The Insider

Aug 20, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Now for a word from our local stations
Results are trickling in from a survey of Fox affiliates as to whether they’d like the option of being able to squidge affiliate cut-ins into Fox News Channel, a subject under low-key discussion for some time now. The affiliates board is mighty interested in being able to fill a window with local news-and commercial spots, of course-on the hot news channel, but, said affilate board Chairman Cullie Tarleton, there’s not been enough feedback yet to assess the appetite in the affiliate body at large. Nonetheless, Mr. Tarleton said, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes understands that it’s something that the affiliates would be interested in: “The board is very supportive of what Roger has done in building the Fox News brand” and affiliate news support systems.
The Insider promises to stay tuned for further details. Ditto Fox Sports’ plans for capitalizing on its Jan. 27, 2002, Super Bowl broadcast from New Orleans. Fox’s wall-to-wall coverage of the mother of all football games is expected to start at 1:30 p.m. (ET) that Sunday. The Insider provoked a teensy chuckle from the always affable Mr. Tarleton when she asked whether affiliates have submitted any Super Bowl programming requests to Fox Sports Chairman David Hill. “No one has offered any suggestions,” Mr. Tarleton said. “No one is going to out-David David Hill. He’s a genius.”
And now for our weekly CNN report
We all know the uber-management team of Jamie Kellner, Garth Ancier and Walter Isaacson is out to change the culture of CNN headquarters in Atlanta. But The Insider is here to report that Mr. Ancier also is out to change the cuisine available at CNN Center, where the food-court fare tends to be of the fast and deep-fried variety. The Insider is assured that this mission is a friendly one begun only after the Turner real estate team asked Mr. Ancier for his likes and dislikes. It is not, says a close associate, “a far-out hippie” quest for sprouts-and-tofu vendors instead of taco, burger `n’ fries, doughnut and chicken franchises. Mr. Ancier just thinks there should be “fresh” alternatives such as Baja Fresh burritos and Jamba Juice smoothies to “complement” the choices already offered. The Insider says that if Mr. Ancier is indeed going to slaughter this particular sacred cow, she’d like a slab with gravy and supersized fries. Hold her fruit smoothie for dessert.
A Bay window on L.A.’s world
From Mr. Ancier’s old stomping grounds in Los Angeles comes another sign that the new CNN is not going to operate the same-ol’, same-ol’ way. The Insider hears that the development of the weekday show for Willow Bay is going outside, perhaps quite literally. The aforementioned Mr. Isaacson is said to be determined that the show be fresh and take its visual and guest clues from La La Land. Since the downsized bureau there is low on manpower, space, fresh air and other aesthetics, CNN is quite likely to farm out production of the show. Of course The Insider knows that synergy is supposed to rule the AOL Time Warner family, but she also hears that potential producers don’t have to be CNN kin. Nor is Ms. Bay sitting idly by waiting for her show and runner to come. She’s out there talking to people who might be able to get this show on the road.
Way out at CNBC
The changing of the guard continues at CNBC, where the leadership torch has been passed from Bill Bolster to Pamela Thomas-Graham. Making a quiet exit in early August was Howard Homonoff, most recently the vice president of strategic ventures and before that the general counsel for the financial channel when it was still headed up by Mr. Bolster, who most recently was reassigned to CNBC International. A CNBC spokesman told The Insider that Mr. Homonoff had “left to pursue new interests.” In these days of cost-cutting by attrition, The Insider always asks whether the person leaving will be replaced. “How we are going to move ahead is still to be determined,” the CNBC spokesman said.
The final word
ABC’s programming chief Stu Bloomberg crowed last month that the network will be taking the high road by being “rat-free”-a not-so-subtle reference to NBC’s reality series “Fear Factor,” on which contestants have been entombed with live rodents. But NBC’s top promotion executives, John Miller and Vince Manze, reminded The Insider that it was Alan Cohen, ABC’s executive vice president of marketing and promotion, who last summer proposed to promote the sitcom “Norm” with “talking urinals” that delivered salty one-liners in Norm Macdonald’s voice. The unorthodox idea was cut short by a brief uproar in the press.
“Leave it to Alan to get more press than promotion out of the talking urinals,” Mr. Manze joked. “I’d have to say we haven’t ever had to resort to bathroom humor to try to keep any of our shows on the air.” The Insider, who has always found Mr. Manze inordinately entertaining, dug out her “I’ve been hyped by NBC” T-shirt, given out at a long-ago press tour. Among the shows listed on the shirt, “The Mark & Brian Show,” a series so short-lived that The Insider is moved to say, on Mr. Cohen’s behalf, that she can remember when NBC sometimes didn’t even resort to plain old humor to keep a show on the air.