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The Insider

Feb 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Next chapter: Jack Welch, promo star
When CNBC announced that Jack Welch, best-selling author and ex-chairman of parent company General Electric Co., was going to become a recurring co-host on “Squawk Box,” it said Mr. Welch could appear once per fiscal quarter. That clearly didn’t count the new “Squawk” promos in which Mr. Welch appears briefly without identification.
The Insider wondered whether it’s a subliminal appeal being played toward the Wall Streeters to whom Mr. Welch needs no introduction, whether someone in the CNBC promo department simply hasn’t gotten the word they don’t need to suck up to Mr. Welch anymore (that’s Chairman J-E-F-F-R-E-Y I-M-M-E-L-T to you, buddy) or whether it was just a coincidence that out of the kajillion weeks’ worth of “Squawk” archival video, the best possible clip to tell the “Squawk” story just happened to includethe former god of CNBC’s internal universe.
Whatever. The Insider, not for the first time by any means, spent way too much time pondering why Mr. Welch might have made the promo scene. Then, not for the first time by any means, she called CNBC and gave a pop quiz to a spokesperson: “In 200 words or less, why is an unidentified and inaudible Jack Welch in a promo for CNBC? And does he get residuals?“
“He’s a valuable member of the team. We believe it gives a good taste of the show,” said the CNBC spokesperson. And no, the famously penny-conscious Mr. Welch doesn’t get residuals.
Rogow’s state of `Grace’
Producer Stan Rogow’s long list of credits is eclectic, to say the least. He’s made mayhem with Dolph Lundgren (“Men of War”). He’s made a prehistoric clothes horse of Darryl Hannah (“Clan of the Cave Bear”). He’s made peace with mid-life crises (“Middle Life”). He’s made music with “Fame,” the series. He’s made TV-cancellation history with “South of Sunset” (one of the rare one-broadcast runs).
Now in the words of one of his biggest supporters, he’s made himself “King of `Tweens” with “Lizzie McGuire,” the live-action/animated series that is a staple on the Disney Channel and ABC’s Saturday morning kids lineup, and “State of Grace,” the dramedy that survived the Fox Family Channel transition to becoming ABC Family Channel.
This summer, production will begin on a big-screen version of “Lizzie,” which he said was born of watching TV with his young son and a desire to employ a “very aggressive film style” that would appeal to the MTV generation. “They didn’t know how aggressive I was going to be,” said Mr. Rogow, who believes “a network simply would not have allowed it to happen.”
Satellite merger makes strange `bird’ fellows
EchoStar Communications’ planned acquisition of DirecTV is getting support from a lot of obscure organizations that don’t ordinarily participate in Federal Communications Commission proceedings. Among those that have put in writing their reasons for urging Federal Communications Commission approval of the deal that eluded News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch are the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Small Business Survival Committee and the National Alliance of Medical Researchers & Teaching Physicians.
Surprise, surprise. It turns out that many of the groups are responding to a behind-the-scenes outreach campaign being funded by the wannabe mergees and directed by the Fratelli Group. Jim Mulhern, a principal of the public affairs consulting group, said the organizations were not compensated for their letters of support. But Mr. Mulhern said his organization has distributed press releases echoing the letters from some of the groups to key media outlets. “It’s a defensive measure,” Mr. Mulhern said.
Lost in America, 2002
Our good friend Bill Mahoney, who toiled for 11 years at this publication back in the `80s and early `90s, received the ol’ double whammy last month. Bill-who actually fits the overused expression “real gentleman,”-some years ago had the good sense to leave the journalism ranks to go to the publishing side of the business, where most recently he was group publisher at Cahners for some of its international media properties, such as MultiChannel News International. Unfortunately, on Jan 29 he received the bad news that he was being laid off. When he returned to clean out his desk, he noticed his message light was on-turns out it was a voice-mail from his wife, Lisa Whitwell, who reported that she had just been laid off from her job as well!
Not a couple to wallow, Bill and Lisa are looking on their misfortune as a positive. So taking a page from Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America,” they’ve given notice to their Manhattan landlord, have bought a Fleetwood Discovery RV (“It’s the size of a bus,” Bill said) and are leaving in a few weeks to satisfy their wanderlust. They’ll be gone “indefinitely,” Bill said. All they know is that the first stop will be Hilton Head, S.C. Bill plans to write about their adventures, and Lisa and Bill would love to hear from friends and colleagues while they’re on the road-give them a holler at BillMahoney@AOL.com.