Inqlings | Mighty Mac sisters sup with Ellen

Posted: July 08, 2007

Ellen Burstyn has won approval from a higher authority:

The sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Burstyn wrapped last week on the movie Our Lady of Victory, in which she played the blustery mother superior at Immaculata during the Mighty Macs' championship basketball run.

Rather than demand a hotel, the Oscar winner chose to bunk in a faculty apartment on the campus in Chester County. "We thought she'd be lonely," says Sister Virginia Assumpta. So the sisters asked her to dinner. Though Burstyn's shooting schedule kept her on set 14 hours a day most days, she stopped by on her last day.

"She was charming," Sister Virginia says, adding that Burstyn joined everyone in line for beef stew and spinach salad. "She was asking a lot of religion questions, like how they knew about their vocation. Someone asked her, 'How did you know you wanted to be an actress?' "

Burstyn's reply, says Sister Virginia, brought a knowing look from her tablemates. "She said, 'I knew since I was a little girl.' "

It's about time

If you set your life to the top-of-the-hour time beeeep of KYW (1060), you're running a bit slow - by 8.403 seconds, to be exact.

Newsradio recently began transmitting a digital signal, known as HD Radio or IBOC, in addition to its old-fangled analog signal. Simply put: HD Radio needs more time to process the digital signal, so broadcasters compensate by building in a delay to the analog signal.

KYW's Steve Butler says he has received a grand total of two e-mails about the delay, but the issue has been a hot topic on local Web radio boards after a posting by Mike Regensburger, general manager of Kutztown University's radio station. Regensburger tells me he noticed it while checking his atomic watch against the time tone. "A lot of people don't have atomic watches," Regensburger concedes. "But a lot of people set their clocks to KYW."

KYW dropped the delay last weekend when it aired music to accompany the fireworks display on Penn's Landing, Butler says.

Add this delay to the time lag seen when you're watching sports on digital cable and satellite TV, and doesn't it seem the world is moving slower?

'Idol' chatter

So you want to be on Fox's American Idol. Better read the rules, says producer Patrick Lynn, who will help run the Aug. 27 auditions at the Wachovia Center. It will be the reality series' first time in Philly as it preps for the seventh season.

"We have every question you could ask" at, Lynn says.

Idol will announce this week that registration will be Aug. 25 and 26. Contestants line up in the morning, with identification, and pick up a wristband and ticket. "Don't worry about being first," Lynn says. Camping out is not permitted. After you get the wristband, go home and return Aug. 27.

Producers will line everyone up. Tip: "We're going to be shooting the line, so the auditions start the moment you show up," Lynn says. You know what they're looking for.

But don't try to sweet-talk producers, or maybe find their hotel and offer to buy them drinks. "I had a mom and daughter who made a sign for me last year in Minneapolis," Lynn says. "The other producers wouldn't let me forget it."

"First and foremost, you have to be able to sing," Lynn says. "Or not."

Anchor suspended

Fox29 management is weighing the fate of weekend anchor/reporter Tom Burlington, who was suspended (with pay, I hear) on June 29 for saying the N-word during a news meeting six days before. Irony: Burlington and about a dozen staffers were discussing how they'd present the story about a mock funeral for the N-word held June 23 at Dobbins Tech.

Two meeting attendees, who requested anonymity, tell me that Burlington did not direct the word at anyone or use it as an epithet, and that he apologized during the meeting and after. He also used the word while apologizing.

Burlington, 45, a three-year Fox29 vet, did not return my calls for comment. A station spokeswoman would confirm only that he was suspended, and that the station would use a "mix of on-air talent on the anchor desk . . . due to summer and holiday vacation schedules."

Radio activity

B101's Tiffany Hill is getting a cohost for mornings: She's Samantha Layne, most recently morning cohost on Allentown's WODE (99.9) - and wife of B101 production director Steve Curry. Tiffany & Sam will debut on WBEB (101.1) in late July or early August. Layne's predecessor, Chris McCoy, was let go in January.

Citing family obligations and outside commitments, Susanne LaFrankie is giving up her talk show on WPHT (1210), 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Finale will be Tuesday. LaFrankie will stay on to do fill-in and special projects, with an eye toward weekend work in the fall, station manager Mike Baldini says. Other staffers will handle the time slot, which this time of year is frequently nibbled away by Phillies games.

Briefly noted

Joey Lawrence, visiting his old stomping grounds last week with the Dancing With the Stars tour, took his family (wife Chandie, baby daughter Charli, brother Matt, and Matt's girlfriend, dancer Cheryl Burke) to July 4 lunch at the Public House on Logan Square. Shared a chicken wrap with his mother, Donna, and tipped well.

Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter has sold his Cherry Hill carwash, Trott's Spot. He still owns two others, in Voorhees.

One Philadelphian for another: Chris McKendry, a 1990 Drexel grad, replaced Upper Dublin-bred Suzy Kolber on ESPN2's Wimbledon evening highlights show.

At the movies

West Philly filmmaker Ben Daniels, 22, took a time-out from completing the final cut of his Philly-themed This Is My Cheesesteak! He's a production assistant on Indiana Jones 4, which was shooting last week in New Haven, Conn. While helping with crowd control - which consisted of making small talk with a gaggle of teen girls - he got a tap on the shoulder, followed by a "Hey, you're doing a great job." From producer George Lucas.

"FUN AND LAUGHS from start to finish!" reads a blurb attributed to "Ukee Washington, CBS-TV" in an ad for the new Robin Williams-Mandy Moore movie, License to Wed. So Washington, who (more accurately) anchors for Philly's CBS3, is a film critic now? Not quite, he says. He does the occasional preview - and the studios lap up his words. "I'm not hard to please," Washington says. "I just like to be entertained."

Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or Read his recent work at

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