• U.S.

Doesn’t Anybody Want To Talk To Cher?

2 minute read
Benjamin Nugent and Richard Zoglin

TV’s booking wars used to mean vying for exclusive interviews with stars like Tom Cruise. Now the high-stakes battles are more likely to be over the people nobody knows–until they get caught up in front-page news stories. “Old-world bookers say, ‘Look at my Rolodex–I know Henry Kissinger,'” says Bruce Perlmutter, senior executive producer of CNN’s new Connie Chung Tonight. “New-world bookers get that what it’s about now is who isn’t in your Rolodex. They know how to track people down.” A recent buffet of tabloid stories–kidnappings, a mine rescue, twins joined at the head–has put these bookers to the test and ratcheted up the competition. Last week NBC had to discipline a booker for buying a pair of $80 pants for one of two California girls who went on Today to tell of their escape from a kidnapper. Such gifts are generally frowned upon by the networks, but plenty of other practices aren’t, such as sending flowers or paying for travel. And dirty tricks don’t cost anything–like the Good Morning America booker who, a rival claims, impersonated a Today booker on the phone to grab an interview away from the NBC show. ABC denies it. Isn’t this fun? –By Benjamin Nugent and Richard Zoglin

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