January 26, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

We can believe exploding grapefruits in Argentina. Or the doctor who performed hernia surgery on himself. But an incarnation of Weekly World News that will never mention Elvis Presley? Say it ain’t so.

Yes, America’s most truth-challenged tabloid — the one that broke the story that Elvis is 10:30-11 p.m.), and its executive producer promises not a single story on The King. ”I’m just not interested,” says Kathy Kloves. ”We’re trying to take the classy road — like stories on the girl with the nine-inch tongue.”

Fortunately, the show — hosted, bizarrely enough, by stone-faced NBC News veteran Edwin Newman — will feature some living celebs. Age-defying singer Pat Boone, for instance, makes a cameo in a story on the fountain of youth. Melrose Place’s Daphne Zuniga confesses to wearing a pyramid-shaped hat to help her memorize her lines. And though Don King himself doesn’t make an appearance, Weekly World News uncovered an island tribe that worships the high-haired boxing promoter.

But how exactly did the News track down those cult members? Here’s a hint: They look suspiciously like a group of Hula Hoop dancers Kloves spotted at a party. For that matter, we’re guessing the clothes supposedly knitted from belly-button lint were fashioned from three months’ worth of gunk the producer collected from her dryer (”My housekeeper kept trying to throw it away,” Kloves says). Cute gimmicks, for sure, but the real trick will be getting people to watch this stuff. ”We’ve got two audiences,” says Kloves. ”The college kids who watch Letterman and will go along with it, and the people who watch soap operas and buy the [Weekly World News] newspaper because they believe it.”

Newman, for one, had never bought the tabloid before signing on to do the show. So, what prompted the man who moderated the Ford-Carter presidential debate to accept this unusual assignment? Has he been cloned by crazed scientists? In his defense, the anchor points to his long history of nonserious work, from hosting Saturday Night Live to writing Sunday Punch, a comic novel. Says Newman: ”The idea of doing something different, something most people in news aren’t willing to risk — that’s appealing.” Well, there was that time Dan Rather sang with R.E.M. Let’s just hope Lesley Stahl doesn’t start chasing Elvis.

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