The Insider

Jan 27, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Some UPN affiliates, who have not gathered en masse since the pre-CBS regime offered them tickets to the netlet’s May 2001 upfront in New York, are thinking that it’s time to get the whole gang together again. The Insider hears that board members, who were nothing if not buoyed by the dialogue during their meeting in New Orleans with the CBS team headlined by Les Moonves, will poll the affiliate body for a sense of if or when they might like to have a full affiliate meeting this year. Among the possibilities being kicked around: dates contiguous to the CBS affiliate meet in Las Vegas after Memorial Day, the TVB’s Annual Marketing Conference April 15 or the upfront in May. The Insider’s fingers are crossed troll-tight in hopes the latter possibility does not come to pass because her psyche, her body and her calendar cannot accommodate one more room to be in, note to take or story to write during upfront week.
Fox News feeling loss and liplock
In Washington, CNN has lost one GOP-connected senior producer, Pam Stevens, to a job offer from Secretary of Health and Human Resources Tommy Thompson, and has nabbed one GOP-connected successor, Elizabeth Ray, from the Fox News bureau. Ms. Ray, who had to give up her job as spokesperson for the Office of the Independent Counsel in 1999 when her brother-in-law Bob Ray succeeded Ken Starr, will be Wolf Blitzer’s “Late Edition” booker. Ms. Stevens handled Mr. Blitzer’s weekday bookings and some broader political bookings, but those duties reportedly are to be assigned to someone else so Ms. Ray stays focused on Mr. Blitzer’s weekend show
Ms. Ray will start at CNN after taking a vacation. The Insider hears that includes a few extra days off, courtesy of the reaction at Fox, where the upshot was that if she was going to leave, it might as well be without further ado or delay.
Fine wine on Living’s menu
Coming to Fine Living in the third quarter, says President Ken Solomon, is “the ultimate series” on wine. Mr. Solomon, who says growing the sister channel to HGTV and DIY is fun, fun, fun, searched for a year and a half for the right personality around whom to build the series. Stay tuned.
`Fore’ more links, see Mosko
The further golf adventures of Sony TV chieftain Steve Mosko: Days before he headed to New Orleans and NATPE, Mr. Mosko teamed up with “The King of Queens” star Kevin James, Revolution Studios’ Rob Moore and Tom Sherak, and PGA Tour pro Corey Pavin to win the Jan. 15 Sony Open Pro-Am in Hawaii. Last year Mr. Mosko scored a hole in one during an outing with ad man Jon Mandel. This time the star was Mr. James, who finished with a birdie and a double eagle to lead the team to a 9-under-par victory in the field of 50 pro-am groups. Mr. Mosko then headed for New Orleans, where he swore to The Insider that he does not-indeed could not-devote an inordinate amount of time to perfecting his game.
NBC’s in-synch suits
NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker and West Coast Executive VP Marc Graboff certainly seem to be speaking the same language. Pounced on as they exited the NBC affiliate board meeting by reporters who informed them that “Late Show With David Letterman” was going high-def in September-a trail “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” blazed in 1999-they each retorted, “Welcome to the 21st century.”
Mr. Zucker is so sleek these days The Insider pried after his secret. It’s not diet, he said. It’s tennis. With NBC Entertainment, Studios and Enterprises, plus Telemundo and Bravo programming reporting to him, when does he find the time to hit the courts? Early mornings, said the increasingly famous Mr. Z, who is scheduled to become a daddy for the third time in July, just in time for the summer Television Critics Association tour. Cue the “Friends” baby-birthing spoof starring Jennifer Aniston as Caryn Zucker!!!
Adventures in parking
Speaking of NBC and the TCA, on the penultimate night of the just-concluded winter tour, NBC took over the West Hollywood nightspot Bliss for a jam-packed party at which Mr. Zucker would submit to a lie detector test, a la “Meet My Folks,” and submit to a reporter’s questions about NBC programming.
Getting into the party was anything but bliss for the locals who were driving. The valet line stretched for three blocks on busy La Cienega Boulevard. A uniformed police officer directing traffic warned guests that there were only two guys parking all the cars and said the estimated waiting time was 20 to 30 minutes. So when a parking attendant from a practically empty lot across the street started waving cars over, numerous partygoers gladly pulled in thinking it was an overflow NBC lot. It wasn’t. Among those who had to pony up $10 to park and party: “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin and “Boomtown” executive producer Graham Yost.