PHILADELPHIA – The soap operas that fill TV screens across Philadelphia don't stop when the local news begins.
In the past year, anchorwoman Alycia Lane spent the night in jail after scuffling with New York City police. She was fired, although the charges were later dropped.
Her married co-anchorman at CBS affiliate KYW-TV, Larry Mendte, admitted in federal court that he obsessively hacked into her e-mails.
Now, rival station WCAU-TV has its own headache: A 44-year-old anchorman, Vince DeMentri, complained in a court filing that he was fired from the NBC affiliate this summer over an affair with a colleague who got to keep her job. The woman, Lori Delgado, 26, quit last month, saying she was afraid of DeMentri.
Her lawyer wrote in a memo filed Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court that DeMentri "repeatedly hovered" outside Delgado's home, "followed her through the city, confronted her, confronted her husband and acted in a threatening manner." The filing came in response to DeMentri's writ that he plans to sue her and the station for libel.
Some of the accusations in the DeMentri-Delgado feud sound petty. At one point, the two got into a dispute over who hid her hair dryer, according to court filings.
The station blamed the hair dryer incident on DeMentri, who was then married to a QVC hostess. Delgado herself thought the culprit could be a female rival.
DeMentri claimed that Delgado had told him she and other female news personalities at WCAU-TV "had ongoing personality conflicts." That appeared in a complaint to the state Human Relations Committee accusing the station of gender discrimination.
The gender-bias complaint, filed this summer, became public this week as part of Delgado's motion opposing a requested deposition. The station denies the charges.
"The notion that WCAU would trump up baseless charges against its own anchor is ridiculous," the station said in a statement Wednesday. "WCAU acted fairly and believes it had very good reasons for the actions it took."
Dow Smith, a former TV news director who now teaches at Siena College in New York, said the industry's problems start when people go into broadcast journalism just to be on TV. In many markets, they're the biggest celebrities in town.
"They get into this business, they get put on a pedestal by management, they get paid an awful lot of money on the idea that they're going to bring viewers," Smith said. "They get crazed, particularly as they get older, and they're more and more cut off from whatever it was they once did."
The 51-year-old Mendte — a former "Access Hollywood" anchorman who earned about $700,000 a year at KYW — faces a possible prison term when he is sentenced on Nov. 24. He admitted in court in August that he bought a keystroke-logging device to get Lane's passwords in August 2006 and intercepted her e-mail 537 times in a five-month period alone. He shared some of the gossip about the twice-divorced Lane with tabloid reporters.
Lane, 36, who was making $780,000 a year, has a wrongful-termination suit pending against KYW that was filed by lawyer Paul Rosen, who now represents DeMentri. Rosen previously said that Mendte — who is married to local Fox anchorwoman Dawn Stensland — was jealous of Lane's rising popularity.
Rosen did not return calls for comment this week on the DeMentri case.