Down UnderRises to the Top


The 'land Down Under'
sure seems to be on top lately. First, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC covered last September's Summer Olympics from Sydney, Australia-accompanied by a batch of broadcast and cable network programs about kangaroo-land. CBS will next premiere SurvivorII
from the Aussie Outback, right after Super Bowl XXXV
on Jan. 28, and Turner Network Television will cover the Goodwill Games
from Brisbane starting Aug. 29. (When it comes to Survivor, The Wire wonders why no one thinks to vote off the annoying host, Jeff Probst.) Then there are upcoming theatrical flicks like Crocodile Dundee in L.A.
and Down & Under,
following in Mission:

Impossible 2's
Aussie footsteps. Given all that, it shouldn't be surprising to find Comedy Central pitching affiliates on the "Laugh Fest Down Under Sweepstakes." Due July 1-28, its grand prize is a trip for four to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

.Former Vice President Al Gore moved from his official residence last week to his former home in Arlington, Va., which he'd rented to his brother-in-law for the past eight years. In the days leading up to Gore's return to private life, workers gave the two-story Tudor residence a scrubbing and cleaned up the yard. The

Washington Post
sent a reporter to the location to interview neighbors and observe the activity. "Out back," the Post
reported on Jan. 17, "a worker was power-washing the house. Another fussed with a satellite dish."
So it looks like cable competition is alive and well in the home of Al and Tipper.A number of the pampered TV critics and cable-network executives who stayed at the Ritz-Carlton for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif., got an impromptu cold shower when they hopped into their tubs last Tuesday. It was unclear if the lack of hot water was due to the California energy crisis or not, but it had TCA attendees frosted
-and complaining loudly. Later in the week, guests received a letter from the hotel general manager asking everyone to conserve energy by turning off unnecessary lights and computers.

.Tony Randall doesn't suffer foolish questions gladly, as he showed during TV Land's TCA session on The Odd Couple. Randall appeared in person, while co-star Jack Klugman appeared via satellite. As a closing question, a TV writer innocently asked Randall: "The wonderful thing about this play is the difference between the two guys. How are you two, in real life, different?" Right off the bat, Klugman knew it was the wrong thing to inquire about-
a touchy subject-because he said, "Oh no! Don't ask that question." But the cat was already out of the bag, and Randall sarcastically skewered the unwitting writer, saying, "What a question. I've never been asked that one before! Wow! My congratulations to that brilliant journalist.Stupid!" Trying to take the edge of the exchange, TV Land general manager Larry Jones jokingly asked Randall, "Is that your final answer?"

.Meanwhile, Gore's 2000 campaign rival, George W. Bush, was also busy last week, prepping for major TV coverage on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20-a date when The Golf Channel was scheduled to air a primetime special, Presidential Golf. Talk about your unusual links.
In production for one year, the show features archival footage and photos that date back to Teddy Roosevelt. To be rerun on Jan. 25, the one-hour special points out that at least 15 presidents have played golf, including Franklin D. Roosevelt (who played before he took office), and that Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter were non-golfers. Yep, there's even a segment on George H.W. Bush golfing with sons Dubya and Jeb.

.The evening radio personalities on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles last Wednesday broadcast the phone number for CNN in Atlanta and urged their listeners to call and urge the news network to limit its job cutbacks. But Conway & Steckler
may have had an ulterior motive for doing so. The show runs a weekly feature called "What the Hell Did Jesse Jackson Say?" in which the cohosts play audio clips from Jackson's Both Sides Now, then offer prizes to callers who correctly interpret hisgarbled pronunciations and syntax. The radio guys, who use transcripts from that CNN Sunday evening show for guidance, said they fear the "translators who prepare the transcripts" will be the first to go if there is further bloodletting at the network.

.At least one influential U.S. senator wouldn't mind seeing the upper chamber adopt some of the U.S. Supreme Court's media-coverage policies banning TV cameras, radio microphones and tape recorders from the proceedings. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) told the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that he thinks C-SPAN's cameras inject toomuch showbiz into the legislativeprocess
and should be rolled out of the place, so serious

legislating can be reinstated. "I've said for long time that we could get a lot more done if we could turn the television cameras off the floor of the United States Senate and start making statements on what is really important to the American people and to the problem at hand and solving it, without [the] polarization of being a TV star for 15 minutes on the floor," Burns said. By the way, Burns is chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, a lawmaker with considerable power over the cable industry