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The Insider

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

What a diffidence ‘Today’ makes
Here’s the most interesting intelligence that emerged from a week of chitter-chatter about Matt Lauer’s hair-which The Insider has seen close up and to which she gives a thumb’s up (though some of my colleagues here at EM demur): Mere weeks before the “Today” co-anchor surprised everyone with a buzz cut, he and Katie Couric and Ann Curry and Al Roker were photographed for an outdoor advertising blitz that will kick off in New York in July and go national in November.
The ensemble’s photos-taken by a verrrrrry expensive photographer, The Insider hears-along with a tag reminding passers-by that the quartet is “American’s First TV Family” will appear on 70 to 80 phone kiosks and the like and on two major billboards. One of the billboards will be visible to those hanging around outside “Good Morning America’s” studio on Times Square. The other will be visible from outside “The Early Show” studio.
“If I can piss someone off, I’ve done my job,” said Frank Radice, the New York-based NBC agency marketing and promotions executive, who also has updated the “America’s First TV Family” theme song he co-wrote.
The view from CNN Center
The Insider is always amused to hear what Fox News Channel program or personality is being promoted on the billboard just across the street from CNN Center in Atlanta. Just a couple of weeks ago, CNN expatriate Greta Van Susteren’s surgically refined face came down and the mugs of the rowdy morning crew from “Fox & Friends” went up. Turns out it’s the only billboard Fox News Channel rents in Atlanta. The Insider wishes she had enough time, money and energy to lease a sign in a prime location and change the message four times a year.
Help wanted, help needed at The WB
The kind of help wanted-make that desperately needed-changed dramatically after The WB posted a position on Showbizjobs.com. More than 1,100 resumes showed up via fax (300 the first day, sending fax machines across the Warner Bros. lot into meltdown) and via e-mail (hundreds of them filing in faster than they could be printed out) and hand delivery (no outrageous costumes or shtick to report). The Warner Bros. switchboard reported it was overwhelmed by calls that started the day after the posting.
You’d think The WB had listed an executive position that came with a golden-or at least a copper parachute-attached. Instead the netlet was searching for an entry-level talent relations coordinator. In other words, someone whose work life will revolve around the care and feeding-not to mention the briefing, transporting and gifting-of talent and their representatives. Just as the storm of resumes had begun to slow last Thursday, the position was posted on The WB job site. Interviews of candidates culled from the applications received last week will begin Monday.
The Insider suggested turning it all into a reality series modeled on “American Idol”-“You call that obsequious?”-hoping for a don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you reaction that would make the perfect punch line. She was, as always, disappointed. Those spoilsports at The WB weren’t up for a goof-seems they think it’s important that each of the candidates feels confident that his or her application is and has been duly and seriously considered. Someone must have confused The Insider with someone who gives a whit.
Weir gets lift from stalled pilot
Things don’t always have to go as planned to go right. That’s what The Insider always says when her day is going to, well, you-know-where in a hand basket. Take Bill Weir, the Los Angeles sports personality who qualifies as outgoing whether you’re talking about his personality or about the exit he’ll make when his contract at KABC-TV expires in September. He recently taped a pilot produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video for a late-night show on which a game element would propel the talk element. In the end, USA Network opted not to go forward with “The Late Game With Bill Weir,” but the buzz created by the pilot continues, convincing Mr. Weir’s fans that he’s going to be the next late-night star.
An `Early’ substitute is History
And speaking of diversity, we’re about to get a break from the substitute routine while we wait for a permanent successor to Bryant Gumbel to anchor of CBS’s “The Early Show.” Just as The Insider was beginning to think that game-show host Tom Bergeron and “Saturday Early Show” anchor Russ Mitchell were the only ones in the interim rotation, word came that Josh Binswanger, host of the History Channel’s “This Week in History” for nearly two years, is penciled in for the “Early” shift this week.
Just to nip rumor-mongering in the bud, Mr. Binswanger only recently quit his weekend anchoring duties at CBS-owned WBZ-TV in Boston to work full-time for the folks at the History Channel. The ink is still wet on his new contract with History, which had to sign off on his week as an “Early” temp. Nobody expects they’d sign off on an early exit as well.