The Insider

Oct 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

HGTV’s stitch in (new) time
Last week got off to a baaaaad start. Home & Garden Television unveiled its fall lineup Monday and-quelle horreur-moved The Insider’s beloved “Simply Quilts” with comfy host Alex Anderson.
Oh, woe was The Insider, who was even woe-er when she failed to whine, wheedle, cajole, blackmail or otherwise browbeat HGTV’s top programmer, Michael Dingley, into promising he would immediately put “Simply Quilts” right back where it works so well for The Insider. Just joking! Actually, Mr. Dingley, who did a superb job of humoring a decidedly humorless Insider, explained that shows with multiple-topic formats (Martha Stewart’s repackaged “Home” and “Garden” shows, “Smart Solutions” with Maty Monfort and time-honored household hints on “TIPical Mary Ellen”) may play better in the early morning, when people often can’t watch a whole half-hour at that time of the day.
This has made it much more difficult for The Insider to get her minimum daily requirements of strip-piecing, stipple-quilting, rotary-cutting and fabric-stashing inspiration. Unwilling to go to the extremes TiVo requires and unable to get her digital cable box and VCR to cooperate on predetermined recording commands, The Insider desperately needed a pick-her-up, so she went looking for uplifting items (not to mention a few other folks who might join the Restore “Quilts” campaign). It turned out that life is good for some folks (and the rest think The Insider has officially gone `round the bend).
Rising stars get Big Apple boost
Among those in the life-is-good category: the up-and-coming actors on the bill at the ABC talent development department’s first New York showcase, which played to a packed and enthusiastic auditorium at the Public Theater Sept. 25. “Of these 20 people, stuff is starting to happen with about half of them,” said a spokeswoman for the ABC Entertainment Television Group’s Casting Project, which chose the 20 after seeing more than 700 hopefuls.
At the showcase, produced with American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne said, “I urge other networks to come to New York. Some already have.”
One, Dania Ramirez, has been signed for “Romy and Michele: Behind the Velvet Rope,” the just-announced ABC movie that’s a prequel to the 1997 indie feature film and a backdoor pilot. If “Romy” were to go to series, Dania (as she prefers to be billed), who is represented by the Buchwald Talent Group, could expect her character to be a regular. Katherine Heigl (“Roswell”) and newcomer Alex Breckenridge play the respective title characters. Within days, another actor showcased by ABC, J. Kyle Manzay, represented by Endeavor, auditioned for Fox Broadcasting casting executive VP Marcia Shulman, who indicated she has a specific project in mind for Mr. Manzay but who wasn’t about to say what it is.
“There is no substitute for what happens in New York,” Ms. Shulman said at a party held last week in honor of Amy Christopher’s appointment as director of casting in New York for Fox Broadcasting-a party attended by entertainment President Gail Berman.
Ain’t little big breaks grand?
L.A. anchor in `NYPD Blue’ mood
The Insider was assured that “NYPD Blue’s” Henry Simmons, who recently made the cover of TV Guide as one of the 50 sexiest TV stars of all time (he ranked No. 9), is “so much more beautiful on the inside,” as KCOP-TV anchor Lauren Sanchez puts it. Ms. Sanchez should know. She’s been dating Mr. Simmons for seven months.
They met cute, of course. How could these two not? Picture it: She, a single mom, is enjoying a girls’ night out, looks across the proverbial crowded room and sees this vaguely familiar person-“I knew he was someone on TV”-and jaw-droppingly handsome man. “I walked right up to him,” she said. Mr. Simmons called a day later to make a dinner date for that weekend. Now, “He’s my future and my future looks bright,” she told The Insider, who found Mr. Simmons’ personal publicist less inclined to go with the romantic flow. “They are together as a couple,” said the spokeswoman.
Ain’t love grand?
Behind the Emmy joke
A sliver of sudden fame can be grand, too. During the Emmycast Sept. 22, host Conan O’Brien read off a list of names he said were the accountants who had tallied and guarded the Emmy ballots. Of the names, one was fake, three belong to “Late Night” staffers (Jordan Schlansky, Geoff Addeo and Jonathan Hester) , one belongs to a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade (Ian Roberts) and one belongs to a press favorite: Marc Liepis, newly promoted director of late-night publicity at NBC.
“It was the sweetest thing Conan could have done,” said Mr. Liepis, who was backstage when his name was uttered on national TV and alerted his mother via cellphone during the commercial break preceding the bit. Alas, Mr. Liepis’ fiancee, Heather Wells, missed the moment because she was back in New York dropping off a rental car. But Ms. Wells’ mother had recorded it and played it for her over the phone.
But Mr. Liepis’ first girlfriend-“The first girl I ever talked to. Ever,” he said-did see the moment live and checked in via e-mail. Ain’t puppy love grand?