TV Executives Discover it’s Cheaper to Start a League than Buy the Rights

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • December 04, 1998

by Karen Feld

Just in time for the next U.S. presidential election: Harvey Schiller and Dick Ebersole, sports chiefs at Turner Broadcasting, and NBC, respectively, are in New York putting the final touches on a new 10-city football league. They plan to go head-to-head against the National Football League in fall 2000. The venture is well-financed, has pro-expertise, and guaranteed TV coverage. The price is right — it’s cheaper than buying the TV rights to the NFL package. Expect an announcement by year end.

Is Tom Hanks leading a Hollywood backlash against Bill Clinton? The buzz from LA to NY this week centred on the film star’s defection from the Clinton camp and his political ambitions, perhaps including a run for the Senate. The star of the new comedy You’ve Got Mail, told the New Yorker he regrets donating the maximum allowable $10,000 (US) to the president’s legal defense fund. The entertainment industry still stands by their man. “I have nothing to say about Tom Hanks. I’m still a Bill Clinton supporter,” said actor Billy Baldwin. An equally cautious Friend of Bill, Ted Danson, said he hadn’t spoken to Tom and “I certainly wouldn’t say anything off a headline.” After his Hollywood colleagues backed off from Hanks, he spun his story and now regrets the interview. Hanks and wife Rita Wilson have been White House guests three times.

Other Hollywood-Washington buzz centres on First Lady Hillary Clinton. She spent a few days in New York, basking in the warmth of her supporters (and the Vogue cover), attending special events and a film premiere, and taping an interview with Rosie O’Donnell. There’s speculation she will run for the Senate after 2000, but she needs a base, perhaps New York, or her home state, Illinois. Shorter-term, insiders say she’s considering UNICEF or a prestigious university. As for husband Bill, he has a post-White House job offer from Dreamworks, compliments of big bucks Democratic contributor, director Steven Spielberg.

Monica Lewinsky has moved into an apartment in the Westwood area of Los Angeles and won’t be staying holed up inside as she did when she lived in the Watergate in Washington. The former White House intern has been spotted tooling around town in a new black Ford Explorer, making use of her share of the $300,000 (US) book advance.

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