In the month since producers began preparing segments for Geraldo's new true-crime program, Geraldo at Large, they have repeatedly crossed law enforcement officers -- attempting to break into crime scenes, getting arrested for driving under the influence and inserting themselves into ongoing police investigations.
The show, which premieres Monday night, is the first in a series of News Corp initiatives to remake Fox’s local broadcast stations in the image of their flag waving cable news outlet.
Earlier this year, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch tapped Ailes to launch a Fox News Channel assault on broadcast news. Ailes turned to his ace in the hole, Geraldo Rivera, to take his brand of "patriotic" news and opinion to the airwaves. The launch of Geraldo at Large is just the beginning. Other Fox News Channel programs -- a lineup that includes Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity -- are waiting in the wings.
Geraldo at Large is not to be confused with Geraldo's other show, At Large with Geraldo, which airs weekends on the Fox News Channel -- though Rivera told reporters that the two programs are alike.
In a personal note to his fans, Geraldo said the new show plans to present "news with passion." Speaking about himself in the third person, he added that it will be about "Geraldo trying to get inside the big crime stories of the day."
And breaking the law to do so.
Earlier this week, police in Walnut Creek, California arrested Craig Rivera, Geraldo’s younger brother and a producer for his show, on suspicion of drunken driving. Craig is working with former Los Angeles Police Department detective Mark Fuhrman -- who allegedly planted evidence at O.J. Simpson's home -- to produce a Geraldo at Large story about the Pamela Vitale slaying. Before Craig Rivera’s DUI arrest, he and Fuhrman were turned away by police for attempting to gain access to a Hunsaker Canyon estate where victim Vitale had lived.
According to the Associated Press, authorities in Idaho are seeking Fuhrman for allegedly tampering with evidence in the investigation of another crime, a kidnapping-murder, while gathering footage and information for Geraldo’s show.
"He is a citizen, not a law enforcement official," Brent Robbins, an FBI spokesman, said of Fuhrman’s efforts to get inside a rural Montana home where two murders were believed to have occurred.
Rivera admits that he wouldn't be doing the syndicated show if it weren’t for Fox News chairman and CEO Ailes. Their collaboration dates back to 1994 when Ailes was chief of CNBC and Rivera Live was the network's top show. Rivera followed Ailes’ move to Fox News Channel. Now, with Ailes taking control of News Corp’s 35 TV stations, expect more Geraldo on our airwaves.
Since August, when the cable news impresario took charge of Fox's conglomerate of local televisions stations, Ailes has moved control of the broadcast network into the New York nerve center of Fox News Channel, announcing plans to translate the cable news network's brand of biased infotainment to local television audiences.
Though Geraldo at Large won't be a newscast in the traditional sense, Rivera told the Houston Chronicle that the resources of Fox News Channel will be made available to him when needed. The half-hour program has now been cleared to air on stations reaching 55 percent of the country.
In a promo for the show, Geraldo pledged "to take the story further. No one will work harder or risk more. . . That’s my promise…to you."
With his own producers leaving a trail of crimes and misdemeanors, Geraldo at Large might soon take on a new meaning.
= = = =
Nov 1 Update:
>>> Farhi Sizes Up and Dresses Down Geraldo
>>> B&C Beat Live-Blogs Episode One