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The Insider

Sep 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Get me a young Baby Bob!
Will today’s spokesbaby be tomorrow’s tabloid fodder? That’s what The Insider asked Viacom Productions topper Perry Simon about the Dickensian dispatch with which tots must be replaced to maintain the conceit of a 7-month-old who talks. Mr. Simon was watching a FreeInternet.com commercial with his son when he hit on the idea of making the commercial cutie a sitcom star. Now there’s a midseason series in development for CBS, which also will use Baby Bob (featuring the mouth and attitudinous voice of Kenny Campbell, who once lived inside “Herman’s Head”), who is now promoting the network’s fall lineup.
Since no amount of baby wrangling will keep a baby from changing dramatically as that first birthday nears, won’t that present continuity problems? Mr. Simon is convinced the audience will overlook minor differences when producers decide it’s out with the old and in with the new baby, because it’s not as though the public will be watching the series or its little star through a microscope, and well, they’re going to be looking for a Type, as opposed to a clone, when they move on.
“It’s kind of the ultimate Hollywood career,” Mr. Simon said. “You’re kind of washed up at age 6 months. Let’s just hope those parents are putting away those funds.”
The Tarleton retirement home
“Twenty years ago, I said I was going to retire at 50,” said Cullie Tarleton, 62, the gentlemanly Fox affiliate chairman who announced last week that he’s going to retire as Bahakel Communications’ top TV executive at the end of January 2002. He and his teacher-wife, who also is retiring next year, will decamp to Blowing Rock, N.C., and the historic 1880s home they’ve restored and expanded. This Old House magazine has shown interest in the house, said Mr. Tarleton, who also has 11/2 acres of gardens he began designing even before deciding what to do to the house, which was owned by Confederate General-turned-U.S. Sen. Matt Ransom.
Variety the spice of life for Conan, `Blue’s’
The Insider was obsessed last week with at least two burning questions: What will Conan O’Brien’s new set will look like when it’s revealed Tuesday on “Late Night,” and who will Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper’s new baby take after when it arrives in a prime-time “Blue’s Clues” special on Nickelodeon on Oct. 22?
After an inordinate amount of wheedling, The Insider is able to report that “Late Night” executive producer Jeff Ross sums up the new set as “not hugely different but definitely new.” “I’m sure there’s still going to be a desk and chairs,” said a spokesman.
As for the spicenicity of the new “Blue’s” baby, even Parents magazine has been unable to pierce the Woody Allen-ish veil of secrecy shrouding the big event. Lisa Kudrow provides the voice of the stork/nurse who delivers Paprika’s little sister or brother, so the “Friends” star could tell us but then she’d have to dill us. When the thyme comes for the tapes to go out to the critics, the last 10 seconds will be missing, so as to guarantee no one knows the name of the baby before “Blue’s” fans know. Personally, The Insider is just mad about Saffron.
The final word
Reese Schonfeld posted the following on his Web site, www.meandted.com, last week under the heading “Big Foot”:
“Paula Bernstein, the Variety TV reporter, has been appearing on CNNfn about once a week for the past year. She has also appeared on Fox News and CNBC. She is not paid for this work; publicizing Variety is part of her job. A couple of months ago, Lou Dobbs asked her to appear regularly on `Moneyline.’ She was enthusiastic but wanted to check it out with her boss. Her boss is, or was, Peter Bart.
“Variety contacted Lou Dobbs. Dobbs was told that Peter Bart was ready and willing to take the `Moneyline’ gig. Bart would receive no payment for his appearances; however, payment would be made to Variety. The deal was struck. Paula Bernstein heard no more from Lou Dobbs.”
Ms. Bernstein declined to comment on the item, which was posted before Thursday’s announcement that Mr. Bart, who was suspended after a jaw-dropping profile in Los Angeles magazine, would be reinstated as Variety’s editor-in-chief, effective Sept. 10.
A CNN spokeswoman said no money is being paid to Variety or Mr. Bart. As to who represents the publication, the spokeswoman said, “Our deal is with Variety. It is Variety’s choice.” As to whether Mr. Bart’s reinstatement at Variety meant Mr. Bart is welcome on “Moneyline,” Mr. Dobbs himself boomed, “Absolutely!”
Mr. Schonfeld told The Insider: All of my sources were exactly the people who would have known what was going on. If the piece is wrong in any way it is because the people who should know best about the truth of it didn’t know everything.”