TV or not TV. . . .
FAST FORWARD: What would go well as a companion piece to TV’s top-rated series, “America’s Funniest Home Videos”?
“War and Peace”? “The Iliad”? “Gone with the Wind”?
“Videos” producer Vin Di Bona has a better idea. He’s already disclosed that the new show he’s aiming to pair with his sudden smash hit is tentatively called “Everything Else Funny About America.”
He now says he’s even got an air date, May 13, following “Videos” in ABC’s 8:30 p.m. Sunday slot, which is now up for grabs since “Elvis"--the low-rated series about Elvis Presley--was yanked last weekend.
But what’s Di Bona’s new brainstorm all about?
“It’s more of a show we’d go out and shoot, not videos,” he says. “Basically, it might be the kinds of things everyday Americans do, from oddball things to those that capture the spirit of the country--the sense of America being able to have fun with itself.
“Once again, we’d invite the public to be part of the show. We’d be out around the country for the pieces. We know what we’ve seen on ‘Videos’ to capitalize on ideas in everyday life. We’re going to tape on May 8.”
Di Bona says he hasn’t even had a staff meeting yet on the new series. No hosts are set. And there are other strongly competing projects aimed at landing the coveted time slot.
He might worry, for instance, about a project called “The Great American Scavenger Hunt” because it’s from ABC Productions, reality shows cost relatively little and the network could pocket another fortune.
ABC is already partners with Di Bona in “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which gets free material from viewers and has a set that looks like it costs $1.98.
Anyway, while Di Bona isn’t certain about another ABC partnership, he’s positive about one thing: “We want the pacing of the first show (‘Videos’) to continue in the next one.” Referring to the slower, gentler “Elvis” series, he said:
“It was beautifully done. But as eloquent as ‘Elvis’ was, it was the pacing. You build a freight train and then you have a stop sign. Or at least a yield sign.”
JANE & CO.: Jane Pauley’s image, soaring since she quit the “Today” show, looks even brighter with the news that she’s picked off crack CBS Los Angeles correspondent David Browning as executive producer of her upcoming NBC prime-time series. And, yes, CBS blew it again with yet another loss of first-class talent.
THE MORNING LINE: On the other hand, “CBS This Morning” made a sharp, high-profile move in signing up Gene Siskel as its movie critic. The show’s new anchor, Paula Zahn, is OK, too--but I sort of miss the slightly unkempt look of her fired predecessor, Kathleen Sullivan, even though CBS didn’t like it. Sullivan and Pauley looked real in the morning--kind of like folks do when they rush in fresh to work after wolfing down breakfast.
THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Sure, Jerry Dunphy’s kisser is plastered all over the place in the hype for KCAL Channel 9’s three-hour prime-time newscast. But some competitors think KCAL was arrogant in stupidly ignoring available local news talent as it imported staffers. Bitterness? And how. One L.A. TV journalist claims he overheard a KCAL newcomer on assignment ask via radio: “Where’s City Hall?”
DARK HORSE: But every major L.A. station has reason to blush when the town’s best in-depth TV political broadcasts come from a public access outlet--Century Cable’s “Week in Review,” hosted by Bill Rosendahl. Good thing, too, because Century needs brownie points to counter its image with customers. If you hear the musical number “Dancing in the Dark” on Century, that’s just the way you may be seeing it on screen.
THE POINT AFTER: Used to love the Raiders. Bought two black Raiders shirts--$20 apiece. Jim Plunkett was the Olivier of the Coliseum. But it’s hard to remember an owner, Al Davis, or a team with less TV know-how in selling itself here. That’s OK when you’re winning, but arrogant and incompetent when you’re not.
EYEBALL TO EYEBALL: On NBC’s “Later” show with Bob Costas Wednesday night, Ted Koppel says competitor Johnny Carson called him after the high-rated “Nightline” outing with Jim and Tammy Bakker. “He did,” says Koppel. “He threatened me with putting on something like the Hillside Strangler if I kept putting on shows like that.”
TOGETHER AGAIN: How about this? NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff canceled producer Jay Tarses’ brilliant “Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.” The two men sniped at each other. “Molly” is still superb, but on Lifetime cable. Now, attempting to regain NBC’s quality image, Tartikoff has signed Tarses to a three-year, multi-series deal. Smart move or surrender by Tartikoff? Who cares? It’s a good sign by the always-surprising NBC showman.
STRETCH DRIVE: Tartikoff has gone to the whip in the fierce network competition to attract top TV creators. He’s also signed Ron Howard (“Cocoon”), Gary David Goldberg (“Family Ties), Paul Witt and Tony Thomas (“The Golden Girls”), Joel Silver (“Lethal Weapon”), Dan Curtis (“War and Remembrance”), Bill Persky (“Kate & Allie), Bruce Paltrow (“St. Elsewhere”), Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (“thirtysomething”), John Sacret Young (“China Beach”) and Garry Marshall (“Beaches”).
CROSSOVER: If you haven’t seen him--and I hadn’t--KFI radio’s Tom Leykis makes a smart, lively guest next Tuesday at 11 p.m. on Century Cable’s “Poor Walter’s Almanac.” With tougher questioning from ambitious host Walter Jacobson, he would have been even better.
BEING THERE: “Were they colored?” asked the policeman. “Yeah . . . white,” said Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) in “Sanford and Son.”
Say good night, Gracie. . . .