The Insider hears that a new contract for CNN “NewsNight” anchor Aaron Brown is thisclose to being wrapped up. Sources describe the new deal as a good one for Mr. Brown, but add that it gives CNN more flexibility in deciding who is front and center on big news stories. Mr. Brown’s official biography on CNN’s Web site describes him as “CNN’s lead anchor during breaking news and special events as well as anchor of `NewsNight With Aaron Brown,’ CNN’s flagship evening newscast.”
Since that biography was written, the undeniably learned and articulate Mr. Brown has cultivated his sometimes polarizing and un-CNN-like idiosyncracies. He also has been missing in action at puzzling times, sometimes because of his own decisions (he continued to play in a celebrity golf tournament rather than report to duty immediately when the space shuttle Columbia fell to earth in February 2003) and sometimes as a result of management’s decisions (CNN stalwarts Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff and CNN’s political team have been the faces on CNN’s election coverage this campaign season).
… Cheatwood’s Charge
In other news from the sprawling world of CNN, Joel Cheatwood’s responsibility for program development now extends across the breadth of the CNN News Group. The Insider hears he has three projects in development for CNNfn.
Mr. Cheatwood, whose tabloid touch as a local news executive, most recently with the Viacom Stations Group, has made him a lightning rod, last spring was chosen to develop programming for prime time on CNN Headline News, which is run by former protege Rolando Santos.
CNN/U.S. Executive VP and General Manager Princell Hair also has worked for Mr. Cheatwood, most recently at the Viacom group, and is said to be steadfastly confident that Mr. Cheatwood would not create anything that plays counter to the brand of CNN, which bills itself as the purer news alternative in the cable world.
… A Good Goodie Bag
Now for a scoop with froth on it. The Insider had a preview of the freebies that will be in the overstuffed tangerine Kipling duffel bags that will go to Primetime Emmy presenters, nominees and others who will decorate the red carpet Sunday, Sept. 19. They’re also available in advance to those who check out the bright baubles and designer duds laid out the week before in “Emmy Time Award Suites” at L.A.’s Four Seasons.
The browse-and-borrow-a-thon, produced by Monkeys in Pants and M Studio Productions, is open for business at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, and noon to 9 p.m. every day through Saturday, Sept. 18.
The value of the Emmy goodie bags is put at $7,000 by Buzz Bags, which assembled the $10,000 goodie bag given to the nominees honored in July by the Television Critics Association and to winners of separate giveaway contests run by Us Weekly and “Extra TV.”
Emmy goodie bag recipients will be the first ones on their swimming blocks to own a sexy new Speedo tank (suggested retail price $150) in size 8, which can be exchanged later for a suit in a more Hollywood-ish size. In another first, there will be items for the children in celebs’ lives (Seesees organic cotton baby wear; a plush Boobah and ancillary products inspired by the star of the PBS Kids series).
Among the essentials for residents of Tinsel Town: a $135 tube of StriVectin-SD, the stretch-mark reducer now being applied to some famous faces; anti-cellulite, mid-thigh Hanes Body Enhancers ($10.95); and Freeze 24/7, which promises to “reverse the signs of aging within minutes,” and Plump Lips 24/7 ($135).
And, neither last nor least, but The Insider is running out of space, help for those of us reduced to choosing wine based on the artistic appeal of the label: the Winerd wine-tasting game ($40) that combines trivia and tippling-er, tasting.
… The Be-Seen Scene
Thank You Know Who that the week of living stressfully-owing to the protests and traffic jams that replaced life as New Yorkers know it while the Republican National Convention was in town-was to be followed by a long weekend free of anarchists and delegates wearing Party hats and mix-it-up news shows that made it hard to close even the bleariest eyes.
For The Insider, the week started on Saturday night at the still-new Time Warner Center, whose soaring atrium was packed with the hungry and thirsty masses covering the convention.
The Insider spent much of Sunday worrying that the Fuji Film blimp commandeered for the week by the NYPD circling over the biggest of the week’s protests would brush up against her living room window.
Monday morning started with a working breakfast at the diner CNN had taken over as a camera-ready place where journalists could kibitz and real people could sit and watch CNN coverage. And perhaps have a close encounter with such CNN icons as Candy Crowley and Anderson Cooper and some of the more anonymous but no less essential people behind the people, such as “Larry King Live” bookers Todd Poles and Erin Sermeus.
Tuesday brought what was supposed to be a quick visit to the set from which most MSNBC convention programming originated: the tiny triangle known as Herald Square Park, on the doorstep of Macy’s, just two long blocks from the convention at Madison Square Garden and mere yards from the scene of numerous arrests of demonstrators by cops on foot, horseback and motorcycles.
The Insider had a great seat for a surreal show-except when she visited the canteen trailer, which is when a black-hooded protester scaled the wrought-iron fence and hurled himself toward Chris Matthews, only to run into a lightning-fast block thrown by the “Hardball” host’s bodyguard.
Timing is everything.