The Insider

Mar 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Why the TV beat is a laff riot
The Insider was amused by sooo many things last week. Among them:
* The Aaron Brown Feb. 25 show on CNN in which the always tongue-in-cheek anchor pledged to go cold turkey on some of the “really annoying” aspects of his show. After welcoming back viewers who presumably had been elsewhere watching Winter Olympics coverage for two weeks (“We were talking behind your back while you were gone-all 35 of us who gathered here every night for the last two weeks”), he announced an end to “self-indulgent rants. The accordion guy has been banned. And no more smirking. It was really annoying.”
Be still, oh beating hearts. Mr. Brown was joking. “You’ve got to watch that dry humor,” he cautioned The Insider.
* A Disney Channel promo for “Cadet Kelly,” the March 8 original movie about a 14-year-old coed at a military school who becomes part of the drill team and twirls what appear to be a white rifle. “No real guns were used in this movie,” The Insider and other viewers were reassured in voice-over and Chyron during the promo.
* The News Corp. announcement that cute young Lachlan (Son of Rupert) Murdoch had been “elected” to the board of the Fox Entertainment Group. The Insider immediately conjured up an image of Jimmy Carter, whose post-presidential callings have included observing elections to preserve and promote the democratic process, bound and gagged in the corner of a News Corp. boardroom.
Carville cool, calm and collectin’ kids
So, The Insider asked James (The Ragin’ Cajun) Carville, will he be any more temperate as a host of CNN’s “Crossfire” then we’ve known him to be as a guest?
“I’ve always thought if I could be anybody in the world, I would be me. Limited as that may be in some aspects, it’s just what it’s gonna be,” said Mr. Carville, the energetic and emotional Clinton supporter who, along with ex-Clinton aide Paul Begala, will be sitting to the left of guests on “Crossfire” when it expands to an hour in early spring.
By appearing only about a quarter of the time (and passing the liberal flag to Mr. Begala on other nights), Mr. Carville has time to promote the Carville-Begala book “Buck Up, Suck Up … And Come Back When You Foul Up,” make some headway on a second book, make speaking appearances and ferry his two daughters to and from school. “I’ve got a working wife,” he noted wryly, referring to Mary Matalin, who is an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Anyone expecting a “seething rant about everything is probably going to be disappointed,” he said. “The spirit is going to have to move me.” The Insider suspects the spirit already has begun its warm-up exercises.
Bulldozin’ with Mr. Tauzin
Not for the first time, Louisiana GOP Rep. Billy Tauzin was sounding like a media regulator and a media manipulator last week when he suggested that cable networks covering his Enron hearings refrain from flashing on the screen how much the politicians on his committee had received in campaign contributions from the bankrupt company. “People hate hypocrites,” said the aggrieved congressman during a speech at a National Association of Broadcasters event in Washington last week, when he noted that news outlets never make such disclosures about media execs when they testify before Congress.
To a viewer, CNN’s coverage of a Senate Enron hearing the next day seemed to showcase less flash of campaign cash. But a CNN spokeswoman said that wasn’t the case. “Given that this highly unusual if not unique story is about one company, it’s appropriate for CNN to provide campaign contribution information when covering the story,” CNN added in a statement.
Ms. Thomas’ D.C. roundtable
Helen Thomas as the Jimmy Choo-less Carrie Bradshaw of our nation’s capital? That’s the affectionate conceit at the heart of a little package containing a mini-documentary the fun folk at The Hotline, with the help of producer Ann Klenk, have delivered to CNN’s “NewsNight With Aaron Brown,” where it is scheduled for Monday night , barring breaking news. If you live in Washington, you already know that Ms. T. is more than a regular at Mama Ayesha’s Restaurant, which for some 30 years has been both her favorite Lebanese eatery and her salon. It is there that Ms. Thomas, whose career has spanned 60 years and nine president, hangs and dishes for hours with her sometimes famous and powerful friends, playing Sarah Jessica Parker to her Sex and the Capital City pals at the diner.