The Insider

Apr 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The high- and Lowe-down on Aaron Brown
“The West Wing’s” Rob Lowe endeared himself to rank-and-filers at CNN during an April 22 appearance when he did a snippet of his impression of “NewsNight” anchor and brooding essayist Aaron Brown. “CNN Live Today” anchor Daryn Kagan declared it “good for a giggle.”
Many at CNN certainly found it far more amusing than Mr. Brown’s April 19 show opener in which he told viewers: “I think this program, `NewsNight,’ did too much on Robert Blake’s arrest last night.”
“What anchor trashed his own network?” teased “Access Hollywood” at the top of its show on April 22. The “Access” story described Mr. Brown as “grasping for some perspective” and “questioning his own show’s wall-to-wall coverage.” Coverage, which, by the way, gave “NewsNight” its biggest audience since an American Airlines plane crashed in Brooklyn in November.
Mr. Brown’s on-air declaration, “I don’t think you’ll find this program is going to be taken prisoner by the Blake case or anything else,” sounded to some angry CNN staffers and managers as if he was distancing himself from the mandate that applies to the rest of the news channel, which is desperately fighting to narrow the ratings gap between it and top-rated Fox News Channel.
But Garth Ancier, who helps TBS chief Jamie Kellner oversee CNN, on April 24 said Mr. Brown’s comments were not at all inappropriate. “Aaron is very much the editor of that program … [The Blake story] is not something his show should be focusing on, but it’s also not something his show can ignore.”
Is Mr. Brown’s the final word on the editorial stands he and his show take? “Yes, of course,” said Mr. Ancier, who likened Mr. Brown to storyteller Garrison Keillor and who said that what Mr. Brown does is much more interesting than what MSNBC’s Brian Williams does.
At the same gathering, Mr. Brown said, “What I said to viewers that night, and what I said to [CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson and CNN/U.S. President Teya Ryan] and the people I work for is that I will not allow the program to become a prisoner. … They want me to be comfortable with it, and I am, actually.”
“It’s not a big-deal issue,” said Mr. Brown.
Wink wink, nudge nudge, indeed
And now for our “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” item of the day, in which Alex Michel, herever after to be known as “The Bachelor,” proves that irony is not dead but indeed alive and well in West Hollywood.
This just four days before last Thursday’s two-hour finale in which hype-erventilating ABC viewers learned which of 25 hubby-hungry misses who wanted to be Mr. Michel’s missus had survived the unnatural selection process that had proved an unlikely hit over the previous four weeks.
It seems on that previous Sunday, Mr. Michel was spotted having brunch at Mark’s, a West Hollywood restaurant that earned four out of a possible five purplely-pink triangles from Westhollywood.com, which sums up the eatery as a “popular gay restaurant.”
According to the spotter, Mr. Michel dined alone and then walked toward the Strip, peeling off his shirt as he sauntered.
Put down the receiver and back away from the phone, Mr. Lawyer Man! The Insider is not, repeat not, suggesting that Mr. Michel’s choice of restaurant connotes anything but a matter of geographical convenience-a source familiar with Mr. “Bachelor’s” whereabouts since he became famous for rejecting women on a weekly basis said he’s been staying with friends in West Hollywood, which is gaycentric, though certainly not gay-exclusive. Or perhaps it’s just the result of a driving need to stand out from the crowd-he tried out for “Survivor IV” and was among the group of 20 or 25 wannabes from which the ultimate “Marquesas” contestants were selected. The Insider would suggest that for as long as Mr. Michel wants to be considered the most eligible guy in America, he might consider a restaurant that doesn’t offer the Hardbody Scramble on its brunch menu.
But then, The Insider, who was “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” long before “Seinfeld” made it cool, would never have had reason to imagine herself turning the tables on “When Harry Met Sally” and saying to an ab-solutely fab Mark’s waiter: “I’ll have what he’s having. But hold the Scramble.”
The Insider gets action
Days after The Insider’s item about the entertaining anniversary-related soundtrack callers to NBC in Burbank, Calif., are treated to when they are put on hold-and after The Insider wondered why callers on hold at NBC headquarters in New York got only silence-came word that The NBC Agency had convinced the Telecommunications Department at 30 Rock to add Music on Hold to the phone system there. It seems the potential complication had been interference during conference calls, so 30 Rockers are being told that they should use the Mute button, not the Hold button, during conference calls. The Insider should be a TV problem-solver in her next life.