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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

People, Faces & Things

October 18, 2000

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Koppel's better side

Ted Koppel doesn't have to look far for an ego check.

The "Nightline" anchor says his wife, Grace Anne, is making sure he notices negative reviews of his new book posted on Amazon.com.

"Off Camera: Private Thoughts Made Public" has drawn positive reviews from critics, but a few readers "compared it to Kitty Litter" on Amazon, Koppel said Monday.

"So Grace Anne, who thinks things come too easily for me as it is, is delighted with a new family tradition: Every year these reviews will be read to me," he said. "And she says after she's gone, the kids will read them."

"Off Camera" is a collection of Koppel's views on current events, and includes harsh words for President Clinton and his Republican enemies during the impeachment trial. Koppel, 60, has been host of "Nightline" since its debut in 1980. He signed a five-year extension of his contract with ABC last month.

Kathie Lee gone and happy

Kathie Lee Gifford says she wishes her successor on "Live with Regis" all the luck in the world because "they're going to need it."

In an interview with the national syndicated television show "Inside Edition," aired Tuesday, Gifford says the person who will be picked as Regis Philbin's co-host has a bumpy road ahead.

"It's not at all what it seems to be and they're going to be under a microscope," she says.

Producers of the syndicated morning show have not announced a replacement for Gifford. But she thinks Regis' wife Joy, who often filled in for Gifford, should replace her because only she and Joy know the magic formula to getting along with Regis.

"We know the exact amount of how much to kick Regis' butt and how much to kiss it," she said. "You see that's the key. The person who gets that job is going to have to understand that mathematical equation just perfectly."

Gifford has no regrets about moving on. She even admits the show needed some rejuvenating. The show's ratings jumped 26 percent after she left in July.

Currently, Gifford is working on a television movie with comedian Howie Mandel and traveling to promote her new CD and writing songs.

I'd Rather be in college

CBS has established a $50,000 endowed journalism scholarship in the name of Dan Rather at the anchorman's alma mater, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tex.

Rather already invites one Sam Houston student a year for a summer internship at CBS News in New York.

The scholarship will provide full tuition for a student majoring in journalism or broadcast journalism. Rather has requested that preference be given to students who work on the campus newspaper, which he edited prior to graduating in 1953.

'Ali' film in trouble

Columbia Pictures is about to pull the plug on the Muhammad Ali bio-pic starring Will Smith, a studio source said Tuesday, citing budgetary problems. The source said director Michael Mann, Oscar-nominated for "The Insider," "couldn't convince the studio that he could shoot the movie to the agreed-upon sum" of $105 million.

A last-ditch meeting took place Tuesday to try to save "Ali." Smith, who's spent six hours a day the last five months shaping up for the role, may now turn to a "Men in Black" sequel. In a recent interview he spoke gushingly of "MIB2," noting that "MIB1" co-stars Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Fiorentino are on board "and how they bring Tommy's character back ... (is) brilliant."

On the rebound

Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche seem to have rebounded nicely from their split. The former's taken up with Alexandra Hedison, Kay Rizzo on TV's "L.A. Firefighters." Her dad is actor David, from the 1960s TV series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

Heche's new like is cameraman Coley Laffoon whom she met while he shot DeGeneres' stand-up tour last summer. The women's problem was apparently over children. Both wanted one, but DeGeneres wanted Heche to can acting and raise the kid. Laffoon's apparently OK with Heche being a mother and having a career.

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