ON AND OFF THE AIR:
* Maryland Public Television tonight begins airing "The Business Owners," a seven-week series of half-hour programs focusing on successful black business owners. The series previously aired on some other PBS stations, and it was produced by Gloria Borland Media Inc. of Washington.
First up tonight (at 7:30) is a profile of Baltimore's Raymond Haysbert, chief executive officer of the Parks Sausage Co.
The grandson of slaves, he was born in Cincinnati and his first job was as a junk dealer. He became an Air Corps flier in World War II and a college business professor, before joining the sausage firm in 1952.
Subsequent shows will air in the same Friday-at-7:30 time slot through June 26.
* By now the Towson family of Frank and Debbie Meyer will know whether they won this spring's top $100,000 prize on "America's Funniest Home Videos." But viewers will have to wait until Sunday.
In March, regular readers may recall, Frank and Debbie, with son fTC Frank III and cousin Erin Meyer took the top $10,000 prize in an episode of the popular ABC series. That entitled them to return to Hollywood this week for taping yesterday of the $100,000 episode that airs at 8 p.m. this Sunday on WJZ-Channel 13.
The Meyer entry is a video of an accidental "pants'ing" of Erin by Frank 3rd, her 2-year-old cousin, which took place at Thanksgiving dinner last year as she sang a song for the family.
* Some observations still linger from this week's big television event, Monday's baby shower for a fictional newscaster, "Murphy Brown" (Candice Bergen) which brought five real newscasters to the CBS show.
A reader inquires, for instance: Why didn't the show include just one person of color among the cameo shower guests? (They were Faith Daniels, Joan Lunden, Paula Zahn, Katie Couric and Mary Alice Williams) Good question. Perhaps the answer says something important and not very admirable about the minority makeup of top level network programs.
And except for Ms. Couric, they were all blonds, too!
Did anybody else notice the high level of brand-name product plugs built into the show?
Media Monitor recognized references, by name, to Playskool, Hefty, Victoria's Secret, designer Donna Karan, and the ThighMaster exercise device. A couple of other products Murphy received at the shower seemed easily identifiable, too: a monitoring device and a carry-all diaper bag.
As pointed out in a nice recent edition of the Baltimore-produced radio series "Soundprint" (7 p.m. Wednesdays, WJHU-FM 88.1), the subtle marketing tool -- most familiar from movies -- is known as product placement.