Monday, July 7, 2003 | 10:32 a.m.
Go with your strengths.
The news department at Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV Channel 13 has two of the more prominent strengths in the local TV market in popular bow-tied weather forecaster Nate Tannebaum and longtime sports director Ron Futrell.
However, the station usually comes in a dismal third in the ratings behind the local CBS and NBC affiliates, KLAS Channel 8 and KVBC Channel 3.
So, nascent News Director Craig Hume is stepping outside the box, so to speak, when lead anchor Ross Becker is off on vacation tonight through Wednesday.
Sportscaster Futrell will be pinch-hitting for Becker, sitting alongside Cathy Ray for the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.
"Ron is a great talent and I think he is underutilized," Hume told VegasBeat on Sunday night.
Hume said that Becker was no Wally Pipp -- the New York Yankees first baseman who once took a day off because he had a headache and found himself replaced by legendary baseball ironman Lou Gehrig.
"It is not a permanent move. We'll see how Ron does and how the viewers respond and we'll take it from there," Hume said. "Ross will be back in his chair on Thursday."
Hume, who arrived in Vegas six weeks ago after stints in Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles, and most recently Chicago, has his work cut out for him. The station has suffered from tremendous turnover recently; the Nevada Broadcasters Association job website has openings for six positions at the station: newscast producer, assignment editor, photojournalist, AM coordinating producer, associate producer and media manager.
"This is a very competitive market and we need to do some things to shake it up a bit, to increase the number of viewers," Hume said.
Futrell has worked only in sports in Las Vegas, but previously had done news reporting at a Salt Lake City station and was a news anchor at a Yakima, Wash., station.
"I don't know where this is going," Futrell said. "But I am always open to new challenges."
Becker was not immediately reachable for comment Sunday night.
Copperfield ducks out
It turns out that David Copperfield didn't perform his shrinking illusion on the "Today" show last week. VegasBeat had reported on his pending attempt to transform himself to the size of Verne Troyer's Mini-Me character.
Apparently, Copperfield's equipment got lost en route from Kansas City, Mo., to New York. "I can make the Statue of Liberty disappear, but I can't make a train show up on time," he quipped to the New York Post's Page Six gossip column after performing an alternate trick -- making a duck disappear, in slow motion.
Only, Copperfield didn't have a duck when the day began. So he and an assistant went to the city's Chinatown neighborhood and bought a live quacker that was on the verge of being turned into Peking duck.
After Copperfield did the trick for a rapt studio audience of Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Katie Couric, he set the bird loose in Central Park.
Copperfield is back at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre from Aug. 21 to Sept. 3.
Actress Jeanne Cooper, her son, Corbin Bernsen, and an entourage of children saw Lance Burton's Monte Carlo show Saturday night.
Cooper began in the film business in 1953 and is best known for her ongoing role as Kay Chancellor on the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless." Bernsen rose to fame on "L.A. Law."
Also Saturday, Charo, her husband/manager, Kjell Rasten, and manager Steve Darling went to see George Lopez at the Las Vegas Hilton. During the performance Lopez introduced Charo to the crowd, which went nuts -- he made her stand twice so the folks could get their fill of her.
From the stage, he said: "Charo is one of the reasons Latinos have been able to make the crossover to multicultures and was a fantasy of mine when I was growing up."
Friday night, at B2K's show at the Aladdin, porn superstar Jenna Jameson was in the crowd, and comedians D.L. Hughley and Mike Epps were at the show with their families.
The cover of the July edition of Vanity Fair has some "teens of the moment" wearing Las Vegas baubles.
Alexis Bledel of "The Gilmore Girls" is wearing the Paris Trefle Necklace with diamonds, and Evan Rachel Wood of "Once and Again" is wearing the Paris Star Citrine Necklace, both from the FRED store in the Forum Shops at Caesars.
Inside, Mary Kate Olsen is wearing the MOVE Mouvementee Pendant with diamonds, and Mandy Moore is wearing the As de Coeur pendant with diamonds.
McKenna Medley's solo performance at the Suncoast last week was a huge success -- so successful that she is returning to the Suncoast in October.
Comic Marty Allen saw the show Saturday night. Afterward Allen introduced himself to McKenna and told her he enjoyed her show. He did, however, jokingly give her a piece of advice: Get rid of your opening act.
Medley's opening act was her father, who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Righteous Brother Bill Medley.
Hilton headliner Engelbert Humperdinck is $700,000 poorer after losing a four-year legal battle to regain the rights to his song catalog.
A federal judge in Los Angeles late last week ordered Hump to pay damages stemming from the suit to Darryl Payne, owner of Classic World Productions.
Strongmen: Former TV "Superman" Dean Cain and former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis were at ghostbar Friday night ...
Danny boy: Noted Irish musician Paddy Keenan is performing at the opening of the new Nine Fine Irishmen pub at New York-New York on Tuesday night ...
All wet: Friday night at Rain in the Desert (Palms): Oakland rapper Too Short. On Saturday: Corey Feldman and Korn ... Hot stuff: Playboy mansion regulars Sandy and Mandy Bentley were cavorting with Carrot Top at Tabu on Saturday night ...
Literature, baby: Whiskey Bar at the Green Valley Ranch Station Casino is having a book party next Tuesday for "How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less" by Karen Robinovitz and Melissa de la Cruz. Also, Disney has optioned the movie rights to the tome in a deal that could bring the authors up to $400,000. The book grew out of a Marie Claire magazine article last year in which the two competed to see who could become more famous in just two weeks.
From Sun wires
For about 200 German fans of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., getting an autographed copy of her memoirs seemed secondary to the hope of meeting a possible future U.S. president.
"It's easier to put up with the world if one can carry the hope of having had a future U.S. president before them," said Rainer Raider, who flocked to a Berlin store Sunday for the signing.