Now Here's the News
There was a lot of talk around town yesterday of the $453 million bid by Norman Lear and A. Jerrold Perenchio to buy newpapers and the five TV stations owned by the Evening News Association -- including Channel 9 here (see story, Page D1) . . .
But Channel 7 had some Big News, too . . .
The station has signed anchor Renee Poussaint to a five-year contract. . .
Station president and general Tom Cookerly yesterday said he was "delighted" with the signing . . .
"Renee has been with us for eight years and has emerged as the number one anchor in the market in that time," he said . . .
Rivals yesterday confirmed that the signing was a most important move for Seven . . .
The station's research in recent years shows Poussaint becoming by far the strongest member of the WJLA news team and indicates that Seven's place in the increasingly competitive news situation in this market depends largely on her (Paul Berry ranks close in that department, too) . . .
Incidentally, Seven, which brought in Wes Sarginson earlier this summer to coanchor the week-night news with Poussaint, does plan to revise its blah set this fall to beef up audience appeal . . . The Sign-Up
Comes as Channel 4, at least during the summer months, is stepping out as a stronger second to Channel 9 in all areas of the local news race . . . due, in no small part, to NBC's runaway rerun success in prime time . . .
Four's latest addition, anchor Dave Marash, didn't show up yesterday for his first, get-acquainted, day on the job . . .
He had a previous commitment, according to news director Jim Van Messel, and is expected today. It's still uncertain when he'll debut as Jim Vance's interim replacement . . .
Speaking of Vance, once again on a leave of absence in an effort to beat his health problems, you may have noticed that WRC's current 30-second and 10-second promotion spots for the news team don't include him . . .
A station executive yesterday assured us the omissions were only a matter of timing and don't suggest any change in his status . . .
"Jim's on the 60-second promo, which was filmed first, but he had taken leave by the time we did the shorter spots," the executive explained. "We're still counting on Jim to return when he feels ready" . . .
(The scuttlebutt around town is that Marash's signing should worry coanchor Bob McBride, not Vance . . .
(But WRC sources insist McBride has about a year to go on his latest 18-month contract and is in no immediate danger of replacement, if ever) . . . Moving Right Along
ABC News executives have been made aware in recent months of a burgeoning women's caucus -- particularly active at the Washington bureau here -- in their division. In May, the caucus even managed to get the attention of News president Roone Arledge . . .
At that time, you'll recall, Arledge used the occasion of an awards ceremony for Barbara Walters to fly in about a dozen of the on-air women in the division for what turned out to be a four-hour lunch in Manhattan, where they gave him an earful. A polite earful, but an earful, nevertheless . . .
In the most recent attempt to open up lines of communications, Arledge's personal assistant, Joanna Bistany, came to Washington last week for a hastily called, informal lunch with about a half-dozen off-air and on-air Bureau employes -- including Beverly Lumpkin, Sally Glass, Carole Simpson, Bettina Gregory and Ann Compton . . .
One attendee said the group indicated that the women have "already seen increased sensitivity on the part of the executive producers" of the various ABC News programs . . .
Expect the informal meetings to continue, in one format or another . . .
A problem: Not everybody has been represented in the gripe sessions with management so far and the left-outs have noticed . . .
We hear that Bistany, who worked as David Gergen's assistant at the White House before joining ABC News, wants to keep the groups small and informal for best results and is working on a solution . . .
At NBC News, the folks are struggling with another kind of problem entirely . . .
With a flourish last winter, the News division announced a new series of one-hour monthly programs aimed at a young audience, which would replace the "Special Treat" format, starting this coming October . . .
Initially, NBC called the program "W/5" (with a lightning stroke where the slash is) . . . but discovered belatedly that the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. already had a show named "W/5" . . .
So NBC News came up with "Time Out." That, too, turned out to be copyrighted . . .
Recently the Deep Thinkers came up with "Take Eight" (since there would be eight programs in the series) . . .
Now it turns out NBC News president Larry Grossman doesn't like "Take Eight" as a title . . . We Didn't
Lose you with that one, did we? . . .
Well, if you're still around this morning, TV Column fans, Channel 7 also announced yesterday that Mike Tanner, its new director of marketing and promotion, will finally be on board next week . . .
Tanner was originally due to arrive July 8. But he had a big job at Paramount Television -- in charge of marketing research, design and promotion for such series as "Cheers," "Family Ties," "Entertainment Tonight" and the upcoming syndicated magazine series, "America" . . .
He also had a contract with Paramount Television . . .
The situation was finally resolved recently after the studio agreed to let him go but only after the important pre-autumn sales and promotion presentations were out of the way . . .
Channel 4's 5 o'clock news got lucky yesterday, featuring live coverage (CBS and ABC had none) of the announcement of a possible abort for the space shuttle shortly after takeoff . . .
At this writing, the flight was expected to continue despite the engine failure . . .
Should it continue, Channel 56 plans to air daily shuttle coverage starting at 8 a.m. until midnight during the flight whenever Control Central has something to report . . .
In addition, the station will have taped coverage of any important overnight pictures . . . And Finally
A TV commercial made by Rock Hudson to promoted tourism in Illinois has been pulled after the actor was reported to be ill in a Paris hospital . . .
Robin Skiles, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, said the ads were stopped a week ago when the agency heard reports that Hudson had cancer. He said the decision was made before it was disclosed that Hudson was suffering from AIDS . . .
"We pulled them out of respect to him and his family," Skiles said yesterday. "If he does improve, we will reinstate them next spring for the kickoff of the tourism season" . . .
Hudson, a native of Winnetka, Ill., was paid $5,000 last January to film the commercial. It shows Hudson gazing out a window, then dissolves to a scene of him entering a home. He embraces a gray-haired woman -- an actress -- who welcomes "little Roy" . . .
Hudson was born Roy Scherer Jr., but later adopted his stepfather's name, Fitzgerald . . .