Jewish World Review Nov. 17, 2003 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
When networks attack!; leaky Fawcett; forget the Paris Hilton video!; more
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | NEW YORK Two weeks ago, while 13-year-old surfing champion Bethany Hamilton was paddling off the Hawaiian island of Kauai, a 15-foot-long tiger shark bit off her left arm.
Ever since, producers from the networks and other television outlets have been circling hungrily, trying to nail down the first exclusive interview with the pretty blonde teen.
I'm told that Los Angeles entrepreneur Roy Hofstetter -- a Hamilton family friend who's identified on her Web site, bethanyhamilton.com, as her "business and media manager" -- spent all of last week listening to pitches, and a few dazzling offers, as Bethany arrived home from the hospital to recover from life-saving surgery.
Hofstetter -- who answers his phone with a jaunty "Good morning!" no matter the time -- appears to have generated a feeding frenzy by giving the TV people possibly exaggerated versions of what their rivals have put on the table.
Thus rumors abound that the syndicated tabloid show "Inside Edition" offered to pay for a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm in return for the Bethany exclusive, while other outlets, I'm told, have offered a variety of other inducements -- financial and otherwise. "'Inside Edition' does not comment on news-gathering," a spokesman for the show told me.
A source at a rival network claimed that CBS, a subsidiary of the media behemoth Viacom, dangled an MTV reality show and a possible book deal -- a claim vehemently denied by CBS News officials.
"All I can tell you is that there has just been a lot of love and caring for Bethany," Hofstetter told me. "My main concern is getting her back on the board and turning her into a superstar."
In the meantime, the previously unknown Hofstetter has been fielding phone calls from the likes of syndicated talk show host Oprah Winfrey and CNN's Larry King (who believes he has her nailed down for the Nov. 24 "Larry King Live"), NBC's Matt Lauer of "Today" and Stone Phillips of "Dateline," and ABC's Chris Cuomo of "20/20."
Word is that Hofstetter has decided to go with Cuomo, who was hoping to interview Bethany as early as today in Hawaii -- in time for Friday's edition of "20/20." Hofstetter told me: "That (the Cuomo interview) hasn't been confirmed, but you certainly are talking about the right demographic."
CBS's Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of "48 Hours Investigates," told me she dropped out of the race on Thursday after getting the impression that Hofstetter "was going in a different direction."
"These stories are like buses," Zirinsky said. "You try to catch them, and if one passes you by and you don't make it, there's always another one."
Zirinsky added that, after all, Bethany "didn't cure cancer. She fell off a surfboard and had her arm bit off. I haven't lost a wink of sleep" over losing this "get."
"I can't really explain it," the former Charlie's Angel tells New York magazine, a few days after producer Joyce Johnson pulled the plug. "I would rather have gone up against the critics. So they didn't like it, so it closed -- at least we would have known."
Did she try to persuade Johnson to keep the show open?
"Yes, but she said, 'No, it's not working.' And I said, 'Joyce, let's just have one more week of previews. It's not in my nature to give up!' She said, 'I don't think it's going to work in this venue. It's certainly not you, Farrah.' I said, 'Joyce, I will not go gentle into that good night. I will rage, rage -- Dylan Thomas. That is my nature!'"
Did she keep forgetting her lines?
"Absolutely not true. I do not do that! I may have transposed a line, said the line and forgotten a part of it and added it at the end, but I learned in this process to respect the writer, the cadence of her lines, which is very difficult to do. I'm used to film, where you kind of say it and it's not exactly in the right order. Did they say I was drunk?"
Yes, some people did say that.
"Onstage, my character had to swig back some Jack Daniel's, so I said, 'What do you do with your mouth? Is this how you do it?' The director said, 'You should have a shot so you'll know. It burns.' So I went out with him and some of the cast members. And then he ordered me one shot, over ice."
So what's next for Farrah?
"I don't know what's next, because all of us turned down money and projects. All of a sudden, you've got -- whoa! People asked me, 'Do you want to stay and do Broadway?' And I thought, we're going to have to get some things straight: not great pay, a lot of hard work, and . . . But I still feel good. They can't take that away from me."
THE BRIEFING FORGET THE PARIS HILTON VIDEO!: As if that were possible. But former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak appears to have some home-movie auteur ambitions of his own. The New York Daily News' Larry Cohler-Esses reports that Barak dropped about $1,000 Thursday on a digital camera and a multisystem DVD player at B&H Photo, an audiovisual megastore. "There was a guy sticking so close to him you'd think they had some kind of special relationship," shopper Fred Bogin told Cohler-Esses. A spokeswoman from the Israeli Consulate says Barak is in New York until Wednesday "on a purely personal visit."
PUTTING A SOCK IN IT: Christopher Reeve might have been the star attraction at last week's cocktail party for his Paralysis Foundation, but I couldn't help being riveted by Dan Aykroyd's gym socks. The stocky comic actor, wearing a somber three-piece suit, was shoeless as he padded around Francine LeFrak's Park Ave. apartment, where Aykroyd's wife, Donna Dixon, fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Chevy Chase and Joan Collins wore more conventional footwear. "Want to show a little respect for the fine apartment," Aykroyd explained. "Don't know what kind of carpets they have. Don't want to wear through the threads." Reeve, who told me his own cueball-smooth head is "considered fashionable and trendy," grinned when I told him about Aykroyd's explanation for his fashion choice. "How considerate of him!" Reeve marveled.
BELGIAN NOSE-DIVE: I'd have thought that Belgian choreographer Anne Terese de Keersmaeker would have been pleased to receive the Brooklyn Academy of Music's 2003 Friendship Award at a gala dinner last week. Instead, she lectured the crowd -- including BAM's corporate sponsors, Marisa Tomei, John Turturro and arts patron Beth Rudin de Woody -- about their many shortcomings, at great length, punctuated by her frequent demands that they "shut up" and "be quiet." At one point during the seemingly endless diatribe, Tomei gave a friend a theatrical shrug. And BAM chairman Alan Fishman, a wealthy banker of just that sort that the Friendship Award-winner apparently can't abide, looked ready to leap out a window.
MIXED REVIEW?: Paul Newman owes his stardom largely to the 1958 movie version of Tennessee Williams's play "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof," in which he played sexually confused hunk Brick Pollitt. So it was widely noticed Thursday night at the Music Box Theater when the 78-year-old Newman, sporting a scraggly beard, kept his seat while others stood during Jason ("Brick") Patric's curtain call. But Newman leaped to his feet and clapped wildly when Ned Beatty ("Big Daddy") took his bows.
11/13/03: Publicity hounds; Prophetic priest; Dumb and Dumber