In search of bigger ad bucks, ABC moves 20/20 off Fridays
When ABC News executives gathered the staff of 20/20 last month to tell them the newsmagazine would bounce from Friday nights—its home since 1978—to Wednesday nights this fall to make way for the soccer mom prime-time soap Once and Again, anchor Connie Chung had a question. "Is this what loyalty and hard work are rewarded with?" Chung asked. "Barbara is a legend. She deserves better."
Barbara, of course, is Barbara Walters, 20/20's anchor since 1984. "It certainly touched my nerve," she told her colleagues on The View. "We're not thrilled about being moved." Soon Walters was telling them about her contract and other offers. She also received an unsolicited appeal from Dan Rather to jump ship for CBS.
Walters, 69, attracts 11.4 million viewers to 20/20. Once and Again, which stars Sela Ward, 44, draws only 8.5 million. So why switch? "Older people like news programs, and young people don't," says Chris Geraci of OMD, a media buying firm. The network, he says, is hoping Ward's appeal can attract the latter half of the 18-to-49-year-old demographic advertisers covet. As for Walters, her contract binds her to ABC through 2005.
Painting the Town Blues
Nearly 200 invited guests—including pal and costar Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls and High Crimes, a thriller scheduled for release this winter) and her sister Wynonna—whooped enthusiastically as Morgan Freeman shimmied with his wife, Myrna, at the May 27 opening of Ground Zero, a blues club that he opened with two partners in Clarksdale, Miss. "My mother played piano and organ at the churches around here," says Freeman, 64, who now lives nearby. "This was a way to give something back." Fashion highlight: watching Ashley Judd's bodyguard fetch a pair of scissors from the club's business office to snip off pesky hanger straps that kept creeping out of Judd's little black dress as she danced.
In the Blink of an 'I Do'
Tom DeLonge, 25, who sings and plays guitar with the irreverent pop punk trio blink-182, tied the knot May 26 with his girlfriend of almost five years, interior designer Jennifer Jenkins, 26. But he didn't lose his playful edge. DeLonge, who wed Jenkins on Coronado Island in San Diego Bay, gave his groomsmen—including bandmate Mark Hoppus—silver yo-yos from Tiffany and Co. But there were poignant moments too. "I was in tears," says the rocker, upon realizing Jenkins had booked his favorite band, Jimmy Eat World, to perform two songs. "I cried more than any girl ever cried. That was the gnarliest thing that ever happened to me."
Drawing the Line for Charity
Among those donating fridge-door-worthy doodles to a recent AIDS benefit in New York City: Charlize Theron, whose work fetched $270; George Clooney ($300) and Natasha Richardson ($275). Match the artist to the artwork.
Answers:1. Clooney 2. Richardson 3. Theron
Downey Deal: No Jail
Robert Downey Jr. has struck a tentative plea agreement that will spare him jail time for his arrest on drug-related charges last Thanksgiving weekend in Palm Springs, Calif. Sources tell Scoop that Downey, 36, will plead no contest to at least two of the three charges, which include possession of cocaine, possession of Valium and being under the influence of drugs. In exchange he will remain at a Southern California residential drug treatment center for six months to a year. Barring a last-minute snafu, the deal is expected to be announced July 16. Prosecutors and Downey's attorney both declined comment. His acting future remains uncertain. Downey has no scheduled film work, and his character was written out of the season finale of TV's Ally McBeal,
Forgiving Dad's Faults
It was only last March that Michael Jackson told an Oxford University audience that his father never said those three little words "I love you." Things appear to be better now. Jackson, 42, writes in the current issue of the Jewish magazine Olam that he has "found peace" with Joseph Jackson, 72, who with discipline—and some might say tyranny—built the Jackson Five. "My father was a managerial genius," notes the Gloved One, who in retrospect appreciates his father's treating him to an occasional carnival pony ride or leaving a bag of glazed doughnuts (Michael's favorite) on the kitchen counter. "I have come to see that my father's harshness was a kind of love.... He pushed me because he loved me."
with Tony Curtis
Marilyn Monroe peaked as a comedic actress in 1959's Some Like It Hot, the story of two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) eluding gangsters by dressing in drag. The film remains popular, and the legend of Monroe, who died of a drug overdose in 1962, continues to grow. As what would have been her 75th birthday on June 1 approached, Scoop asked Curtis, 76, to share a few memories of Hollywood's ultimate troubled star.
Explain the enduring appeal of Monroe in this film.
Some Like It Hot is the only movie Marilyn ever made where she seduced the guy [Curtis], not the other way around. By reversing that situation, it made the movie a lot more amusing.
At the time, how did she get along with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller?
Things were very rough with Arthur Miller. I could see the anguish and the pain and the unhappiness in her.
How did it affect her work?
She was very distracted, and [director] Billy Wilder just had her keep doing scenes over until she finally let everything go and it was perfect.
Any other problems?
At that period she was being so difficult on the set—late for work, didn't know her dialogue. She was giving everybody problems. They put a lot of pressure on her, and she just couldn't handle it.
What else can you tell us about her personal life?
Marilyn had this mystique about wanting to be an intellectual.
Still, you seemed to enjoy making the film.
I loved it. Marilyn was having a tough time, but where does it say that you have to have an easy time when making a movie?
There's a famous line attributed to you concerning Monroe's osculatory abilities.
You mean, "Kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler"? Never said it.
ON THE BLOCK
ON THE BEACH
Just in time for summer, Boston-based leveraged-buyout king Thomas Lee has purchased the East Hampton, N.Y., beach house of Jackie Onassis's sister Lee Radziwill and her former husband, director Herb Ross. The estate, built in the 1930s, comes with a pool and tennis court and 3.4 acres of ocean-front property. The house is the same place Jerry Seinfeld reportedly tried unsuccessfully to buy a couple of years ago (he ended up buying Billy Joel's house for $35 million). Lee, say local real estate agents, paid more than $16 million to be the master of this domain.