Ted Koppel and Tyra Banks have so much in common, it's only fitting ABC should announce the date of Koppel's final appearance on "Nightline" the very same day CBS announced Banks's final runway appearance on its Victoria's Secret fashion show.
And, further solidifying the karmic convergence of the King of Late-Night News and the Queen of Late-Night Fantasies, they will take their final bows exactly two weeks apart -- to the day.
ABC News yesterday made official what had been widely speculated for some time: Martin Bashir, Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran will co-anchor "Nightline" when Koppel leaves the show, which will happen the night of Nov. 22.
Marty & Our Gang take over on Nov. 28.
Though we have been told in the past that the "Nightline" folks are not aware of the dates of so-called sweeps ratings periods, Koppel's bow-out, which is sure to grab a big crowd, falls in the November ratings derby, as does the debut of the new "Nightline," which no doubt will attract a good number of curious news junkies.
How lucky for "Nightline," which has slowly but steadily been losing viewers in the sweeps since the start of this millennium.
On Dec. 6, precisely two weeks after Koppel's last "Nightline" appearance, CBS will broadcast the triumphant return of "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show," which, while infused with its usual bouncy, festive holiday spirit, will be marked with some sadness when Banks makes her final fashion show appearance for the well-known undies-and-so-much-more company.
Koppel is a TV pioneer who broke new ground at "Nightline" when it debuted as a regular ABC show on March 24, 1980. Originally a series of late-night news specials called "The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage" (and first anchored by Frank Reynolds), "Nightline" made waves as a live, single-subject news program and is widely credited, as Reuters recently noted, with helping usher in the nation's demand for round-the-clock news.
Koppel reportedly is going to announce when he leaves "Nightline" that he will be doing something for pay cable network HBO.
Banks is also a TV pioneer, and her name is synonymous with Victoria's Secret. Like Koppel, Banks broke new ground in the world of media. She was the first African American model to grace the covers of both GQ and Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issues, as well as the Victoria's Secret catalogue.
Banks went on to create and executive-produce one of a very few shows that have put a whole network -- UPN -- on the map. "America's Next Top Model" is averaging 4.8 million viewers this season -- to Koppel's 3.7 million. Banks also has a syndicated daytime talk show, which is averaging about 1.7 million viewers.
Victoria's Secret hopes it can fill the void created by the departure of the spectacularly voluptuous Banks with "the next generation of Victoria's Secret 'Angels' " -- to wit, "new modeling sensations" Selita Ebanks and Izabel Goulart, who will be making their VS fashion show debuts on CBS. This is kind of like asking Jennifer Love Hewitt to stand in for Audrey Hepburn. Oh, wait -- some network tried that.
ABC News hopes it can fill the void created by the departure of the spectacularly talented, intimidatingly bright, hideously coiffed Koppel with Moran, McFadden and Bashir.
Moran is ABC News's chief White House correspondent and anchor of "World News Tonight Sunday." McFadden is co-anchor of "Primetime Live." Bashir joined ABC in September '04 as a correspondent for "20/20" but is probably best known as the guy who did that astounding documentary on the weirdsmobile Former King of Pop, "Living With Michael Jackson," for the U.K.'s Granada Television. It was sold to ABC, for which it snagged a whopping 27 million viewers during the February 2003 ratings sweep.
In yesterday's announcement and in a chat with The TV Column, "Nightline" Executive Producer James Goldston said they were "three of the most talented journalists working in television."
Which is a wee bit like calling Harriet Miers the very best candidate for the Supreme Court.
Madeleine Albright is guest-starring on "The Gilmore Girls."
She will be playing herself.
In a red power suit.
In the home of Rory Gilmore and her mom, Lorelai.
In Stars Hollow, Conn.
Chatting very briefly with Rory, who looks up to Albright as a role model.
Possibly a dream sequence.
On Oct. 25.
There -- now we've told you all we know about the episode.
"Gilmore Girls" creator and Executive Producer Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted the press to quote her as saying about the unusual guest casting of the sixty-something former secretary of state on a chick drama that targets 12-to-24-year-olds:
"You know, late at night, when you're sitting in a dark room writing for the five-billionth hour in a row, and you're depressed, you look bad, and your butt is now chair-shaped, you think 'what the hell am I doing all this work for?' And then you get to meet Madeleine Albright. If you think she's [sic] seems brilliant and sassy strutting around the Middle East, you should try talking to her in person. We are very honored, very lucky, and soooo not worthy."
Isn't it interesting, that whole grass is greener thing?
Here we are, right in Albright's town, and when we're sitting in our dark room at The Post writing for the five-billionth hour in a row, and we're depressed and look bad, and our butt has become chair-shaped and we think, "What the hell are we doing all this work for?" -- not once have our thoughts turned to Albright, and never to her sassy strutting around the Middle East.
You may have noticed that for the past week the press has been hyperventilating over the debut of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" -- a spinoff of its ballyhooed faux newscast, "The Daily Show," and starring its faux correspondent Stephen Colbert.
Associated Press: "The title of the new series should be pronounced with a silent 't' in 'report' as well as 'Colbert' (say: coal-bear ray-poor), as a verbal handshake exchanged by Colbert cognoscenti."
The Washington Post: "Colbert works in a loft-like building off Tenth Avenue, all overhead pipes and exposed brick, where a bulletin board festooned with blue, purple and pink index cards lists possible segments."
New York Times: "For it to succeed on a permanent basis, 'The Colbert Report' will have to show that it can overcome numerous challenges, not least that it can avoid the stumbles of other progeny . . . that were spawned by hit series."
USA Today: Comedy Central chief Doug Herzog "agreed to an eight-week tryout without a pilot. 'It's a tremendous companion piece to "The Daily Show" yet distinct from it,' he says."
Honestly, it's just heartbreaking the number of trees that various papers have slaughtered to aid the basic cable network in its effort to gin up an audience for this show, which, like "The Daily Show," will skewer evasive, hypocritical newsmakers and the preening on-air news talent who cover them.
But, surprisingly, you will not see reviews of last night's "The Colbert Report" in this morning's newspapers. The show debuted at 11:30 -- well past many papers' deadlines. It was taped hours earlier, but the press was barred from attending.
"It's common practice at Comedy Central not to allow the press to attend the first taping of a series -- there are always unforeseen glitches to be worked out, and the pressure of having the media in attendance is an unnecessary distraction to the production team and talent," a Comedy Central rep explained yesterday afternoon to The TV Column, sounding suspiciously like one of those evasive, hypocritical newsmakers "The Daily Show" so loves to nick.
But at The TV Column, we spit on deadlines. And thus can bring you "The Colbert Report," a Speed Review:
Colbert playing faux Bill O'Reilly/Joe Scarborough. Not so good. Highlight: "Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you!"
Colbert interviewing NBC's Stone Phillips. Much better, especially when he tried to nail Phillips by asking him on what three nights does NBC air neither a "Dateline" nor a "Law & Order." Phillips got two right.
Dueling Phillips and Colbert reading bogus headlines with gravitas. Inspired.