- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Shame on ABC

ABC should be scolded for its aggressive marketing campaign surrounding the final episodes John Ritter shot of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” before his death last month.

What began as a moving series of tributes to the late “Three’s Company” actor has morphed into an in-your-face campaign to plug the show, complete with a soft portrait ad of Mr. Ritter in this week’s TV Guide. The advertisement beckons readers to “join us for John Ritter’s final episode.”

“We will never forget the man or the laughter he gave us,” the ad continues. The network should hope its viewers quickly forget how it used a tragedy to grant one of its few hits another life.

Tonight’s show, airing at 8, features a special introduction by Katey Sagal, Mr. Ritter’s on-screen wife.

Mr. Ritter, by all accounts, was a decent and talented man who deserved better than this from the network to which he gave so much.

‘Eye’ to the rescue

The Fab Five have their work cut out for them.

The stars of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” drop in on NBC’s “Good Morning, Miami” tonight to apply their makeover magic to the show’s stars. They would be better off tinkering with the show itself, a rickety vehicle that wheezed into 2003-04 after a lethargic first season.

“Good Morning, Miami” stars Mark Feuerstein (as Jake) and Ashley Williams (as Dylan) as crew members of a fledgling morning TV show.

Tonight’s episode, airing at 9:30, finds Jake and Dylan bound for New York, where they meet up with the fashionable quintet. Also dropping by the “Miami” set are Jillian Barberie (of the syndicated “Ex-treme Dating”) and Tiffani Thiessen (“Beverly Hills 90210”), who signed on for a seven-story “Miami” arc.

Staying single

The star of NBC’s “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” is remaining a bachelor.

Don Mueller, of suburban Cincinnati, said his proposal to a California woman is off because neither one wanted to relocate, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Mueller proposed to Christena Ferran of San Diego on the Aug. 11 episode after his four grown children selected her to become his wife.

“We agreed mutually that neither of us would relocate,” Mr. Mueller, 48, owner of a map-printing business in Fairfield, Ohio, told AP. “She has two kids in high school, a junior and a sophomore, and their dad is a very active part of their life. I can’t leave the company I founded 25 years ago, and my grandson is here.”

Miss Ferran, in her early 40s, didn’t want to uproot her daughters from California, where she’s active with charities and as a champion Arabian horse rider. Mr. Mueller met last weekend with Miss Ferran in San Diego. It was the first time he had visited her home and just the sixth time they had been together since the engagement ceremony was taped in late May.

While in California, Mr. Mueller also visited with his daughter Heidi, 21, and son Chris, 22, in Los Angeles. Miss Mueller makes her acting debut Oct. 24 on NBC’s “Passions” drama. Mr. Mueller said one of the reasons he agreed to do the show was that it allowed him time to visit with his children in California.

“The honest reason I did it was so I could spend three weeks of my life with my kids as adults,” he said. “I knew it would never happen again.”

All eyes on California

The major news outlets are pulling out the stops to cover today’s California recall election.

The big three networks’ anchormen, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’ Dan Rather, will be heading West, and cable news networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC have put in place special election-night plans to cover a race that has shoved other political news to the side, according to AP.

Since Aug. 1, broadcast network evening news programs have given the California recall nearly four times as much airplay as the Democratic presidential candidates.

ABC, CBS and NBC all plan special reports on today’s election results. But because it already will be 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time when California polls close, prime-time network programming will be largely uninterrupted on the East Coast. Interruptions in other time zones will depend on how quickly results come in, network executives said.

Wolf Blitzer will anchor a special three-hour election report on CNN starting at 11 p.m.

He’ll be joined by CNN’s political team of Judy Woodruff, Jeff Greenfield, Candy Crowley and Bill Schneider.

Mr. Blitzer also will provide updates during prime time on the East Coast.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews will anchor his show, “Hardball,” at 7 p.m., then preside over five hours of live election coverage from Los Angeles starting at 9 p.m. Joe Scarborough will anchor the election.

Over at Fox News, Brit Hume will anchor the network’s extensive coverage of the California recall election beginning at 8 tonight.

The news network’s regular programs, including “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity & Colmes,” will devote portions of their shows to the closely watched race.

At 11 p.m., Fox News turns to Mr. Hume and a panel of commentators, including “The Beltway Boys” hosts Fred Barnes and Mort Krondrake, plus Mara Liasson and Michael Barone.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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