Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  Nov. 19, 2002 at 5:16 PM
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Tributes continued to come in Tuesday for Vernon Scott, who died at 79 Monday after covering Hollywood for more than five decades for United Press International.

"Vernon was in a class of his own when it came to covering Hollywood," said entertainer Edie Adams. "He knew more about me than anyone else. I considered him to be a close friend, as most of Hollywood did."

Scott was the first journalist to report the death of Adams' husband, legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs, in a 1961 car crash.

"Vernon was the first national correspondent who interviewed me when I first began hosting 'Truth or Consequences' in 1956," said "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker. "He was a thorough and enterprising journalist who developed a good news story from a casual conversation. I always knew it was at an important event when Vernon was present. He shall be sorely missed."

Don Rickles called Scott "one of the last of the great writers of the old Hollywood."

Gerald McRaney ("Major Dad," "Promised Land") said he and Scott shared "an abiding love of country" and enjoyed talking about U.S. history.

"He was particularly knowledgeable about California history," said McRaney. "He chronicled the important Hollywood stories of the past half-century, and managed to win and retain the respect of all who got to know him well. Vernon, Delta (Burke, McRaney's actress wife) and I shared a concern that Hollywood landmarks were disappearing too quickly. And now, with Vernon gone, we've lost one of our most precious ones."

Like many other stars, Grammy-winning singer Jack Jones recalled that Scott was one of the first Hollywood reporters to feature him in a UPI story.

"I always trusted him to be accurate and honest in his reporting," said Jones. "He would never sensationalize just for the sake of a story. An interview I did with him in Los Angeles would follow me wherever I performed, from the Philippines to England, Europe and the Middle East. He was the greatest!"


After going through high anxiety during the most recent round of contract talks with actors and writers, Hollywood is breathing a bit easier Tuesday -- secure in the knowledge that the union representing technicians has reached a new contract with producers, nine months before the current deal expires.

And it only took four days of negotiations.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IATSE, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, AMPTP, announced that they had come to terms on a new basic agreement covering almost one-third of the union's overall membership. Union president Tom Short said benefits were one of his negotiating team's most important considerations.

"With the rising cost of health care in this country, we believe we were able to maintain a level of health care benefits that our members are accustomed to," said Short. "And the fluctuating stock market has been a concern in terms of retirement benefits for our members, but we believe we have reached an agreement which will secure their future."

IATSE members will vote by mail on ratification.


Dennis Quaid is joining Billy Bob Thornton in the cast of "The Alamo," playing Sam Houston -- a role originally intended for Russell Crowe when his "A Beautiful Mind" director Ron Howard was still on board to direct the epic picture about the truly epic episode in U.S. history.

The assignment reunites Quaid with John Lee Hancock, who directed Quaid in this year's feel good sleeper hit "The Rookie."


"Grounded for Life" is leaving Fox to take up residence at the WB -- and it's all happening pretty suddenly.

The WB has ordered six new episodes of the comedy, and has acquired rebroadcast rights to 50 existing episodes. The series will show up on the WB's prime time schedule early next year -- probably in March.

At the same time, the WB is reducing its commitment to the new comedies "Do Over" and "Family Affair," cutting its order from 22 episodes to 19 for both shows.


UPN has ordered extra episodes of its Monday night comedies "The Parkers," "Girlfriends," "One on One" and "Half & Half."

Network president Dawn Ostroff announced Tuesday that UPN has ordered three additional episodes of "The Parkers" and "Girlfriends," meaning each show will have 25 new episodes produced this season. The network ordered one additional episode each for "One on One" and "Half & Half," giving each of those shows 23 new episodes for the 2002-03 season.

"Thanks to these four terrific shows, UPN is having one of its best Monday performances in the history of this network and these additional episodes will help us keep that momentum going throughout the year," said Ostroff.


ABC has another new reality show on the way that promises to generate controversy over how far network TV can take sexuality.

The network is planning to add "Are You Hot?" to its prime time schedule, a show from the mind of "The Bachelor" producer Mike Fleiss. Part of the promotion for the new show includes a nationwide search -- in the manner of "American Idol" -- for the sexiest person in America.

Like "Idol" the show will feature caustic judges passing harsh judgment on contestants who think they're good looking enough to compete for the title. And like "Idol" viewers will decide the matter by telephone ballots.

Fleiss told Daily Variety the contestants will be judged "with their clothes on and off ... we'll see what we can get away with."

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