. newscast for UPN station WNPA-TV.
The Insider can hardly wait for the rest of the game plan, which a source says will include the addition of some people off-air as well as on-air and will involve some overlap of talent between sister stations-although the idea is to be as efficient as possible in producing newscasts tailored for UPN audiences.
Buffy MIA on UPN’s TCA day?
The Insider has often wished she could cover The Other Side’s preparations for the Television Critics Association’s press tours instead of the sessions themselves. This year, for example, The Insider would kill to know what has gone on behind the scenes as UPN plans its TCA day (Monday), which, at deadline, included a mid-morning session devoted to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but did not include Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. While the rest of the cast-except for Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), who is out of the country-will be at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, Calif., to field questions about whether or not the Vampire Slayer is in fact dead, Ms. Gellar is expected to be a no-show. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” After The WB decided it would not pony up $2.3 million per episode to renew “Buffy,” UPN pounced on the 5-year-old cult fave, much to the dismay of Ms. Gellar, who has made it clear she’s going to the home of “WWF Smackdown!” against her will this fall. One source says, “She’s done nothing for UPN” since the deal was done. Another source says that such, um, aloofness was in character for the talented Ms. Gellar long before she knew she would be close enough to smell what The Rock is cooking for UPN’s family dinner.
Arledge draws a crowd-and Reege
Only folks who had worked at ABC Sports through 1972 were invited to the July 11 dinner in honor of sports and news legend Roone Arledge. So how was Regis Philbin able to report firsthand to “Live With Regis & Kelly” viewers the next day about the dinner at Tavern on the Green? It turns out that Mr. Philbin did sports for one summer at a Denver TV station. But that gig wasn’t until 1974. So The Insider asked again, how did he come to join the august group-Don Ohlmeyer, Dick Ebersol, Jim McKay, Chet Simmons and Andy Sidaris, to name just a few of the nearly 300 who were present-if not even the members of ABC Sports’ publicity department qualified for invitations? It turns out that, true to form, Mr. Philbin, an old pal of Mr. Sidaris, just happened to be in the right place (Tavern on the Green) at the right time (he and wife Joy were dining on their own), and he just couldn’t resist the urge to crash when he heard about the gathering in another of the Tavern’s rooms. Nearly 24 hours later, Mr. Philbin was still enthusing about the talent that had gathered ’round Mr. Arledge, first in the formative years of ABC Sports and then three decades later at a dinner that was particularly special because Mr. Arledge, who has gone a few rounds with prostate cancer, was there for them to gather ’round once again. “Nobody wanted the evening to end,” said one who was there.
The final word
Will Andrew Southam’s knock-your-socks-off photo of NBC News’ Norah O’Donnell that graces two pages of the GQ hitting the stands July 23 trigger a round of J-schoolish debate about whether a woman who aspires to be considered a Correspondent with a capital “C”-Ms. O’Donnell wants to be “a female version of Tim Russert”-has to give up her right to be comely. The Insider, who is old enough to remember the hand-wringing over glam magazine shots of Diane Sawyer and Deborah Norville and old-fashioned enough to wince when news and sports babes flaunt their babeness on the job, thinks not. Indeed, after seeing GQ’s sophisticated ode to Ms. O’Donnell, headlined “The Main Reason We Love MSNBC,” The Insider says that if she has only one more life to live, let it be as the object of such classy objectification. Pretty please.