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This Blog Will Be Delivered Elsewhere on Tuesday

With apologies to the late Richard Nixon, I want Tina, Steve, J. Myrle, Tom, Bob, Dave and Doug to know they won’t have me to kick around anymore.

At least not in this forum.

This is my final blog for this site.

The site will remain up for a brief time if you want to comment over the next few days, but I won’t be writing anything new for it.

A couple of months ago I told you that I might give up the blog or reduce its frequency if I didn’t get more sponsors or align with a new media outlet.

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

Well, I’ve been able to align with a new media outlet, though it isn’t exactly new. It is a place where I wrote about TV for 28 years until June of 2010.

In what may be the worst-kept media secret since John Murphy left Channel 4 to work full-time for the Buffalo Bills, I am returning to The Buffalo News starting on Tuesday to work part-time.

I have told a few friends in the media and TV writers over the past week (yes, I have some friends in the media) about my Nixonian return.

The funniest response came from writer-producer Tom Fontana, the Buffalo State College graduate who is best known for his work on “St. Elsewhere,” “Homicide” and Oz.”

After I told him I was returning to The News, Fontana sent the following email: “Really? Where’s your delivery route?? No, seriously that’s great news.”

I’m not so sure everyone in the media agrees with the second part of Fontana’s message.

I’ve enjoyed writing this blog for almost three years. Besides, I figured Western New York needed some media columnist to call out Buffalo Sabres analyst Rob Ray for saying Thursday that the Sabres did a nice job after blowing a two-goal lead (really Rob?),  assess the solid Thursday debut of new Channel 2 anchor-reporter Kelly Dudzik and note how difficult it is for Channel 2 sports anchor Ed Kilgore to get through a sportscast without stumbling. On Thursday, Kilgore said Rory McIlroy was “in the hunt” at Doral after the golfer fell behind by seven strokes in the first 18 holes.

I’ve also enjoyed getting feedback from the readers named above and others, even when the feedback was negative. You know I am talking about you, Steve. It was a labor of love for the most part, though I made a little money. Very little.

When I suggested in January that I might give up writing the blog because the monetary rewards hadn’t panned out, some kind readers suggested that they would be happy to pay a nominal monthly fee to keep it going. Some other readers offered different alternatives. I was told by experts that charging a fee wouldn’t work because of the cost of setting up the pay wall.

I thank you for reading the blog and suggesting how to keep it going.

Of course, The News now has a pay wall, which may make it difficult for non-subscribers to read me once I return to write a weekly TV column and blog frequently for The News. As of this writing, I’m not sure if I will retain stilltalkintv as the name of my blog or if the blog will return to its original News name of TalkinTV.

Which brings me to Shameless Plug Time. If you were going to be willing to pay to read stilltalkintv to keep it going, then you should strongly consider taking up The News offer that gives you digital access daily if you pay $1.99 a week to receive the Sunday paper.

It really is a bargain when you consider the Sunday paper costs more than that at the newsstand. And you will not only be able to read me, but the entire newspaper roster of columnists and reporters.

Please consider it. Maybe you’ll even be on my Sunday delivery route.


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ABC’s Kimmel Needs a Boost Here on Channel 7

Jimmy Kimmel told me in early January that he has never been to Buffalo.

After looking at the local late-night ratings for the February sweeps, he might consider coming here on his next publicity tour.

In his first sweeps period since taking over the 11:35 p.m. time slot from “Nightline” on ABC affiliate Channel 7, Kimmel’s program (2.5 rating) was a poor third in household ratings here to David Letterman’s “Late Show” (4.5 ) on CBS affiliate Channel 4 and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (3.9) on NBC affiliate Channel 2.

Some asterisks should come with the ratings. Kimmel is being carried on Channel 7, the weakest network affiliate in town and that doesn’t help. His rating also is close to the 2.7 that “Nightline” averaged here in the time slot a year ago and 65 percent higher than Kimmel averaged when his show aired at 12:05 a.m.

Jimmy Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel

Additionally, ABC isn’t looking for Kimmel to drive household ratings. It wants him to grab viewers in the age 18-49 demographic that the 45-year-old host will leave in less than five years. He reportedly was very competitive nationally in that demo.

(THIS JUST IN: ABC reported this morning that  Kimmel was only 28,000 viewers behind Letterman and only 108,000 behind Leno nationally in that demo during the February sweeps. The local demo numbers haven’t arrived but they are bound to be better than “Nightline” scored in the time slot a year ago. WNY has a high rate of viewers over age 50 who are more apt to watch “Nightline,” but advertisers are less concerned about them because they are more likely to have decided what they want to buy.)

“All we care about is 18-49,” said Kimmel in an interview January  in Hollywood with about 20 critics hovering over him. “That’s really all the network cares about. Not to say I don’t care about people under 18 or over 49. And I am headed into that category myself. That’s what they sell, so that’s all that really seems to matter.”

“I remember well my first paying job in Seattle. Our target audience was 25-54 and I was 21 and not even in the target audience and I felt very out of place then. And I’m sure in six or seven years I’ll feel out of place here, too. Luckily, I am very immature.”

Of course, it isn’t about Kimmel’s age any more than it is about Leno’s or Letterman’s age. Leno and Letterman probably could host their late-night shows until they are 80 as long as people under 50 still find them funny. It is about the age of their audience. After all, network TV is all about making money and the 18-49 demo is where the ad money is more plentiful.

Back in January, I told Kimmel about his lead-in problems in Buffalo and asked him if it concerned him or if he had any advice for Channel 7 to get out the audience.

“Lead-in is a big deal,” acknowledged Kimmel “It is not like ‘they better get their act together in Buffalo.’ I’m sure they are trying just as hard as we are.”

“I would like to come to Buffalo,” added Kimmel. “I hear the Anchor Bar has the best wings in the world. If they would leave a trail of wings from Los Angeles to Buffalo,  I would probably follow it straight there.”

Leno has tasted Buffalo chicken wings on visits here several times. His picture is plastered on area restaurant walls sampling their food. It no longer seems to be helping him attract viewers here. A year ago, Leno beat Letterman decisively here in household ratings. Now Letterman is on top by a good margin. It would seem to indicate that Kimmel’s entry into the late-night wars has hurt Leno and helped Letterman more here.

NBC executives have messed up late-night for years starting with the ill-fated Conan O’Brien experiment and the quick return of Leno to “The Tonight Show.” The ouster of O’Brien hurt Leno’s already-damaged, nice guy image and made him a bigger bad guy in some quarters.

Now it appears the bad guy is about to get his comeuppance as reports have surfaced that NBC plans to move Jimmy Fallon into the late-night spot next year. There is no clamoring here for Fallon. In February, he finished third in the 12:35 a.m. time slot on Channel 2 behind Craig Ferguson’s “Late, Late Show” on Channel 4 and “Nightline” on Channel 7.

Still the Fallon-for Leno move makes sense to astute late-night observers who have written about how competitive Kimmel was nationally with the 18-49 crowd in February (he also beat Letterman in the 18-34 demo) and believe that NBC is concerned that he will own that important audience for years if it doesn’t do something and fast.

If anything, it is somewhat surprising that NBC plans to wait until 2014 to replace Leno with Fallon. Why wait and give Kimmel more time to own the 18-49 audience?

Kimmel waited a long time to get the 11:35 time slot. He admitted in Los Angeles he thought about getting the time slot for a while.

“I think when Ted Koppel left (“Nightline”) we started thinking about it honestly,” said Kimmel. “Because he was Ted Koppel and you wouldn’t think of replacing him.”

“I never asked (ABC) (for the slot). Never once. I made it known I felt I was ready. They kind of suddenly did it. … I was very happy to be in my time slot for 10 years because it allowed me time to develop the show instead of what usually happens — you have to develop the show under the hot spotlight of a premiere.”

His dream now is to get some big names on the show who you wouldn’t expect to be guests. “I would like to put the President in a comedy bit,” said Kimmel. “We have to keep our wish list secret because if the people on the top of the list say no, we want the next person on the list to think they were the first person on the list.”

He quickly pointed out what he considered the turning point for his show.

“I think the Ben Affleck video was a big turning point,” said Kimmel. He was referring to a six-minute mock music video in February 2008 that suggested he was “getting busy” with Matt Damon’s buddy in retaliation for a video Kimmel’s then girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, made with Damon.  It became a YouTube sensation. “When celebrities saw that and saw they would have an opportunity to be funny on the show and online after the show that made a big difference,” said Kimmel.

He has no illusions about winning in late-night any time soon.
“Honestly I think we will wind up being the No. 3 talk show,” said Kimmel. “These are shows that have been on a long time. You really can’t discount the legacy of ‘The Tonight Show’ and how ingrained it is in the habits of Americans… No. 3 is fine with me.”

NBC appears to be worried he is going to do much better than that.


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“Dallas” Shooting, “Following” Escape and “Amazing” Shot Connection

This is what I’m thinking:

Who shot J.R. Monday night on TNT’s new version of “Dallas”?

Somehow, I doubt as many people care as did back in the day 33 years ago when the series was a Friday night hit on CBS.

The scenes that the late Larry Hagman phoned in about a mysterious plan during the episode seemed to be inserted without much context. It also appeared that J.R. might have known what was coming before he presumably got whacked.

Bacon, Purefoy

Bacon, Purefoy

Presumably, he is dead – unless it was a dream. Kidding. Next week’s episode might get more attention than Monday’s since it deals with J.R.’s funeral and possibly will address who is his assailant and why he was shot. As if we need a reason after all these years.

Boy has the Fox series “The Following” starring Kevin Bacon improved as the weeks have gone by. And you can’t say that about too many series this year. Monday’s episode had a “24”-like feel and featured a prison escape by mass murderer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) that should make subsequent episodes even scarier.

By the way, “The Following” is such a big hit – Fox says it is the No.3 drama of the season — that it is one of four series that Fox has picked up for another season. The others are “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project” and “Raising Hope.”

University at Buffalo basketball fans may remember Rasaun Young, who averaged more than 17 points a game. The name rang a bell when the NBC Nightly News ran a story Monday night about the incredible buzzer-beater by New Rochelle that beat Mt. Vernon over the weekend. Young, who is New Rochelle’s coach, was interviewed for the story.

ABC’sRed Widow,” which is based on a foreign series, received some of the most venomous reviews I’ve seen for any series this year. Sure, you have to suspend disbelief about the incredible plot in which a Bay Area drug dealer’s wife (played by beautiful Radha Mitchell) has to assist  a mobster (Goran Visnjic of “ER”) so her family can survive. But if viewers close their eyes to the stupidity and feast their eyes on the pretty co-stars they might enjoy it. By the way, Mitchell joins the numerous Australian actors and actresses who have made it to American TV. She’s a fresh face who has been in several low to mid-budget films.

“Widow” wasn’t a big hit locally. It averaged a 4.8 rating Sunday on Channel 7 and alarmingly slipped to a 3.6 by episode’s end. But nothing on broadcast TV did too well on Sunday. NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” opened with a 4.9 on Channel 2. “The Good Wife” (5.2) and “The Mentalist” (5.0) didn’t do much better on Channel 4, the CBS affiliate. Of course, all the programs competed with the Buffalo Sabres’ shootout loss to the New York Rangers. The game averaged an 11.5 rating, twice as high as any network prime time show. The Sabres win over New Jersey Saturday afternoon had a 10.1 rating.


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Ch.2 Scores on Weekends; “Amazing Race” Couple in Jeopardy

Here are some more interesting things to note about Western New York viewing patterns after the just- concluded February sweeps.

Channel 2 News Owns the Weekends: The NBC affiliate dominated at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and at 11 p.m. Saturday and wins a tight race at 11 p.m. Sunday. Of course, viewing patterns are frequently disturbed by sports on weekends but Channel 2’s victories are decisive. They also are large enough for the station to possibly declare itself the overall news leader in the market. Channel 2 also gets strong and improving ratings in weekend mornings in all but one time period.

Ricki Lake Flops Here: There will be no tears over at Channel 7 when Lake’s syndicated show ends its run at 3 p.m. weekends after one season. It barely averaged more than a 1 rating here.

Katie Couric No Big Deal Here Either: Despite some high-profile programs in February, Couric’s talk show didn’t average a 2 rating here and finished a poor third in its time period as the lead-in for Eyewitness News at 5. Of course, the lead-in didn’t help Channel 7’s newscast, which is third here.

Katie Couric

Katie Couric

“Wheel,” “Jeopardy” Score for Channel 4: Not surprisingly, the ratings for the two popular game shows soared when they moved to Channel 4 from Channel 7 and Channel 7’s cheaper replacements, “Extra” and “Access Hollywood,” flopped. “Wheel” and “Jeopardy” averaged double-digit ratings, which any network affiliate would die for in prime time. Of course, they came at a big price, which is why Channel 7 let them go after carrying them for decades.

NBC Prime Time Slips Here: NBC, which had a decent fall thanks to the success of “Revolution,” had a dismal February in prime time. Its prime time ratings slipped by almost a third from last February in prime time. “Revolution” will come to the rescue later this month.

In other news:

“Zero Hour” Is History:  I predicted that Anthony Edwards’ new series had slightly better than a zero chance of succeeding. Now comes word that ABC has pulled it from the Thursday lineup after three episodes and plans to burn it off in the summer.

 Max and Katie’s Excellent Adventure: I learned while fast-forwarding through “The Amazing Race” that WNYers Max and Katie were in last place Sunday when the episode ended with a “to be continued” line while one team contemplated withdrawing because of an injury. Max and Katie, who are newlyweds, were in first place in the bickering department. Katie constantly reminded Max about the mistakes he made.

Channel 4 Morning Promos Include Cejka: Channel 4 is using meteorologist Mike Cejka in its promos for “Wake Up!’” and he appears to be the people’s choice on Facebook to replace Amelia Segal and get his old job back. Channel 4 News Director Joe Schalerth reportedly told The Buffalo News last week that Cejka will split the duties for now with Bryan Shaw.

Jeanneret Provides a Canadian Laugh: Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret caused a few chuckles Sunday night in the shootout of the Buffalo Sabres loss to New York when he referred to Ranger star Rick Nash as Steve Nash, the NBA star. It is kind of funny that Rick stumbled over Rick’s name. Steve Nash is a Canadian and has a higher shooting percentage than Rick Nash.


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Ch.2 Dominates News Early, Ch. 4 Late

Channel 2 News is the big winner at 6 a.m. and from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m.

Channel 4 News remains the leader in the late evening newscasts.

And Channel 7’s Eyewitness News has seen big percentage gains from a year ago, which is easier to do when your ratings are low.

There is something positive for every local news station in the just-concluded February sweeps, which saw news viewing levels increase in most time periods from a year ago when the winter weather was decent.

According to Nielsen, Channel 2’s lead at 6 a.m. with Melissa Holmes replacing Jodi Johnston as the co-anchor on “Daybreak” alongside John Beard has grown significantly from a year ago. The rating for “Daybreak” was up more than 24 percent from a year ago to 7.2.

Melissa Holmes

Melissa Holmes

Channel 4’s new “Wake Up!” team of Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams had a decent sweep as well. The station’s ratings at 6 a.m. went up almost 15 percent to a 5.5.

Channel 7’s morning newscast co-anchored by Ginger Geoffery and Patrick Taney was down about 4 percent to a 2.4. In other words, Channel 2 has a slightly smaller audience than Channel 4 and Channel 7 have combined.

Channel 2’s 5 p.m. news co-anchored by Holmes and Scott Levin, its 5:30 p.m. news and its 6 p.m. news co-anchored by Maryalice Demler and Levin all averaged double-digit ratings and finished first. The race with Channel 4 was closest at 6 p.m., where Channel 4’s team of Don Postles and Jacquie Walker was within four-tenths of a point. Channel 7 was a deep third in all early evening time periods, though it experienced big percentage gains in all of them.

Holmes presumably wll get some relief soon from the early morning and early evening split shift, with newcomer Kelly Dudzik arriving from Little Rock, Ark. on Monday.

Though it may be hard to believe because remote controls make it so easy to change channels, lead-ins really matter big time. Channel 2 gets a significant early evenings news lead-in advantage from “Ellen” at 4 p.m., a time period that Channel 4 used to dominate with Oprah Winfrey when it was No. 1 from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m.

Channel 4 continues to dominate at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. when it has a lead-in advantage. The 10 p.m. newscast anchored on WNLO-TV by either Walker or Postles now that Fairbanks is in the morning widened its lead over Channel 2’s newscast anchored by Levin or Demler on WNYO. Channel 4 now gets triple the rating that Channel 2 gets at that hour.

Partly thanks to the CBS lead-ins, Channel 4 also has a big advantage at 11 p.m., with second place Channel 2 closer to third place Channel 7 at that hour even though its viewership increased from a year while Channel 4’s was flat.

If you combine all the numbers for the newscasts in which Channel 2 and Channel 4 compete, Channel 2 has a slight advantage. However, if you add Channel 4′s noon numbers to Channel 2′s 11 a.m. numbers then Channel 4 is the overall No.1.

Of course, the whole story isn’t complete until the demographics arrive in a few weeks. As a rule, Channel 2 usually does better there.

When it comes to national news programs, WNY is atypical.

English: Scott Pelley in Antarctica

Scott Pelley: Ratings Strong Here

While ABC’s “Good Morning America” has surged ahead of NBC’s “Today” nationally, locally “Today” is riding Channel 2’s morning lead-in to a huge victory. Its audience almost equals that of “GMA” and the CBS morning program combined. The good news for Channel 4 is the CBS morning program co-anchored by Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose gained 37 percent from a year ago and is within four tenths of a point of second place “GMA” on Channel 7 here. Channel 7’s news weakness clearly is hurting “GMA” here.

And it isn’t helping with the nightly newscasts, either. While ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” is closing the gap with the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” nationally, locally it is no contest.

Williams’ program is a strong No. 1 on Channel 2 with a 9.9 average rating. “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” is second with an 8.5 average rating on Channel 4. Sawyer’s newscast, which suffers from Channel 7’s lead-in, is a weak third with a 5.1. All of the national newscasts are up here substantially from a year ago.

Channel 7 announced today that it has hired a new multi-media journalist, which is a fancy way of saying it has a new reporter who can shoot video of her own stories. Hilary Lane, a Syracuse University graduate, arrives from WKTV in Utica. She starts March 13.


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Ch.4′s Segal Gives a Classy “Wake Up!” Goodbye

I’ve got to hand it to former Channel 4 meteorologist Amelia Segal.

She sure can keep a secret.

It wasn’t until a day before her departure from WIVB-TV that just about everybody inside her station learned where she is headed this afternoon.

WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., announced Wednesday that Segal is joining the station’s weather team on March 11. It is quite an achievement since D.C. is a Top 10 market.

According to sources, Segal is probably going to start with some morning and early afternoon work at WRC before eventually becoming the weekend meteorologist.

The announcement came about a month after stilltalkintv speculated that Segal was planning to leave the station after the end of the February sweeps when her contract expires and was upset that she wasn’t allowed to leave a few months earlier to work for a D.C. station near her hometown in Maryland.

Segal never returned my Facebook messages or telephone calls but it would appear that the D.C. station held the job for Segal.

I understood why Channel 4 wouldn’t let her go early. It had already lost its two “Wake Up!” co-anchors in the last six months. They were replaced by co-anchors Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams. With Segal’s departure, the “Wake Up!” team is now going to be all new in a time slot in which viewers usually crave consistency.

Channel 4 has been looking for Segal’s replacement for weeks and has brought in at least one person for an interview. It hasn’t announced anyone has been hired to replace Segal on the stations’ 4 Warn Weather roster. Since weather is a big deal on the station, you would expect someone would be hired more quickly for the position than has been hired to fill other slots at the station.

The big question this morning was whether Channel 4’s management would allow Segal to say goodbye after three years.

It did. Segal gave a very classy goodbye speech this morning and said she had a “wonderful new opportunity” and “my time spent here has been absolutely wonderful.”

Amelia Segal

Amelia Segal

“It was great forecasting the weather here, very challenging,” said Segal. “You learn a lot about doing it every day. I thank (the audience) for letting me come into your home.”

Segal, who was moved from the weekends to the mornings late in 2011, noted it is hard to get up so early in the morning and praised her co-workers in the morning for helping her.

She even praised the station’s managers who prevented her from leaving early, saying “they’ve been just great.”

Of course, Segal isn’t the first on-air staffer to praise management in a goodbye speech. It almost seems to be a requirement if you’re going to be allowed to give one.

“You look at your resume tape when you get to a place and look back three years later and say, ‘I appreciate you believing in me and seeing where I can potentially get to,” concluded Segal. “Thanks so much Western New York, it’s been great.”

Segal is right  — she noticeably improved from when she arrived at Channel 4 three years ago after spending a few years seasoning at an Erie, Pa. station right out of Penn State.

That used to be the norm for local TV here. But now some on-air staffers are put on the air straight out of college or with very little experience and given on-the-job training.

I’ve been accused by some friends and readers of being too soft on Channel 4 sportscaster Lauren Brill. I have criticized her on several occasions, but I don’t blame her as much as I blame management for hiring her with so little on-air experience. She arrived from cable’s MSG Varsity channel and did well enough there to get a couple of Emmy nominations this year.

However, Brill needed a few years in Erie or Elmira for seasoning before coming here and getting what amounts to on-the-job training. That’s why I give her a little break.

In case you missed it while watching the Oscars Sunday, the WNY newlyweds, Max and Katie Bichler, on “The Amazing Race” survived the second episode. The Oscars took a big bite out of Channel 4’s audience but “Race” still earned a decent 5.8 rating here and I imagine anyone who cares about the reality series watched it On Demand if they have the capability. I passed but it is on my DVR list.


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Lessons Learned About Constitution, Twitter and Arrested Development

The semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour can be quite an educational experience.

I can’t tell you how many times I said to myself over the course of a week in Pasadena, Calif. last month “I didn’t know that.”

Here’s a Top 10 list of things I learned from talking to people or listening to people.

English: Mel Brooks at the White House for the...

Mel Brooks: Confirms Hoffman Rumor

The Word Freedom Wasn’t in the Original Constitution: The word wasn’t in the original document, though most Americans think it was, according to the people behind an upcoming PBS series, “The Constitution, USA with Peter Sagal” in which Sagal of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” radio fame is host. Of course, it is in the First Amendment. I also learned that Sagal, whose radio show is carried on 88.7, rides a motorcycle and is follically-challenged. (Obviously you couldn’t tell that by listening to radio.)

Poppy Montgomery’s “Unforgettable” Series is Alive: I thought that CBS had canceled the series in which Montgomery played a woman with psychic powers who solved crimes. But it is coming back for a second season this summer in late July.

Jimmy Kimmel Has Never Been to Buffalo: Kimmel had to think about it for a moment on the set of his late-night ABC show before concluding he’d never been to Buffalo. Stay tuned for more from Kimmel at a later date.

It Gets Verrrry Cold in Los Angeles in January: I used to escape here in January to help survive Buffalo winters. But for several days, it was colder in L.A. than WNY. Kimmel even carried a bit on the show I attended in which meteorologists here were scaring people into thinking they practically were living in Buffalo. The same night Kimmel’s concert ended with an outdoor concert of Bruno Mars. It was a great concert but I wished I had packed my Buffalo overcoat.

Showtime Rejects Can Land on CBS: A Stephen King miniseries, “Under the Dome,” was first pitched to the pay-cable channel. After it was rejected, CBS decided to carry it this summer. Of course, Showtime and CBS have the same owner.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship Is Popular With Women:  I was initially surprised when UFC President Dana White said 50 percent of its audience was female, but since then have gotten some confirmation from readers.

Netflix is Airing Original Programming: Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” is only a start. Ricky Gervais has a new comedy, “Derek,” that will air on Netflx. The critically-acclaimed and little-watched Fox series “Arrested Development” is coming back in May with 14 new episodes, each one featuring one character’s point of view. That’s a few weeks after the April 19 premiere of a mystery-murder series coming, “Hemlock Grove.” Netflix is doing something different – it is making all the episodes of its series available at the same time so people can watch them at once just as they do past seasons of popular series.

Stay Tuned for “Arrested Development,” The Movie (Maybe):  The “AD” episodes are supposed to make viewers eagerly anticipate a movie that has been rumored for years. There is no certainty it is going to happen, though Jason Bateman’s current hit “Identity Thief” with Molly McCarthy could help make it happen.

Dustin Hoffman Was Cast in “The Producers”: That nugget was confirmed by Mel Brooks, in a laugh-filled session in which he was promoting an American Masters program about his life and career. It seems Hoffman was cast, but then told Brooks that he was seeking a movie career. Brooks didn’t think someone who looks like Hoffman could become a movie star before the actor was cast to star in “The Graduate” and seduce Brooks’ real-life wife Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson.

I Don’t Own My Tweets: I learned from Sagal during the session about “Constitution USA” that after people post their 140 character tweets they legally become the property of Twitter even though Twitter wants you to still own them. Thankfully, most of what is written on Twitter is instantly worthless anyway.

Amelia Segal: Gets "Dream" Job

Amelia Segal: Gets “Dream” Job

BREAKING NEWS:  Channel 4 meteorologist Amelia Segal is headed to WRC, the NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. According to the Washington Post, she begins March 11th. Her final day at Channel 4 is Thursday. The Post quoted Segal, who is originally from the D.C. area, as saying that working in the market was her “dream” since she began studying meteorology.


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Oscars Gain Here; TWC Rate Hike Explained

Despite the complaints about the edginess or crudeness of host Seth MacFarlane and how long it took to get around to giving out the top awards, the local ratings for the Oscar telecast Sunday improved from a year ago.

The 3 hour and 35 minute program had a 24.6 rating on Channel 7, up slightly from the 24.1 it received in 2012.

That could be as much a testament to the popular movies up for awards as it was to MacFarlane. National ratings were also up, and significantly higher for the younger demographics that contained viewers who were more likely to be attracted to the creator of “Family Guy.”

The older demographics of Western New York make the Oscar gain more impressive here.

The viewing patterns here over the length of the program are interesting.

The program started with a 27.6 rating at 8:30 p.m. on Channel 7, kept steady at 8:45 when MacFarlane’s opening was still going on and rose to a high of 29.2 at 9 p.m. Then there was a steady decline.

Theo James

Theo James

WNYers started going to bed around 11 p.m., when the big directing, acting and best picture were starting to be announced. The program had a 22.4 rating at 11 p.m., slipped to a 21.2 at 11:15 and hit a low of 17.0 at 11:45 about 15 minutes before “Argo” was named best picture.

With viewership patterns like that, you may be asking why doesn’t ABC end the telecast at 11 p.m.?

We forget that much of the country watches in different time zones. The show ended at 9:05 p.m. in California. Besides, I’m guessing many WNYers DVRed the last hour and watched it Monday.

A week or so ago, Time Warner Cable announced a rate hike that it said averaged a 2.6 increase for about one-third of its customers who aren’t on promotional packages. It said the increases were needed because of increased programming costs. Remember, WNYers just recently began getting The NFL Network.

The details of exactly who was going to get hit hardest with the increase were sketchy at best. They finally arrived in the mail with my bill on Monday. I live in Buffalo and was told by TWC spokesman Joli Plucknette-Farmen that prices can vary by community.

It became clear from my bill that some of the people in Buffalo who can least afford a price increase – those with basic cable — will get a much bigger increase than 2.6 percent. Basic cable subscribers – who Plucknette-Farmen said are a “small, shrinking minority” — will see their bill go up 11 percent or $1.74 cents a month. Digital cable subscribers who aren’t on a package will see their rates go up 6 percent or $5 a month. Those with digital cable and phone, digital cable with internet, and digital cable with internet and phone will see their pages go up $3 a month if they aren’t on a package. DVR service is going up $1 if you aren’t on a package.

And if you are on a promotional package?

Here is what Plucknette-Farmen wrote me a week or so ago: “We encourage customers to contact us as their promotional period ends so we can help them find the right mix of services for their interests and budgets and the price of their services is based on that choice.”

Translation: I imagine your bill will go up by the above amounts as soon as the promotional period of your package ends. In other words, eventually it will hit more than one-third of TWC subscribers.

Minireview of “Golden Boy,” the CBS police drama starring Theo James (the British actor who was in one memorable episode of “Downton Abbey”), Chi McBride of “Boston Public” and Bonnie Somerville of “NYPD Blue” that premieres at 10 tonight on Channel 4: I am so not impressed and wanted to be because it comes from a former writer of “NYPD Blue.”

It is about an ambitious cop, Walter Clark, who becomes the youngest police commissioner in New York City history years after he learns police politics and methods from his older-wise, partner, Det. Roy Owen (McBride) while dealing with his problem sister. Somerville is very good playing  a tough detective who is partnered with Owen’s nemesis, Detective Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro). Told largely in flashback seven years before Clark became the Commish, the first two episodes are flatly-written and contain routine cases that “NYPD Blue” handled so much better. Clark is so obviously overeager and ambitious that he is annoying. However, McBride makes “Golden” as watchable as he usually does every series he is in.  Rating: 2 stars out of 4  


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Call Them the Love or Hate Oscars

Well, at least “Oscar” host Seth MacFarlane gave us something to write and talk about Sunday night.

The rest of the evening was as dull and boring as a bad Bills game in the 2012 season.

If you read my Sunday blog, you saw that MacFarlane’s knew he would be under “a ruthless bit of scrutiny” and he claimed “he wasn’t going to think about it.”

Then he spent a good deal of his 17-minute opening imagining all the dreary Monday headlines about his reviews. I’m sure many agree with the first headline – that MacFarlane was “the worst Oscar host ever,” partly because the opening almost seemed to be all about him.

I’m not going to go there — even if I wish MacFarlane hadn’t gone to some tasteless places as he routinely does in writing “Family Guy.”

As I wrote Sunday, MacFarlane said his goal was to be “classic in tone and edgy in content” and that he expected one joke “would stir up the pot a little bit.”

Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane

He might not have achieved the classic tone, but he delivered edginess and one or two jokes (Honest, an Abraham Lincoln assassination joke? A Chris Brown-Rihanna joke?) that surely stirred up the pot a little bit.

I’m not a prude. But one of his opening numbers with the repetitive lyric “we saw her boobs” as he read off a list of actresses who have disrobed in movies seemed like a bad “Saturday Night Live” opening and some of the women named (Carlize Theron, Naomi Watts among them) didn’t seem too happy about it (if they weren’t in on it). It seemed to be MacFarlane’s way of announcing that anything goes. I’m sure the song is probably a big You Tube sensation by now or will be before the day is over — and creating positive or negative buzz was one reason why MacFarlane was selected to host.

MacFarlane did crack a good joke in his opening about Ben Affleck’s failure to be nominated as best director for “Argo,” and the joke resonated even more when the film won the Oscar as picture of the year around midnight.  That’s if you could remember the joke more than three and a half hours later.

Seth was being Seth all night and if much of America hated him more than I did they should blame producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for selecting him as host.

Actually, Zadan and Meron were a much bigger problem than MacFarlane anyway. The producers of the Oscar film version of Chicago” turned the Oscars into the Tonys and the Grammys, supposedly celebrating musicals in the movies.

Now I am a big Broadway fan. But I didn’t need to see a number from “Chicago” or “Dreamgirls.” I did enjoy the number from “Les Miserables,” which was appropriate since the film was nominated as best picture. Besides, it gave the Twitter universe a chance to take more shots at Russell Crowe’s singing.

I enjoyed Adele’s singing of “Skyfall,” Shirley Bassey’s singing of “Goldfinger” and the Barbra Streisand surprise “Memories” tribute to Marvin Hamlisch.

I also laughed when the theme from “Jaws” popped up to warn winners they were about to be cut off even though it seemed rude and some viewers undoubtedly hated it.

That said, these Oscars didn’t provide too many enjoyable memories.

The reaction to MacFarlane’s opening, the “Jaws” theme, the John Wilkes Booth assassination joke and turning the Oscars into the Tonys made this the love or hate Oscars.

Let’s look at more love and hate moments.

Anne Hathaway’s win for “Les Miz.”: I was one of the people who loved the movie. But the haters of the filmed version of the Broadway musical made Hathaway a symbol for their hatred and wanted her to lose.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ speech after he won the best actor category for “Lincoln”: What wasn’t there to love about it – he combined humor with sincerity.

Jennifer Lawrence’s spill after she won the best actress category for “Silver Linings Playbook”:  It made her more lovable, which didn’t seem possible. However, it seemed to put her off-balance when she spoke, too. I expected a better speech.

George Clooney’s Beard: Some people hated it, but they miss the point. Clooney can’t do anything wrong.

Michelle Obama as a Presenter: It was a nice touch to see the First Lady celebrate the movies before announcing the best picture winner from the White House. She and Streisand gave the show some much-needed class, though viewers had to wait more than three hours to see it.

The Victory Speeches after “Argo” Was Named Best Picture: Producer Grant Heslov had a good line when he said of himself and fellow producers Clooney and Affleck, “I know what you thinking – the three sexiest producers alive.” Heslov also reminded people twice that Affleck directed the film, an obvious dig at the failure to nominate Affleck in that category. Then Affleck – his nerves and speed illustrating how excited he was – nailed his victory speech by being classy and sincere.

The Finale: I hated the duet by MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth as the final credits ran for two reasons. First, I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Secondly, it made the Oscars seem like they would never end.


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