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Richard Deitsch
May 26, 2003
Stark and the Stork, Mo' Bettor Blues
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May 26, 2003

Under Review

Stark and the Stork, Mo' Bettor Blues

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Here's one job search that Andy Rooney will be following very closely: Melissa Stark's replacement as the sideline reporter on Monday Night Football should be in place by the middle of June, says MNF producer Fred Gaudelli, and the show's next sideline reporter might not even be a sportscaster. "I've looked at more than 75 people—entertainers, newspeople and even people who do financial news," says Gaudelli, who started his search in March when Stark informed him she was pregnant and was unlikely to work this season. (Last week she confirmed she was taking the year off.) Though Gaudelli won't reveal the names of the top contenders for the job, SI has learned from a network source that Joumana Kidd, wife of Nets star Jason Kidd, is in the running. Replacing Stark with two reporters is also being considered. The 28-year-old Stark, who joined Monday Night Football in 2000, has said she will contemplate her television future after she gives birth in September, and Gaudelli would love to see her return in 2004. "We're telling people the job is definitely for this season," he says, "with the potential for it to go on longer."

? NBC's affable handicapper Mike Battaglia is stumbling in the Triple Crown. Before the Kentucky Derby, Battaglia dubbed Empire Maker a "cinch" and vowed, "If Empire Maker runs, he wins." Well, Empire Maker ran—and finished second. Before the Preakness on Saturday, Battaglia picked Peace Rules to win, only to watch him labor to fourth place, 12� lengths behind Funny Cide. Viewers would be wise to practice caveat bettor when Battaglia announces his selection during NBC's coverage of the Belmont Stakes on June 7.