Ted Turner (below) used to suffer from manic depression. Now he has switched to plain old paranoia. The boss of CNN has long wanted to own a broadcast network. Last week in Pasadena he said his failure to buy a net made him a "down-and-outer" in the TV business; ludicrous but familiar. Then came an extraordinary outburst. "I feel like those Jewish people in Germany in 1942," Turner told an audience of national TV critics. "I know exactly what it is to be rounded up, hoarded out and sent to the east somewhere."
The President of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors anti- Semitism, is appalled. "It was offensive and insensitive to trivialise the sufferings of millions of people," says Abe Foxman. "I don't want him to apologise. I'd rather he understood that what he said was wrong." But Turner has apologised. In an angst-ridden letter to the ADL, Turner says he is sorry and acknowledges that his ill-chosen remarks may have caused offence.
Cast your votes now. The organisers of the Miss America "beauty pageant" want America to decide if they should drop the controversial swimsuit parade. Miss America's chief executive, Leonard Horn, says: "Swimsuits have long been our Achilles' heel. We are inviting the American public to cast their votes on whether the swimsuit should stay." Horn explained that, after almost eight decades, the organisers feel their catwalk flesh fest may be distracting from its main mission of "women's education and achievement".
Of course, it is that part of the show which attracts the biggest bucks from advertisers. "This show was already losing its audience," says Ann Forster at the PR firm Franco-Berk Associates. "Without the swimsuits I'm not sure it's economically viable for a TV network to buy the rights. But it's just a publicity stunt. They know the poll will back the swimsuits." How shameful.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie didn't exactly take the US box office by storm; $18m ticket sales in the first five days is more of a light shower. Maybe parents can anticipate the end of Morphin fever. They might get some help from a former FBI agent called Herbert Simmons, who says he created the Rangers more than 20 years ago. He has filed a suit claiming damages of more than $1bn against Saban Entertainment, which owns the Mighty Marketing rights to the morphing teenagers (last year Power Ranger merchandise had sales of more than $300m). Simmons called his crime-fighters the "Star Patrol". He says his characters could morph and their motto was "Be the best you can be." The Power Rangers motto is "Be the best person that you can be."
The Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dole has seen the complaint and asked the US Department of Justice to investigate. Simmons' next move may be a writ to ban further showings of Morphin movies or TV shows and a ban on Morphin merchandise sales. Just imagine the relief ...
Some American TV presenters douse their hair with so much spray it makes their locks stand still even as hurricanes blow nearby. This can have its dangers, as Michael Limric discovered. Limric is a reporter at KVEW TV in Seattle. Last week, sensing a slight breeze, he slathered gel over his hair before presenting a spot about bee-keeping. The hive was 50ftaway from Limric's position, but it seems bees really go for hair gel. Within seconds his head was swarming. The beekeeper Irv Pfeiffer and camerawoman Dao Vu tried to brush the bees away. Pfeiffer eventually slammed a protective hood over Limric's head; sadly, the hood itself was full of bees. Limric received multiple stings and had to be treated in hospital. The irony is that KVEW TV's news director, Tom Spencer, had almost killed the story, thinking it was not very exciting. "I guess I was wrong," says Spencer now.
Ratings, ratings. That's the name of the US TV game, and building an audience seems to call for ever wilder stunts in order to attract advertisers. For instance, Disney's Discovery Channel next month plans to film the exhumation of the Old West outlaw Jesse James (above left), who was supposedly shot to death in 1882. A group of forensic lawyers doubt the story, and they have won permission to dig up the gunslinger's bones and test them for bullets. That's where the Discovery Channel comes in. They have just signed up Gunslinger Barbecue Sauce from Kraft Foods for several spots.Reuse content