The network that's broadcasting the Nagano Olympics takes an unflattering look at the process that led to the Japanese city being awarded the Games.
The CBS news magazine "60 Minutes" includes an interview with a former member of the International Olympic Committee who says that Japanese donations of $25 million toward an Olympic museum helped Nagano beat out Salt Lake City for the 1998 Games."I certainly think that (the donations) helped the standing of Nagano in (IOC President Juan Antonio) Samaranch's mind and yes, indeed they would help its bid," Bob Helmick tells correspondent Bob Simon. "There's nothing wrong with a Japanese industrialist donating millions of dollars to Samaranch's project. There is something wrong with Sam-a-ranch or someone else on the IOC - I'm not saying it happened - turning around and voting for Nagano because of it."
Helmick also criticizes the "very lavish" gift-giving to IOC committee members by wealthy Japanese backers of the Games. "I recall jewelry . . . clothing, shopping trips," he tells Simon. "(The Japanese were) very big on shopping trips with IOC members."
The segment also includes an interview with Samaranch, who doesn't deny or apologize for all the gift-giving that went on.
"Nobody is pushing them to spend this fortune," he tells Simon.
But in response to a question about whether a city could gain the Games without gift-giving, Samaranch says, "Well, it would not be easy. It would be quite difficult. But if they're getting the Games, they would receive a lot of money."
This installment of "60 Minutes" airs an hour earlier than usual this week - Sunday at 5 p.m. on Ch. 2. And it will be followed by the closing ceremonies from Nagano.
SHE'S A TV STARZZ: We're still in the midst of the NBA season, but NBC will look ahead to the second WNBA season this afternoon. And Utah Starzz player Tammi Reiss will be one of the players featured.
"WNBA: A Player's Diary" (today at 2:30 p.m. on Ch. 5) takes a behind-the-scenes look at a number of players' lives, including Houstons' Cynthia Cooper, New York's Rebecca Lobo, Sacramento's Tajama Abraham - Charlotte's Tora Suber and Reiss, who have gone into business together.
LATE FOR THE "LATE SHOW": In Monday's edition of "Cosby" (7 p.m., Ch. 2), Hilton (Bill Cosby) is chosen to make an appearance with David Letterman as "the most boring man in New York." However, he encounters a variety of obstacles on his way to the Ed Sullivan Theater.
Interestingly, the episode features appearances by musical director/sidekick Paul Shaffer, "Late Show" executive producer Rob Burnett and stage manager Biff Henderson - but not by Letterman himself.
I'M IN LOVE WITH ALLY: Great news, "Ally McBeal" fans - both the Dancing Baby and Janet Reno will be making return appearances on the show.
The Dancing Baby jumps back off the Internet and onto the show on March 2. And Janet Reno - OK, a look-alike actress who plays the attorney general - will complicate Richard and Whipper's love life once again on March 9.
Furthermore, Tracy Ullman will appear in a pair of episodes - March 9 and March 16 - as John Cage's (Peter MacNicol) "smile therapist."
The fact that this show is so odd - and that I'm so in love with it - is somewhat troubling.
COURIC TO RETURN? Nothing is certain, but there are reports from within NBC that Katie Couric may return to "The Today Show" on Monday.
She's been off since Jan. 26 - two days after her husband, NBC News legal analyst Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer. Couric has been spending time with her 6- and 2-year-old daughters since then.
DOING THE RENEWAL RHUMBA: UPN has given full-season orders for 1998-99 to a pair of its sitcoms - "Moesha" and "Malcolm & Eddie."
When you're a network wannabe, you're sort of forced to do things like that because you haven't got much chance at finding anything better.
TRYING TV: Melanie Griffith is about to try TV. She's signed to do a sitcom pilot for CBS - "Me & George," in which she'll play a single parent who tries to balance raising children with her career as a publicist.
Why, you ask, would a movie star like Griffith want to do a TV sitcom? Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that she hasn't starred in a hit movie since "Working Girl" way back in 1988.
VERY SCARY: Among other pilots in development are a soap opera set in the middle ages; a comedy about a prison guard; a drama about a Union-Confederate romance; a futuristic drama about cops on in-line skates; a revival of "Wonder Woman"; a drama about a group of twentysomething witches; a comedy starring those less-than-talented Olsen twins; and a comedy about a movie critic!
I am not making any of this up.