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On The Mike Wallace Case

Aug 16, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Once upon a time, no more sober a source than Coors Brewing Co. declared, without equivocation, that “The four most dreaded words in the English language are `Mike Wallace is here.”‘

But ever since Mr. Wallace was cuffed and hauled away last week by Taxi & Limousine Commission inspectors in New York, The Insider has been imagining T-shirts printed with: “The four most dreaded words in the English language are `Mike Wallace is double-parked.”‘

Mr. Wallace was detained after defending his driver-for-hire, who had made a quick stop on a Manhattan street to allow the veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent to zip into a restaurant for takeout meatloaf. Anyway, The Insider-who else would tell you these things?-now can report that Mr. Wallace spent much of last Wednesday recounting, in his inimitably wry way, his treatment by two members of a force that calls itself “New York’s Proudest” and the intimidating physical threat that he, at age 86, poses.

He also kept an appointment with a camera crew interviewing him for a five-part series about TV’s 100 most memorable moments that is scheduled to telecast in December on TV Land.

Mr. Wallace’s 1981 interview in which he told the Ayatollah Khomeini that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had described the extremist Iranian strongman as a “lunatic” qualified for the list being rendered for TV Land in conjunction with TV Guide.

The Insider likes to think that the stare that the Ayatollah fixed on Mr. Wallace in 1981 was nothing compared with the looks Mr. Wallace gave the Big Apple parking poh-lice.

Mo’ Maury Chatter

The Insider hears that contract renegotiations have begun for Maury Povich, whose sixth season of “Maury” launches Sept. 15. A spokesman for NBC Universal Domestic Television said, “We’re thrilled with `Maury’s’ performance and we look forward to another strong season in 2004-05.” He also said, “We don’t comment on negotiations.”

Other than to note that “Maury” executive producer Amy Rosenblum also is executive producer of stablemate “Home Delivery,” the wish-fulfillment show that debuts Sept. 13, The Insider vows to shove the subject under a cone of silence pending resolution. Mr. Povich finished fourth among syndicated talk shows last season and both sides know how significant that is. And both sides pay people a lot more money than The Insider makes to conduct negotiations firsthand. They don’t need help from The Insider passing on any rumors of what else Mr. Povich should, could or possibly would do otherwise.

‘Health’-y Carriage

On the other hand, The Insider is always happy to talk up NBC News correspondent Hoda Kotb. “Your Total Health,” the Kotb-hosted, NBC News-produced, NBC Universal Domestic Television-distributed weekly half-hour show, has picked up new clearances (including Emmis-owned KOIN-TV in Portland, Ore., and Post-Newsweek-owned WDIV-TV in Detroit) that push the distribution to more than 90 percent of the country.

“Health” was recently bolstered with the addition of Dr. David Agus as medical consultant. Dr. Agus is research director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and assistant professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. The show, executive produced by Sharon Scott, launches the weekend of Sept. 25 and will tape in New York.

Pilot Down

The word in New York is that one pilot for a potential CNN Headline News prime-time show has bitten the dust, but that former Viacom news executive Joel Cheatwood remains at the drawing board. What CNN management turned down is most charitably described as “The View” meets the news of the day.

Stay tuned, because the search continues for programming that could goose prime-time ratings for Headline.

And as all involved know, it ain’t easy.