Press tour notes 'n' quotes:
-NBC STUNNED TV critics here Wednesday with its announcement that Bryant Gumbel will be replacing Vin Scully as the lead announcer for the network's ongoing professional golf coverage.Not that Gumbel is without his sports credentials. He came to NBC as a sportscaster, launching his network career as the sole host of the network's NFL pre-game show as well as the pre-game host for Major League Baseball and NCAA basketball. In 1988 he anchored NBC's coverage of the Seoul Olympics.
So there's no doubt he knows his way around a sports cliche. Nor can anyone doubt his knowledge of golf, since his passion for the game (he has a 13 handicap himself and his own annual pro-am tournament at Walt Disney World, which is organized as a fund-raiser for the United Negro College Fund) is well known.
But Gumbel already carries a full work load with his "Today" show chores. How can he handle that along with a heavy slate of golf tournaments all around the country? And beyond that, does this mean a diminishing role for Gumbel on "Today," or at least a change in career course for him? Has Deborah Norville chased Gumbel away from "Today" too? No way, says NBC News President Michael Gartner.
"Bryant Gumbel loves the `Today' show, loves golf and loves hard work," he said in announcing the change. "Now he will combine all three, and NBC Sports viewers will benefit from the skills and expertise he has long brought to NBC News."
For his part, Gumbel sees the opportunity to work the golf telecasts as "very attractive."
"I'm excited about it," he said. "For about 12 years now, golf has been my passion and I play as often as I can."
Strangely enough, his time for playing golf may now be severely limited by a closer proximity to the game professionally. Gumbel will find out if hobbies really can mix with work Jan. 20 and 21, when he makes his golf debut during NBC's coverage of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in LaQuina, Calif.
-AT GUMBEL'S SIDE in NBC's golf tower on the 18th green will be Utah's own Johnny Miller, a former U.S. and British Open champ. Miller is replacing Lee Trevino, who is leaving the NBC team to join the senior's golf tour. Miller is still a few years away from seniors eligibility, but hasn't done much on the regular circuit for a while. So this will give him a good chance to stay in touch with game without having to take the risks of teeing it up week after week.
-ROSEANNE BARR isn't the only Salt Lake City high school graduate who is making it big - so to speak - in prime time these days. "Night Court's" Richard Moll (East High, class of 1960) is even bigger.
Well, OK. At least taller.
So does Moll have any horror stories to tell about growing up as a non-Mormon in Utah? "Salt Lake City was great," said Moll, truly puzzled by the question, during a break in rehearsal Wednesday afternoon. "I love the change in seasons. The people were nice. East High was a great school, socially and academically. You're not going to get me to say anything bad about Utah."
Not even any Salt Lake jokes? "Well, OK," he said, smiling that impish, Bull-ish smile of his. "Salt Lake City is the only town I know where you can be Jewish and a Gentile at the same time."
That's it? No jokes about "the Nazi Amish"? No stories about being beat up every day on the way home from school? "Nope," he said. "I liked the place."
I'll bet it wouldn't get booed if they introduced him at a Jazz game.
-SO YOU THINK this job is easy? I'd like to see you try to get something quotable out of Robert Mitchum, who will be making his prime time series debut with NBC later this year. One hundred or so TV critics took a shot at him Wednesday afternoon, and this was the best we could do: Q: Why did you take this part? A: This is what I do for a living. I'm a professional actor.
Q: But you've never done television before.
A: Nobody ever asked me.
Q: You mean nobody ever sent you any TV scripts before?
A: Do you think I lied?
Q: Did you find working on a television series any different than working on a movie?
A: It was fine.
Q: What do you like about this character? (In the pilot, "Regular Joe," he plays a wayfaring grandfather who returns to raise his orphaned grandchildren.) A: He doesn't have to wear make-up.
Q: What was the last comedy you did?
A: "The Grass is Green."
Q: When was that?
A: I have no idea.
Q: How did you feel about the reviews you received for "War and Remembrance"?
Q: Do you have a favorite role that you've played?
Q: (Pause.) Will you tell me what it was?
Q: (Another pause.) Will you tell me why?
A: We shot my part all in one day, and I got to stay in bed.
Q: Do you have a philosophy of acting?
A: You go to work and you do it.
Great stuff, huh? Now, how are can anyone write anything from answers like that? (What's that? I just did? Oh, yeah - I guess I did. Well . . . uh, gee, thanks, Mr. Mitchum. Great interview!)