Past Deadline: Trump still ripping O'Donnell
EmptyMore TCA news: NBC 'one show away,' Reilly says
Read the latest at Ray Richmond's Past Deadline blog
Hurricane Donald blew into Pasadena Wednesday afternoon for a Television Critics Assocation press tour session promoting the new season of NBC's "The Apprentice," and 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. Walking publicity machine that he is, Trump made it clear from the get-go that while he hated to have to talk about his running feud with O'Donnell day after day, he had little choice since the media kept bringing it up and he in constitionally incapable of saying "No comment" or "That ship has sailed."
His initial response to the reporter's question said it all.
Question: "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 had any intention of leaving it at that.
"The real question is when does it stop," Trump, flanked on a panel by daughter Ivanka, son Donald Jr. and season one "Apprentice" victor Bill Rancic
"The one thing I learned in high school is, if you're attacked by a bully, you hit the bully hard right between the eyes and that's what I did."
Later, after Trump was asked if he fears any public backlash due to his, uh, candor: "I think my image has actually been helped. It shows that if somebody says something and it's a lie, that you are willing to sorrect that person...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...I think it was the fact I was so non-politically correct that people liked."
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 on Wednesday promoted the freshly-revamped "Today" show featuring "View" alumnus Meredith Vieira co-anchoring alongside 10-year vet Matt Laurer. The session proved to be pretty much a love-fest 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 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 four "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 due to 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," Laurre 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."