Farewell, New York Central … A Host for the CBS Sept. 11 Special?… Tina to CNN? Nah.

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

Face.

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.

trouble?

“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

p.m.]

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

premieres

March 11.

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.

Parriott said.

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

p.m.]

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.

NewsNight show.

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

P.M.]

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.]