Just as his B-movie actor father over-achieved beyond his wildest expectations, Ron Reagan has managed to maintain a fairly steady television profile based upon the thinnest of apparent talents.
The former first kid was a special correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America" when his father was in office, had his own cable special a couple years ago and most recently was seen hosting one of the "A&E Evening at the Improv" comedy fests on cable.
He has a genial grin, a willingness to poke some fun at himself and others and, and . . . well that's about it, actually. Is that enough to be a talk show host?
We'll find out. "The Ron Reagan Show," a syndicated nightly hour of talk and entertainment, makes its debut at 12:30 a.m. tonight on WBFF-Channel 45. (Cable viewers in most area systems can see it an hour earlier, via Washington's WTTG-Channel 5.)
The Reagan name apparently doesn't exempt the 33-year-old former dancer from proving himself in Baltimore.
"I assume if he does well in the ratings his time period will reflect that," says Channel 45 programmer Mike Schroeder of the relatively inauspicious post-midnight time slot. "The Arsenio Hall Show" airs from 11 to midnight and the station is committed through mid-September to running the midnight "Party Machine," music-oriented series with host Nia Peeples.
Conceivably, if it is still around come January, the Reagan show could take over the "Arsenio" time slot when that show moves to WBAL-Channel 11. But Schroeder says, "we have a lot of late-night options," including potential reruns of both "Cheers" and "Married, With Children," both starting in syndication next month in Channel 45's 7-8 p.m. weekday time slot.
For late-night viewers, the Reagan show is certainly worth a look, however, especially because NBC's "Late Night With David Letterman" (at the same hour on WMAR-Channel 2) is into reruns this week.
According to Schroeder, producers promise Reagan "is not going to do the typical talk show thing," planning a mix of guests and audience segments "that are somewhere between Arsenio and Oprah."
SAIL AWAY -- In the history of American yacht racing, 1983 was a dark year. After 132 years, the America's Cup trophy was finally wrested away by a syndicate from Australia. We won it back again, but recalling that dramatic racing loss off Newport, R.I. is the subject tonight of the latest "America's Cup: Setting Sail for San Diego," at 10 on the ESPN basic cable network. The series is counting down the months to next winter's latest Cup defense trials in California.