Hot gossip is that KARE-11 bosses didn't know in advance about what turned out to be a very provocative Lavender magazine cover photo of meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.
Sundgaard told me Friday that his bosses "didn't specifically approve that [photo], but I have 'open' approval for the campaign, (billboards, etc.)."
Sundgaard is again spokesman for Dining Out For Life, an Aliveness Project fundraiser. On April 28, more than 165 restaurants will give 15 to 100 percent of the day's receipts to the project, which helps local residents living with HIV/AIDS.
Sundgaard will appear at restaurants from morning to midnight as part of this fundraiser.
"It's a true passion of his," said KARE's news director, Tom Lindner. "And the charitable event is a mission, if you will. I know he is extremely active in going to a lot of places [for meals and snacks]. The cause is incredibly worthwhile.
"This is his fifth cover for Lavender," said Lindner, who was not consulted about the cover photo concept. (Lindner said it's possible his boss might have been; but he did not return my call.)
Hotter than the gossip about how off-guard this cover image caught his bosses is the very juicy tidbit fueled by this headline: "Sven Sundgaard naked on the cover of Lavender Magazine." It's from the Web page of myTalk107.1FM show hosts Ian & Margery.
"I saw that and all the comments from people were What are you talking about, he's clearly not naked," said Sundgaard, who stressed: "Not pantless! Would never."
But as usual when seen jogging that magnificent body of his around the lakes, Sundgaard is shirtless on the cover.
"On the inside I had my shirt on. We did those first before they got me all dirty."
Playing the part for the mag cover of a messy chef, Sundgaard's holding a metal whisk and a big bowl of "chocolate pudding," while wearing a red apron bearing no apparent chocolate residue. But there is chocolate smudged on his nose, chin and clavicle area.
Unlike Lavender, which has a brand to promote, Sundgaard has an image to uphold and as such is photographed here in a fashion unbecoming an anchor, according to sources in local broadcasting. While there's embarrassment about the cover concept in all newsrooms, I found someone at one KARE competitor who told me that since Sundgaard only does the weather, he needn't worry about his image the way a police reporter might.
"I guess I don't feel it was anchor-inappropriate," Sundgaard said. "I discussed it with friends, family, whatever." He believes this was a reasonable vehicle by which to raise the campaign's profile.
What's next, sports guy Randy Shaver on the cover of Lavender in a Speedo?
"I don't think so," said Lindner. "I would be surprised."
How about news anchor Julie Nelson in whips and chains? "Likewise, I don't think so," said Lindner.
Leave it to Sven and Lavender to come up with something more entertaining next year -- if there is a next year.
"Another wardrobe malfunction, this time at Mall of America," said Maria Menounos nonchalantly.
Many thanks to the "Access Hollywood," "Today Show" and "NBC Nightly News" entertainment correspondent for writing my lede Sunday while at the Mall of America to promote her book, "The EveryGirl's Guide to Life."
Apparently the weather was too nice for her fans to come inside the megamall, so Menounos wasn't signing books for long.
After lavishing attention on the few fans who bought books, including Anna Tahinci of Lauderdale -- a native of Greece who declared the American-born Menounos spoke "beautiful Greek" -- the entertainment reporter went about her own shopping tour of the mall with two fans, Emily Wallace of Inver Grove Heights and Maria Morgen of Minneapolis.
There was shoe-shopping at Steve Madden, gelato-eating at Paciugo and, after saying farewell to Wallace and Morgen, funnel cake was consumed.
After her ride on the roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe, I pointed out that her photo was being displayed for purchase.
Menounos first noticed something about another rider before zeroing in on how her blouse had opened up during the ride, exposing her bra, just as the waves had shifted her bikini bottom in a rather provocative way in a highly publicized Miami Beach incident over the New Year's holiday, I believe. (Many websites got so excited about the photos that little details like when and where were omitted.)
"My breast is out," joked Menounos. "Another wardrobe malfunction."
If you Google her name, that shifting bikini issue is the first item that pops up. And she was exaggerating about what you could see in the roller-coaster photo. See for yourself at startribune.com/video.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or email@example.com.