ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* It is hard to admit, given the gross over-exposure of America's least refined show business couple, but there actually are some genuine laughs in a cable special tonight featuring Tom Arnold, (a.k.a. Mr. Roseanne Barr).
"Tom Arnold: The Naked Truth" (at 11:30 on the HBO premium service) does blatantly plug his spouse's ABC show, "Roseanne, which he writes and co-produces. There are cameo appearances, for crying out loud, by almost everyone in the series, including Barr, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson. (Where's TV-hubby John Goodman? We don't see him, but he does get a mention.)
But fortunately, Arnold does not do any stand-up comedy in the half-hour show. (The dreadfully bad warm-up he did on Barr's most recent HBO special may be responsible for this good decision.)
Instead, the taped show has Arnold deciding to make a difference in the world by seeking solutions to such worldly problems as pollution, crime, the economy and drugs.
"I was a caring person before I even knew it was hip to care," he says. But it is all parody, of course, in a series of on-the-street skits.
Media Monitor's favorite bits include a short sequence with a Martin Mull cameo as someone steals the cinema verite camcorder, and former drug abuser Arnold's appearance at a middle school assembly. He tells the students: "They told us when I was in school that we could change the world, and we did -- we ruined it."
Rocker Frank Zappa also gets an odd cameo shot.
* Social scientists say one of the functions of television in our culture is to serve as a surrogate family for viewers. How better to illustrate the theory than to cite this week's family development for WMAR-Channel 2 anchor Sally Thorner, as presented in Wednesday's early-evening and late-night newscasts?
Thorner gave birth Monday night to a baby boy, and viewers got to meet young Everett Thorner Rosenfeld courtesy of a camera team in Thorner's hospital room. With husband Brian Rosenfeld at her side, she cradled the child as anchor Stan Stovall called him "the newest member of the Channel 2 news team."
Will he be covering the infant beat?
* With Thorner on leave until July, Mary Beth Marsden is filling Channel 2's evening co-anchor chair. And on the weekends beginning tomorrow, former WBAL-Channel 11 anchor Rudy Miller moves onto the Channel 2 desk.