The Insider

Nov 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

In addition to the usual gaggle of co-workers-along with representatives of the press, whose job it is to corner, pump or talk the ears off of every possible news source-last week’s party in honor of Tom Brokaw’s fourth book, “A Long Way From Home,” attracted a gaggle of unusual suspects to “21.”
Among the representatives of the well-capitalized or otherwise boldfaced crowd Mr. Brokaw counts as friends: corporate power broker Vernon Jordan; venture capitalist Herb Allen; Kurt Anderson (who after his experience as a venture journalist with the late Inside.com is enjoying a life that revolves around the public radio show he hosts, “Studio 360,” and, of course, writing); Tom Wolfe (in white, natch); writer Nora Ephron; New York Congressman Chuck Schumer; and indie-movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (who earned a silent and oh-so-politically-incorrect “You go, boy!” from The Insider when he lit up a cigarette).
Not present was Mr. Brokaw’s wife, Meredith. She had complained of symptoms Mr. Brokaw said left him uncertain “whether it’s a virus or she’s just sick and tired of hearing about this damn book.” Also not present: Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who had been expected to attend, but The Insider’s inquiries about his symptoms were deemed beneath reply.
Meanwhile, Art Cooper, the GQ editor, spent much of the evening explaining the skull adorning his unnerving lapel pin. (He collects and wears skulls and crossbones.) Mr. Cooper’s magazine is excerpting “A Long Way” and recently named Mr. Brokaw the TV News Man of the Year.
Mr. Cooper toasted Mr. Brokaw’s memoir as a “soon-to-be best seller” likely to spawn a movie starring Harrison Ford as a teenage Tom Brokaw.
Mr. Brokaw was characteristically self-deprecating and funny. Aware that he was expecting word the following day on whether he had been granted a visa to go to Iraq, The Insider asked if that was just an extreme ploy to get an excused absence from the inevitable book tour. “Saddam Hussein wants to throw me a book party,” joked Mr. Brokaw.
Name that two-in-one news organization
It’s time for another contest, dear readers. At the suggestion of one of her favorite wags, The Insider is now soliciting gratuitous suggestions for a name for the combined CNN and ABC News organization that most fatalists now presume will result because big thinker-mover-shakers who have no particular affinity or affection for news seem bent on making all the square pegs and round holes fit together. Of course, people have fallen into the shorthand of ABCNN, so that’s out as a nomination (although if folks insist, they can vote for it even if it doesn’t trip lightly off the tongue). And “Rosemary’s Baby” is off the table, of course.
Send your suggestion (and short supporting statement) to mgreppi@crain.com. The Insider is on vacation until Nov. 25-the most dangerous place to be for the next week will be anywhere between The Insider and her HGTV-so you’ve got until Nov. 24 to submit your entries. Vote early. Vote often. And be sure to make clear how (or if) you should be identified if The Insider wants to print your entry-which she most likely will, since industry dish is hard to come by during holiday weeks and there will be space to fill.
From the fact or fiction file
Is Ashleigh Banfield considering a change of professional locations? The Insider heard that Ms. Banfield evinced interest in meeting with Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of CBS News’ “48 Hours Investigates,” after MSNBC took Ms. Banfield’s “On Location” out of the weeknights lineup and put in “MSNBC Investigates,” for which Ms. Banfield rotates as anchor with John Siegenthaler between reporting assignments. The Insider now hears that no such meeting has taken place, but she was unable to get either MSNBC or Ms. Zirinsky to comment on the scuttlebutt. “There’s nothing there,” said a source familiar with the career options and goals of Ms. Banfield, who has a year left on her MSNBC contract.
By George, it seems he’s got it
The Insider never ceases to marvel at people who not only seem to have it all but also juggle it all without ever getting winded. Take, for instance, George Stephanopoulos, newlywed, new father, new moderator of ABC News’ “This Week”-the latter a role that keeps him tethered to Washington several days a week. Come fall 2003 actress/funny-lady wife Alexandra Wentworth will be tethered to New York every weekday morning as Jack Ford’s co-host of the talk show “Living It Up! With Ali & Jack,” which will originate live from the Big Apple at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.
That sounds like a recipe for guaranteeing that Elliott Anastasia, who was born in early September, will remain an only child, but Mr. Stephanopoulos recently told The Insider there’s going to be nothing to making this commuter marriage work, because the busy couple’s schedules will create logical time in which they can get together in his or her home base. “My lightest days are at the beginning of the week,” he said. “Her lightest days are at the end of the week.”
Ahhhh. The Insider must find out where folks buy their glasses half-full. Hers always seem to arrive half-empty, not to mention cracked and chipped. Then they break.