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The Insider

Jul 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Is there a Ford or Zahn in CNN’s future?
The Insider hears that Jack Ford’s and Paula Zahn’s names are on the list of potential candidates for a revamped CNN morning show originating in New York, where plans for a street-level Midtown studio seem to be on again.
Mr. Ford has been “Weekend Today” co-anchor at NBC and a “Good Morning America” backup host (in addition to serving as ABC News legal correspondent), but he has made clear that he longs to be the main man, which does not seem to be happening at ABC. Ms. Zahn served six years as co-anchor of “CBS This Morning,” and since 1999 has headlined a prime-time show on Fox News Channel.
When The Insider floated the Zahn rumor by Fox News, a spokesman said, “We doubt she would leave the No. 1 prime-time lineup in cable news to go to CNN’s black hole in the morning.”
What a relief! After reading Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes’ measured comment about CNN in The New York Times’ recent Sunday business section story, The Insider had feared the Fox folks were going statesmanlike on us.
Play ball!
Don Mattingly knows a TV hit when he sees one. The average “Gilmore Girls” fan might not know that Scott Patterson, who plays Luke Danes on The WB show, is a former baseball player, but Mr. Mattingly is not your average fan. The legendary Yankee first baseman remembers when the actor played for the Yankees Triple A team the Columbus Clippers, from 1982 to 1985.
Indeed, Mr. Patterson can remember-and commiserate about-the spell in 1983 when Mr. Patterson made the Yankees roster but never got off the bench in Yankee Stadium. The two former players crossed paths in Seattle, where Mr. Patterson once again took the field for the legends-and-celebrity game before the recent Major League Baseball All-Star Game. “I was on the food line, and he said, `Nice to see you Scotty P! I’ve been following your career, and you did great,’“ said Mr. Patterson.
CNN’s new voice no relation
Speaking of CNN … Yes, we still hear the mellifluous James Earl Jones intoning “This is CNN” on occasion, but Mr. Jones’ CNN is the old CNN. The voice of the new CNN is less mellow and more edgy, and it belongs to Paul Turner, head of the New York-based production company that bears his name.
The Insider would rush to point out that Paul Turner is no relation to CNN founder Ted Turner or founding executive Ed Turner, who was nicknamed “No Relation,” if she had any desire to wallow in nostalgia for the old CNN. But frankly, watching Jamie Kellner, Garth Ancier and Walter Isaacson remake CNN before our eyes is genuinely entertaining-although numerous old-timers (or old-thinkers) find it less so. But The Insider digresses.
If Mr. Turner’s voice sounds familiar, it could mean you’re a fan of “The Howard Stern Show” or “Lou Dobbs Moneyline,” for which he does voice work. (Or that the thrice-daily “news topicals” in which Mr. Turner now whips up interest in the content of CNN’s prime-time shows have succeeded in getting your attention.
Soledad O’Brien: Mommy strongest
Barring an unforeseen development, NBC News’ Soledad O’Brien will be getting a massage July 26. No, The Insider is not getting just a little too inside. Instead, she’s sharing the way Ms. O’Brien plans to celebrate her first day off after a streak in which she has worked 28 straight days, working her own shift as co-anchor with David Bloom on “Weekend Today” and filling in on the ”Today” show. Thank goodness for a “goddess” of a nanny who reports to Ms. O’Brien’s house at 4 a.m. to watch over the anchor’s first-born daughter, Sofia, who’s been teething-and keeping Ms. O’Brien up at odd hours throughout the night.
“I’m surprised that I’ve been feeling pretty good,” said Ms. O’Brien. “I’ve really learned how to get by on very little sleep.” And a lot of caffeine. “Once you have five cups of coffee in the morning, you’d be surprised.” Actually, the surprise would be if coffee did for The Insider what it does for Ms. O’Brien on a nonwork-streak day: get her up and off for an early-morning jog with baby daughter in tow.
The final word
In developing only two new series for next fall (the “Star Trek” prequel “Enterprise” and the comedy “One on One”), UPN President and CEO Dean Valentine told TV critics in Pasadena, Calif., last week that the pickups of The WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Roswell” dramas left the network with no other holes to fill in its 10-hour prime-time schedule. But he also seemed somewhat bemused by critics and WB executives questioning UPN’s newfound strategy of taking established series from another network. “Whether it comes from The WB or another network, we’d always welcome them covering those development costs for us,” Mr. Valentine said.