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Forum for Ideas on Daytime TV : Robb Weller: Answer Man on ABC's 'Home'

June 27, 1989|JERRY BUCK | Associated Press

Want to know what smoked rattlesnake tastes like? How to lower your cholesterol level? How to patch wallpaper? Robb Weller is your man.

Weller is co-host of ABC-TV's "Home," a daytime forum for ideas, suggestions and hints that can be applied to viewers' lives.

"I'm probably a lot healthier than I was because 'Home' has changed my eating habits," said Weller. "The only problem with being the host of a show like this is you turn into a pain in the neck to your friends. Instead of talking in sentences, you talk in household hints. You go to a friend's house and tell him how to make a quick fix on torn wallpaper with toothpaste or fill a nail hole with paint mixed with a little cornstarch.

"On the show, I might talk about the benefits of rock garlic. I've eaten everything they bring on the show to make people healthy, from raw nasturtiums to smoked rattlesnake. It tastes like smoked chicken. In fact, everything tastes like smoked chicken except smoked chicken, which tastes like fajita ."

Weller is quick to add, however, that you shouldn't get the idea that "Home" is all household hints.

"It's so versatile that it's difficult to talk about," he said. "It's not like 'Oprah' or 'Donahue,' with one host and one topic each day. There are seven aspects of 'Home' each day. It can be hints, cooking, medicine, emotional help, home decoration, or a wide variety of things."

Weller, who is also co-anchor of the syndicated "Entertainment This Week," has been the host of "Home" since its debut last year. The show has a rotating system of co-hosts who appear with Weller.

In addition, "Home" also has a staff of experts on such topics as home decorating, arts and crafts, food, carpentry, leisure and recreation, money-saving tips, car repair, home repair, picking movies for children and human-interest stories.

"This is a research-driven show," said Weller. "Viewers contribute an enormous amount to the show. They make suggestions and tell us who they want to see on the show. We have a program that's not particularly high in the ratings but attracts a lot of women in the 18 to 49 age category. We get 35,000 requests a week for our newsletter, which costs $1."

Weller grew up in Tacoma, Wash., and attended the University of Washington. He was a yell leader at athletic events and is credited with creating "The Wave," the crowd ripple that has become a fixture at sporting events.

He began his television career in Seattle and later worked in Columbus, Ohio, for Qube, a cable company that had two-way communications with its viewers.

"I was host of a live talk show in Columbus, and whatever happened, happened," he said. "Once we had a chicken-flying contest. One chicken flew right into the lighting board. Zap! So, what do you do? We had no commercials, so I threw it to the band.

"We were doing 'Fernwood 2Night' for real. It was a lot of fun. I was 27 years old and it was my first big, steady gig in television. I wouldn't move to Columbus unless I earned my age. We fought and fought and I finally got $27,000 a year."

He and Leeza Gibbons were co-hosts of "Two on the Town" at WCBS in New York when they were both summoned to Los Angeles by "Entertainment Tonight." Weller was co-anchor of "Entertainment Tonight" for two years, and he and Gibbons are co-anchors of the weekend version.

Weller and his wife, Barbara, a former entertainment editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, have an 11-month-old daughter, Lindsay. "We're homebodies," he said. "We don't go to gala openings or Hollywood parties. When we go to the movies, we go to a neighborhood theater.

"My wife's biggest problem with me is getting me out of the yard on weekends. I love to putter. I find great solace in that after a week of 12-hour days. I have to be at work on 'Home' at 5 in the morning."

He and his wife are also involved in projects of their own, such as a video workout for overweight women called "Women at Large" and plans for a half-hour cable show expanding on the video.

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