Jane Pauley, the luckiest woman in broadcast journalism, hasn't seen her amazing lucky streak run out yet.
The former co-host of the "Today" show has just signed a new five-year contract with NBC News, and her show "Real Life with Jane Pauley" will return to the weekly lineup at midseason.Pauley, whose talents as a journalist have always been limited at best, happened into the biggest public-relations bonanza in recent history when she left "Today." Because of bungling by the network, it appeared that loyal little Jane was being pushed aside by younger, prettier, blonder Deborah Norville.
Pauley herself has always maintained that it was her idea to leave the morning show but has also admitted that the public perception didn't hurt her any.
"It's an embarrassment of good publicity," she said. "As my sister put it, `Jane, I'm reading all this stuff about you, and I'm beginning to think of you as a mythological person.'
"I'm afraid I can only maintain this level of goodness for a few more hours."
NBC describes "Real Life with Jane Pauley" as "a fresh look at life in the 1990s, examining subjects that interest the average American and probing the problems and concerns we all confront daily."
It would be more accurate to describe it as just another '90s news magazine - long on style and short on substance. It takes the same glossy approach to both serious subjects and fluff. And it's heavy on the fluff.
But "Real Life" did really well when it ran as a series of five specials this past summer, although the competition was reruns on the other networks.
"The point of doing five specials over the course of this past summer was to explore the proposition that topics which touched on everyday themes would be of general interest," Pauley said. "NBC Research tells us that 40 million people saw one or more of the five episodes of `Real Life,' which seems to settle that.
"The whole staff is anxious to get back to work on more shows. We are grateful for the support from many people at NBC, but most of all, to the people whose lives helped us tell the story of how it is to live in America today."
REAL LIFE?: Mr. Spud has a real problem seeing "Jane Pauley" and "Real Life" in the same title.
This is a woman who moved into the "Today" co-host's chair - and a six-figure salary - at the age of 25.
This is a woman whose salary is now in seven figures - and that's not counting the seven-figure income of her husband, Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau.
This is a woman who delights in telling television critics how normal her life is, how she's had to struggle as a working woman and mother of three - then goes on to say that she's been "fortunate enough to have the same nanny" since her twins were 6 months old.
I've got news for you, Jane. That's not "Real Life."
CBS LATE NIGHT: After more than a month of rumors, CBS has confirmed that it will produce a late-night news show to go head-to-head with ABC's "Nightline."
The unnamed show (although "America Tonight" is reportedly high on the list) will be anchored by Charles Kuralt in New York and Lesley Stahl in Washington. The half-hour show will include three or four topics and both live and taped segments.
It grew out of "Showdown in the Gulf" that aired in August and September (coincidentally - or not - "Nightline" grew out of ABC's late-night specials about the Iran hostage crisis back in 1980).
The folks at KSL-Ch. 5, having just received word about the new show, are discussing if they've got room for the broadcast - and where in the lineup it might go.
ABC OVERNIGHT: Speaking of ABC News, we're going to be seeing more of it starting in January.
The network has announced plans for a Monday-Friday, five-hour overnight newscast.
It will be a mixture of live and taped segments, anchored by two correspondents to be named later. (This kind of sounds like a sports story, doesn't it? But don't expect ABC to trade for new players.) It will include national and international news, sports, weather and time for local stations to insert a bit of local news.
Affiliates can pick up from two to five hours of the broadcast.
No word yet on what KTVX-Ch. 4 plans are concerning the overnight news.