VAN SUSTEREN LEAVES CNN, JOINS FOX
Greta Van Susteren, the lawyer-become-analyst who has evolved from a lackluster personality on camera to a commanding presence in legal-affairs television, will be leaving CNN soon to join Fox News. Although Fox has not confirmed the acquisition on its Web site, published reports indicate that Van Susteren may soon host the network's late-night talk show. Fox has been looking for a regular host since Paula Zahn left in September -- going to CNN. The departure of Van Susteren throws another wrench into the pioneer news channel's programming, scheduling that has gone through radical changes in the past year with some high-level defections and retirements. She had recently been named to host a new CNN show "The Point," which was reportedly designed specifically for her. Her previous show, "Burden of Proof" -- co-hosted by Roger Cossack -- was canceled after the Sept. 11 attacks. Cossack was given his pink slip just weeks ago.
JACKSON, SHARPTON ASSAIL HARVARD PRESIDENT
Two controversial civil rights leaders are blasting the nation's oldest institution of higher education. One, in Boston this week assailed the current president of Harvard University -- Lawrence H. Summers -- for what some see as the lack of a cohesive stand on affirmative action at the venerable institution. The other used the media and a sharply worded letter, containing the threat of a lawsuit, to make his point. Reporter Megan Tench, writing in the Boston Globe, says that the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Summers, "turning up the heat." Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton was sending a message to Summers asking him to explain why he rebuked one of his own staff for deciding to head an exploratory committee seeking to launch a "Sharpton for President" campaign. At least three prominent minority professors say they might leave Harvard and teach at Princeton because of the school's failure to address the issues of civil rights and affirmative action in school admissions.
CHEFS PLAY BIG, UN-SEEN ROLE IN MOVIE
If you look at the credits for the movie "Tortilla Soup" you'll see the names of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger listed as part of the cast. But you won't see them in the film, only their recipes. According to published reports, the pair -- owners of the Border Grill restaurant in Las Vegas -- was tapped to help provide foods served in the movie. The film is the story of three women trying to please their aging father who demands they always be home for Sunday dinner. Milliken and Feniger often worked until late into the night during the filming of the movie in order to make sure that the dishes looked great and were fresh and, most importantly, edible on camera. By the way, the two say one of the most fun aspects of helping in making the film was teaching actor Hector Elizondo to cook so his actions on camera looked natural.
IS O'REILLY READY FOR RADIO?
Now that Rush Limbaugh is having to cope with the problem of deafness in doing his daily radio show, there is talk that immensely popular writer-pundit Bill O'Reilly may give Mr. Ditto a run for his money. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that O'Reilly -- host of the long-running, award-winning Fox Network broadcast "The O'Reilly Factor" -- for years has talked about also doing radio. The publication says that if the conservative O'Reilly decides to make a foray into radio he will be just one in a long line of personalities who have tried to work in several media at once. Some have even succeeded. The best example would likely be Larry King. King began on radio, moving from Miami to Washington to be in the Mutual Broadcasting Studios for an overnight talk show. At the time few heard him. The show was aired from Mutual's 9th floor studios in a ghost town of an office complex in Arlington, Va., for years. This reporter was associated with the show at the time and can vouch for the fact that it was tough to convince anyone in the nation's capital to be a guest. Who wanted to be on a show, hosted by an unknown, at two in the morning, when it was not even heard in the D.C. area? Eventually Mutual got the show onto a local station and some of the insomniacs on Capitol Hill tuned in, eventually asking to be on the show. Soon half of Washington was calling, wanting to appear. The rest is broadcast history. Eventually King would be doing radio, TV on CNN and writing a column for USA Today. Lately he's thinned his agenda.
ARCHBISHOP CONTINUES HOLIDAY TRADITION
It's not fun being in jail, but if you have to pick a time to be incarcerated in the Arapahoe County lockup in Denver, across New Year's Day is the best time. The Denver Post says that one inmate, Lynette Oliphant, says she's thrilled that penal officials were two days late in getting all her paperwork done so she could be released. The reason for her joy? She was there in time to see the area's Catholic Archbishop, Charles Chaput, visit the prison as part of his annual holiday agenda. Chaput started going there four New Year's Days ago. In the ensuing time other lockups have asked him to come visit on Jan. 1, but he says his loyalty is to the Arapahoe facility. Chaput transformed the drab concrete-floored and -ceilinged prison meeting room into a cathedral, saying mass on the first day of the new year. He told those in jail that it's one thing to celebrate mass in a huge cathedral with all the fancy holiday decorations, but saying mass in humble settings -- such as a prison meeting room -- reminds him of how close Jesus was to the lowest level of citizens, even prisoners.
BOBBY KNIGHT CALLED 'BULLY' IN COURT
The latest testimony in legal action involving former Indiana University head basketball coach Bobby Knight came from Knight's replacement, current head coach Mike Davis. Davis, according to the Indianapolis Star, called Knight "a bully" saying that he never approved of the controversial coach's style or method of handling students. The remarks are part of a deposition made by Davis in a lawsuit filed by a former assistant coach. In the suit, Ron Felling claims that he was attacked by Knight. A "pattern of unacceptable behavior" was IU's official reason for firing Knight in September 2000. Knight is now the head coach at Texas Tech. Meanwhile, many say they are pleased that ESPN managed to tap award-winning actor Brian Dennehy to portray Knight in the upcoming film based on the book "A Season on the Brink: A Year With Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers." The movie is set for TV release on March 10. James Lafferty, late of "Emeril" and "Boston Public," will play Indiana guard Steve Alford (who was once my mom's paperboy).
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 239
There's been a lot of talk about how everyone hopes that 2002 will be a better year than 2001. So, in light of that, I'm suggesting that we all play psychic. "What are your predictions for events to come in 2002?" Put 2002 in the subject line and send to email@example.com via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 234 (MOVIES)
A week ago we asked you to rate the movies you saw during the past year. An overwhelming number of the replies suggested that movies seen in the final weeks of the year were the best. More than half said they were fascinated with the quantum leap that motion pictures had taken in the filming of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Others pointed to "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring." A few said they've already seen "Ali" and either loved it or hated it. Nearly two dozen movies that came out in 2001 got one vote each. IRM mentioned "Citizen Kane." I can only assume that his local theater gets slow deliveries of its films. GBA.