Helping Wheel of Fortune really live up to its name, The Bold and the Beautiful star Adrienne Frantz (right, with The Young and the Restless' Michelle Stafford, left, and Vanna White) won enough cash during her turn on the game strip's "Soap City Week" to keep her selected charity in operation. Close to shutting its doors for lack of funds, Los Angeles' Good Shepherd Shelter will continue to help battered women. "Soap City" players made a total of $400,000 for their respective charities on the special Wheel edition, running April 30-May 4.
What's that you say, Ms. Robinson?
Anne Robinson may be an acquired taste. We'll see tonight on NBC when Robinson, the snide British host of the BBC quiz show, The Weakest Link, unveils a U.S. version touted to be a little like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? but hardened by her Judge Judy-like toughness.
Tough? Ask people in Wales. Two months ago, Robinson branded the Welsh "irritating and annoying," adding, "I've never taken to them; what are they for?" Some people weren't laughing; Robinson received death threats. The host has made several attempts to point out she was joking but won't apologize for "having a sense of humor."
Moving up in Miami
WSVN-TV Miami anchor Rick Sanchez believes a telling moment in his successful tryout with MSNBC came when he broke from the script in a story on Timothy McVeigh's execution and spoke into the camera about "a guy who cried about killing a small animal when he was a little boy but doesn't feel bad about the 19 children who died in Oklahoma City. He calls them 'collateral damage.' I said that what I think mystifies America is his total lack of remorse."
Now he'll join MSNBC following the May sweeps, with a mission; he hopes his presence there will spur news directors to look for more Hispanic talent.
Taps for caps?
It might be too early to carve an epitaph for the station ownership cap, but lawyers for the TV networks think they should at least start shopping for a headstone. Last week, the federal appeals court in Washington set Sept. 7 as the date for oral arguments in a challenge against the cap brought by Fox, CBS and NBC, as well as by cable giant Time Warner. Industry officials are encouraged that the three judges hearing the case, Justices Harry Edwards, Douglas Ginsburg and David Sentelle, previously have proven hostile to government attempts to limit speech.
Even more promising, say network officials, is the court's April 6 decision staying an FCC order requiring Viacom/CBS by May 4 to sell enough stations to get below the 35% cap on one company's TV household reach. The move is a strong indication that the cap will be raised or even eliminated, network officials say, because courts won't issue a stay unless the requesting side has a strong chance of winning. "Courts don't issue stays willy-nilly," said one network source.
For years, CBS has done most of its program testing in Las Vegas because of its diverse cross-section of American tourists. Now parent Viacom is unveiling the new Television City Research Center at the MGM Grand there. It'll have a Viacom retail store and video area where people can check out the latest in HDTVs and other Sony video gear. Sony is a partner. So is A.C. Nielsen (co-owned with Nielsen Media Research). Oh yes, about the testing: CBS will set up an entertainment research panel of tourists who stop by and test TV shows, then agree to subsequent surveys via the Web and e-mail.