The Insider

Jan 13, 2003  •  Post A Comment

In her next life(tm) The Insider wants to be free of any need to work. But before this life(tm)-or lack thereof-is over, The Insider aspires to being able to slap a trademark on an otherwise mundane workaday element that elevates it to registered-with-the-government status.
Like “NewsNight” Senior Executive Producer David Bohrman did a year ago but which The Insider only recently noticed courtesy of a major promo featuring the “whiparound” or “whip”(tm)-no more HGTV on school nights for you, young lady!!! The big promo spot both explains and extols the whip(tm), the show-opening sequence in which all correspondents contributing to that night’s show are displayed simultaneously in little boxes against a background that maps their locations, as each sums up what they will be telling viewers. The display has become a signature element of the hour anchored by Aaron Brown (who went international with a simulcast of “NewsNight” on CNN International starting Jan. 6). But that’s not the only reason Mr. Bohrman got it trademarked.
“It started as an inside joke,” said Mr. Bohrman, an apparently incurable puckster who created the “World News Now World Temperature Index” when he and Mr. Brown first worked together on the overnight shift at ABC News and steadfastly refused to tell viewers what the lone-but high-temperature displayed on the map meant.
At one point, Mr. Bohrman, well aware of his reputation as someone who tends not to play well with other children (nor to worry about it), said he even considered sending cease-and-desist letters to counterparts when “Connie Chung Tonight” and “Lou Dobbs Moneyline” cracked the whip(tm) on big news nights.
The whip(tm), as The Insider’s insider readers know, is not new. Indeed, Mr. Borhman chuckled and confided that he’d gotten a call a few months back from “Eyewitness News” creator Al Primo saying he and former ABC News producer Av Westin deserved credit for the whip(tm).
“It goes all the way back to when I was executive producer of the Reasoner show at ABC,” Mr. Primo told The Insider. “We were sitting at a meeting in [then ABC News President] Bill Sheehan’s office and I said, `Hey, what we really need to do is go out there and show that we’ve got people all over the place.”
Thus was born the whip(tm) 25 years or so ago.
“I’m pleased to see [Mr. Bohrman] is continuing that wonderful tradition,” said Mr. Primo, who likes the “touches” Mr. Borhman has put on “NewsNight.”
“There’s very little new in television,” Mr. Bohrman agreed. “It’s the jargon, but no one else seemed to be calling it that on air.”
The Insider, who is generally accused of watching TV too intently, was sooooooooo(tm) chagrined at having overlooked the trademark for sooooooooo(tm) long. But she’s probably not as red-faced as the CNN lawyer who called to suggest that Mr. Bohrman explore the possibilities of trademarking the phrase three months after Mr. Bohrman began using it on air, “just for the hell of it.”
Fox tosses `Beene’ pizza party
How seriously does Fox Broadcasting take the care and feeding of affiliates? Seriously enough to provide the pizza for “Oliver Beene” screenings last Friday in each and every one of its 178 Fox affiliates and Fox-owned stations.
The network already had delivered via satellite four preview episodes of the much-anticipated comedy, which is likely to join the Fox Sunday lineup in midseason, and arranged for Pizza Hut to deliver the pies-choice of toppings: veggies, cheese, pepperoni, chicken and sausage-at noon in each time zone, when the stations invited in sales staff, local advertisers and local press to see what all the buzz is about.
“Nothing but the best for our stations,” said Mark Lipps, VP of network distribution for Fox, which cut affiliates in for a similar, um, pizza the pie(tm) when it launched “Boston Public.”
Ordering delivery of pizza on such a scale was easier said than done then, said Mr. Lipps, but since then, “They’ve actually set up a department to do this.”
The cost for the hundreds of pizzas ran into “many thousands of dollars,” the Fox executive said. The Insider, who already had asked more than her quota of dumb questions, chose not to ask about the tip.
Conventional second thoughts
The first flush of reaction last week from newsies in New York was that having the Republican presidential nominating convention in the Big Apple (the Democrats’ convention will be held just up the Northeast Corridor in Boston) would add up to a lot of money being saved on political coverage in the summer of 2004.
Then one news executive with still-vivid memories of manpower issues at the Republican convention in Philadelphia in 2000 said: “Remember the unions.” Tussles over who was authorized to do what nearly brought news organizations’ setups to a standstill more than once in Philly.
But labor issues aren’t the only thing that can put a drag on work. The Insider remembers taking a tour of Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Democratic convention in 1992. Also familiarizing herself with the layout was then-CNN anchor Catherine Crier. In a black cat suit. Form-revealing as all get-out. Definitely aye-catching(tm) too.