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The Insider

Oct 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Rashad to host ABC’s ‘Mole’
Once Anderson Cooper chose to remain at CNN rather than host the third round of “The Mole” on ABC, the question was who might succeed him on the reality show from Stone Stanley Entertainment. The question was answered late last week with the announcement that Ahmad Rashad would take on the task.
Among those who said “thanks but no thanks” to an invitation to talk about hosting “The Mole” were Bryant Gumbel and “Dateline NBC” correspondent Josh Mankiewicz, whose wry recent report on his own low-carb life inspired The Insider to throw away her bagel and start each day with bacon and eggs.
Mr. Gumbel has been too little seen since ending his anchor gig at “The Early Show” on CBS in May-there’s only one new installment each month of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” on HBO-and he is said to be turning over in his head options that might put his prodigious talents back on TV on a more regular basis. The Insider likes the sound of that.
A party for the hardy boys behind `SNL’ book
Add to the glowing reviews for “Live From New York,” the supersized oral history of “Saturday Night Live” as told to Tom Shales, whom EM shares with The Washington Post, and James Anderson Miller, a glittering party tossed last week by Sony bon vivant Sir Howard Stringer and attended by more bold-faced names than The Insider could shake her writing stick at.
Barry Diller was in a glam tux. Lorne Michaels was in a nostalgic mood. Regis Philbin was without shoulder harness, since his recently repaired elbow is mending. Jean Rather was talking about her recent tour of galleries in Manhattan’s Chelsea. Tom Brokaw was talking about the need to get home before President Bush made his speech restating his case against Iraq. Conan O’Brien was still accepting compliments on his performance as host of the Emmys. “Late Night” executive producer Jeff Ross was introducing wife Missy Hargraves. “Good Morning America” executive producer Shelley Ross was introducing record-industry husband David Simone. Diane Sawyer made her rounds of the crowded and lively room early. Lesley Stahl made her appearance late. Roger Ailes mugged with Larry King for the cameras. Mr. Ailes and Paula Zahn apparently didn’t cross paths. Elvis Mitchell razzed Mr. Shales with almost as much affection as Lorne Michaels displayed when he recalled his first meeting with Mr. Shales.
Also among the present and always accounted for: Art Buchwald, Candace Bergen, Carter White House aide-turned-producer Gerry Rafshoon and Herb Schlosser, the former NBC executive who ordered up a show for Saturday night and got “Saturday Night Live,” which Mr. Stringer extolled as the first show to speak to all generations of the TV family and perhaps the last.
Ouch! Potatoes roast Zucker `60 Minutes’
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Advertisers and TV programmers are obsessed with younger viewers. And “60 Minutes” viewers don’t much like hearing that. But after Morley Safer’s Sept. 29 story titled “18 to 49-Over the Hill?,” some viewers not thrilled by the message registered a real chill toward the chief messenger, NBC Entertainment chief Jeff Zucker.
The black-clad and ever-confident Mr. Zucker’s sound bites were variations on the theme that if advertisers want to reach younger viewers, the TV networks who need advertisers’ money will try to develop programs that appeal to younger viewers, because TV is a business. Mr. Zucker did cite “Ed” as an example of how NBC does not spurn the, um, er, uh, Insider-aged audience, but that point didn’t seem to register with the viewers who proudly declared ages from 26 to 81 as they filed reactions with CBS Audience Services after the story aired:
* “If you want to get your ratings up at CBS, just keep re-airing the interview with that pompous president of NBC. He is a great example of what is wrong with TV.”
* “I was totally unimpressed with the comments made by the smarmy Zucker guy from NBC (be glad he does not represent CBS, and for a mid-30s dude, he looks 50).”
* “Zucker’s hubris is equaled only by the height of the precipice from which he is destined to fall.”
Whew! The Insider is glad that Mrs. Zucker recently assured the author of Esquire’s “Report on Malfunction in the Zucker Unit” that her 37-year-old husband “really doesn’t care if he’s liked.”
Admeister Donnie Deutsch’s grin must be more disarming than Mr. Zucker’s, because Mr. Deutsch toed the same 18 to 49 party line but got only one mild-mannered mention from a 32-year-old man who said he and his girlfriend had passed Mr. Deutsch’s spending test (which included downing a six-pack over the weekend).
And apparently no one took issue with CBS researchmeister David Poltrack’s defense of the baby boomers’ spending power-a theme that is familiar to the industry and which was more specifically laid out in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine article titled “The Myth of `18 to 34.”’ Nor did anyone seem to wonder why CBS’s most powerful and grizzled newsmagazine devoted precious airtime to an issue that has broader implications but was only viewed narrowly from what could fairly be described as the parent network’s point of view.