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The Insider

Aug 19, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sweat, Ca-a-a-roline
The hottest party in New York last week was Telepictures Productions’ launch party for “The Caroline Rhea Show,” thanks to the heat-and-humidity wave gripping the city and thanks to the guest quotient. The tent on the penthouse terrace at the hipper-than-hip Hudson Hotel was packed with the usual contingents of producers, bookers and publicists from every show, station, network and agency in the city. But what made clear the party was a hot a ticket was the presence of a contingent from “Sex and the City”-among them executive producer-director Michael Patrick King and actor David Eigenberg (proud papa “Steve”).
Ms. Rhea wore a hot little black dress that showed off her sleek curves in almost demure fashion-“I’m the only woman wearing pantyhose,” she confided to The Insider, who was in full (and most unattractive) sweat. Out on the terrace, hairdresser Jackee Dee, in a RuPaul-and-then-some denim-and-zipper number, shared a tip that might work for anyone who sweats less profusely than The Insider: “Set” the makeup with hairspray.
In contrast, Bridget Potter, the former HBO and NBC programmer who is executive producer of “Caroline,” was in white from the tip of her enviably wild hair to the hem of a flowing linen number that was part haute, part hippie and altogether beguiling. “I have never made so many decisions in so little time,” said Ms. Potter, who will spend this week taping real-time practice shows and then have the following week to tweak the show’s machinery.
Telepictures Productions President Jim Paratore, despite never even loosening his tie, was in no-sweat mode. “Caroline” won’t debut Sept. 2 with all of “Rosie’s” cushy time slots, but he’s expecting to have either better time slots or the option to go seek them by January in some key ABC markets where “Caroline” will start in late-night. The ABC stations group has a 50 percent stake in “Caroline” and has agreed that if the show is not upgraded by January, Telepictures regains full ownership and can seek a better home.
The Insider has had a string of relationships that had the same trigger mechanism built in.
Miller time at Elaine’s
The following night, very different social currents were in full swirl at Elaine’s to toast “The Cell: The Story of the FBI, the CIA and the Terrorists Next Door” and its authors: John Miller (“20/20” co-anchor), Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell. The hosts were ABC News President David Westin (for whom this was a respite from duties as a juror in a criminal case) and Hyperion Books President Robert Miller. ABC Newsies turned out, of course, in full force, from “Good Morning America” executive producer Shelley Ross to newsmagazine senior executive producer Victor Neufeld. Also spotted in the crush at the legendary writers’ watering hole were model and HBO personality Karen Duffy, publishing mogul Mort Zuckerman and Bo Dietl, the New York cop turned author and chairman of an operation that specializes in giving security advice to Fortune 500 companies.
`Sopranos’ mob scene time again
As The Insider’s readers know, ratings are only the tip of the heat-index iceberg. Especially with “The Sopranos,” whose season-opening screenings and parties have grown exponentially with each flight of the mob drama. The first year, the screening was in the basement theater of the Virgin Records store on Times Square and the post-screening party was at John’s Pizzeria on 44th Street. Folks had to squeeze past Bruce Springsteen to get to the coat check.
The sophomore season started with a screening at the Ziegfeld movie theater, which could not accommodate many of the invitees left standing in line when the doors closed, and the party was at Roseland Ballroom, which is significantly larger than John’s Pizzeria.
By Season 3, HBO moved the screening to the 5,900-seat Radio City Music Hall and booked the Hilton ballroom a few blocks away. The screening for the season that starts Sept. 15 is again at Radio City. As for where the party will be, omerta’s the word in an attempt to keep the unsolicited craziness to a manageable level. Let’s just say the party will be “within walking distance.”
In the meantime, The Insider is framing her invitation, which is the horizontal version of this year’s “Soprano’s” marketing image: an Annie Liebowitz photo of the cast that is so richly shadowed and textured it looks like a painting. Look for it on a bus or a billboard near you.
Hibberd to host `Open House’
Laurie Hibberd, the entertainment contributor to CBS’s “The Early Show” who also is known as the wife of “Live With Regis & Kelly” executive producer Michael Gelman, is going to make herself at home on The Insider’s favorite channel: HGTV. Later this year, Ms. Hibberd is to become the host of “Fantasy Open House,” the half-hour in which we ordinary folk get to see how the other half lives and how much they’re asking for the homes in which they’ve lived.
The Insider can hardly wait to corner Ms. Hibberd at some function and browbeat her into agreeing to help get Alex Anderson’s “Simply Quilts” at least an occasional an extra window on weekends or in prime time.
That way, we working quilters can catch up on weekday installments. Betcha never guessed that The Insider knows more than one way to needle.