Inside Moves

Probe shows Fox out-foxed

If there is a God, this will (hopefully) be the last thing you ever read about sorta-multimillionaire Rick Rockwell and his unwilling bride, the not-really-a-Gulf War vet and “Today” show staple Darva Conger.

Fox has completed its internal investigation into whether the network and Next Entertainment, which produced the February sweeps special “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” conducted a thorough background check on the program’s players.

The special pulled boffo numbers but turned into a major embarrassment for the web after it was revealed that an ex-girlfriend of Rockwell had placed a restraining order against him in 1991.

According to the network, Next hired a private investigator and a national search firm to look into Rockwell’s background. The search firm was prevented by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act from uncovering any adverse information dating back more than seven years, with the exception of criminal convictions.

Because Rockwell was never charged or convicted of a crime, and he never mentioned the 1991 restraining order to producers, it didn’t come up.

The Fox investigation also looked at industry practice on shows such as “The Real World” and found that “Multi-Millionaire’s” background checks “exceeded industry standards.”

— Michael Schneider

Follow ‘Desgnated’ directions

Wallace Shawn’s play “The Designated Mourner” will have its American debut May 1 at a new space in the downtown financial district of Manhattan.

In fact, the recently converted theater is so new, it seems to have neither a name, telephone number nor address, although South William Street is a distinct possibility. In a highly unusual move, the playwright-actor faxed a number of his friends the following note to explain the problem, which existed as late as Wednesday morning:

“Deborah (Eisenberg) and I are about to begin performing ‘The Designated Mourner,’ and we would love it if you could see it. Tickets will go on sale, by telephone, on Friday, April 14. Ordinarily, there are ways to get one’s friends in to see one’s own play. In this case, though, as we will only be performing for 30 people per night, that’s going to be practically impossible. So the very best thing would be if you could buy the New York Times on Friday, April 14th and turn to the Weekend section, where I believe that on page two, there will be a column called ‘On Stage and Off,’ by Jesse McKinley. This column will announce the production and will contain the relevant phone number. Please call the number as soon as possible if you want to come. Sorry, this is so elaborate, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Affectionately — Wally”

“The Designated Mourner” had its world premiere in April 1996 at the Royal National Theater, with David Hare directing Mike Nichols and Miranda Richardson. Performed in one act over two hours, the British production was controversial for Nichols’ use of a TelePrompTer device. The character of Jack, played by Nichols in London, delivers long monologues on the imprisonment and death of his father-in-law, among many other topics.

In 1997, the play was made into film, directed by Hare and starring Nichols and Richardson.

Andre Gregory will helm the New York production.

— Robert Hofler

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