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TV News: Chung says show finding its footing

Saturday, July 13, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

PASADENA, Calif. -- Connie Chung, who has worked for all the broadcast networks (CBS twice), now has her name on a news magazine program that premiered on CNN last month.

Chung described the format of "Connie Chung Tonight" (8 p.m. weekdays) as a magazine-style, interview-driven news show that takes off from the day's "breaking news."

Early reviews of the program were not kind, particularly of Chung's performance and her decision to say goodnight to her husband and son at the end of the first installment.

"My husband and my son were on vacation and I always put my son to bed, so I thought, I'll say goodnight to my son," Chung said. "After the news, I called my husband and said, 'Was he watching?' He said he told him I was on and he came up for one second and then ran off. So I decided I'm not going to say goodnight to him the next night. I didn't stop doing it because of what people said or anything."

Beyond that, Chung said she wasn't nervous that first week but agreed that something wasn't quite right.

"I called my husband and told him I didn't feel like myself," Chung said. Her husband, talk show host Maury Povich, said he thought she wasn't enjoying what she normally enjoys doing.

"I understood what he meant, and from then on it's been smooth sailing," she said. "It always takes time for any program to get on its legs."

The 'Birdman' cometh

Cartoon Network's new Sunday night series "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" (11 p.m. tomorrow) takes the late '60s Hanna-Barbera character Birdman, dresses him in a suit and tie and sends him into court to defend his famous cartoon clients.

When Fred Flintstone is fingered as a mob boss, Birdman defends him. When Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are arrested on suspicions of smoking pot, Birdman wings his way to their defense.

How do series creators Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter get away with tweaking these classic characters? Easy: Cartoon Networks has the rights to Hanna-Barbera characters.

"We consider ourselves kind of caretakers of these characters," said Richter at press conference yesterday. "We have to be..."

"Respectful," Ouweleen chimed in.

Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

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