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NBC's anniversary bash brings out faces from the past

Saturday, January 12, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

PASADENA, Calif. -- It was an extremely odd mingling of stars when NBC hosted a party to celebrate the network's 75th anniversary.

The theme songs, from "Silver Spoons" and "B.J. and the Bear," bled into one another. Mr. T ("The A-Team") arrived ready to rumble (and talk and talk and talk). Where else could you see Mr. T put his arm around Betty White ("The Golden Girls")?

One minute you're looking down on the diminutive Charlotte Rae ("The Facts of Life"), the next you're watching cast members of "Hill Street Blues" assemble for a group photo.

Barbara Bosson, who played Fay Furillo, arrived alongside James B. Sikking (Lt. Howard Hunter). Bosson, who is on the board of directors at Carnegie Mellon University, was last seen as a series regular on ABC's "Murder One," a drama produced by her ex-husband, Steven Bochco. She has her own production company now, and she's trying to get a new TV movie on the air, "Santa and the Green Hornet," which is set in Pittsburgh during a 1952 blizzard.

"It's a little Christmas story about these kids who collect comic books, and it has something to do with making Christmas happen for their little brother because the Sears trucks can't get through because of the snowstorm," said Bosson, who grew up in Charleroi and Belle Vernon.

She compared it to the Christmas classic "A Christmas Story," calling "Santa and the Green Hornet" a movie that's a "funny, quirky period" piece.

The script has been sent out to several networks for consideration, including Nickelodeon, Hallmark Channel and Disney Channel. But should the movie happen, Bosson said it's unlikely it would be filmed in Pittsburgh.

"We couldn't because the snow is a very important part. As a child it was above my head, so we'd have to shoot it in Idaho or Canada," she said.

Then it was time for the cast of another NBC classic, "L.A. Law," to line up for a photo as Punky Brewster (actress Soleil Moon Frye) walked among stars of current NBC shows, including the cast of "Just Shoot Me."

But my personal favorite moment during Wednesday's party came when a man accompanying Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek") approached me.

"Nichelle Nichols is here, and we need to get her a car," he said, mistaking me for an NBC page.

Surviving 'Survivor'

Hollywood studios have been incredibly paranoid since Sept. 11, fearing they may be next on terrorists' hit list. CBS searched bags and had attendees to its third "Survivor" finale party walk though metal detectors.

The finale to the third "Survivor" was better paced than the slow goofy conclusion to "Survivor II." Executive producer Mark Burnett's best trick was the complete re-creation of the tribal council set on a Los Angeles soundstage and seamless transition from what had been taped in Africa to what was live in L.A. during a commercial break. Wild-haired winner Ethan Zohn even had to begin regrowing his beard 39 days before the finale to make it match the way he looked at the end of his African adventure in late summer.

Cast members from all three "Survivor" series gathered to watch Zohn's win, celebrate afterward and grab some more press attention.

Well, almost all of them wanted another 15 minutes of fame. When the first "Survivor" winner was approached by TV critics, he showed no interest in talking.

"I'm not doing interviews," Richard Hatch said at a press party where the implicit reason for his attendance was to do interviews.

Never mind about him because our favorite Hometown Hottie, Amber Brkich of Beaver, was happy to chat even after getting dissed during the "Survivor" reunion show by host Bryant Gumbel, who said to contestant Kelly Goldsmith, "You didn't want to be the dumb one like Amber."

"He's never really been too nice to me, so it doesn't really surprise me," Brkich said. "I'm glad the audience disagreed with him and made an 'ewww' comment. They could have cheered -- that would have been really bad. I don't think it helps out his reputation."

Brkich, who was planning to move to Los Angeles last time we checked in with her, is still living with her family in Beaver, but she's getting ready to do a lot more traveling. Brkich just signed on as spokeswoman for IslandQuest Vacations, which she described as a new adventure vacation company.

Although she expected the demand for her appearances would diminish once "Survivor: Africa" began, she said October and November were her busiest months. And she's scheduled to be the guest of honor in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day.

"I know it's going to stop eventually, but I don't want it to stop anytime soon," she said. "It's good money."

Brkich considered hiring an agent, but she said agents would have wanted to get her into acting, which she's not as interested in.

"My main interest is hosting," she said. "I don't think I'd be where I am today if I would have ended up signing. I'd be struggling and waitressing and taking acting lessons, but here I am with an awesome job doing what I wanted to do."

She does have one persistent dream: To host a morning chat show.

"My ultimate dream is to be on 'Regis and Amber,' " Brkich said.

Post-Gazette TV Editor Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

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