Wednesday, Sept. 5
Ever since former Time managing editor Walter Isaacson swooped in to save CNN, the question has lingered: When’s Mr. Isaacson going to tap his peppy young protégé, Time columnist Joel Stein, to do his lampshade-on-the-head act on AOL Time Warner TV?
CNN has, in fact, been talking to Mr. Stein for some time about an on-air role, but it’s unclear what that role would be for the 30-year-old writer, whose smart-ass Time interviews and columns were critical to Mr. Isaacson’s efforts to jiggy-ize the staid newsweekly. Mr. Stein insisted he’s not being considered for his own CNN show. He may, however, pop up as a regular contributor to the super-ballyhooed upcoming 10 p.m. CNN News Hour, anchored by ABC News defector Aaron Brown.
And Mr. Stein doesn’t think anyone should consider him a savior. He’s dubious about his TV talents. “I have talked to some people over there about doing some stuff for that Aaron Brown show,” he said. “I probably am going to shoot something, but I doubt they will air it. I have told them time and time again that I am not meant for TV. And once they see clips of me, I think they are going to be convinced.”
Mr. Stein said he wasn’t trying to be falsely modest. “Many, many shows have not used me again as a guest,” he said. “So no one’s going to use me as a host.”
Why does he think he’s so bad? “I get nervous and I don’t look right–as if I look right normally,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s just bad, trust me.”
A spokesperson for CNN said the network had no comment on Mr. Stein. “We are always looking for the best contributors to CNN. However, we are not going to discuss any of the people we may be talking to,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stein said he is proceeding with his animated show for VH1, the long-in-the-making program he memorably discussed in a Time column last spring, after he received an e-mail from a VH1 executive bashing the show’s writing–an e-mail intended for eyeballs other than Mr. Stein’s.
Mr. Stein said he’s about to do voice-over work for the VH1 ‘toon, but here, too, he was pessimistic. “We are definitely going to have a pilot,” he said, “and then they’ll focus-group it, and no one will like it because it doesn’t make much sense, and then they’ll never show it. But at least I’ll have this pilot to show to my family.”
Current Time managing editor Jim Kelly said he had no problem with Mr. Stein moonlighting with CNN–if it winds up happening. “I knew when Walter became head of CNN he would continue to try and find ways to use Joel,” Mr. Kelly said. He added: “He and Joel go way back, so it doesn’t surprise me.”
Besides, Mr. Kelly thought that Mr. Stein on CNN was a good idea. “The more exposure Joel gets, the better,” he said. He then laughed heartily.
Tonight on CNN, Larry King Live . Poor Mr. King just got his brilliant newspaper column spiked by those nitwits at USA Today . What knuckleheads … incidentally, The Others is a first-rate summer thriller … We like the A’s in the Series over the Braves … Happy Birthday, Macaulay Culkin … Does anyone smoke a pipe anymore? [CNN, 10, 9 p.m.]
Thursday, Sept. 6
Who’s got Staten Island fever? Who doesn’t ? Well, who has it the most? CBS! This fall, the Tiff network is giving that underrated rock in New York Harbor some prime-time exposure as the principal set for its new, sleepily titled Richard Dreyfuss drama, The Education of Max Bickford . In the show, Mr. Dreyfuss plays a grumpy old college professor at a fictional women’s college who’s tormented when a former pupil and luvaaaah, played by Oscar chick Marcia Gay Harden, arrives as honorary chair of his department. Staten Island’s own Wagner College (famous alumni: loathed ex-New York Jets coach Rich Kotite!) is playing the part of the leafy, ersatz New England institution, Chadwick College, and the EOMB crew has also shot scenes at the Victory Diner, one of the last diners in New York uncorrupted by Eames-chair-owning 34-year-olds. “It’s been fantastic,” EOMB executive producer Rod Holcomb said of his crew’s reception on Staten Island. “There hasn’t been anything other than tremendous cooperation.”
EOMB is also filming scene work at Brooklyn College, and its interior scenes are taped at the Silvercup East studios in Long Island City (also home to Tony Soprano & Co.). But Staten Island is the principal exterior set, mostly because of Wagner, which sits on a hill with gazillion-dollar views of lower Manhattan. “It’s a cool little college,” said Mr. Holcomb. If there’s one hitch, it’s the fact that Wagner is coed (the EOMB crew occasionally has to tell the fellas to hang in the background when they need to do a wide shot). And, of course, there’s the rigor of schlepping to Staten Island. “I think I have discovered every set that The Bonfire of the Vanities [film crew] rejected,” Mr. Holcomb said. A Cali transplant, he recently invested in a G.P.S. to find his way around.
Mr. Holcomb said he has yet to bump into Mr. New York City Location Work, Dick Wolf, and his mammoth Law & Order crew, currently filming 84 different series for NBC throughout the city. Maybe that’s one of the perks of filming off the coast of Manhattan. “Staten Island … gives us an opportunity to be refreshing, as opposed to taping on the Upper West Side,” he said. Wait, you mean people are getting bored of the Upper West Side?
EOMB debuts on CBS on Sunday, Sept. 23. Tonight on CBS, Big Bother 2 –we mean, Big Brother 2 . [WCBS, 2, 9 p.m.]
Friday, Sept. 7
Shhhhhhhhh! It’s being kept vewy, vewy quiet–maybe for the same reason that the weddings of boy-band members are hushed up, so as not to alienate the Soft & Dri female fandom–but WNBC’s hunky Today in New York co-anchor Maurice DuBois got himself hitched on Friday, Aug. 31. According to a tip-top-secret WNBC source, Mr. DuBois wed his girlfriend of the past year, Andrea Adair, in a ceremony the source described as “small” and “private.”
Congratulations, Mr. DuBois! But we feel obligated to inform you that according to today’s standard of morning news programming, you and your bride were supposed to be wed in a cheesy, televised spectacle at 8 a.m., complete with a buffet, bridesmaid gowns and a band selected by a home audience of cybersurfing shut-ins. So get with the program and fork over the honeymoon video for this morning’s show. [WNBC, 4, 5 a.m.]
Saturday, Sept. 8
Last week, Sandra Bernhard wrapped her “tryout” as an A&E talk-show host. At one week, it was a rather short run, considering all the obnoxious posters featuring Ms. Bernhard’s smooshy, Bridgestone-sized lips A&E slapped around town. The network’s suits are still trying to figure out if they want the show, called The Sandra Bernhard Experience . It was a nice concept, but really, who wudda thunk that the mantis-like Ms. Bernhard–a perennial spark plug on the NBC-era Late Night with David Letterman –would be kind of boresville as a talk-show host herself? (Though we got a big hoot watching Ms. Bernhard’s sidekick, former Harper’s Bazaar editor Sara Switzer, a vampy automaton who did little more than fill a chair like a stuffed panda and nod approvingly to dippy answers from guests like Chrissie Hynde and Edie Falco.)
Whatever happened between Mr. Letterman and Ms. Bernhard, anyway? She used to be on the old 30 Rock show all the time, and now she’s never, ever on. We recently put the question to Ms. Bernhard herself:
“I don’t really know, to tell the truth,” she said. “It’s very weird. When he moved to CBS, it was kind of like I was persona non grata .”
Ms. Bernhard did go on the CBS Late Show once. How was it? “Abrupt, brief, completely unspontaneous on his end,” she said. “There was nowhere to go with it.”
Kind of like this item! Not surprisingly, Ms. Bernhard’s not a big fan of the current Letterman vehicle. “I don’t think the show has the impact it had then, the freshness,” she said. “There’s a lot of fear and ego and limitations that these shows have.”
Perhaps. At the very least, there’s no doubt that Mr. Letterman’s cuddle sessions with current couch flames like Julia Roberts pale to Ms. Bernhard singing a spastic, impromptu version of Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From,” as she memorably did at 12:30 a.m. on an NBC show. A rep for Mr. Letterman had no comment.
Tonight on A&E, Biography profiles a country singer of the audience’s choice. Three words, people: Billy. Ray. Cyrus. [A&E, 16, 8 p.m.]
Sunday, Sept. 9
Maybe you were passed out in your Shoshanna bikini somewhere in South-ampton and missed this doozy from Reuters: In an effort to put the brakes on his country’s one-billion-plus population, India’s health minister, C.P. Thakur, is recommending that his fellow citizens stop schtupping and watch more television instead (in some countries, this practice is better known as “marriage”). “Entertainment is an important component of the population policy,” The Times of India quoted Mr. Thakur as saying. “We want people to watch television.” Such a plan would never work in the randy U.S., however, as each Sunday night, more than 1,000 babies are conceived by couples frolicking to the blue glow of The George Michael Sports Machine . [WNBC, 4, 11:35 p.m.]
Monday, Sept. 10
Perpetually aggrieved local-TV newsies were snickering at their iMacs last week when the chippy Web site fuckedtelevision.com debuted an animated clip featuring embattled WCBS News director Joel Cheatwood squaring off in a fight against former WNBC News director Paula Madison. Entitled “TV Executive Death Match,” the video features a stick-figure Ms. Madison–now at KNBC in L.A.–tussling with a stick-figure Mr. Cheatwood, before both of them are run over by an NBC satellite truck. According to fuckedtelevision’s own pronouncement, the video has already recorded a staggering 55,000 hits. (That’s a lot of bored associate producers!)
A rep for Mr. Cheatwood declined comment. A rep for Ms. Madison did not return calls requesting comment. Tonight, catch the WCBS News from Mr. Cheatwood’s new, screen-intensive Futurama set on West 57th, where Ernie Anastos looks like he’s sitting in the middle of Circuit City. [WCBS, 2, 11 p.m.]
Tuesday, Sept. 11
“Bye, bye, bye, ai-yi-yiiii!!!” Mega-hyped MTV starlet Ananda Lewis begins her transmogrification into Gen Y’s Ricki Lake this week with the King World-syndicated talkie The Ananda Lewis Show . Ms. Lewis’ big get for premiere week: ‘N Sync, who taped their Wednesday, Sept. 12, appearance (with their mommies – awwwwww !) in August down in Dan Ratherland, a.k.a. West 57th. ‘N Sync’s slot wasn’t without its behind-the-scenes drama: A source close to the show said that during a rehearsal, singer Justin Timberlake strained his back and a chiropractor, Dr. Jeanette Honig, had to be called in to readjust Britney Spears’ beau. ‘N Sync’s rep didn’t respond to a request for comment . Dr. Honig declined comment, citing doctor-patient confidentiality. [WPIX, 11, 9 a.m.]