Spin Doctor

Brandon Tartikoff should be up for a spin doctorate. He’s recently milked the maximum out of two dated movies showing on NBC. First, there was “Girls Of Summer,” billed as Julia Roberts’ pre-“Pretty Woman” star turn. Those who suffered through the theatrical release might remember it was called “Satisfaction,” starring Justine Bateman as the lead singer in an all-girl rock band. Since Bateman’s lure as a screen star now is on a par with demands for her singing services, NBC instead concentrated on Roberts, an unknown at the time who had a smaller role. NBC’s doing it again in sweeps month with “Red Dragon: The Curse Of Hannibal Lecter,” to capitalize on the publicity surrounding “The Silence Of The Lambs.” The Michael Mann-directed pic, which has Brian Cox in the Lecter role instead of Anthony Hopkins, was originally “Manhunter.”

NBC brass also did some fancy spin work in signing up Johnny Carson. After Buzz broke the story that NBC wanted to move him aside to make way for Jay Leno, the denials included angry words from Carson that he had no plans to leave. Last week, when NBC brass announced a one-year extension, they said they had to talk Carson out of leaving. Yet, nothing has changed: Buzz reported that the plan all along was to ease Carson out gracefully after he finishes his 30th year.

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