I’ll Take ABC No-Shows for $600

Posted May 4, 2004 at 6:51pm

[IMGCAP(1)]I’ll Take ABC No-Shows for $600. “Power Players” week starts Monday on the game show “Jeopardy,” and a select group of Washington insiders will show off their trivia IQ for the rest of us.

The celebs who will appear include NBC’s Tim Russert, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, the CNN trio of Tucker Carlson, Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown, NAACP President (and former Maryland Democratic Representative) Kweisi Mfume, ex-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, lefty comedian and potential Senate candidate Al Franken, and Ashleigh Banfield, formerly of MSNBC. (And as HOH previously reported, Roll Call makes a guest appearance as an answer.)

The winner from each show will get $50,000 for his or her favorite charity, while the other two participants earn $20,000 to dole out. That’s a cool $450,000 donated by “Jeopardy” for its one-week blitz.

But don’t look for anybody from ABC News to appear on the show. It seems the network doesn’t want the “talent” looking like, well, no-talent bums when they can’t come up with the correct question, according to “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek.

In town to promote “Kids’ Week” on his program, Trebek griped to a local radio disc jockey about ABC’s boycott. On DC101’s “Elliot in the Morning Show” Tuesday, Trebek said ABC News has forbid any of its personalities from appearing on the “Power Players” shows, which were taped last month at DAR Constitution Hall. Trebek told the radio shock jock that ABC was the only network that wouldn’t permit its employees on the show, joking that maybe it didn’t meet “the high standards they hold themselves to.”

“I would love to have Peter Jennings on … a fellow Canadian,” Trebek added.

What about it, ABC News? Where’s the love? HOH refuses to believe that George Stephanopoulos is afraid of these guys.

“We want to give everybody else a chance to win money,” joked Jeffrey Schneider, vice president of ABC News. Schneider said his network “loves ‘Jeopardy.’ It runs on many of our stations. No, seriously, it’s just an old rule. … Our correspondents and anchors don’t appear on any entertainment shows. Period.” Not even for charity.

It’s Vogel Time. Alex Vogel, chief counsel to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), is leaving the Senate to start up his own lobbying firm. Vogel will team up with Bruce Mehlman, brother of Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman, to form Mehlman & Vogel Inc.

The 33-year-old followed Frist to the Majority Leader’s office after the Tennessee Republican’s tenure with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, where Vogel served as general counsel during the 2001-02 campaign cycle. He previously did stints at the Republican National Committee and the 2000 Quayle for President campaign, and as a telecommunications and ethics specialist at the law firm Wiley, Rein & Felding. Vogel did his undergraduate work at the University of California at San Diego, and received a law degree from the George Washington University Law School in 1996.

“Alex has been a valuable member of my team for four years,” said Frist, who is also losing in Vogel his top “unofficial” political adviser. “I’m sad to see him go. But I’m sure he will approach his life in the private sector with the same energy he did as my counsel.”

Mehlman has been running his own shop, Mehlman Strategies Inc., which has a heavy focus on high tech. He’s also executive director of the Computer Systems Policy Project, a CEO-level information policy association that includes Dell, IBM, Intel and other tech titans.

Mehlman served as assistant secretary of Commerce for technology policy from May 2001 to December 2003. Prior to that, he worked at Cisco Systems as a telecommunications policy counsel. From 1996 to 1999, the now 35-year-old Mehlman was on Capitol Hill, working for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the House Republican Conference. He too is a veteran of Wiley, Rein & Felding.

Crime Watch. Lawyers for Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) on Tuesday entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to a misdemeanor gun possession charge stemming from Hostettler’s April 20 arrest at the Louisville International Airport. He is charged with having a loaded 9 mm handgun in his luggage. Hostettler, who did not appear in the state court, is next scheduled to go before a judge on June 30.

David Schuler of the Louisville law firm Frost Brown Todd LLC is representing Hostettler. According to Schuler, Hostettler’s not guilty plea is standard operating practice for a defendant at his arraignment.

Schuler also cautioned against reading anything into Hostettler’s non-appearance in court. “Congressman Hostettler’s decision not to personally appear in court was based on the recommendation of his attorneys,” Schuler said. Indiana also had its state primary Tuesday.

While Hostettler could potentially face federal charges as well, that appears unlikely at this point. He hasn’t gotten his gun back either.

Players Love W. President Bush is trouncing Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) according to a poll of online gamblers, and the victory could lead to a $100,000 payoff for the GOP.

CasinoFortune.com has been running the poll for several weeks, and Bush now has a 62 percent to 38 percent lead over his Democratic rival, according to Kevin Mercuri of 5W Public Relations, CasinoFortune.com’s flack. More than 13,000 online gamblers have participated in the poll. The survey ends May 15.

Kerry had initially started off with a huge lead, but Bush’s support has swelled recently, said Mercuri. “I guess there’s a lot of Republicans online,” he said.

CasinoFortune.com is a consortium of a half-dozen online casinos, and American executives from those firms have pledged to give $100,000 to the poll winner’s campaign, or his party, in accordance with federal election laws, said Mercuri.

Mercuri claimed 5 millions Americans take part in casino-style gambling online. While not 100 percent legal, it’s not exactly illegal either, said Mercuri, although betting on sports certainly is. CasinoFortune.com is formally moving its headquarters from Antigua to England to get access to all those European Union suckers — I mean bettors.

So how would the Republicans feel about getting 100,000 salamis from Eurogamblers?

“Gamblers of French descent and mysterious foreign leaders must be signing on to vote for John Kerry,” said Christine Iverson of the Republican National Committee. “But in November, real Americans will ensure that Republicans win the election.” Which means they’ll take the money, as long as it’s clean.

Will Sing for Money. While the Barbra Streisands of the Democratic donor world have helped steer hundreds of thousands of dollars into Kerry’s campaign coffers, some lesser-known entertainers are doing their part — albeit at much reduced dollar amounts — with a series of “Concerts for Kerry.”

The group kicked off its efforts April 7 at the Knitting Factory in New York City, featuring Bishop Allen, Silent League and The Head Set. The concert raised $4,000 for Kerry with the cost of each ticket counting as a direct contribution to the campaign.

Concerts for Kerry is a “grassroots group organizing benefit performances nationwide to raise money for John Kerry’s presidential campaign,” according to the group’s Web site.

On Thursday, the organization will host its fourth concert at The Khyber in Philadelphia, scheduled for May 22 in New Orleans.

Paul Kane and Chris Cillizza contributed to this report.