Science Friction

Scenes from Dallas ComiCon, October 12, 2002, Plano Centre:

Number of photographs you were allowed to take of Carrie Fisher: "absolutely" zero

Number of $30 pictures you could buy of Carrie Fisher: unlimited

Number of Klingons standing next to Academy Award nominee and Lord of the Rings co-star Brad Dourif at the urinal: three

Amount of money made from auction of Nicolas Cage's collection of 400 rare Golden Age comic books: $1.6 million

Amount of money made from auction of Nicolas Cage's 400 hairpieces: $1.25

Number of people waiting to meet Traci Lords who knew her from Sci Fi Network series First Wave: 391

Number of people waiting to meet Traci Lords who knew her from Whore of the Worlds: 3,832

Age of Creature From the Black Lagoon title star Ben Chapman: 73

Number of people who know who Ben Chapman is: 73

Number of years Isis star Joanna Cameron was an actress: 13

Number of years Isis star Joanna Cameron has been a nurse: 20

Number of times David Naughton almost broke into Dr Pepper jingle "I'm a Pepper": five

Number of times David Naughton asked if he was still a Pepper: countless

Number of celebrities in attendance wearing tank tops: one (Richard Hatch, Battlestar Galactica's Commander Apollo)

Number of Boba Fetts: 12

Number of Jango Fetts: Uh...12?

Number of panels Exorcist star Linda Blair was scheduled to appear on: one

Number of panels Exorcist star Linda Blair actually appeared on: zero, because she doesn't do panels with other people

Number of cigarettes I smoked with Linda Harrison (Nova from Planet of the Apes, and ex-daughter-in-law of 20th Century Fox founder Darryl Zanuck) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca): one

--Robert Wilonsky

Inside Deborah Norville...No, Wait

Deborah Norville's very proud of Deborah Norville, as she should be; she's got Emmys to prove her journalism worth, and a few years sitting alongside pompous ass Bryant Gumbel to warrant her survivor's pride. So when she speaks of herself in the third person--as in, "I know that Deborah Norville, the broadcaster...has a currency that is of value"--well, you let it slide. Norville, in town last week to promote Inside Edition's move from Channel 5 to Channel 11, deserves as much: Norville was on her way to becoming NBC's bright-and-rising in the early '90s when Today show and NBC execs made it appear she was trying to oust Jane Pauley, who was exiting morning drive anyway. After a period of deep and heavy (literally) funk, Norville emerged first at CBS, then in 1995 as anchor of Inside Edition, which she's still hosting--though in July, CBS invited her to join Jane Clayson as very temporary co-host of The Early Show. (Channel 11's Rene Syler will instead join the morning show's roundtable format.) Norville got to sit in Gumbel's recently vacated chair, which, Full Frontal assumes, was very broken in.

Some recent news accounts say you didn't want the CBS gig. Others contend the network didn't want you. What gives?

I would have loved it if it had been the kind of program that I think has a chance at success. What I believe, based on the conversations I've had with the guys at CBS--and you don't wanna share any confidences, but it's been out there so much--they're gonna go with an ensemble format. Take The View, put it at 7 in the morning. I personally don't think that's what America wants to see. I'm sorry. I have three kids fighting over the Cheerios at 7 o'clock in the morning, and I don't want to watch four grown-ups fighting over the microphone.

Was there any part of you that wanted to go back on and, ya know, stick it to NBC?

You mean, nyah-nyah-nyah? Not really. I was there literally to keep the chair warm so they could figure out what to do the next week. For me, it was just a real gas to see the reaction. I think people had forgotten, "Hey, she's good." For me it was a treat to remind folks, yeah, there's a brain between these ears.

When I heard you were doing the CBS thing, I was surprised it didn't happen sooner.

You know what? That's not to say it won't happen. This opportunity wasn't the right one. The one thing I figured out after a while in this business is you don't get second chances, and in a sense, the career I've had since I did radio after Today is one gigantic second chance. But I also know that the wags in the press won't let me stumble again. The Today show debacle I didn't create--I just got caught up in it--but if something were to happen again, then people could rightly and fairly say, "She's a nitwit. She blew it twice." I don't want to be in a position for that to happen.

Did Bryant leave anything behind for you when you filled his chair?

Oh, I think they erased all signs of him. You know how they did the Senate building after the anthrax thing? I think the same process had gone on. Guys in white suits had been through there.

I was watching that going, "How the hell did that happen?"

I'm in Bryant's chair! Are we having a mind trip or what? And I'm sitting with a woman named Jane! It was too weird.

Hindsight now paints you as less a villain than a victim at Today. History has been kind to you.

It's true. Someday it will happen, and if it doesn't happen, I've got so much else going on in my life it's cool. We talk a lot about the nitwits in news. They're numerous. --Robert Wilonsky