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The Insider

Jul 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Why is this man smiling?
Debuting at 11:35 p.m. Monday is “Up Close,” a half-hour produced by “Nightline” and hosted by “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel created to fill the “Politically Incorrect” time slot until the Jimmy Kimmel show debuts next winter. The subject of Monday night’s premiere installment? David Letterman, the CBS late-night star with whom Mr. Koppel competes-and to whom Mr. Koppel would have lost his time slot had ABC succeeded in luring Mr. Letterman to the Alphabet Network earlier this year. ABC News released a photo from the interview but would not release even one quote from it. So The Insider is inviting readers to write their own captions for the photo above (that’s the back of Mr. Koppel’s head to the left and Mr. Letterman to the right, of course) and e-mail them to mgreppi@crain.com. The rules are simple: Keep `em clean. Keep `em short. Keep `em coming. The Insider will declare and share the names of the winners.
The Insider goes log rolling
What does The Insider have in common with Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric and Matt Lauer? She’s rushing in to fill the void left when Oprah Winfrey decided to get out of the business of readin’ and recommendin’ books. The Insider, who fills a whole lot of void even when she’s not rushing, spent part of her summer vacation catching up on books written by gatekeepers at big media companies on which she reports.
Death may take a holiday, but sucking up sure does not-not in the world of a publishing diva whose personal assistant personifies long suffering until he’s ordered to plan her wedding in top-secret. The Insider will never look at her personal assistant the same way after reading “As Long as She Needs Me,” which is part dark comedy, part romance, part revenge fantasy and all fun.
It’s a first novel from News Corp. spokesman Nicholas Weinstock. Published last year, it’s now available in paperback. Mr. Weinstock worked at three publishing houses before joining News Corp. He has nearly completed a second novel, this one about volunteer firefighters, another subject on which he has earned first-hand experience. He fears his “impeccable timing” will mean it hits bookstores when the country is suffering from firefighting fatigue.
Meanwhile, Fortune columnist Stanley Bing, a pseudonym for a CBS executive, is back in best-seller territory with “Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up,” another darkly comic primer on office politics and the care and feeding of the boss/elephant. The follow-up to “What Would Machiavelli Do: The Ends Justify the Meanness” won’t be in paperback until next winter, but it’s on CD, elegantly rendered by British actor Simon Jones and packaged with “Machiavelli” (read by Philip Bosco).
The next Bing novel, “A comedy but an extremely sad one,” about sexual harassment, is awaiting publication in 2003, which Mr. Bing said “could be an amazing year” for him, what with a collection of columns also due to be published, a series based on 1998’s “Lloyd: What Happened,” still in development for HBO by Tom Hanks, and a new svelteness he ascribes to the simplest of diets.
“I only eat food I don’t like,” said Mr. Bing, who puts salad, fish and “anything whole wheat” at the top of that list.
He also hops on a stationary bike for a daily workout. “I’m planning to take a stationary bike tour of Europe, and then when I’m done, I’m going to do a Stairmaster tour of the Alps.”
Bobby Rivers is a new Food fave
As long as The Insider is on a log roll, she would like to break a little happy news about one of her favorite folks. Bobby Rivers is scheduled to join Food Network’s Monday night lineup in October as host of “Top 5,” which is described as an `”American Bandstand’ of food.” Each week he will rate, in countdown style, fun food groups, from `60s fad foods to fried favorites and fondue.
Mr. Rivers, who has worked on some Al Roker-produced specials for Food Network, got his first big break as movie critic/celebrity interviewer for “PM Magazine” on Hearst-owned ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee. In 1987, a couple of years after putting down roots in New York, he became a veejay for VH1, which awarded him his own show as host of “Watch Bobby Rivers” after seeing how he handled Liza-With-A-Zee Minnelli, among others. He earned a CableAce nomination and a legion of celebrity fans who appreciated being interviewed by someone who knew his stuff and theirs. The man knoooooows his pop culture.
Mr. Rivers will be meeting the press Wednesday at the summer Television Critics Association tour in Pasadena.