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The Insider

Sep 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Memo to Matt Drudge: Get new ABC source
In a breathless Drudge Report story, posted at 10:14:37 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, reigning Internet gossip Matt Drudge solicited “three cheers to embattled DISNEY Chair Michael Eisner and his deputy Bob Iger after ABC-TV shows pulse with a Tuesday win, win, win in NIELSEN for the network’s new shows!”
Even though it was based on two nights (Monday night’s football and Tuesday’s premiere of “8 Simple Rules,” “Bonnie Hunt” and “Push, Nevada”), Mr. Drudge’s report was headlined with the capitalized question: “NETWORK IN TURN-AROUND?”
Mr. Drudge quoted an “overjoyed ABC executive” speaking from New York and in supermarket-tabloidese: “We’re in the hunt! This gives us some space. … The audience is confirming what we’ve known: Our new shows are really special.
“It was a gold day.”
What really intrigued The Insider was the Drudge description of ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne as “said to be near tears after hearing the ratings news.” She hadn’t struck The Insider as the teary type.
Turns out Ms. Lyne was near nothing except total strangers at the time she learned how well the freshman shows had done, because she was aboard a United Airlines flight that left New York at 7 a.m. and had not landed in Los Angeles at the time Mr. Drudge posted his Report.
“I don’t know whom he would have talked to,” Ms. Lyne said. “I can’t imagine who it was. Certainly no one who was within 35,000 feet of me.”
Indeed, Ms. Lyne-“I was in that middle seat in first class with no one beside me”-pulled up the overnights on her Blackberry and then used her cellphone to call “ratings guru” Larry Hyams in New York to get the fast nationals. “I said, `That is really great,’ in exactly that tone,” Ms. Lyne said, her voice dropping to a quiet monotone. “I was trying to be discreet. I was talking very quietly.”
Ms. Lyne didn’t actually see the Drudge Report until Thursday, but “virtually everyone I talked to yesterday said, `Soo-o-o … we-e-e-eping.”
It was, she allowed “sweet of him to think that it meant that much to me-which it does, by the way-but [the description] was a little excessive.”
Mr. Drudge often ends his bulletins with “Developing … .“ Wednesday, the sign-off was “Impacting … .“
The Insider thinks something is “Smelling … .”
A CNBC-ya from Jack Welch?
Embattled former GE Chairman Jack Welch’s mini-media blitz included PBS’s “Wall $treet Week With Fortune,” an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal and an interview by Lou Dobbs himself on CNN’s “Moneyline,” but it didn’t include an appearance on CNBC, on whose “Squawk Box” Mr. Welch has a once-quarterly gig as guest host.
The Insider hears that Mr. Welch, whose “War of the Roses”-style divorce has revealed retirement-deal details that have tarnished his CEO reputation and enlivened business pages everywhere, had let CNBC’ers know he feels he is overexposed and ought not to do any more TV for the foreseeable future.
An assistant to Mr. Welch told The Insider, “Mr. Welch is not taking any other media requests this week. He is letting his op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal Monday speak for itself. He feels at this point that he has nothing more to say other than what he said in that piece.”
But hope springs eternal at CNBC, where a spokeswoman said that while no third-quarter date has been booked yet, Mr. Welch is expected to make his regular quarterly appearance on “Squawk.”
Having felt the frisson when Martha Stewart stuck to her chopping while Jane Clayson tried to coax answers out of the besieged domestic diva, The Insider has only one suggestion for “Squawk’s” Mark Haines should Mr. Welch try to juggle both his commitment to CNBC and his desire to avoid further complicating his divorce proceedings: Hold the knife and pass on the salad.
AFTRA exec is in the (White) House
When they were students at Syracuse University, Aaron Sorkin played Young Scrooge to John Connolly’s Bob Cratchit. Fast-forward to the fourth-season premiere of “The West Wing,” in which Mr. Connolly, now the national president of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, plays a modern Everyman who crosses paths with Bartlet White House staffers in an airport and delivers a monologue that “West Wing” creator Sorkin says “only sets the theme for all 22 episodes this season, that’s all.”
Just what Mr. Connolly’s character, Matt Kelley, says has not been shared with The Insider. Ditto why the scene was shot in Pittsburgh. On the other hand, The Insider does know that Mr. Connolly, who is a very busy professional actor, has a son who is a student intern/organizer for the AFTRA local in Pittsburgh. And that Mr. Connolly’s character may reappear.