Proving it really, really wanted a $1 million winner during November sweeps, ABC opened its purse strings last night after 31-year-old John Carpenter correctly answered the question, "Which of these U.S. presidents appeared on the television series, 'Laugh-In'?" The choices were a) Lyndon Johnson, b) Richard Nixon, c) Jimmy Carter, d) Gerald Ford.
It was Richard Nixon.
Carpenter, an Internal Revenue Service employee from Hamden, Conn., won the biggest cash prize yet on the hit ABC game show. He used none of his "lifelines" as he answered 15 questions on his way to the $1 million grand prize, but he did phone his father on the $1 million question, not for assistance, but to tell him he was about to become a millionaire.
Carpenter will appear on "Good Morning America" Monday and "Millionaire" will air through Wednesday.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
That's the premise of "Y2K," a fictional TV movie airing at 9 p.m. tomorrow about how things may go ker-blewey when the year 2000 arrives.
But there's some concern on the part of groups like the Federal Emergency Management Agency that viewers won't be able to distinguish between fact and fiction. Although that would seem to give viewers little or no credit for having any sense, WPXI plans to air disclaimers saying, "This program is a purely fictional thriller. The characters and situations are not based on fact. This program does not suggest or imply that any of these events could actually occur."
The station will also air a "Y2K Reality Check" report during the news following telecast of the movie, which stars Ken Olin, Joe Morton and Ronny Cox.
DRUDGE GRUDGE: After a week of verbal sparring, Matt Drudge Thursday apologized to his bosses at Fox News Channel, clearing the way for his immediate "mutual" departure from the cable network without a lawsuit.
The drama began Saturday, when the Internet's self-described "citizen journalist" refused to do his weekly show, "Drudge," after he was told he could not show a graphic photo of a 21-week-old fetus undergoing surgery for spina bifida.
Fox said Drudge would misrepresent the photo as a way to discuss his well-known anti-abortion views. Drudge countered with claims of censorship, labeling his bosses "overgrown fetuses who hit the panic button."
By late Monday, Fox lawyers advised the L.A.-based Drudge he was in breach of contract for walking off his show and publicly defaming the network. If he didn't apologize, Fox would sue.
Tuesday, Drudge insisted he wouldn't apologize. But after several days of meetings between him, his agent, Fox's lawyers and Fox News czar Roger Ailes, a separation agreement was reached. Including an apology.
"I apologize for the comments I made about executives in the heat of the moment," said Drudge, 33, in an interview Thursday, "but I don't apologize for walking off the show.
TOWN HALL MEETING: WDUQ-FM (90.5) is sponsoring a public town hall meeting Monday as part of the station's ongoing 50th anniversary celebration.
The topic: "Regionalism: Economic Development and the Role of the Citizen." Duquesne University President John E. Murray, Jr. will moderate the panel, which will explore the impact of economic development on the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania. A question-and- answer period will follow.
The meeting will be at Carnegie Lecture Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be broadcast live on WDUQ.
DEAD MAN TALKING: The Sci-Fi Channel has a new idea for talk show guests -- dead people. The cable channel has hired "medium" John Edward, who says he can see the dearly departed, to host the series, with guests who want to contact a deceased someone.
A pilot will be shot next month.
A RUN FOR "BATTERY PARK": NBC, home of Gary David Goldberg's '80s hit "Family Ties," is back in business with the producer after picking up six episodes of his new sitcom called "Battery Park" for later this season.
Elizabeth Perkins will play a tough detective in New York's Battery Park who works with a ragtag bunch of cops. She's replacing Charlie Sheen.
CHANNEL SURFING: USA Today reports Paula Marshall will leave ABC's "Snoops." ... Fox's "King of the Hill" has been renewed for the 2000-2001 TV season and WB's "Jack and Jill" has been picked up for a full 22 episodes.
By Post-Gazette TV editor Rob Owen, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Adrian McCoy and wire reports