ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Regular viewers know that the network weekday morning shows are among the most important promotional vehicles for new movies. It's pretty outrageous, in fact. Toward the end of every week, the stars or big-name directors of that weekend's film releases are all over the place on NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America" and "CBS This Morning."
However, occasionally things backfire.
Today's scheduled guest on "GMA," for example, was actor Bruce Willis, whose big, expensive new movie "Hudson Hawk" is opening this weekend.
But do you suppose anybody told Willis about "GMA" critic Joel Siegel's review of the film on yesterday's show? It was blistering!
"Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman are now off the hook for 'Ishtar,'" said Siegel, referring to a previous big-bucks bomb. He called the Willis picture "one of the worst movies I have ever seen."
A tough act to follow when pitching the film.
* With Tuesday's completion of the merger between rival cable business services CNBC and Financial News Network -- the 2-year-old CNBC bought the older FNN for $154.3 million -- viewers of local cable systems which used to carry FNN will now automatically be seeing the newly combined CNBC/FNN programming, on the same channels as FNN.
"We've picked up virtually all their affiliate agreements," says CNBC spokesman Ellis Simon. The merger also included hiring about 60 of FNN's staffers, so even many on-screen faces will remain the same.
And Simon says that "This Morning's Business," FNN's daily show syndicated to broadcast stations, has also been picked up largely unchanged, with anchor Doug Ramsey continuing the broadcast. The show is seen here at 5:30 a.m. on WMAR-Channel 2.
* Whoops! That was obviously the Washington headquarters of The National Geographic Society -- and not the Smithsonian -- where yesterday's live broadcast of the National Geography Finals took place, as seen on and produced by Maryland Public Television. Media Monitor merely mixed up his sober D.C. edifices in an earlier column item this week.
* Did you know what "Murphy Brown" was doing in that last scene of Monday's season finale? Your answer may depend on your age.
We know a certain father of teen-aged children who was mystified when Murphy (Candice Bergen) held up a glass tube with a blue spot on top. He blanched when his daughter instantly knew this was a home pregnancy test -- and that the color means a positive result.
"The last time I had to worry about that, they didn't have home tests," says the father.