Slithering Walters transforms Stevenson story into escapade

MEDIA WATCH

July 16, 1999|By MILTON KENT

If there was any chance for the main participants to extract some dignity out of the mess made this month when a Florida newspaper revealed the paternity of tennis player Alexandra Stevenson, that pretty much went out the window this week.

Stevenson, and her mother, Samantha, who had previously declined to talk about Alexandra's parentage and her relationship with Julius Erving, who admitted that he is her father, sat down with ABC's Barbara Walters Wednesday for a "20/20" interview that will air next week.

The Stevensons, who, two weeks ago, looked so noble -- or at least Alexandra did -- in maintaining their silence about Alexandra's birth, now come off just as tawdry as the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida did in breaking the story.

For Walters, who is as big a sleaze peddler as exists in the media, albeit in designer dresses and pumps, this is just business as usual.

We all know the Walters drill by now: Give some "victim" the chance to spill the intimate details of their lives before millions, look sympathetic or disapproving (whichever the moment calls for), then move on to another scandal. Kind of reminds you how snakes usually slither from one rock to the next.

It bears repeating here that no one needs to know the details of this whole sordid matter. Apparently, the Stevensons are willing to expose their lives, but what about Erving's wife, Turquoise, and her four children? Do they need their pain played out on national television?

In a sad coincidence, the interview took place at the Queens, N.Y., stadium named for Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend and humanitarian who was outed as an AIDS sufferer by a snoopy media.

Watch the show next week, if you must, but be sure to shower afterward.

All-Star blitz

In light of word that Fox's presentation of Tuesday's baseball All-Star Game was the third least watched in history, here are three words of advice for NBC, which will carry next year's game:

Start things earlier.

The fact that the first pitch didn't go off until around 9 p.m. Eastern wasn't good for anyone. Executives from both television and the major team sports have got to learn that when games start late, people lose interest. Even if ratings go up near the end of games, the pool of people watching decreases.

Around the dial

The hoopla from the U.S. Open tournament has just died down, but all the big-name golfers have headed across the pond to the Carnoustie course in Scotland for the British Open, the third of the year's majors.

ABC (Channel 2) will be all over the course with Mike Tirico and Jim McKay anchoring the coverage and Curtis Strange doing analysis. Ian Baker-Finch, who won the 1981 Open on this course, and Steve Melnyk, who captured the 1971 British amateur there, will work some of the holes, starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. Sunday, with a recap at 5 p.m. ESPN will have second-round coverage at 9 a.m. today.

Need more Preki in your diet? There'll be plenty to go around during tomorrow's telecast of the Major League Soccer All-Star Game, from San Diego at 3: 30 p.m., also on ABC.

HBO's "Boxing After Dark" series returns to the air tomorrow, with a live telecast of the junior middleweight bout between undefeated titlist Fernando Vargas, who, at 21, is the youngest current world champion, and former champ Raul Marquez.

CBS' Gary McCord will put down his microphone and play in this weekend's Senior PGA Tour stop in suburban Chicago, shown tomorrow and Sunday at 4 p.m. on Channel 13. After his performance in last weekend's U.S. Senior Open, McCord said he needed "a Prozac highball," so you'll want to tune in for that.

Finally, in something off the beaten path, tune in to TNT at 8 p.m. Sunday for "Moment of Impact: The Stories Behind the Pulitzer Prize Photographs." The program, narrated by "Law & Order" star Sam Waterston, includes a segment on photos taken in 1951 during a Drake-Oklahoma A&M football game that captured a racially motivated attack on Johnny Bright, an African-American player for Drake.

Pub Date: 7/16/99

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