The Insider

Dec 1, 2003  •  Post A Comment

ABC could have stood for Apoplectic Broadcasting Co. last week, when network insiders were left sputtering by an Entertainment Weekly story about ABC late-night freshman Jimmy Kimmel that was headlined “The Year of Living Anxiously.”
The Insider confesses that when she read the article she suddenly felt like some Kelly Ripa Van Winkle who’d slept through a cultural revolution and awakened to find the party icon she’d been saluting was being shipped to the countryside for rehabilitation.
Though the article says that ABC has renewed “Jimmy Kimmel Live” for a sophomore year, the anecdotal weight leads to the conclusion that “Kimmel’s brand of humor and ABC’s late-night fantasies (i.e., competing with Leno and Letterman) seem pretty inconsistent at this point.”
And that take-away, that sense that ABC thinks the show is not doing well and there’s a showdown coming, is at the root of the disappointment in Alphabet Network City. There, the article is seen as not reflecting the effusiveness of ABC Entertainment Chairman Lloyd Braun, the executive behind the show from the get-go, during his interviews, and as not giving the show its ratings due.
“We all know you can smack numbers around and they’ll say whatever the [expletive deleted] you want,” said one of ABC’s more aggrieved souls, who insisted that Mr. Kimmel and ABC are not headed for a “showdown.”
A spokeswoman for Entertainment Weekly said, very pleasantly but very firmly: “We stand by the story.”
Another Honor For Wolf
On Dec. 8, at the Union League Club of New York, the John A. Reisenbach Foundation will honor “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf as “Distinguished Citizen,” not for his successful career as a producer of TV programming but for his previous career as an advertising copywriter whose memorable slogans include “I’m Cheryl. Fly Me” for National Airlines.
Proceeds from the dinner (tickets start at $500) will go, as has some $4 million raised in previous years, to programs that improve the quality of life in New York. The foundation was born in 1992, a year after Mr. Reisenbach, a young, well-liked, up-and-coming ad executive was murdered on a corner in Greenwich Village.
There are two things that nag at some New Yorkers’ minds: (1) Mr. Reisenbach’s murder was never solved, and (2) even rabid “Law & Order” fans cannot remember an episode inspired by the story, which generated the sort of big, bold tabloid headlines from which the franchise is famous for ripping its stories.