Networks swoop ever lower for sweeps

Who wants to unmarry a millionaire? It was a month of stupid stunts and low-class programming designed to get high ratings.

March 05, 2000|By san francisco chronicle

Was it the best of sweeps or the worst of sweeps? Whatever you thought of the programming during the annual network ratings sweeps this past month, it ended -- mercifully -- this past week. But just in case you missed it ...

* Moments before Rick Rockwell kissed her on "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?," Darva Conger said, "If you choose me as your bride, I'll be your partner, your lover and your friend, and we'll never be bored."

* William Shatner returned to "3rd Rock From the Sun" in his meatiest role in years, as the Big Giant Head.

* Montel Williams plumbed "Etiquette Emergencies" that might possibly sabotage a happy marriage. They included gaseous outbursts, loud belching, food gorging, eating directly from pots and pans, picking food from teeth and then eating it, and spitting and hawking in garbage cans.

* "Inside Edition" anchor Deborah Norville reluctantly agreed to spend five days in a North Carolina jail for an "unflinching" look at life behind bars. She emerged wearing an argyle sweater and declaring that "I thought I'd want a Snickers bar. I thought I'd want a McDonald's hamburger. But what I really wanted was fresh air."

* Sent to cover the NBA All-Star Game in Oakland, Miami sportscaster Guy Rawlings of WTVJ-TV was lost for hours in San Francisco, unable to find the arena. He later explained that his station sent him to San Francisco, and "I go where I'm told."

* On "Just Shoot Me," guest star Nina Foch tried to commit suicide by having a night of sex with David Spade.

* "Extra" followed Internet cyberbabe Cindy Margolis to Maui for a photo shoot and just happened to catch her jumping in a hotel fountain wearing nothing but skimpy black lingerie.

* In a heavily promoted story to demonstrate the effectiveness of the LoJack vehicle-recovery device to track stolen cars, a Philadelphia TV station sent a reporter, accompanied by a police officer, into the streets to locate a planted "stolen" car during a live newscast. Let's just say that things didn't go according to plan.

* In its four-week examination of the seven deadly sins, "CBS News Sunday Morning" chose couch potatoes to illustrate the deadly sin of sloth.

* "Extra" sighted the Virgin Mary on the side of a five-story bank. It also found people who are allergic to water.

* Elapsed time between Conger's vow of partnership, friendship and love for Rockwell and the moment she was "disgusted" by him: approximately one commercial break.

* "The Simpsons" promised to kill off a character, and did. Nice neighbor Maude Flanders was crushed by a box of T-shirts at a race car track.

* Mariah Carey confided to Rosie O'Donnell that yes, a reporter really did throw up during a London limo ride with her. But projectile vomiting apparently wasn't one of the reporter's talents. Carey said, "He didn't get near me, believe me. I would have been flipping out, because you know I always wear an open-toed shoe."

* A poetic Ricki Lake sampler: "There's Something I Have to Confess Today ... I Only Pretend I'm Gay for Pay!," "Mom, We're Black ... Forcing Me to Date Only White Men Is Totally Wack!," "You Say I'm Too Fat to Be With You ... I've Got a New Man, Buh-Bye, We're Through!" and "Your Bulgin' Thighs Are Hurtin' My Eyes!"

* "Real TV" unearthed home video footage of Leonardo DiCaprio, at age 8, blowing into a water cooler bottle for a science experiment.

* Montel Williams' other big shows included an interview with a 9-year-old Memphis boy who lived with his mother's corpse for 33 days.

* "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" host Jay Thomas blamed Rockwell for short-sheeting his career prospects. Thomas told "Inside Edition" that Rockwell "screwed up my negotiations. If I ever see him again, they will have to restrain me. He messed up a sweet deal that would have been great."

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