The Insider

Mar 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Bringing Letterman into the Viacom family
Now that “Late Show With David Letterman” has promised to stay at CBS and the network has promised to promote David Letterman more often on Viacom-family platforms, what can we expect to show up where, when and in what form?
The official word is that the brainstorming has just begun about how to best take advantage of the MTV family of networks and their very different audiences and environments. The Insider, who is a huge fan of Mr. Letterman’s show but not his contract-signing rigamarole, has some ideas. For MTV, which has often gone the rude and crude programming road, why not an image spot that identifies the “Late Show” host as “The Original `Jackass’“?
For VH1-home of “Where are they now?” and “Where were they before we cared about where are they now?” franchises-why not a series of clips, including Mr. Letterman chasing a wildly costumed Richard Simmons with a fire extinguisher, followed, perhaps, by “Dave: Where Will He Be Five Years From Now”?
And for TNN, where weekends are still four-wheel driven, perhaps “You Ain’t Seen Big Wheels `Til You’ve Seen Dave”?
The Insider will get over it soon. Heck, at her age she’ll simply forget it soon.

Turner Classics’ small-screen hit
The sleeper hit that has Oscar written all over it isn’t a movie but a 60-second trailer promoting Turner Classic Movies’ annual “31 Days of Oscar” movie binge.
The spot, which takes a page from the classic “Rocky” and hands it to New York and New Jersey senior citizens whose greatest charm may be little or no acting experience, is earning enthusiastic applause from in-theater audiences in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Denver.
TCM General Manager Tom Karsch was determined to make the eighth annual “31 Days” promotion fun.
“We’ve always treated it as holier-than-thou,” said Mr. Karsch.
“Finding the right people was most difficult,” said Jim Jenkins, a director at Hungry Man Productions, who produced and directed the low-budget spot. It took only a day to shoot. It took a week and a half to cast, which Mr. Jenkins did with the help of folks who have scouted “Real World” participants for MTV.
By golly, The Insider loves irony almost as much as she loves the TCM trailer, in which fate cast two regulars at the same senior activities center who’d never met before the shoot as Rocky and Adrienne.
TCM considered “Papillon” (black teeth and cockroach snacks) and “Cool Hand Luke” (the hard-boiled-egg-eating contest) before settling on “Rocky” as the more generation-transcending flick. Mr. Karsch was drawn to Mr. Jenkins by the wry and award-winning “Life Goes Better With Animals” campaign the latter had done for Animal Planet. The same team worked on the “Rocky” spot with Mr. Jenkins.
Meanwhile, back at Turner Classic Movies, Mr. Karsch, who also bought TV time for 30-second versions of the “Rocky” spot in New York, L.A. and Atlanta through Oscar Sunday, found that the “Rocky” campaign produced an unexpected benefit.
He’s hearing from long-lost pals who feel compelled to phone in their rave reviews. “It’s unbelievable,” he said.
Oscar has Kagan on her toes (and heels)
Speaking of Oscars, on the big night that is just part of a very long day for the crews who cover it, CNN’s Daryn Kagan is going to be on her feet for 24 hours, with her reports starting early morning Sunday. Then she’ll report from the red carpet before ABC’s Sunday night Oscarcast and parties after the Oscars, followed by live updates for CNN through the night and into the next day as she dishes for “American Morning With Paula Zahn.”
“There’s no promise of 24 hours on heels, I’ll tell you that,” said the 5-foot-9 Ms. Kagan shortly before heading to New York to shop for an Oscar-appropriate wardrobe-she’ll have to change three times as day turns to night and back to day again.
Though this will be her first time on the red carpet for CNN’s pre-Oscar show (co-hosted by weekday co-anchor Leon Harris) and backstage during the Oscarcast, she’s done 24-cycles of post-Oscar coverage before. Thus, she is grateful for one change this year: Press will be shooed away from their positions outside Kodak Theater after the telecast, by which time it’s usually turned quite chilly. So after the parties, Ms. Kagan will head back to CNN’s bureau, where she’ll “be warm seated and wearing no shoes.” And running on adrenaline.
The Insider cannot resist pointing out that on CNN’s Oscar-night team will be Anna David, who covers fashion for Us Weekly, not someone from inside the AOL Time Warner magazine family. “We sought out the people we thought would be best for our show,” said a CNN spokesperson.
We report, you decide who’s a hunk
Fox News has two, count `em, two correspondents among the finalists for the “most eligible bachelors” list that will be published in June by People magazine: Bret Baier, the news channel’s national security correspondent based at the Pentagon, and Mike Emanuel, the Fox News Edge correspondent who has reported from Pakistan and is headed for Afghanistan.