wordpress visitor

Bills Rate High; CBS Announcers Not So Much


This is what I’m thinking:

Not even the brutal announcing of the CBS team of Spera Dedes and Steve Beuerlein could keep Buffalo Bills fans away from their TV sets on Sunday afternoon.

How brutal were they? About as brutal as the NFL replacement officials, who became the lead story on NBC’s “Today” this morning over the presidential race. The officials got the “Today” spotlight after they botched the end of Seattle’s last-second victory over Green Bay Monday night on a ridiculous ruling about the position of a Hail Mary pass.

But I digress. Back to the viewership of the Bills game. The Bills 24-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns had a season-high 35.4 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. That means 35.4 percent of WNY households were tuned in.

It will be tough to top this Sunday against the New England Patriots because 70,000 potential viewers and several ratings points will be in the Ralph.

 To put the Bills rating in in perspective, it was more than three times as high as the rating for the prime time Emmys ((10.7) on Channel 7 Sunday. New England’s last second lost to Baltimore in NBC’s prime time game also beat the Emmys easily with a 14.0 rating.

The local football audience also was high for the finish of Kansas City’s overtime win over New Orleans and the New York Jets overtime win over the Miami Dolphins, with Channel 4 getting more than a 23 rating in the hour after the Bills game ended. All those viewers have decided they can live without The Red Zone Channel.

Needless to say, those fantastic finishes didn’t help Channel 7’s post-game Bills show, which aired at the same time. The post-game show had a 1.8 rating, which was by far the best showing of the three post-game programs. That means about 95 percent of the people watching the Bills game on Channel 4 weren’t watching the post-game show, which also has to compete with WGR radio’s post-game show.

Channel 7 also delays carrying Coach Chan Gailey’s post-game press conference, which Sunday had special interest because of the expected update of running back C.J. Spiller’s injury.  I’m wondering if  WGR, the Bills radio rights-holder, has the right to carry the press conference first. This Sunday,  Channel 7 didn’t have video of Gailey when he spoke, which made it seem like radio.

Speaking of CBS’  announcing team, I might have to start a petition drive to send to CBS to keep Steve Beuerlein off of any more Bills games. The analyst changes his mind more than a politician speaking to different audiences and – as Howard Cosell used to say — has “a firm grasp of the obvious” when it comes to analysis.

It was more painful to listen to Beuerlein during the Bills-Browns game than it was watching Spiller get injured. Beuerlein constantly had an opinion on a play, then changed his mind after seeing a replay. He was more inconsistent than Bills qb Ryan Fitzpatrick can be on a bad day.

Let’s hope Dedes gets a seat by a window the next time he calls a Bills game so he can see what is happening. He constantly was wrong on first downs and other crucial things that viewers could see with their own eyes.

Is WECK radio is up for sale? My spies tell me that based on an item in a site called Radio for Sale that had this posted about a Buffalo station: “The Queen City is the 56th market, but it is #41 revenue. We have an excellent AM signal with an extremely well-engneered FM translator. The FM reaches over 750,000 people… IF it were a full FM it would be valued at over $3 million. The Price for the full-time AM with FM translator is $2.3 million.”

According to my spies, the only AM station that qualifies for that description is WECK, which currently carries a music format called “The Breeze.”

The same site lists for sale an upstate New York AM station that has been under local ownership for more than 25 years that my spies speculate is WLVL out of Lockport. The asking price is $495,000. WECK and WLVL are locally owned by Dick Greene.  

Had to laugh when I read a story in Saturday’s Buffalo News about two new Channel 2 on-air staffers. I wrote about the hiring of Jonah Javad a month earlier and the hiring of Jeff Preval a week or so earlier. I suspect the paper may eventually get around to reporting that Joe Arena might soon be leaving Channel 4. or WECK may be up for sale. If you don’t want to wait for The News to cover media stories, then stilltalkintv is the place  to go. But you probably know that.

Three new network shows premiere tonight in prime time. I recommend “The Mindy Project,” a cute, off-beat comedy about a romantically-awkward doctor written and starring Mindy Kahling of “The Office.” I also recommend CBS’ “Vegas” only if you want to see Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis chew the scenery as a Las Vegas cowboy-sheriff and mobster, respectfully, in the 1960s before everyone in WNY headed to Vegas annually. My favorite Quaid line: “I am the law here and I will decide who is breaking it.”

I’m not a fan of “Ben & Kate,” the somewhat crude Fox comedy about a childish, idiotic, romantically-challenged older brother (he would be played by Will Ferrell or Ed Helms in the movies) who is protective of his waitress sister and her precocious daughter. But it somehow has gotten some great reviews that the network is promoting so you might want to give it a try. After all, I am not the law here.


filed under: Uncategorized

Kimmel’s Emmy Telecast is as Flat as Morgan On Stage


Except for an opening sketch featuring several female nominees punching a nervous Jimmy Kimmel to get him out of a toilet stall to host, Sunday night’s Emmy Awards didn’t have much comedic punch.

Kimmel was far from a knockout. He is likable even when he is being a bit of a jerk, like in the scene in which he fulfilled his plan to be weird when he jokingly kicked his (supposed) parents out of the audience. But his opening monologue didn’t have many memorable lines, the bit featuring Tracy Morgan fell as flat as Morgan was on stage and the one featuring Josh Groban mocking out “In Memoriam” presentations at all awards show was clever but unfunny and inappropriate.

The actual “In Memoriam” introduced by Opie (Ron Howard) was as moving as usual, with Howard saluting his late mentor Andy Griffith before the late composer and conductor beloved in Buffalo, Marvin Hamlisch, led off the sweet goodbyes.

Jimmy Kimmel: More Likable Than Funny

Like Kimmel, the comedic winners didn’t have many memorable moments. Even presenter Tina Fey wasn’t funny. Anyone seeing Louis CK for the first time may have wondered why anyone thinks he is funny enough to win two Emmys. (He is darkly funny).

The funniest line of the night might have been the expletive deleted comment by Jon Stewart, who appeared to be talking about the predictability of the Emmys after the “Daily Show” won for the 10th straight year in the variety category.

“Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan annually has a funny speech and this year he didn’t disappoint, delivering a self-deprecating line about his winning the comedy directing award. I didn’t hear his speech after the series won as best comedy again because of technical difficulties that either hit ABC or its local affiliate, Channel 7. But I’m sure Levitan was as funny as he usually is during these speeches.

Jon Cryer looked as stunned as most of the audience after he won as best supporting comedic actor for “Two and a Half Men” and didn’t seem to have a speech prepared. “This is crazy,” said Cryer, who forgot to thank last year’s new co-star, Ashton Kutcher.

No arguing here. I guess he won as a career achievement award for surviving all those years with Charlie Sheen.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus win as best comedic actress for HBO’s over-rated “Veep” was almost as crazy since the HBO series gets as many viewers as there are writers for “The Daily Show.”

I won’t argue with the “Modern Family” wins of Julie Bowen and Eric Stonestreet, though I do feel for the 47 percent of the cast of that series that didn’t win.

As far as drama, the early deserving wins for Showtime’s “Homeland” for writing, best actor (Damian Lewis) and best actress (Claire Dane) made me stay up late just to see if “Homeland” would stop the “Mad Men” streak and win as best drama. It did at 10:50 p.m. and deservedly so, though I thought “Mad Men” had a strong season as well and didn’t deserve to be shut out. Even President Obama has said “Homeland” is one of his favorite series. Maybe all the wins for the series about a suspected American terrorist will even get more people to subscribe to Showtime or rent the DVDs.

HBO had to be satisfied with all its wins for “Game Change,” which explained some of the reasons that President Obama won the 2008 election. It wasn’t Sarah Palin’s favorite movie but there was no surprise it was a hit in liberal Hollywood with Emmy voters.

As predicted, NBC is running promos after one episode of “Revolution” calling it a hit and noting that critics love it along with millions of fans. Actually, it got very mixed reviews. I’m not a fan.

I am a fan of ABC’s “Castle,” which premieres its new season at 10 tonight opposite the second episode of “Revolution” and tries to advance the story of whether Kate (Stana Katic) and Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) finally get together. It is a terrific episode that combines elements of a screwball comedy and a mystery. It isn’t revolutionary TV but it is more watchable than “Revolution.” Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4

I watched the pilot of the new CBS comedy “Partners” premiering tonight about two months ago and don’t remember much about it. I do recall that David Krumholtz is one of the stars in the comedy about a friendship between a self-described gay drama queen and a straight man with romantic problems. I also remember that it seemed loaded with stereotypes, the premise was old and moldy and the jokes stunk. I’m not about to watch it again to be reminded why I didn’t think much of it. I don’t even want to waste any time looking over my notes about it. In short, don’t waste your time tonight watching it. I was a fan of the early seasons of “Will & Grace,” a popular NBC series from the same creators.

Finally, all those promos during the Emmys for ABC’s “The Last Resort” weren’t exaggerating. I watched the pilot over the weekend and it is terrific. It premieres Thursday, when I will write more about it.


filed under: Uncategorized

Rooting for Emmys (and Me) to Avoid Embarrassment

When the Emmy nominations arrived two months ago, they illustrated what a sorry state network television is in these days.

The Emmy list for the broadcast networks is so sad that it is almost comical. Indeed, if it wasn’t for comedy series, the list would be laughable.

Larry David kristin.eonline.com - HBO Post-Emm...

Larry David: I’m Rooting for His “Curb”

According to the Emmy voters, the only broadcast series worth honoring in the top categories are the dramas “The Good Wife” and “Harry’s Law” (which has been canceled) and the comedies “The Big Bang Theory,” “The New Girl,” “30 Rock,” “Modern Family,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Mike & Molly,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Desperate Housewives.”

They are the only network shows getting any Emmy love in a year dominated by so many cable shows that the list almost looks like the old ACE Awards given out by cable before cable became a significant part of TV.

That’s right, only two network dramas – one of which has been canceled – have a chance of winning tonight when Jimmy Kimmel hosts the Emmy Awards on ABC at 8.

How sad is the state of network dramas? PBS’ “Downton Abbey”’ got more nominations (7) than all of the network dramas combined.

The broadcast networks were saved from total embarrassment by the comedy selections, which is as much because of cable’s inability to find as many comedies as it does dramas.

Predicting the winners is about as easy as predicting NFL games against the spread early in the season as evidenced by the current records of the Buffalo News selectors. I feel for them. My goal in selecting Emmy winners is sort of like the goal of broadcast television and Kimmel – to avoid total embarrassment.

I have a found a way. Today I’m just going to tell you who I hope will win.

Emmy voters clearly don’t always worry about what is popular as evidenced by their support of such low-rated shows as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Girls” and “Veep.” They do reward quality shows that also get surprising high audiences such as “Downton Abbey” and “Hatfield &McCoys” on the History Channel.

The most shocking illustration of Emmy love was the boat load of nominations for FX’s creepy, sexy, scary, shocking  “American Horror Story,” which was almost canceled before the network announced season two would include an entire new cast.

Now on to my hopes for the Emmys:

Best Drama: I’d be happy if Showtime’s “Homeland,” which returns next Sunday, breaks the streak of AMC’s “Mad Men.” But “Mad Men” had another terrific season so I’ll be fine if it wins, too.

Best Dramatic Actress: I’m fine if either Claire Danes of “Homeland” or Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife” wins. I’d laugh if Kathy Bates wins for her role in NBC’s canceled “Harry’s Law,” which was very popular in WNY.

Best Dramatic Actor: This is almost a can’t-lose category. I’d be thrilled if Damian Lewis of “Homeland,” Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” or even Steve Buscemi of “Boardwalk Empire” won over favorite Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad.” Lewis would make me the happiest. 

Best Supporting Dramatic Actor: I’m rooting for Jared Harris of “Mad Men” for playing the Brit who committed suicide after stealing from the ad agency.

Best Supporting Dramatic Actress: I have to root for Buffalo’s Christine Baranski of “The Good Wife” but I wouldn’t be unhappy if Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men” won.

Best Comedy: I’d be satisfied if “Modern Family” won because it is consistently amazing. But I’m rooting for HBO’s and Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which is one of my all-time favorite comedies.

Best Actress in a Comedy: I’m OK with any one of the nominees and really don’t have a favorite. I suppose Tina Fey would give the best speech.

Best Actor in a Comedy: I’d laugh out-loud if Larry David of “Curb” or Louis CK of “Louie” beat favorite Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory.”

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Any of the “Modern Family” guys deserve it but I’m rooting for old-timer Ed O’Neill because he is the closest to my age.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: I’m rooting for Rochester native Kristen Wiig of “Saturday Night Live” to provide the first shocker. “SNL” isn’t the same without her.

Outstanding Reality Show: Please anything but “The Amazing Race” again.


filed under: Uncategorized

TWC Carries NFL Network a Day Early


After years of waiting to see it, Time Warner Cable homes in Western New York are getting The NFL Network a day early.

The NFL Network is being carried on on Time Warner Cable this morning.

The NFL Network and Time Warner Cable announced late Friday afternoon in a carefully-worded release that The NFL Network and NFL Red Zone would debut in TWC homes beginning this Sunday on TWC beginning with its pre-game and post-game shows and that the “full launch” will take place before Thursday’s game between the Cleveland Browns (who play the Bills Sunday) and Baltimore Ravens (who used to play in Cleveland).

The use of the words “full launch” in the announcement of the multi-year national deal suggested that some TWC cable systems might not be ready to carry it this Sunday. But a TWC spokesperson told me Friday night that Buffalo’s system will be ready to carry The NFLN this Sunday.

And then I turned on my TV this morning to discover that The NFLN is on right now.

According to the release, The NFL Network is available to TWC subscribers on the digital basic package and Sports Pass tier. According to TWC, about 72 percent of its local subscribers get the digital basic package. Subscribers don’t need digital basic to get Sports Pass but they will need a digital box. The NFL Red Zone channel only will be available to those who get Sports Pass, which costs an extra $5.99 a month.

The NFL Network, which has been carried on satellite TV locally, is now carried by TWC on channel 187 in standard definition in Buffalo and on channel 1086 in high definition. The Red Zone is carried on channel 191 in standard definition and on channel 1087 in high definition in Buffalo. The channels will air in different locations in standard definition in Olean.   

The Buffalo Bills game-Miami game on The NFL Network on Nov. 15 now will be available locally on both independent station WBBZ and The NFL Network if it is sold out in time. The NFL has always sold the rights to its NFL Network and ESPN games to broadcast stations in their local markets so people who don’t get cable also can see them.

This really is this is the return of The NFL Network locally. When Adelphia was the leading cable provider here, it carried the NFL Network. TWC took it off after it became the local cable provider.

What is notably missing from this evening’s release is how much TWC is paying per subscriber to carry The NFL Network and whether that will eventually mean bigger cable bills.

I think that is easier to predict than the Bills-Browns game.

SNL Kagan, a specialist in the media and communication business, estimates that The NFL Network charges 95 cents monthly per subscriber. 

In Buffalo, that would likely mean TWC would only pay for the digital subscribers it has for The NFL Network and for the Sports Pass subscribers (which will be considerably fewer) for the Red Zone Channel.  


filed under: Uncategorized

A Fair and Balanced Critique of Political TV Coverage


According to an unscientific poll, 47 percent of my readers will love this column.

The other 53 percent will consider themselves victims of my recent decision to critique political coverage and political comedy.

OK, I made that up. Just like candidates make things up when they supposedly are talking about issues.

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 12:  Karl Rove, former Depu...

Karl Rove: The Front Page?

As an aside to those who think I have become more politically obsessed lately than a TV critic should be, there is a presidential campaign going on and TV coverage is a huge part of the race and it deserves to be critiqued.

The issue today when it comes to media coverage of the presidential campaign is: What is fair?

NBC’s Ted Koppel touched on the subject on a Thursday night edition of “Rock Center” dealing with the “War of Words” between liberal and conservative pundits.

Aaron Sorkin brought it up throughout the opening season of HBO’s “The Newsroom.” I share Sorkin’s view that they aren’t always two sides to an issue and that news departments can be unfair when they try to be fair. By that, he means giving both sides equal time on an issue can be silly when one side is preposterous.

I believe Sorkin was pointing to the coverage of the birthers who still get time on the news to doubt that President Obama was born in the United States as one example when it is clear he was born here.

Like Sorkin, I believe the media’s need to appear balanced can become a little silly at times.

There were local and national examples this week.

Fox News analyst and Republican strategist Karl Rove came to town on Monday to speak at Canisius College. His speech certainly deserved to be covered. But get the front page treatment as the top story in Tuesday’s Buffalo News?

That was way out of balance . The main thrust of the story was that Rove predicted that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is going to win in November. This was a dog bites man story. Did you expect him to say anything else? If Rove had said that President Obama was going to win, it would be a man bites dog story worthy of the top story treatment.

This might be a stretch, but I had to wonder if Rove got the front page treatment because The News was trying to appease those readers who feel the paper leans left.

The Rove treatment was especially odd because he came here on the day that Romney was under attack for his secretly-recorded statement in May that the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal taxes consider themselves victims and he can’t get their vote. That much bigger story apparently broke too late for Rove to be asked about it in his press conference before his speech.

Of course, the 47 percent story has dominated the national news and late night comedy shows since Monday.

Fair? Well, it was essentially a man bites dog story in that the candidate was caught doing something highly unusual – saying something in public that he apparently really believes.

As balance, the news organizations brought up President Obama’s gaffe during the 2008 campaign in which he said some voters in Pennsylvania “cling to their guns and religion.” Was it fair to bring that up? Absolutely. It also illustrated that you never live down some things because people cling to them like, well like some people cling to their guns and religion.

Predictably and fairly, all the news organizations decided to report on the facts of Romney’s statement. They discovered that about half of the 47 percent are Republicans and that eight of the 10 states in which citizens pay the least federal taxes and get the most assistance voted for Republican John McCain in 2008.

The news organizations did try to get balance by finding pundits who defended Romney and tried to explain what he was trying to say. When a candidate or his supporters come out with “he was trying to say” the candidate is in trouble.

Romney’s wife Ann also has come to her husband’s defense, saying his remarks were taken out of context. They might have been in the beginning, but it is a tough argument to make now that the entire secret recording has been released.

The true measure of whether a candidate is in trouble over his own words is when pundits with his political leanings criticize the candidate. It was certainly fair of the news organizations to note that three prominent conservative pundits – Peggy Noonan, William Kristol and David Brooks – criticized Romney and that some Republican candidates for office were doing so as well.

Romney’s advisors tried to change the subject Wednesday by finding a 14-year-old tape of President Obama saying they he believed in “redistribution at some level to make sure everyone gets a shot” when he was an Illinois state senator.

On Thursday’s “Today” Show, Matt Lauer tried to give balance by allowing Romney campaign advisor Ed Gillespie to make hay about the 1998 comments. Fair?

I suppose so. Silly? Absolutely. President Obama said it 14 years ago.  Even if you disagree with those vague comments, State Sen. Obama wasn’t insulting anyone.

I suspect “Saturday Night Live” – which had a good time with Romney’s 47 percent comment in a Thursday election special – will do something with the Romney campaign’s search for old Obama tapes and perhaps find something the president said in the fifth grade.

After all, “SNL,” Jon Stewart and David Letterman don’t need to be fair and balanced or to redistribute the wealth of material the candidates provide. It isn’t their fault that the Romney campaign is the gift that keeps on giving. As I said earlier in the week, I suspect “SNL” staffers might even prefer Romney be elected because he provides funnier material than Obama.

This isn’t to say that “SNL” doesn’t try to be balanced. In last Saturday’s opener, it ran a parody of the reprehensible Obama ads about Romney’s former equity firm Bain Capital being responsible for the death of a worker’s wife. The parody also suggested Bain repeatedly put one hard-luck worker on the unemployment line.

It may have looked to some like an anti-Romney sketch. But in actuality, it was a condemnation of the exaggerated lengths the Obama ads go to paint Romney as a wealthy bad guy.

It is kind of funny that occasionally “SNL” can have an easier time being fair and balanced than the news channels.



filed under: Uncategorized

Movie Rave, Embarrassing Announcers and a Susan Boyle Moment


If you are looking for something to do on a rainy Saturday, I suggest you head over to the Eastern Hills Mall and see a terrific new movie starring Richard Gere called “Arbitrage.”

Or possibly stay at home and watch it.

I bring this up after my experience last Saturday watching the intensely involving film in which Gere plays a hedge fund owner who makes a series of bad choices that threaten his company and his family’s financial survival.

I got to the theater about 10 minutes early, which usually is enough time to buy a ticket, get popcorn and a drink, and be in my seat in time to catch a preview or two before the movie starts.

Richard Gere: Enjoy His Latest Film

When I arrived last Saturday at my favorite theater chain in WNY, Dipson, the line was out the door with 25-30 people waiting to buy tickets. They all looked my age or older. I won’t stay what age that is, but it is in the neighborhood of Gere’s age and he plays a guy who is 60 in the film.

It took about 10-12 minutes to get my ticket and then I had a choice to get on line for popcorn or head straight to the theater to grab a seat. Since I think it isn’t a true movie experience unless you break your budget and get popcorn, I waited briefly to buy it. When one ticket-taker told the crowd there were only seats left in the first two rows, I questioned my intelligence almost as much as some of my political readers.

I got the popcorn and a drink reasonably quickly and headed to the theater, where I found a seat in the dark after missing the first 30 seconds of the film.

I thought of asking the guy next to me what happened, but he didn’t seem too happy that I had popcorn and was about to make some noise eating it.

After describing this hectic experience to a good friend, she advised me that it was all unnecessary.

“You know that film is on iTunes already,” she said. “You could have stayed home and watched it.”

I checked the next day. The film is on the iTunes list — and for a penny less than I paid. I didn’t try to download it, but it would seem reasonable that if it is on the list you can do just that.

I actually wasn’t happy about that. Not because I regretted my experience. I would watch it in a theater all over again if only because theater popcorn tastes better than the popcorn I make. I also enjoy the experience of watching with a large audience that, in this case, appeared stunned by the sudden ending.

I’m not happy because not everybody feels the way I do about the theater experience and if movies land simultaneously in theaters and online it can’t be good for Dipson and other theater chains.

Heaven knows, theaters are facing enough potential problems these days.

Channel 2 ran a story Wednesday about a Lockport theater that needs to raise $100,000 to convert to the digital format to survive.

It would be nice if a hedge fund guy came forward and wrote a check for it, but that only happens in the movies.

OK, so I went to the movies Saturday night just as my alma mater, Syracuse University, appeared in jeopardy of losing to a lower level football program, Stony Brook. I attended Stony Brook for a year before transferring to SU but I didn’t have conflicting loyalties.

And to be honest, my decision to go to “Arbitrage” indicates how much I care about Syracuse football. You couldn’t get me to go to a movie if Syracuse is playing a close basketball game.

But I digress. When I left for the theater, I DVRed the end of the Syracuse University game with Stony Brook carried on TWC 13. When I returned home and started to watch, I discovered that TWC switched the end of the game to another channel so I missed how SU managed to win 28-17 over a pesky underdog.

This was not entirely bad news. It meant I didn’t have to hear any more of the pro-Syracuse TV announcers assigned to the game. As a SU graduate proud of Bob Costas, Dick Stockton and all the success stories who attended SU, I was embarrassed by how bad these announcers were (I didn’t catch their names) and how often they are cheerleaders. Even more embarrassing was the visit to the booth of former SU Coach Dick MacPherson, who used to be the team’s radio analyst. I think I even heard him say “good” when a Stony Brook star was injured. The current SU radio team of Matt Park and Chris Gedney is much stronger and much more objective than the TV guys.

At halftime of the ESPNU coverage of the University at Buffalo’s 23-7 loss to Kent State Wednesday night, I switched over to “The X Factor” on Fox and think I caught this season’s Susan Boyle moment.

That’s when 30something country singer Tate Stevens appeared and dazzled all the judges, including Britney Spears and L.A. Reid. I wish I had heard Simon Cowell’s review, but he wasn’t judging the first hour.

The first words that Stevens sang established him as one of the contestants to beat. When the judges said “you are a country star,” I couldn’t agree more. He also was very funny.

But he probably won’t be enough for me to watch again for a while. Wake me up when it is near the end of the “X Factor” season.

What would be my blog be these days without one political comment to stir up my readers. I will remind you that I am not saying any of this, but reporting what others are saying.

This, after all, is the silly season of the presidential campaign. I can’t wait to see what the special edition of “Saturday Night Live” does tonight with Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment.

But the NBC program will have a tough time topping what “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” did Tuesday night. It found an old black and white interview with Mitt’s mom in which she noted that her husband (and Mitt’s dad) was a refugee from Mexico. “He was on relief, welfare relief for the first years of his life, but this great country gave him opportunities.”

After the clip ran, Stewart cracked: “So according to Mitt Romney’s own logic, Mitt Romney could not win the vote of his dad.”

Now that’s funny no matter what your politics are.


filed under: Uncategorized

Clearing Up Time Warner’s Confusing Changes


If you are a basic cable subscriber and a University at Buffalo sports fan, I hope you enjoyed the Time Warner Sports Network telecast of the football team’s victory 56-34 victory over Morgan State in its home opener almost two weeks ago.

And if you are a Syracuse University fan, I hope you enjoyed the Orange’s 28-17 football victory over Stony Brook Saturday night.

 Because in a month, basic subscribers will be shut out of the Time Warner Sports Network.

Kim Kardashian: TWC is Moving Her Channel

That’s the word from a TWC spokesperson who tried to clear up my confusion over a recent letter I received as a local cable subscriber.

TWC’s Joli Plucknette-Farmen explained that on Oct. 17 TWC Sports will move from the basic tier to the standard cable lineup to have consistency on its cable systems. Right now some systems carry TWC Sports on the basic tier and some on the standard tier. The channel will remain on high definition channel 713 but will change channels on its standard tier depending on where subscribers live. 

The sports network’s move to the standard tier is one of several lineup changes that will occur on or about Oct. 17, she explained.  CFTO, the CTV affiliate out of Toronto, CNBC, C-Span, E! (with Kim and the rest of the Kardashians) and EWTN are the channels that will be moved from the analog to the digital format only. To receive them, customers will need a digital set-top box, digital adapter or CableCARD.

I told you this is confusing.

TWC reports about 72 percent of its subscribers won’t be impacted since they already have digital cable, which costs $3 more than standard cable.

If you don’t have a digital cable set box on your second TV, a TWC customer can receive a digital adapter for no charge through December 2014, Plucknette-Farmen said.

Why is TWC doing this?

To test your technology skills.

Kidding. According to Plucknette-Farmen, the move of these channels to digital will free up bandwith to allow TWC more space for popular HD and On Demand content, faster internet speed and other goodies. She added that the channels affected were chosen to free up the most capacity.

Plucknette-Farmen explained that an analog channel takes the same amount of space as two to three HD channels and as many as 14 digital channels.

That’s the end of this lesson, which I hope clears up the confusion.

If you missed Monday night’s premieres of NBC’s “Revolution” and Fox’s “The Mob Doctor,” be advised they are repeated over the next few nights. “Revolution” is on again tonight, “Mob Doctor” on Friday.

On Monday, “Revolution” opened to a strong 9.9 local rating on Channel 2 following the strong lead-in from “The Voice.” It almost tripled the audience for “Mob Doctor,” which averaged a 3.8 rating on Channel 29.

I had to laugh about a NBC promo about the great reviews for “Revolution” before attributing a rave to a website called The TV Fanatic. We’re not exactly talking the New York Times there. In fairness, the promo also referenced The Hollywood Reporter, which I have actually heard of and respect.

It shouldn’t be long before NBC starts running promos calling “Revolution” a hit. But the competition gets tougher when ABC’s “Castle” and CBS’ “Hawaii 5-0″ start running new Monday episodes in the time slot.

The first day of the second week of Katie Couric’s new syndicated talk show had a 1.9 rating on Channel 7. “Katie” didn’t get any help Monday from its lead-in, Ricki Lake, which averaged a .2 (that’s a point 2). That’s the same anemic rating that Jeff Probst’s new talk show on CW 23 got Monday. 

If you are headed to UB Thursday to hear New York Times columnist David Brooks talk in the Distinguished Speakers series, you might want to read his Tuesday column “Thurston Howell Romney” about Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comments. The column is bound to come up in the question and answer period. It is a pretty damning column, especially when Brooks is considered a conservative. The NBC Nightly News piece about the controversy surrounding Romney’s secretly recorded comments at a fund-raiser included Brooks’ column. Liberal talk show host Chris Matthews had a lot of fun Tuesday night on MSNBC with the comparison of Romney’s comments with the attitude of the rich guy (played by Jim Backus) from “Gilligan Island” in the headline. 


filed under: Uncategorized

Ch.7 Post-Game Show Barely Registers; New “SNL” Prez Gets My Vote

This is what I’m thinking:

The Buffalo Bills 35-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs had an impressive 31.7 rating Sunday afternoon on Channel 4.

That means about 200,000 WNY households were watching.

And about 196,000 of them decided not to switch over to Channel 7’s post-game show immediately after the game ended.

Channel 7’s post-game show averaged a .6 rating (that’s a point six). Each rating point equals 6,321 households.

Channel 7’s post-game show has two problems. First, it practically gets a zero lead-in from the paid program that airs before it. Secondly, it often has to compete with two NFL games on CBS doubleheader weekends when the Bills are on the road or have a sold-out home game.

Channel 4’s coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers route of the New York Jets Sunday averaged a 24.6 at the start around 4:15 p.m. and finished with a 20.3 average. Channel 29, the local Fox affiliate, had a 3.6 rating for Seattle’s rout of Dallas in a second 4 p.m. game.

Speaking of Channel 7′s post-game show, John Murphy returned to his former station. His locker room interviews were carried on Channel 7’s post-game show. The radio voice of the Bills also has a weekly appearance on Sunday night’s “Bill Blitz” on Channel 4, his other former employer. He also appears in a weekly Bills show that is carried on Time Warner Cable. In other words, Murphy is practically everywhere but Channel 2.


Vin Scully: “Sunday Morning” Treat

Did you hear that Buffalo State College’s football team upset the No.1 Division III team in the country Saturday? That’s even more amazing than the fact I didn’t see the historic win over UW-Whitewater get any love on the late Channel 2 and Channel 4 sportscasts Saturday. Buffalo State ”only” plays in Division III, but the win deserved to get some significant TV attention. Maybe the stations will devote more time to it this week. I’m told that Channel 7, which had the latest sportscast of the night because of the length of Notre Dame’s defeat of Michigan State on ABC Saturday night, did mention Buffalo State’s win and showed a brief clip of the winning TD. I missed it because I was watching “SNL.”

Best line of Seth Meyers’ “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live” concerned ESPN’s “Sportscenter” celebrating its 50,000th show. “Of the Day,” wondered Meyers. It does seem like SportsCenter is on 24/7.

Glad to see Jay Pharoah is now doing President Obama on SNL. He has his cadence down almost perfectly and is an improvement on Fred Armisen, who used to play the president.

The Lee Cowan piece on Dodgers’ legendary play-by-play Vin Scully reminded my why I love “CBS Sunday Morning” almost as much as Scully’s voice. I first heard it when I was 7 and a Dodgers fan when Scully was doing games in Brooklyn.

TheSNL” sketch making fun of how awkward Mitt Romney is as a human being may have illustrated why he can’t be elected. I think some “SNL” writers might secretly hope he will be elected because his awkwardness is the comic gift that keeps on giving. Imagine what “SNL” will do in a skit this weekend dealing with Romney’s secretly recorded speech at a fund-raiser when he said President Obama is guaranteed 47 percent of voters because they are on the public dole. It is one thing for a reader of this blog to incorrectly suggest to another reader that she must be on public assistance because she supports the President, quite another for a guy trying to become president to say such a thing.


filed under: Uncategorized

Count Me Out of This “Revolution” And Fox’s “Mob”


You say you want to see NBC’s “Revolution”?

Well, you know we all want to change the TV world.

But when you talk about all the cartoon violence in the pilot, you can count me out.

Billy Burke: Reluctant Hero

With apologies to the Beatles, that’s how I feel about NBC’s overhyped new series that imagines what life would be like 15 years after the world loses all of its electricity and modern conveniences. The big mysterious question is why did it happen?

Since J. J. Abrams (“Lost,” “Alias,” the “Mission Impossible” movies), is one of the executive producers of the series, a lot is expected of “Revolution.” However, this really isn’t his creation. It comes from Eric Kripke of “Supernatural” fame.

I haven’t been more disappointed by a pilot since last season’s Fox series “Terra Nova” about a family fighting terrible odds and forces that had Steven Spielberg as an executive producer.

“Revolution” features a bunch of good-looking, shirtless young males and strong females (two of the actors ready for their People magazine moment are Tracy Spiridakos and Graham Rogers, who play sister and brother) who are out to save the world and have to battle a well-armed militia with bows and arrows. It has been the Year of Archery with “The Hunger Games” movies and the Summer Olympics so at least its timing is good.

Although almost all modern conveniences are gone, the youngsters look amazingly manicured, coiffed and dressed as they run around with their bows and arrows.

However, their amazing hygiene isn’t the silliest thing about the pilot premiering at 10 tonight on Channel 2. That is easily the ability of one man to fight off a gang of 20 or more in a battle for survival.

I couldn’t get an exact count of the guy’s opponents because I was laughing too much. I am all for suspension of disbelief, but that climactic scene was about as believable as all the political ads in this year’s presidential campaign. 

The young cuties and hunks in the cast don’t provide much electricity. They probably will get the most attention, but the most memorable actors are Billy Burke as a reluctant hero , Miles, with a charmed life and Giancarlo Esposito as a bad guy with the militia looking for Miles.

This is the kind of plot-driven family series that will require a viewer to watch every week and forget how implausible it is. For that alone, it deserves some slings and arrows. It looks great but I’d rather watch an archery competition than another episode. Count me out.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Speaking of mini-revolutions, I was struck on Friday by some comments made by reporters on CNN and NBC about all the protests in the Middle East countries that may have been ignited by a stupid anti-Islam film condemned by the U.S. government.

NBC’s Richard Engel and a female reporter on CNN (I was on a treadmill watching and couldn’t catch her name) noted that the TV cameras probably inflate the size of the protesting crowds and give a distorted picture of what is happening there.

The CNN reporter said the protests involved a 1,000 or so people in one country, not 100,000. She added that America also has many supporters in the nations where protests are being held, and that shouldn’t be lost.

She and Engel were trying to give the ongoing story balance, but they just reaffirmed that the danger of TV news is that its pictures are worth a thousand words from reporters trying to give much-needed perspective.

Speaking of implausible, there’s the new Fox series “The Mob Doctor” premiering at 9 tonight on WUTV an hour before “Revolution.” One thing the two series have  have in common is the use of arrows.

This is TV’s year of the mob, with CBS’ “Las Vegas” next up next week.

Jordana Spiro (left): From “Boys” to “Mob”

I’ve long been a fan of series lead Jordana Spiro of the TBS comedy “My Boys” and the cast also includes some of TV’s best character actors in Zeljko Ivanek, William Forsythe, Michael Rappaport  and Zach Gilford. But this foolish “Doctor” would seem to have played much better as a movie than a continuing series in which Spiro’s character, Dr. Grace Devlin, needs to satisfy the medical needs of the mob to keep members of her family alive.

“I’m not a typical doctor,” says Grace. I’ll say. She practices medicine and situational ethics and quotes moralist and philosopher Lord Acton.

I hope you didn’t read too much of the story in TV Topics Sunday about the pilot since it revealed far too many details that viewers probably would prefer to discover themselves. In the News wire story, the co-creator of the series noted that it was “loosely inspired” by a book by a real mob doctor.

It had to be very loosely inspired by the real doctor because the gruesome pilot set in Chicago has more unrealistic aspects than “Revolution” and that is saying something..

The foolishness undoubtedly will have to be repeated in subsequent episodes, which is only one reason why “The Mob Doctor” would have worked better as a movie.

Rating: 2 stars 


filed under: Uncategorized

“Boardwalk” Comes Roaring Back

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:Actor  Bobby Canna...

Bobby Cannavale: Steals the Show


It is unlikely that many fans of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” will feel gypped for too long now that Jimmy Darmody is six feet under and isn’t around this season.

A new character, Gyp Rosetti, played by Bobby Cannavale, arrives early in Sunday’s 9 p.m. season premiere to confound Atlantic City’s Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and stir up the booze-running business during Prohibition in the Roaring 1920s.

Cannavale’s powerful performance as a violent Sicilian gangster who has unorthodox language, insecurity, sex and temper issues actually threatens to overwhelm Nucky as the series lead.

From Gyp’s first scene illustrating his language barriers and his volatile temper, Cannavale commands the screen over the first five episodes available for review.

In the early episodes, Gyp’s high-level energy stands in contrast to the bored behavior of Thompson, who only has eyes for a new mistress in a new year (1923) and has taken his eye off the ball of his illegal business, much to the chagrin of NYC gangster Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Nucky doesn’t initially know what to make of Gyp before eventually realizing he is a gangster “who can find an insult in a bouquet of roses.”

In short, he’s a nightmare and Nucky already is dealing with nightmares – that’s when he can sleep – over the shocking murder of Darmody, who was part of the plot against him.

Created by Terence Winter of “The Sopranos” and produced by him, Martin Scorsese and a few others, the beautifully-filmed “Boardwalk” occasionally is dogged by a slow pace and some audio issues that can make things a bit confusing. As usual, viewers can expect outbursts tense scenes of unspeakable violence, which is most effective when the violence comes out of nowhere from someone who appears to be peaceful.

Besides dealing with Gyp, Nucky has to deal this season with the emerging strength and dreams of his church-going wife, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald). She has become interested in women’s health issues and tries to survive her husband’s infidelity and her church’s prudish views on the importance of educating women about their bodies.

Having just seen the latest Richard Gere movie, “Arbitrage” (which I give the highest recommendation), I was struck by the similarities between his character’s marriage and Nucky’s marriage. “Armitrage” has other similarities to “Boardwalk,” with the unscrupulous hedge fund guy played by Gere essentially an unfaithful modern-day gangster out to protect his family and his fortune – not in that order.

But I digress. Back to “Boardwalk,” which received 12 Emmy nominations last season.

This season, Nucky’s brother, Elias (Shea Wigham), returns to try and get back into his brother’s good graces after serving out his prison term.

Gillian (Gretchen Mol), Jimmy Darmody’s mother, is running a brothel on a shoestring.

Disgraced Federal Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) is trying to avoid the Feds in Illinois, forcing him to stoically sell irons for a living and taking abuse from his co-workers. One can’t help but wonder if and when this tightly-wound father will explode.

One doesn’t have to wonder about that with Al Capone (Stephen Graham), who still is in Chicago dishing out his own brand of justice.

With its volatile mix of booze, sex, gang wars, politics and plot twists, the first five episodes of season three of “Boardwalk” do justice to its award-winning reputation.

I could use a little less violence. But hold the insults. Thanks to Cannavale, it deserves a bouquet of roses.


filed under: Uncategorized
Page 12 of 72« First...1011121314...203040...Last »