Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Robin Leach Predicts: `This Is My Year'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Robin Leach Predicts: `This Is My Year'

Article excerpt

DON'T look now, but it appears as if the last hope and savior for television as we know it may just be . . . Robin Leach.

Before you consider leaving the country, listen first to how the creator-producer-narrator of syndication's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Runaway With the Rich and Famous" explains it:

"This is my year. All I hear in Hollywood these days is the degree to which violence is condemned. But I've never been condemned for it. Been condemned for everything else, but not that. All I do is bang away doing quality in a perverse definition of the word.

"I mean, you can't knock us. We're wholesome. We're nonviolent. We're clean. We're entertaining. Who else can say that today?"

Leach is convinced that his time is at hand. And while even he has a difficult time suggesting that he should be taken seriously - understanding that people continue to snicker at him for producing what he calls "bubble-gum television" - he believes he has earned a certain measure of respect through sheer longevity.

And this fall, Leach is adding a third regular series to his syndicated repertoire along with a couple of live two-hour specials and a stake in a new cable network.

If Leach continues to be an easy object of ridicule and clearly the most annoying personality this side of Morton Downey Jr., he is also uncommonly successful at his boisterous brand of fluff.

Consider:

"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" heads this fall into its 11th season - the same number at which "M*A*S*H*" finished. After this season, Leach will have produced 286 editions of "Lifestyles" - more than the number of episodes of "Cheers."

"We're right there with `M*A*S*H*' and `The Waltons' and the other greats," said Leach, 51, with a straight face between drags of a cigar in his office in Beverly Hills.

"Runaway With the Rich and Famous" enters its eighth season, which - in tandem with "Lifestyles" - gives Leach a syndicated one-two punch on a durability par with "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!"

Tonight (10:30 p.m. on Channel 11 in St. Louis), Leach will front "Robin Leach's Private Files: The Price of Fame," a one-shot two-hour special on fame's dark side that is slated to spin off into a weeknight half-hour series.

Also in the works is another syndicated series effort, "Home Videos of the Stars," which hands the video camera over to the stars themselves for an inside look at their more private moments.

A new cable channel in which Leach is a major investor and co-founder, the TV Food Network, launches Sept. 27. Leach himself will be host of a show called "Robin Leach Talking Food."

In mid-October, Leach presents a second two-hour special titled "Shipwreck," a gambit that takes 10 celebrity couples and strands them on a desert island for a week to watch how they react.

"We want to see if they start eating one another," joked Leach. …

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