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The Insider

Jan 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Up the canal without a paddle
Memo to Robert Goldstein, president, Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas:
Methinks you committed the faux-pas of the new year last week when a certain executive came a callin’. The guest in question arrived at your hotel and politely asked for his room, which had been reserved for many months. He was told, politely, that it wasn’t ready yet, to which he responded, still politely, that he really needed a room, now. The gentleman was given the key to a room and up the elevator he went. Upon entering his accommodation, the first thing the nonsmoking executive noticed was the heavy smell of stale smoke permeating the room. He returned to the front desk, and, well, to make a long story short, ended up, temporarily, in a room at the Paris Hotel. Now, Mr. Goldstein, let me tell you why this was not a good thing. As you noticed, your sold-out hotel made oodles of money last week, primarily because 78 companies rented suites to sell their wares and entertain clients. One man was responsible, for, um, let’s see-ALL OF THEM, YOU TURKEY!! You see, the displaced guest was none other than Mr. Dick Robertson of Warner Bros.-the executive who single-handedly led the charge to pull out of the National Association of Television Program Executives convention floor and go to the Venetian.
P.S. Please let us know who your next employer is.
`At Large’ out; CNN NYC still SRO
CNN has decided to cancel “Greenfield at Large” at a date to be determined, The Insider learned at deadline last week. The show’s anchor will be redeployed at the network.
The demise of “At Large” will help ease, though not eliminate, the office-staff and studio space crunch at CNN’s New York bureau. There’s no getting around the conclusion that CNN, long before its Big Apple shopping spree is over, has grown too big for its office britches in New York.
The two windowed studios under construction at street level of the Time Life Building in Midtown Manhattan aren’t due to be finished until some time in June. At There’s an office-space and studio crunch at the New York bureau located opposite Madison Square Garden, where some staffers had to be relocated to annex space on the far side of the block to accommodate “American Morning With Paula Zahn” and “NewsNight With Aaron Brown.”
Thus, it was not surprising to hear that even before CNN officially introduced Connie Chung as its latest big get, it had begun exploring non-CNN studio options for housing Ms. Chung’s still-untitled and still-unformatted show, which CNN hopes to launch well before June in the 8 p.m. (ET) weekdays hour. That hour was occupied by Greta Van Susteren until early January, when she bolted for Fox News Channel.
Someone intimately familiar with the intricacies involved with beaming the hour-long “Lou Dobbs Moneyline,” “NewsNight” and the half-hour nightly “Greenfield” (which started in an off-campus independent studio and then moved to the bureau after Sept. 11) out of the bureau said another New York-based show would be a challenge, to put it mildly, but “maybe they can find a way.”
Meanwhile, back at the press conference, Ms. Chung parried questions from the group about whether she expects to be in some kind of booking competition with Larry King’s producers, who have been known to force other CNN shows to cancel or postpone bookings (or back off from their attempts) because Mr. King wanted those guests for “Live.”
Ms. Chung, with dogged ABC producer Santina Leuci, last year landed her biggest-ever interview: a live sitdown with then-embattled California Congressman Gary Condit. Mr. King, whose guests had been pummeling Rep. Condit night after night, had to settle for subsequent bookings of relatives and staffers who offered lame defenses for the congressman.
Last week, Ms. Chung said graciously she expects she and Mr. King will be “a great one-two punch” and joked that “Larry and I are going to call Barbara and Diane and ask them how they do it.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Chung has broken a long habit The Insider always found rather endearing. She no longer bums cigarettes from those around her, including reporters who have come to interview her. She’s now on the patch. To break her nicotine gum habit.
A shout-out for UPN’s Carlston
It’s nice to have friends who sing one’s praises at high volume and at high-profile moments. Like Steve Carlston, the well-liked executive in charge of network distribution for UPN, where many wait to hear whether they will be redundant as a result of now being under the management of CBS topper Les Moonves. As Mr. Carlston made his way to the table at the Venetian last week during NATPE, one power breakfaster, an executive from another network, shouted out: “Here comes Steve Carlston, the only nice person at UPN. If they’re smart at CBS, they’ll keep him.” With friends like these, who needs publicists?