Showbiz hype is as old as the hills — the oldest hills you’ve ever seen, by the way, featuring mineral deposits from the dawn of time — but this year it seems no exaggeration to say that hype took a horrendous beating. The disappointments were crushingly large. The drumbeats of false prophecy were simply deafening.
MCA’s Big Grab The Hype: The rumor lingered all spring. Mike Ovitz, the Most Powerful Man in Hollywood, was to jump from CAA, the agency he founded, to head Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s entertainment conglomerate. According to highly placed sources! Reality: Ovitz stayed at CAA—until it was announced he would become No. 2 man at Disney in August, to the complete surprise of highly placed sources.
O.J. Simpson’s NBC Interview The Hype: A week after the verdict, the Acquittee of the Century agrees to a no-holds-barred conversation with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric! Other networks shuffle their lineups; women picket NBC. Reality: Oh, you want to talk about the murders? The future Civil Action Witness of the Century backs out on interview day.
Showgirls The Hype: Lap dancing invades middle America as screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and director Paul Verhoeven liberate Hollywood with an NC-17 juggernaut! Reality: Jugs for naught. Moviegoers leave MGM exposed for half the movie’s $40 million budget.
David Caruso The Hype: The fiery NYPD Blue dropout would walk his true beat—the big screen! Reality: He was…okay. But Kiss of Death lived up to its name, and Jade was semiprecious.
Windows 95 The Hype: Microsoft’s power nerd Bill Gates would change the silicon landscape with this anxiously awaited software! Reality: Error. Sales projections were reportedly 50 percent too high. Apple mocks the program’s bugs in commercials.
The Season Finale of Melrose Place The Hype: Wild-eyed Kimberly (Marcia Cross) would level the complex in what Fox made out to be the most explosive episode ever! Reality: 5-4-3-2-cut. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, skittish producers snipped the fireworks.
Central Park West The Hype: Wunderproducer Darren Star (Melrose Place; Beverly Hills, 90210) would save CBS with a sleek New York-based soap! Reality: With Nielsens lower than a Big Apple pothole, CBS admitted in November that it goofed. Retooling began as star Mariel Hemingway hung up her Chanel suit.
The New Saturday Night Live The Hype: New sets, new directors, new performers, new opening credits! Reality: Same old funny-as-The Chevy Chase Show sketches. Added insult: Nonevent synergy brought Mariel Hemingway to host the show’s season opener.