BABY TALK Call her Mommy. Anne Heche gave birth to a seven-pound baby on Saturday. The ”John Q” star and her husband, cameraman Coley Laffoon, have named the boy Homer Heche Laffoon. (Boy, is that kid going to get beat up on the playground.) It’s the first child for Heche, 32, and Laffoon, 27, who married in September. At that time, she also published her memoir, ”Call Me Crazy,” and did a Barbara Walters interview in which she explained that she had believed she was waiting for a spaceship to pick her up when she was found dazed in Fresno after her breakup with Ellen DeGeneres two years ago. Good thing it never came, or she would have missed all this.
TUBE TALK Ted Koppel broke his silence over ABC’s overtures to scrap ”Nightline” and hire David Letterman away from CBS. Writing on the op-ed page of today’s New York Times, Koppel claims to have no hard feelings over ABC parent company Disney’s cavalier treatment of him; after all, business is business. While he says that ”Nightlline” has earned ABC ”well over half a billion dollars” over its 22 years and ”continues to be profitable to this day,” he finds it ”perfectly understandable that Disney would jump at the opportunity to increase earnings by replacing ‘Nightline’ with the more profitable David Letterman show.”
What does rankle him is an anonymous Disney exec’s comment to the Times that ”Nightline” is no longer competitive or relevant in a 24-hour cable news/Internet universe. ”I would argue that in these times, when homeland security is an ongoing concern, when another terrorist attack may, at any time, shatter our sense of normalcy, when American troops are engaged in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Yemen and Georgia, when the likelihood of military action against Iraq is growing – when, in short, the regular and thoughtful analysis of national and foreign policy is more essential than ever – it is, at best, inappropriate and, at worst, malicious to describe what my colleagues and I are doing as lacking relevance.”
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that ABC wants to rejuvenate its Sunday morning news show ”This Week” by replacing Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts with younger correspondents – say, George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman – and moving the show from Washington to New York so that it won’t be so inside-the-beltway (there’s that ”irrelevance” bugaboo again). Donaldson tells the paper that ABC execs clearly want to increase the number of younger viewers and ”might do something different across-the-board. In the case of ‘Nightline,’ that has been dramatically pointed out to us.” As for any plan to replace him, he says, ”No one had the courtesy to tell me directly.”
Over at CBS, Ray Romano is feeling conflicted loyalties, since Letterman’s Worldwide Pants company produces ”Everybody Loves Raymond.” ”I hope he doesn’t [leave],” Romano tells TV Guide. ”Things will get confusing. He’s a producer on our show, so that would just get more crazy.” He adds, ”Now what? Am I loyal to Dave? Because I have to be. But I’m also loyal to CBS. It’s like two parents that split up and you’re the child, wondering who you belong to. So I hope he doesn’t go.” Asked if he might replace Letterman as a late-night talk show host on CBS, Romano says no thanks. ”My biggest fear would be that I’m just not smart enough. Maybe I could be funny enough, but you have to be worldly. You’re going to have people of every walk of life on a talk show and that ain’t me. I don’t have enough knowledge about everything.”