Imagine Bryant Gumbel interviewing someone on his new CBS morning show who refuses to answer a question. What would he do? "If you're [BS-ing] me, I'm going to say you're [BS-ing] me," Gumbel said today.
And that's pretty much how we'd call it during today's Q&A session at the summer press tour here, with Gumbel, CBS News President Andrew Heyward and "Early Show" executive producer Steve Friedman.
For Gumbel, the moment came when he was asked what he thought went wrong with "Public Eye," his short-lived prime-time newsmagazine. A lot of mistakes were made, he said, "many of them mine." Asked if he would elaborate, Gumbel responded: "No, I really can't. . . . I'm not sure this is the forum for that."
We at The TV Column encourage Gumbel's interviewees to use that response on "The Early Show" after it debuts Nov. 1.
Gumbel also was asked what he's been doing since "Public Eye" was canceled. "Doing some work with a production company, doing some speeches and getting in a little better shape than I was," he replied. Does he feel bad about getting paid $5 million a year by CBS to get in shape and make some speeches? "No, not really. . . . You're in a town where people have production deals all over the place and they don't necessarily have something out there every single day."
Heyward's moment came when he was asked what percentage of CBS stations had agreed to carry the full two hours of "The Early Show"--and in the 7-9 a.m. time slot for which it is intended.
Heyward said he didn't have "hard numbers." Shouldn't the president of CBS News be on top of this stuff? He did volunteer that he expects the show to have "way, way more than critical mass to start with." But when asked what specifically that meant, Heyward responded, "I just don't know."
Then there was Friedman, who, when asked what he thought were the competition's flaws at first, said his job wasn't to worry about what the "Today" show and "Good Morning America" were doing. He later said that he did have ideas, which he wasn't going to share yet with the media because they'd just go and report it and give the competition time to fix the problems.
Reporters had hoped to learn who would become Gumbel's co-host, but no one was named. Friedman said CBS is still considering more than a dozen people and will name someone by Labor Day. The unnamed co-anchor was referred to as "Madame X" during the Q&A, and the search has been dubbed "Operation Glass Slipper."
The network did, however, announce that Martha Quinn and Lisa Birnbach have been named contributors to the new weekday morning broadcast. The two will provide, on a rotating basis, a weekly feature called "Yikes, I've Grown Up." The segment, CBS said, will look at life in the new millennium as people take on the roles of wife, mother and daughter--which pretty much leaves out most male viewers.
Heyward called the two women "icons of the '80s." Quinn was one of the original MTV veejays; Birnbach is best known as author of "The Official Preppy Handbook."
President Clinton won't have to relive all those icky TV moments that plagued him during last year's White House crisis--at least not during September's News and Documentary Emmy Awards. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences barely recognized the story that gripped the nation in this year's nominations.
CBS News's "60 Minutes" snared nine news Emmy nominations--the most of any show this time around. But ABC, with 22, is the most nominated network in the derby, which covers calendar year 1998. CBS had 18 nominations altogether; NBC News had 10.
CNN once again got hosed by NATAS, with just two nominations. They include one for "NewsStand" and another for a Larry King interview.
MTV bagged one nomination, for its coverage of the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard; it's up for best coverage of a breaking news event, competing only with ABC's "Nightline" for its broadcast "Crisis in the White House: The President Visits the Heartland." That telecast is one of very few news accounts of the Clinton scandal among the Emmy nominees.