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Hurricane Donald blew into Pasadena on Wednesday for a Television Critics Assn. winter press tour session promoting the new season of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” Of course the big question most in attendance wanted to hear Donald Trump answer didn’t surround ratings but a woman named Rosie O’Donnell.
Yes, it’s the schoolyard tauntfest that the media will not let die and, let’s face it, that Trump has opted to milk for every last morsel of ink and airtime in the interest of goosing interest in his primetime baby.
His initial response to the reporter’s question said it all.
Reporter: “So you regret how much this has gotten out of hand or fear that this has crossed the line?”
And there you have it.
Not that Trump — flanked on a panel by daughter Ivanka, son Donald Jr. and Season 1 “Apprentice” victor Bill Rancic — had any intention of leaving it at that.
“The real question is when does it stop,” Trump told the critics. “I think I exposed her for what she is. She’s just a terrible, disgusting human being and not very smart.”
Later, after Trump was asked whether he fears any public backlash because of his, uh, candor: “I think my image has actually been helped. I think people respect that I fought back and I fought harder than she did. Some people thought I was very harsh. But Rosie’s a slob, and I’m not afraid to say it.”
The only thing Trump regrets in this whole scenario is that his word war with O’Donnell has helped boost ratings for her ABC daytime show “The View.” However, he predicts: “Two weeks from now, the ratings will tank, and there will be turmoil. … Barbara Walters hates Rosie O’Donnell.”
Speaking of “The View,” an earlier press tour panel Wednesday promoted the freshly revamped “Today” show featuring “View” alumnus Meredith Vieira co-anchoring alongside 10-year vet Matt Lauer. The session proved to be pretty much a lovefest in discussing the seamlessness of the transition from Katie Couric to Vieira and the announcement last week that the show will be adding a fourth daily hour beginning in September.
NBC News president Steve Capus called the decision to add a fourth hour to the broadcast “a natural extension of the three-hour program” and hoped to gain affiliate clearances for the extra hour on most if not all of the stations. “We want it to be a 10 a.m. show, and we’ll work with the stations to get it there,” he said. “But we’re not going to be foolish and say it’s 10 a.m. or nothing.”
“Today” executive producer Jim Bell added that Hour 4 “will look a lot like the third hour. … It might be a little lighter, but it’s still going to be of the highest quality.” But as Capus noted, Vieira won’t be part of the additional hour because of contractual obligations surrounding her work hosting “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Lauer admitted some trepidation with the idea of a fourth hour, however, copping to “slightly mixed emotions” and a fear of the brand potentially getting diluted. He added, “But I have great confidence, and I understand the reasons it’s happening … and I think the brand can sustain it.”
A critic later asked Lauer “how much more” he likes Vieira than Couric.
“I like them differently,” Lauer replied diplomatically. “That’s just a terrible question. You know what, it’s a different dynamic. I had 10 great years with Katie siting next to me and me sitting next to her. … And I think Meredith was probably smartest about this of any of us, in that she didn’t come in and try to be Katie. She came in as Meredith, and that’s why she got the job in the first place.”
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