The Insider

Oct 8, 2001  •  Post A Comment

`Philly’ talk too blue for stations
Some ABC affiliates are not feeling Philadelphia-style brotherly love about “Philly.” In fact, they’re feeling downright uncomfortable with language including-but not limited to-last week’s description of a child-pornographer character as a “fat dick.” A network spokeswoman says only one complaint from an unidentified affiliate has been logged, but The Insider’s affiliate sources indicate that while dismay has not reached groundswell proportions, the affiliates haven’t been quiet about their feeling that “Philly” has gone far beyond the salty language of “NYPD Blue.”
While everyone well remembers “Blue’s” early struggles-some ABC affiliates originally refused to clear the cop drama-the show had crucial support from critics and viewers that eventually translated into beaucoup Emmys and universal clearance. “Philly,” which debuted to mixed reviews and a third-place-and-sliding finish, may not have the luxury of time to establish itself in such a soft advertising market. As one station executive put it: The complaints “may be moot.”
Maher offers politically correct apology
Meanwhile, Citadel Communications’ three ABC-affiliated stations reinstated “Politically Incorrect” in their lineups Oct. 3 after a two-week hiatus. Citadel was among the groups that yanked “Incorrect” after host Bill Maher said on the Sept. 17 show that lobbing missiles from thousands of miles away made the U.S. military more cowardly than the suicide hijackers who piloted planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Key to the reinstatement: Mr. Maher taped apologies directly to viewers of WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa; KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Neb.; and KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa, in three messages that included each station’s call letters. “It was our condition,” said Citadel Chairman and CEO Philip Lombardo, who said that in conversations among the station group, the show and the network, “ABC was taking a hands-off position.“
Music/news show in morning mix
VH1 has quietly added an option for morning-show viewers. “Jump Start,” which soft-launched last week, is a half-hour mix of music videos and news, features and information about music and pop culture. It’s the first major project developed by Michael Hirschorn, the former Inside.com principal who is now VH1’s executive VP for news and production. The show repeats every half-hour between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. (ET). It also comes complete with a ticker that clues the audience in to music-related news, celebrity birthdays and the like.
The host will be familiar to veteran MTV viewers and insomniacs. It’s Alison Stewart, the former MTV News reporter who also holds down the overnight anchor desk with Derek McGinty on ABC News’ “World News Now.” The new day job does not signal a change in Ms. Stewart’s relationship at ABC News, which a spokesman said is happy with Ms. Stewart’s work and doesn’t see a conflict with her new gig.
VH1 buries the hatchet
Just like Sunday night’s dressed-down Emmys, the 2001 VH1-Vogue Fashion Awards is toning down for the annual meeting of musicians and celebrities and the fashion designers and fashion dictators who keep them on fashion’s cutting edge, a gathering that will be taped Oct. 19 in New York and telecast Oct. 23. Originally, artist Tom Sachs had designed a hatchet with a crystal hanging from the handle as this year’s award. Last week, Mr. Sachs went back to the drawing board. No word yet on what he might have come up with.
Press pool told: Go with the cabbie
Whom should journalists trust more: their spouses or cab drivers? The Pentagon thinks it’s cab drivers-by a long shot. At a recent meeting between the media and the military, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said press pool members should take taxis rather than rely on rides from loved ones when instructed to go to Andrews Air Force Base for deployment in or near Afghanistan. “Get in a taxicab and let them drive you, because if your wife has driven you to Andrews, there’s one extra person who knows that somebody is going out to cover a story on the military.” Added a military spokesman: “The cab driver doesn’t know you’re a reporter for CNN.” The Pentagon didn’t recommend any excuses for journalists queried by their spouses as to why they’re leaving in a hurry. But we have one: Just say you’re going to Disney World.
The final word
Even as word came last week that WCBS-TV was returning “Crossing Over With John Edward” to the 3 p.m. weekdays slot, where disaster-related news programming has run since Sept. 11, Fox flagship WNYW-TV, which does some four hours of local news on weekday mornings and a 10 p.m. newscast, was conceding it may join the early-evening news fray. “We’ll do it at some point when we’re able to execute it well,” said Jim Clayton, the executive running the WNYW-WWOR duopoly. “Not in this calendar year.”