Wednesday, Feb. 13
Say goodnight, New York Central . The Metro Channel will wave farewell to its slap-happy weeknight gossip
‘n’ culture show hosted by Michael Musto and Lori
Kramer at the end of March, Metro honcho Greg Moyer said this week.
“We’re very sorry to have to
do it,” Mr. Moyer said on Monday, Feb. 11. “We have been very pleased with what
they have produced.” But, he said, “In all cases, TV is a balancing act between
ambition and audience and, ultimately, revenue. And this one didn’t make the
cut at the end of the year here.”
Launched last spring, New York Central was the priciest
television project in the young history of the peppy Metro Channel, a property
of Rainbow Media, a Cablevision subsidiary. With a reservoir of young staffers,
many with print backgrounds and nice hair, the show promised to be a smart, sassier
alternative to the schlubby entertainment and style reporting on local news.
But New York Central ran into trouble early. There were differences
about story selection and staff choices, and the show’s original two hosts,
Norm Lewis and Amanda Byron, were replaced by Mr. Musto and Ms. Kramer, who
were originally hired as contributors. Though Mr. Musto and Ms. Kramer had
better chemistry and actually knew their tooshies from their elbows when it
came to downtown life, their show continued to have its struggles. Advertising
revenues never caught fire; the buzz on the show never really buzzed; and in
recent months, New York Central began
to rerun old news segments in its shows-never a good sign.
New York Central is the
biggest programming casualty to date for Metro, which has shown plenty of pluck
but has had problems creating a reliable hit. In addition to New York Central, Metro recently put the
kibosh on four shows: The Daily Beat, Out
of Bounds, Unblinking Eye and Game
To date, Metros sole breakout
show is Full Frontal Fashion , the
network’s runway gossip show.
Is Metro, as they said in Ocean’s 11 , in Barney Rubble-a.k.a.
“Oh, I think we’re fine,” Mr.
Moyer said. He said the network plans to announce a whole new slate of
programming in early to mid-March.
“It will be a fairly
ambitious exercise,” Mr. Moyer said. “But we have a slightly different spin and
a different premise and we think it will potentially work better.”
Sounds like they’re becoming
… a porn channel!
Mr. Musto put an upbeat
epitaph on New York Central : “I had a
glorious time being able to cut up and interview celebrities and gossip with
Lori Kramer and dish and really try to provide a wacky alternative for New York
entertainment enthusiasts,” he said.
Tonight on Metro, another
“wacky alternative,” Robert Verdi, blinds Bryant Park with his latest
sport-jacket-and-tie combination. Full Frontal Fashion. [MTRG,
70, 7 p.m.]
Thursday, Feb. 14
Is Robert De Niro going to host the March 10
CBS prime-time special featuring unseen and reportedly stunning footage of the
Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack taken by French documentary filmmakers Jules
and Gedeon Naudet? Sources familiar with the project said the actor is at least
one of the candidates who has been considered for the job.
The selection of a host for
the Sept. 11 special is a delicate issue for CBS, which announced its
acquisition of the Naudet brothers’ footage on Feb. 5. Since the Naudets have
asked that the special help raise money for the Uniformed Firefighters Association
Scholarship Fund, the host role is seen as tricky for a CBS News staffer, such
as Dan Rather or Mike Wallace, because of the belief that news personnel should
not serve in fund-raising capacities.
At the same time, the network
had to be careful in picking someone outside of news circles. Any individual
from entertainment or even political circles could be problematic as a host,
especially if that person was deemed to be inappropriate for such a serious
event, or seen as exploiting the show for his or her personal benefit.
It is uncertain if Mr. De
Niro is the only candidate to host. CBS declined to discuss any potential hosts
for the Sept 11. special, which was arranged with the assistance of Vanity Fair magazine editor Graydon
Carter. Vanity Fair published an
account of the Naudets’ Sept. 11 video in its current issue. Efforts to contact
Mr. Carter late on Feb. 12 were unsuccessful.
But Mr. De Niro, 58, appears
to be something of a logical choice. The Academy Award–winning actor, who was
born in New York and lives in Tribeca, has long been considered a favorite son
in the city. Since Sept. 11, he has been particularly active in lending his
support to charitable causes related to the attack, and even appeared in a
promotional commercial for the city, dressed in a Pilgrim suit alongside a
turkey-costumed Billy Crystal.
A rep for Mr. De Niro, Stan
Rosenfield, could not confirm or deny his client’s participation in the CBS
project by press time.
The Sept. 11 special is a
unique project for CBS, one that straddles different parts of the network. The
network is declining to categorize it as an entertainment or news show. Though
resources of CBS News are being utilized to assemble the special, it will not
be labeled a CBS News production because of the fund-raising element.
On Monday, Feb. 11, Susan
Zirinsky, the 48 Hours executive
producer who is overseeing the special-including the editing of more than 140
hours of film-said a host had not been named and declined to discuss
candidates. But Ms. Zirinsky-who also said that former New York City Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani had “not been discussed” as a host-said whoever was chosen to
host the show was going to “feel right.”
“Everybody is going to get
why it is we picked that person,” Ms. Zirinsky said.
Tonight on CBS, the CBS
Evening News . [WCBS, 2, 6:30
Friday, Feb. 15
Ever since Sept.
11, we’ve been hearing the predictable, self-involved moaning from Hollywood
about how the nation’s sobering turn might affect the daffy sitcom and drama
business. Does Sept. 11 mean that no one
will want to kick back and watch According to Jim? Is ER n ow passé? Will
Charmed t a ke on an added significance?
Now Fox has an upcoming show
that got a pretty big gravitas injection because of Sept. 11. It’s called The American Embassy , and it
Before it was retooled and
retitled, The American Embassy was
actually a heartfelt romantic drama called Emma
Brody . It was about a smart, energetic young woman, played by Arija
Bareikis, who goes to work for the U.S. Embassy in London and lives a smart,
energetic young woman’s life. You know, kind of like another Fox show, Ally McBeal.
But then the terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington made the idea of a U.S. Embassy serving as a
setting for a woman’s self-discovery feel a little 20th-century self-involved
and passé. So Emma Brody became The American Embassy , and though Ms.
Brody will still be the central character, the show will become a lot more
about the job.
“We’ll still be dealing with her personal world, but we’ll also
be dealing with larger issues,” said Jim Parriott, The American Embassy ‘s executive producer and writer.
Mr. Parriott acknowledged that the tenor change-and the name-was
a reaction to Sept. 11. Still, he said, there was always interest in showing
the more serious elements of embassy life. The pilot episode, filmed long
before Sept. 11, included a car-bombing scene. That scene has been kept, Mr.
But it won’t be as offbeat anymore. “The way we tackled it a year
and a half ago was from more of the Ally
McBeal quirky side, the Emma side,” Mr. Parriott said. “Now we’re switching
back to a more conventional approach.”
Tonight on Fox, American
Pie . Golly, to have been in the Fox Standards & Practices
room for that one. “Do we let him screw
the pie, or cut it out?” [WNYW, 5, 8
Saturday, Feb. 16
Tonight on the Winter Olympics, it’s skiing,
skating, bobsledding, blah, blah, blah .
[WNBC, 4, 8 p.m.]
Sunday, Feb. 17
You know, it’s hilarious how CBS
continues to bust the chops of its rakish late-night comedy guy, Craig Kilborn,
by puffing up Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart. After giving him a big wet smoocher
on 60 Minutes, the Eye has now asked
Mr. Stewart to come back for a second go-round as host of the Grammy Awards.
Now this is not to say that Mr. Kilborn would be a better host for the music
fête- hoooo, nooooo -but it’s amusing,
considering that Mr. Kilborn actually works for CBS and triumphed over Mr.
Stewart for the Late Late Show job.
Think it’s not a slight? Could you imagine CBS asking Jay Leno to host
something? Of course you couldn’t.
Tonight on CBS, The
Fugitive , in which Harrison Ford traverses the continent trying
to convince authorities he isn’t dating Minnie Driver. [WCBS, 2, 8 p.m.]
Monday, February 18
The popular gossip in New York TV news these days — advanced by an item in the New York Post ‘s Page Six
on Feb. 11 — is that former Talk editor Tina Brown is under consideration as a talk show host, with one
possible landing place being CNN, now run by former Time editor and F.O.T. Walter Isaacson. One theory is
that Ms. Brown could take over the weeknight 11 p.m. slot currently occupied by Jeff Greenfield, whose show,
Greenfield at Large , is losing to repeats of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, and is rumored to
be on the outs.
It’s a fashionable idea, but folks inside CNN don’t expect Ms. Brown to land there, for a number of reasons,
including the obvious one: Ms. Brown’s lack of TV news experience. Though CNN has gone wild for new faces in recent
months, nearly all of its anchors and hosts have the ability to drop what they’re doing and helm a breaking news
story, if need be. Though Ms. Brown is no slouch, and has been good on TV, it’s safe to assume anchoring a breaking
news piece is not her biggest selling point.
A second, and more important, reason is composition. CNN currently has two hours of its evening lineup dedicated
to interview shows — Larry King Live , and the soon-to-debut Connie Chung program. Presuming Ms. Brown would
host an interview show, that would leave CNN with a big chunk of its night dedicated to newsmaker and celebrity Q&A.
Not only could that lack of variety turn off audiences, but it could also produce an uncomfortable competition among
the network’s own shows for quality, timely guests.
That said, it has long been thought that Mr. Isaacson is looking to lighten up the network at the 11 p.m. hour.
There’s always been the rumor that he has the hots for Jon Stewart, and would love to get a Daily Show -type
program in his late night. There is also talk that the network might go to Keith Olbermann, the ESPN, Fox and MSNBC
refugee who has recently popped up on CNN as a substitute anchor and as a contributor to Aaron Brown’s 10 p.m.
Said a CNN spokesperson regarding Ms. Brown: “While we enjoy having Tina Brown on our air from time to time as a
guest, we haven’t had any discussion with her about joining CNN.” A representative for Ms. Brown said, “There is
absolutely no truth to the rumor.”
Tonight on CNN, Mr. Greenfield books Martin Amis and Paul Theroux and adopts a Londoner’s accent. [CNN, 10, 11
Tuesday, February 19
Meanwhile, the stateside pursuit of America’s and David Letterman’s favorite rarified British television anchor,
Daljit Dhaliwal, continues apace. NYTV correspondent Candace Rondeaux spoke with Ms. Dhaliwal recently, and learned
that the former ITN World News for Public Television anchor has met with executives at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and
Fox News, and plans to return to the States soon for another round of wooing.
There has long been speculation that Ms. Dhaliwal would wind up working in the U.S. — Mr. Letterman once cracked
he could get her on the CBS Evening News — but the latest round of Daljit-mania exploded after the
Post reported the Londoner was out of her ITN deal and looking for a new gig. The fact that international
news is suddenly considered vital again doesn’t hurt Ms. Dhaliwal’s future, either. “Americans are a lot more
receptive to international news now,” she said. “Now you’ve got Americans asking, ‘Why didn’t I know about the
Taliban six, seven years ago?’”
Because there was no Geraldo Rivera, toots! Oh wait — there was. Tonight on Fox News’s Hannity &
Colmes , Mr. Rivera clean and jerks a Special Forces Humvee. [FNC, 46, 9 P.M.]