Cold? Fox is making plans to heat up the winter

January 15, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Sex, violence, Shannen Doherty and the NFL.

We could only be talking about Fox Television, which came out smoking yesterday as only Fox can on its first day of the press tour.

Olympics competition

On the sex front, Fox announced it will counter-program CBS' broadcasts of the Winter Olympics in February with a package of "tropical heat," according to Fox Entertainment President Sandy Grushow.

The package will include Pamela Anderson ("Baywatch") as co-host with MTV's Pauly Shore of a series of specials from Hawaii. One will be a rock 'n' roll luau with David Lee Roth.

There will be more sex as Fox launches a spinoff of "Melrose Place" titled "Models Inc."

Grushow promised a leading character who is a young, beautiful and innocent model making her way down the runway of life.

Doherty's doings

And there's a new plot turn on the soap opera called Shannen.

Doherty says she quit "Beverly Hills, 90210."

Producer Aaron Spelling says she's been fired.

But yesterday Grushow said they are both wrong and there's a good chance Doherty could return to her role as Brenda Walsh on the show.

"There is a possibility that she may come back. And that's not wishful thinking," Grushow said.

Sources say the deal is this: If ratings slip without her, she'll be back.

4 And won't she be a sweetheart to deal with then.

The violence front

Meanwhile, Lucie Salhany, the chairwoman of Fox, had the harshest words yet for Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and those in Washington who want to reduce violence on TV through legislation.

"Washington has tried to jump all over us . . . on violence," Salhany said yesterday. "But the public is way ahead of the politicians" and is tired of "the Washington witch hunts."

Salhany said Fox can monitor itself, without any help from Congress, thank you.

Fox football fans

L Most of Salhany's session with the press dealt with the NFL.

Fox is going football crazy. Its acquisition of NFL rights is the centerpiece of its promotional effort at the press tour, right down to offering each TV critic a football jersey with the critic's name on the back.

Salhany introduced David Hill, the Australian who signed on last week to run Fox Sports.

Hill declined to discuss specific personnel moves, such as the play Fox is making for John Madden. But he did say he was going to try to bring some young blood to the broadcasts.

He promised a pregame show that was "part 'NFL Today,' part '60 Minutes,' and part 'Entertainment Tonight.' "

Bad beyond words

The quote of the day comes from Salhany, who was asked, "What do you think went wrong with the 'Chevy Chase Show'?"

"Just about everything," she said. Next question, please?

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