A source of ours with a satellite dish recently intercepted an interesting live feed from Dan Rather in Waco, Tex., back to New York just prior to a broadcast of the CBS Evening News. Connie Chung, his coanchor, was in New York City. Said Rather to someone off-camera: "At the close, I say, 'Good night, Connie,' and she says, 'Good night, Dan. Good night, everybody. See you tomorrow'?" Told in his earpiece that he's correct, Rather said, "In other words, after I say, 'Good night, Connie,' the rest of it is hers?" Right again. To which Rather replied, "Quietly tell them that if she has time, I'd love to talk to Connie on this [remote] phone....
I think the karma is not good."
Off-camera voice: "Really?"
Rather: "I'm not sure of it, but I want to talk to her."
Was Dan rather uncomfortable ceding the last word, and the newscast good-nights, to his new partner? A CBS spokes-person describes this exchange as "half of an out-of-context conversation of an anchorman surrounded by dozens of onlookers at a live remote in 103-degree sweltering heat. Dan was struggling to hear directions from New York on how to close the broadcast. There wasn't, and isn't, any problem between Dan and Connie."
Nothing like a hit show to change the economic status of its star. Consider comedian Jerry Seinfeld. There was a time when Seinfeld would do his stand-up act for next to nothing, and sometimes literally for nothing. No longer. Seinfeld, in fact, is fast becoming a money machine.
Sources tell us that Seinfeld, now on summer hiatus from his NBC show, Seinfeld, will pull in six figures per night during his 20-date concert tour. Add to that what we hear is an advance of $1.5 million from Bantam for his upcoming book of monologues, Sein Language, and another $1 million he received to do his current commercials for American Express, and you have what one source says is "quite a lot of money for doing essentially the same act he was doing when he was poor."
THE UNCANNY MR. HANKS
It is altogether fitting that Tom Hanks was David Letterman's last NBC guest on a show that featured a surprise appearance by Bruce Springsteen. The last time I tanks hosted Saturday Night Live, May 9, 1992, the musical guest also was Springsteen.
Of the coincidence, Hanks says jokingly, "Oh, I always take Bruce Springsteen with me whenever I make one of these appearances."
After helping Letterman bring down the curtain on his 13-year relationship with NBC, Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, spent the next few days as guests of Steven Spielberg at the director's home in East Hampton, Long Island. And in a way that was filling too. In its first weekend, Hanks's Sleepless in Seattle grossed $17.2 million at the box office, putting it second for the weekend behind Spielberg's rampaging hit, Jurassic Park.
NO RUSHING RUSH
Republican political consultant Roger Ailes is already searching the political landscape for a possible presidential candidate to oppose Bill Clinton in 1996. Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole may be the acknowledged early front-runner, but Ailes seems to think conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh wouldn't be a bad choice either.
Says Ailes: "I asked Rush what year he planned on running, and he said, 'I couldn't afford the pay cut.' " Ailes believes that while Limbaugh's popularity around the country makes him an attractive candidate, "it's nothing that should terrorize the liberals—yet."