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Another Fox Comedy to Hate

Actress Jaime Pressly at the Slim-Fast Fashion...

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Inquiring minds want to know: Why is Fox premiering “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” at 9:30 tonight after the conclusion of the November sweeps when the other networks are primarily airing concerts, Christmas specials and repeats?
It could be because Fox executives hate the show as much as most TV critics did when DVDs were sent out over the summer, and the execs decided to bury the series co-starring Jaime Pressly (see right from “My Name Is Earl”) and Katie Finneran.
One of my favorite Toronto critics, Bill Brioux, led off his initial review by writing “I Hate I Hate My Teenage Daughter.”
Of course, the title is misleading. The mothers, Annie and Nikki (Pressly and Finneran), have a love-hate relationship with their pretty daughters, Sophie and MacKenzie (Kristi Lauren and Aisha Dee). They love their daughters, they just hate the self-involved ways they act.
It is easy to hate all the messages and stereotypes the comedy sends out. It is an insult to mothers, divorced fathers, religious people and teens. The mothers fear losing their daughters as friends, while the fathers just buy their love.
Pressly plays a woman who had a religious upbringing, which leads to several weak jokes about the damage it did to experiencing things during her childhood. Finneran plays a woman who likes to eat, which leads to several weak fat jokes.
This isn’t to say “Hate” is laugh free or that exploring the complicated relationships that many mothers and daughters have isn’t a good idea.
There are a couple of chuckles dealing with how parents embarrass their kids. But not enough to prevent a critic from hating to see the sorry state of parenthood in this series which finds mothers foolishly believing that enabling their children when they do bad things is an acceptable idea. Rating: 1 star out of 4

Three cheers for YNN, the 24-hour Time Warner Cable news channel. TWC carried Syracuse University’s basketball romp over Eastern Michigan on its sports channel Tuesday, but cut away before embattled Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim held his post-game press conference in which he dealt with his job security following the child sexual abuse case against fired assistant Bernie Fine.
The press conference was bound to be more interesting than the game. That led me to see if the local YNN would carry the press conference. It did for the entire 20 minutes. Smart move. It allowed local viewers to see more than just the short clips carried by the local TV news stations at 11 p.m.
Boeheim seemed to force some smiles through the questioning from reporters, some of which were justifiably tough. Overall, he handled himself reasonably well, which means he didn’t provide any sound bites that could bite him later.
Channel 2 replayed some of the sound bites this morning and then asked viewers to join its Facebook poll asking whether Boeheim should be fired or not. Of course, it is a foolish poll with zero relevance to Boeheim’s job security. The vote was split, but even if it was 100 percent for firing Boeheim it would have meant nothing other than Channel 2 is trying to make its viewers feel involved.
The biggest loser besides fans if the Buffalo Bills don’t sell out the final three home games is Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate that would carry games against AFC opponents Tennessee, Denver and Miami if they aren’t blacked out. I would guess the station stands to lose at least $100,000-$150,000 per game in advertising revenue or $300,000-$450,000 in the month. That would pay the salary of several new reporters just out of college or barely out of college.
In years past, Channel 4 might buy the remaining tickets or find sponsors to buy them if the games were close to sell-outs. After all, it would make sense to spend $50,000 on tickets to make $100,000 in advertising. But the games aren’t close enough to being sold out for Channel 4 to make it work right now.
pergament@msn.com

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Thanksgiving Weekend Leftovers

Leftovers after the Thanksgiving holidays, with some new commentary served:

Brian Williams at the premiere of Baby Mama in...

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Say goodbye to Channel 2’s weekend morning anchor Josh Boose. He’s leaving the local NBC affiliate for a similar job in his native Cleveland.
Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said he will be replaced temporarily by current staffers but added a job search will begin for a permanent replacement.
ESPN’s Merrill Hoge said during Monday’s edition of “NFL Live” that he would cut Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson for his celebration antics after scoring a touchdown in the Bills’ 28-24 loss to the New York Jets. Adam Schefter seemed amused by that ridiculous statement, noting that Johnson would be claimed by 31 teams if he was waived. You wonder how much Hoge knows about the Bills current roster of receivers after all the injuries the receiving corp has been hit with this season.
Tony Kornheiser of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” said Monday of Johnson: “Let me be the first to say I’m sick of this guy.” To which co-host Michael Wilbon responded: “There’s something endearing even in his wackiness.” “No,” replied Kornheiser.

Just about the only place you didn’t get any commentary on Johnson’s celebration was on CBS’ broadcast of the game. Play-by-play man Marv Albert and analyst Rich Gannon didn’t seem to realize a 15-yard penalty had been called and didn’t criticize him when it happened.
All three Buffalo news station went big at 6 p.m. Monday with the latest on the firing of Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who has been accused of molesting three boys decades ago. It is a big story and Syracuse is close to home. But the Buffalo stations really don’t have much to add to a story that is getting extensive national coverage. I didn’t hear anything from the local stations that I hadn’t seen or read on national TV a day earlier. The story should be covered here, since the area has a large number of SU graduates. But the story didn’t deserve such high placement locally because there weren’t any new details offered.
I was watching the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (see above) Monday when a scary story came on about the dangers to others (particularly other children and seniors) because an increasing number of parents are declining to get their young children the vaccines needed to prevent disease. A young Buffalo mother was used as an example of the practice. I wonder if watching the report changed her mind. Dr. Nancy Snyderman discussed the report on “Today” this morning. She said a young child who isn’t immunized “is a walking Typhoid Mary” and called parents who don’t get their children vaccinated “selfish.”

If you are a Bills fan who is a glutton for punishment, then you might want to tune in the Bills-Jets game on The NFL Network program, “NFL Replay,” at 8 tonight. Of course, Time Warner Cable subscribers are spared the agony because they don’t get The NFL Network.

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Ch.4 Wins News Sweeps But Ch.2 Also Celebrates

NEW YORK - MARCH 02:  TV sportscaster Marv Alb...

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Despite the loss of Oprah Winfrey as the early news lead-in, despite being the only local newscast not in high definition and despite replacing veteran reporters with people barely out of college, Channel 4 remains the news leader.
The CBS affiliate won the November sweeps period that concluded on Thanksgiving Eve and the right to run promos trumpeting its overall victory.
But there should be an asterisk this time around. Channel 4 won by virtue of its dominance at 10 p.m. (where its newscast is on sister station WNLO) and 11 p.m., where Channel 2 has some decided disadvantages. Channel 4 had a combined 14.1 rating points on those newscasts to Channel 2’s 7.9 for a 6.2 point victory.
Channel 2 has as much or more reason to celebrate. In the first post-Oprah sweeps period, it won the early evening news battle – 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – for the first time in memory. It had a collective 26.8 points in these three news time slots. Channel 4 had a collective 26.4 points.
And how did Channel 7 do? Don’t ask. It was a weak third in all time slots where all stations competed, with the only newscast where it averaged a 5 rating being at 6 p.m. Its combined rating from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is 12 points.
Now let’s take a time slot look at the ratings.
Early morning: Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” with co-anchors Victoria Hong and Joe Arena wins at 5 a.m over Channel 2′s “Daybreak,” 3.8-3.4. The margin of victory could be attributed to the number of viewers who turn off the TV and have the station on in the morning after watching one of the extremely popular CBS prime time programs carried by Channel 4 the night before going to bed.
Channel 2’s “Daybreak” with co-anchors John Beard and Jodi Johnston wins at 6 a.m., but the margin of victory has been reduced to three-tenths of a point over “Wake Up!” from 1.1 points a year ago.. That would seem to be a vote in favor of Channel 4’s move of meteorologist Amelia Segal in place of Mike Cejka. But Channel 4’s viewership is flat from a year ago, suggesting Segal didn’t have much of an impact. The race tightened because fewer people were watching Channel 2, perhaps because NBC’s prime time lineup is so weak and fewer people go to bed with their TVs left on Channel 2. Just a theory.
Noon: Channel 4 dominates over Channel 7, its only competition at the hour: Both stations saw ratings declines from a year ago.

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m: Channel 2 wins from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. by two-tenths of a point, after losing by more than a point a year ago when Channel 4 had Oprah as its lead-in. Channel 4 does win at 6 p.m. by two-tenths of a point. All of the victories by Channel 2 and Channel 4 are within the margin of error. Channel 7’s 5 p.m. rating was only 3.1. It gets about a third of the audience of its rivals.
10 p.m.: Channel 4 averages a 5.1 rating at 10 p.m. on WNLO-TV. That was the only half-hour newscast where its ratings improved. The 5.1 rating was higher than the 5.0 Channel 7 receives at 11 p.m. Channel 2 averaged a 2.0 rating on WNYO-TV.

11 p.m.: Channel 4 with co-anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker almost doubled its lead over Channel 2 with co-anchors Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler from a year ago and wins, 9.0-5.9. The huge margin could be largely attributable to the popularity of CBS prime time programming and the weakness of NBC’s prime time programming. As hard as it is to believe in this technological edge, news lead-ins still matter.
Of course, the news demographics are the final determination of who wins and who loses. Channel 2 (and NBC) usually do stronger here, with much of the Channel 4 (and CBS) audience traditionally older. The demos don’t arrive for a few weeks.

Bills Beat:  CBS announcers Marv Albert (see above) and Rich Gannon missed one of the biggest penalties in the Buffalo Bills’ 28-24 loss to the New York Jets Sunday. Neither seemed to realize that Bills receiver Stevie Johnson received a 15-yard penalty for his celebration act after scoring the touchdown that gave the Bills a 14-7 lead with about two minutes left in the half. However, a CBS graphic illustrated that there was a penalty. The penalty forced the Bills to kickoff from the 20-yard line, which was compounded when kicker Dave Rayner practically missed the ball and the Jets recovered the poor kick in great field position. That lead to a Jets tying touchdown before halftime.

pergament@msn.com

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Entering The “Twilight” Zone Is Painful Experience

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)

I love the movies. I thank my late father for inspiring my first love. I am willing to see almost anything as long as popcorn is available.
This is background to a story about what happened to me around 6:30 Friday night.
I got a call from my sister-in-law asking me what I was doing. I was watching the nightly news and had no plans.
Her husband was sick and she desperately wanted to go to the movies. She had called all her female friends and no one was available. Her teenage daughter had seen the movie she wanted to see at midnight the night before. So I was her last resort.
My sister-in-law knows I’ll see almost anything. I asked her what she wanted to see.
“Breaking Dawn,” she said.
When I say I will practically see anything, I should have added that anything doesn’t include “The Twilight Saga.”
“But I haven’t seen the other movies,” I said. I didn’t even know how many “Twilight” movies I had missed. She said she would fill me in during the five-minute ride from her house to the movies.
When she sensed my reluctance, she added “The New York Times gave it a great review.”
I should add I love my sister-in-law. She isn’t a vampire but looks a lot younger than the milestone birthday she is about to hit.
Unbeknownst to her, I had been to the movies that afternoon to see “Drive,” an incredibly violent flick starring Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a criminal and stumbles into a $1 million misunderstanding with a mobster. So I figured I had my testosterone fix and could feed my feminine side by seeing “Breaking Dawn.”’
I agreed to go. When I got to her house, I told my brother-in-law that I didn’t know who owed me more – his wife or him. He smiled and pointed to himself. I immediately wondered if he was sick or faking.
In the ride to the theater, my sister-in-law gave me a quick summary of the first three films I missed and the love triangle between  a human, Bella (Kristen Stewart), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). They actors are all in the picture above.
My sister-in-law – did I not say she looks much younger than her age? – sounded like a teenager.
I settled into my seat and realized I was outside of the demographic for the movie by only about 40 or 45 years. The first 45 minutes were so slow that they seemed to last longer than the first 45 years of my life as Bella and Edward prepared to get married. I was thinking, what was The New York Times thinking?
I passed the time thinking of where I had seen some of the secondary actors in the film before. My father started me on that practice. Peter Facinelli, who has orange hair and plays Edward’s father, stars in Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.” The actress playing Edward’s mom was on “Grey’s Anatomy” and had her own TV series a few years back. I spent 10 minutes unsuccessfully trying to remember her name and the series. I looked it up today and discovered it was Elizabeth Reaser, who starred in “The Ex List” and appeared on “The Good Wife” last season.
My thoughts were interrupted by a lot of audience laughter, which prompted me to ask my sister-in-law if I was watching a comedy and didn’t realize it. “Not really,” she said. There were more laughs than there are in the latest Ben Stiller movie, “Tower Heist.” (I told you I will see anything).
The planning for the wedding and the actual ceremony seemed to last longer than some marriages I know. Eventually, Bella and Edward consummated their marriage.
Shall we say, Edward was quite an energetic lover. Forget fireworks. This was more like a five-alarm fire. Edward’s bed-breaking, lovemaking seemed to be a bad message for all the teenage girls in the audience wondering what their wedding night is going to be like. I mean expectations can be a killer.
The honeymoon was shorter than Kim Kardashian’s. I didn’t realize that having sex with a vampire isn’t a good idea for a human. I guess you could say this was an educational movie in that sense. Bella was almost instantly pregnant, and the demon within her was threatening her life.
That prompted Jacob to become very mad at Edward, which at least eventually led to some action scenes involving vampires and werewolves. Those scenes woke me up from my wedding stupor.
At film’s end, my sister-in-law clapped. I did so silently for a different reason. I was thankful that it was over.
Apparently, I didn’t disguise my opinion of the film to well. My sister-in-law thanked me for going and added “I know you hated it.”
I tried to find something good to say about it. But I really don’t see why Pattinson and Lautner are heartthrobs and I was surprised to see that Stewart doesn’t have perfect teeth like most young actresses. You can see how focused I was on the plot.
A few minutes after I dropped my sister-in-law back home, I got a text from my brother-in-law.
“I heard that you hated it. Predictable. Thank you. Now I can wait a year and watch it on Amazon.”
I wrote back: “Your wife is good company. As far as the movie goes, I was in more pain than Bella, who was giving birth to a demon child.”
On the way home, my sister-in- law advised me (or was it warned me?) that Part 2 of “Breaking Dawn” comes out in a year. I love my sister-in-law. But I hope her husband is healthy or one of her friends is around because I’d rather meet the character than Ryan Gosling played in “Drive” in a dark alley than see the next “Twilight” movie.
Of course, the producers of “Breaking Dawn” got the last laugh. It pulled in about $140 million over the weekend, which can pay for a lot of broken beds and maybe even a better scriptwriter.
Consider this blog a warning to all potential moviegoers on Thanksgiving week. Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week.
pergament@msn.com

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ESPN Handling of Fine Story is Flawed

It was a quiet weekend for the Bernie Fine story coming out of Syracuse.

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Jim Boehei...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

That’s good news for Fine, the assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University who has been accused of sexually abusing two former ball boys decades ago.
If true, the Thursday report by ESPN’s Mark Schwarz featuring on-air interviews with Fine’s two accusers might have led to more accusers quickly coming forward. No one did. Fine has denied the accusations.

The quiet also allowed this 1970 Syracuse graduate to reflect on the accusations and the journalism behind the story.
The local Buffalo stations did provide some unintended levity to this very serious story.
Channel 2 sent reporter Dave McKinley to Syracuse Friday, apparently to tell viewers Syracuse is close by since his report said next to nothing. All Buffalo stations reminded viewers that Syracuse is close to home. Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin said it was a three-hour ride away, which is about 45 minutes more than it takes me to get there.
As I wrote Friday, naturally I’m hoping that Fine is innocent. I added that Fine is a loser anyway because his reputation has been damaged in the current news world where one is guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around.
If a Syracuse graduate like me who wants Fine to be innocent can’t positively decide who is telling the truth, the mere accusations mean Fine’s reputation is likely beyond repair.
That’s why a case involving someone accused of a heinous crime should require a news organization to proceed with extra caution.
As a journalist, I wouldn’t have been comfortable relying on the sources that ESPN has relied on in airing a story that has led the Syracuse police department and district attorney’s office to investigate years after Syracuse University says that former ball boy Bobby Davis, now 39, told it that the authorities declined to do so.
The university, which has one of the country’s best journalism schools, has done an excellent job at damage control. That’s not surprising. However, the idea that it took Davis’ word on what the police told him is a cause for concern. After all, Fine’s defenders have called Davis a liar.
The new investigation seems to have been sparked by ESPN’s report, rather than the other way around. That’s an important distinction. If ESPN learned that Fine was being investigated by Syracuse police, then running with the story would be understandable.
As a journalist, you might ask what has changed since ESPN, the Syracuse Post-Standard and the university investigated the claims made by Davis several years ago, couldn’t corroborate them and decided there wasn’t enough there to publish a story or, in the case of the university, fire Fine?
Two things have changed, neither which was strong enough to air the story. ESPN said it reported the story because a second accuser came forward. The second accuser, Mark Lang, is Davis’ older stepbrother. The Post-Standard wrote Sunday that Lang was interviewed during its investigation years ago, when he didn’t say he was molested.
As a journalist, I would want the second accuser to be someone other than a relative who previously had told a different story. After all, a defense lawyer would have a field day in cross-examining a witness who had changed his story. I certainly would need a third source before going forward with the story.
The second thing to change is there is now heightened awareness about child sex abuse because of the Penn State scandal. As a journalist, that might make me even more leery – not less leery – of running the story to make sure the accusers aren’t exploiting the Penn State situation rather than using it to raise public awareness.
At the very least, I would have spent more time investigating what Davis and Lang have been up to in recent years before putting them on the air and having the nation decide if they are credible. At the very least, I would have had asked them what they would say to people – like Boeheim — who might accuse them of looking for a payday.
After all, what is credible? On the same morning that the Fine story broke, the captain of the yacht on which actress Natalie Wood died went on NBC’s “Today” and blamed her husband Robert Wagner for what has been ruled an accidental death three decades ago.  Interviewer David Gregory pulled the information out of the reluctant accuser, who didn’t seem to know what he wanted to say.
Was he credible? They used to say the camera never lies. But how many times have we been taught in the last few decades that that isn’t true. President Clinton “did not have sex with that woman.” Alex Rodriguez never used steroids. The list goes on and on.
I heard Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan on WGR Friday saying he didn’t want to prejudge Fine but he found Fine’s accusers credible. I didn’t know what to make of them since I’m not a psychologist and don’t know how sexual abuse victims act a decade or more after they have been abused.
I found Fine’s defenders credible, even though their beliefs have nothing to do with the facts.
Head Coach Jim Boeheim (see above) stuck his neck out for Fine, saying Davis told a “thousand lies,” including that he saw Davis in Fine’s hotel room on one road trip. Boeheim, who has been Fine’s friend for 50 years, has been criticized for some strong comments and even has since admitted he may have said too much. But I’ve always liked him and forgive him for his ill-advised shots at the accusers. I hope his loyalty isn’t misplaced.
Tim Welsh, a former Syracuse assistant, said in an ESPN interview that he roomed with Fine on road trips and was shocked about the allegations. He added all they did on road trips was recruiting and watching film of opponents. He said Davis accompanied Fine on one road trip to New York City to babysit Fine’s kids so the coach could go out with his wife for dinner or a Broadway show.
Several former and present Syracuse players defended Fine and believed the accusations were baseless.
Of course, they don’t know the truth. Nobody does except Fine and his accusers.
The current Syracuse investigations can’t lead to criminal charges because reportedly the statute of limitations has expired so the case seems to be as much or more about how the previous investigations were handled than determining Fine’s guilt or innocence.
The former ball boys’ charges – of things they claimed began when they were pre-teens — would gain credibility if other accusers surface. They didn’t over the weekend. I repeat, I’m no psychologist, but I wouldn’t think pedophiles cure themselves.
Unfortunately for Fine, the only way he can get his reputation back is if the accusers recant their charges or the investigations end with the authorities strongly proclaiming his innocent. That’s about as likely to happen as Colgate is likely to beat Syracuse on the basketball court in the next decade.
Fine has already been convicted by some people in the court of public opinion. But he isn’t the only one on trial. So are ESPN and Schwarz, which needs some finding against Fine to justify its “scoop.”
If the accusations are true, ESPN will get credit for forcing past accusations against Fine to be looked at again even if the journalism behind its report was flawed. If Fine is exonerated, ESPN and Schwarz should be ashamed of ruining his reputation.
As a Syracuse graduate, I’m rooting for Fine to be innocent. If I were the reporter who broke the story like Schwarz, I wouldn’t want to be put in the position of rooting for an outcome just to justify how I did my work.
pergament@msn.com
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Tight Local Sweeps Race Goes Down to Wire

The local news battle from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the November sweeps is tighter than all the runners will be at the start of the Turkey Trot.

Round 3 of the November news ratings battle in the early evening was pretty much a draw  between Channel 2 and Channel 4 in the first sweeps competition since Channel 4 lost Oprah Winfrey as its lead-in.
Channel 2 leads by such a tight margin from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. after three weeks that the winner of the four-week battle may not be decided until the sweeps period ends the night before the Thanksgiving race.
In week 3, Channel 2’s “Daybreak” won over Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” at 6 a.m. by half a point. After three weeks, Channel 2 leads in that time period by four-tenths of a point. That is much tighter than it was a year ago when Channel 2 held a lead of more than a point.
At 5 p.m., Channel 2 won by three-tenths of a point in week 3. However, Channel 4 won by one-tenth of a point at 5:30 p.m. and at 6 p.m., meaning the stations were only separated by one-tenth of a point from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in week three. Channel 2 had a combined rating of 27.4, Channel 4 a combined rating of 27.3. Channel 7 is a poor third, with a combined rating of 12.0.
After three weeks, Channel 2 leads by two-tenths of a point at 5 p.m., three-tenths at 5:30 p.m. and one-tenth at 6 p.m. All of those leads are within the statistical margin of error. A year ago, Channel 4 won all time periods by healthy margins.
Channel 4 continues to dominate at noon (where Channel 2 doesn’t compete), 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. so it will easily claim the title of overall news leader.
As a Syracuse University graduate, naturally I hope that the child abuse allegations that surfaced on ESPN Thursday night against assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine prove to be baseless and this isn’t another case of an assistant coach luring young children with the access to a storied athletic program as the head coach doesn’t do enough to stop it.
ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz should hope the accusations prove to be true because one of his reports Thursday night came close to convicting Fine and left out significant details that separated this case from the recent Penn State scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. ESPN’s report this morning was briefer and much fairer, making you wonder if the network is backtracking just a little bit. That impression was wrong. It has gone heavy with the story all this morning.
Schwarz spoke Thursday night of the accusations of former SU ball boy Bobby Davis (who claims he was abused for years starting at age 12 and is now 39) occasionally without attribution, which made them sound like the truth rather than allegations. Schwarz added that one possibility that the accusations weren’t corroborated when first made several years ago was because boys or men are reluctant to admit being sexually assaulted.
After hearing his report, I immediately went to the website of a Syracuse paper. The Syracuse Post-Standard reported that it had investigated the accusations for six months starting in 2002 (as had ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”) and Syracuse police (unlike the Penn State situation) had been made aware of them. The paper and ESPN declined to report the story back then without corroboration and the police dropped it as well, apparently because the statute of limitations had expired. The university also launched a four-month investigation in 2005 and concluded the accusations were unfounded.
The major difference from the earlier investigations to now is that Davis’ older stepbrother, also a former ball boy, now claims he also was abused by Fine about 35 years ago. The Post-Standard reported that one of Davis’ brothers had previously failed to corroborate Davis’ accusations. It is unclear if the university was referring to the same relative. It is clear that one would prefer someone other than a relative to corroborate accusations like this.
Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim strongly defended Fine and reportedly said Davis has told a thousand lies.
We’ll have to wait to see how this all plays out. But Fine already is a loser. He has been placed on administrative leave and in the current climate is presumed guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. Even if the latest police investigation exonerates Fine, he has lost his good name. If he is guilty, Syracuse University’s good name, and possibly Boeheim’s, will take a much bigger and deserved hit.
pergament@msn.com

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Buffalo Supermodel Gets OWN Series

Supermodel Beverly Johnson departs the 10th An...

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Like Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, “I’ve got all this stuff twirling around my head” again.

Buffalo-born supermodel Beverly Johnson (see right) is about to get her own series from OWN, the little-watched Oprah Winfrey Network. According to an OWN release “Beverly’s Full House” is a docu-series that “follows what happens when three generations of Johnson’s family come together under one roof – her fabulous home in Palm Springs, Calif.” Beverly’s daughter Anansa, son-in-law David (who played in the NFL) and their newborn daughter Ava are featured in the series, which is set to debut in February.
According to the release, the relationship between Beverly and her daughter “has always been fragile” but after the arrival of the grandchild “Anansa wants to heal her strained relationship with her mother and agrees to move her family into Beverly’s home.”
Bradley Cooper may be People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, but in his younger days the “Hangover” star wasn’t sexy enough to carry two TV shows, “Jack & Bobby” and “Kitchen Confidential,” to a second season. Of course, Tom Selleck, Don Johnson and George Clooney also were in several failed series before they became stars.
Cooper was a secondary character in “J&B,” a fictional 2004 series with obvious parallels to the Kennedy brothers when they were young. He was the lead in “Kitchen Confidential,” a 2005 Fox series based on the best seller by Anthony Bourdain.
After further review, NBC hasn’t officially canceled “Prime Suspect.” Yet. It has taken “Prime”  off the midseason schedule and hasn’t decided what to do with it. That usually means curtains.

NBC sure got a lot of mileage out of Bob Costas’ revealing interview with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The newsworthy interview with the accused child abuser was the lead on Monday night’s “Rock Center,” Tuesday morning’s “Today” and Tuesday night’s “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” It makes sense since those shows have three different audiences.
As reported in today’s Buffalo News. FiOS has announced that it expects to be carrying Buffalo Sabres games in high definition by mid-December. I’ll believe it when I see it, since cable companies always seems to find a way to stall things through appeals. If it happens as scheduled,  Time Warner Cable no longer will have HD exclusivity in this market, thanks to FCC and federal court rulings. I don’t know if that will lead to a subscriber shift from TWC to FiOS, but it sure won’t hurt the Verizon alternative.
Give credit where credit is due department. Channel 2’s reporter Michael Wooten gave credit to “60 Minutes,” the news magazine on a rival network, during a story he did Wednesday about the incredible ability for people in Congress to legally use insider information to buy and sell stocks. Sunday’s eye-opening “60 Minutes” piece by Steve Kroft noted that local Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has been trying to pass a bill for years ending that practice.
Last Sunday’s Parade Magazine item about what is up with Kal Penn, the former “House” star who left that program to work in President Obama’s administration, wasn’t complete. The item failed to mention that Penn now has a recurring role on the popular CBS comedy, “How I Met Your Mother.”

pergament@msn.com

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Devilish TWC Rate Increase Demands Individual Action

Jason Sudeikis at the 2009 New York Television...

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A few of my readers laughed at the line from Satan in the recent “Saturday Night Live” that I blogged about Tuesday.
You may remember since I only wrote about it a day ago that Satan (played by Jason Sudeikis, see right) was so exasperated by the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal that he decided to give up his evil job.
Asked by “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers what he planned to do, Satan responded “I’ll probably go back to my old job doing customer service at Time Warner.”
Of course, it is not the customer service workers at TWC who are upsetting local subscribers. On the telephone, they can be pretty cordial. It is the national leaders at TWC who decided on another rate hike effective Dec. 1 who appear to be the devil.
I got my proposed December bill last week and finally had had enough to act.
My monthly bill already is more than $200 a month with the All the Best package that includes digital cable, the internet and phone, HBO and a DVR. All the Best is going up $6.50 monthly and my DVR is going up $2 monthly. A wise reader advised me to go back to using a VCR and drop the DVR but I’ve become addicted to the DVR, which is so much easier to program.
The additional $8.50 monthly or so for All the Best and the DVR likely will be about $10 a month once taxes and some other minor increases are added.
That was enough for me to do something I haven’t done for years – investigate my bill and find ways to cut it down.
My cell phone provider, Sprint, immediately, helped me find a way. It offers phone service for my residential home number for $20 a month through something called Sprint Connect. Sprint also gives you 14 days to try it out. I tried it out and was sold.
That one move saved me $15 a month. That’s the difference between the $35 a month my cable bill decreases from going from the All the Best package to the Watch N Surf package without the phone and the $20 (actually it is $19.95, but what’s a nickel) I’m now paying for Sprint Connect. .
After further review of my TWC bill, I saw that I am paying $5.95 a month for the TWC Sports Pass. So I called TWC to find out what channels were included in the package. I was told the package includes the NHL Network, The Big 10 Network, ESPN Classic and CBS College Sports, all of which are good channels for the sports lover.
But I probably watch each of them once or twice a year. There are enough NHL hockey and college sports games without that package to keep most sports fans happy. On any given Saturday, one can watch up to a dozen college football and college basketball games. So I dropped TWC Sports Pass, which is going up four cents (which apparently means a lot to TWC) on Dec. 1.
So by proposing to raise my rates by about $10 a month, TWC forced me to look at my bill and find ways to save money. I figure I’m saving about $20 a month — and gaining a lot of satisfaction knowing that I beat the devil.
My advice to TWC subscribers is to look closely at their bills to see what they can live without.
This isn’t to say that I’m not happy with some TWC features.
I love Prime Time On Demand, especially now that many Fox and ABC programs are aboard. If you missed the “Glee” episode featuring “West Side Story” tunes a few weeks ago, I suggest you go to On Demand and watch the episode of the Fox show with this warning: It is a controversial episode because some high school characters lose their virginity.
On a slow weekend night, I also found five episodes of the first season of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO On Demand. It was interesting (and funny) to be reminded how all the insanity started.
I also recently found the premiere of the most intriguing new show of the season – Showtime’s “Homeland” with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis – on another free On Demand channel. Showtime is offering it for free in the hope that it will lure more subscribers to the pay-cable channel.
And it is good enough to do just that – if the economy was better. Because I imagine cable subscribers like me are looking for ways to cut their bills and curbing their enthusiasm to add more channels that increase them.
pergament@msn.com

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Newsy and Opinionated Stuff Twirling Around My Head

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23:  NBC Commentator...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Like Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, “I’ve got all this stuff twirling around my head.” So here is what I’m thinking:
* The Versus studio guys, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones, covering the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 shootout win over Montreal Monday verbally punished the local heroes for their lack of aggression after the scoreless first period.
Milbury and Jones wondered where was the fight the Sabres were supposed to reveal after standing by while Ryan Miller was blasted Saturday in the loss to the Boston Bruins. But by game’s end, they were praising the Sabres just as loudly. It is called playing results.
Speaking of playing results, it appears that NBC plans to cancel the low-rated Thursday night “Prime Suspect.” The network announced midseason changes late Monday afternoon that remove the Maria Bello series from the lineup in January.
As typical under these circumstances, NBC didn’t say what shows were gone, just what new shows are coming and what old shows are getting new time periods in the midseason lineup.
“The Firm” takes the “Prime” spot at 10 p.m. Thursday. The Emmy-loved “30 Rock” returns at 8 p.m. Thursday on Jan. 12, which may be too early for many of its fans.
The freshman comedies “Up All Night” and “Whitney” are trading places in January. “Night” goes to 9:30 p.m. after “The Office,” “Whitney” leads off Wednesday at 8 p.m. before a new comedy, “Are You There, Chelsea”? “Rock Center” with Brian Williams moves to 9 p.m. Wednesday, a killer slot where “Criminal Minds” and “Modern Family” will be the competition.
Speaking of “Rock Center,” Bob Costas (see above) got the program’s first Big Get interview Monday. He did a terrific job asking former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky — via telephone — all the tough questions surrounding the sexual child abuse case. The interview was repeated on “Today” this morning before the program ran a piece on Herman Cain’s 10-second stumble when asked whether he agreed with President Obama’s policy in Libya.
Sandusky admitted to showering and horsing around with young boys, but said he wasn’t a pedophile and was innocent of the charges against him. If Sandusky has already been convicted in the court of public opinion, his answers to Costas’ excellently-worded questions were unlikely to change many (any?) people’s minds.
Remember Bazi Kanani, who was very impressive during her brief time as a Channel 2 anchor? She has just left a Denver television station to join ABC News as a digital reporter in Nairobi. She told Denver TV critic Joanne Ostrow that she will be covering “news all around Africa.” Ostrow reported that Kanani’s documentary, “My Africa,” filmed in Tanzania, won a 2007 Emmy and a National Association of Black Journalists award. A 2008 Kanani documentary, “Reaching Rwanda,” won an Emmy and a regional Edward R. Murrow award.
I didn’t last too long during the Bills’ 44-7 embarrassment in Dallas, but I stayed around long enough to hear CBS analyst Phil Simms note that the 10-yard gains that the Bills used to get on short pass routes have become two-yard gains. Clearly, Coach Chan Gailey has to figure out how to combat opponents’ defensive aggression on those short passes. Fred Jackson caught four passes for one yard and Stevie Johnson had two catches for eight yards.
It isn’t always easy staying up to the end of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” but I DVRed it this weekend and watched “Weekend Update” Monday. During the segment, Jason Sudeikis played Satan, who became exasperated upon hearing about all the details of the Penn State case from anchor Seth Meyers. The Devil concluded that “evil isn’t what it used to be” and added he was giving up his job. When Meyers asked him what he’s going to do, Satan cracked: “’I’ll probably go back to my old job doing customer service at Time Warner.” That’s a good line that I am sure many TWC subscribers applauded after the announcement of recent rate hikes. The funny thing is NBC is now owned by a rival cable company, Comcast.
I’ll have more on the rate hikes and your favorite cable company later this week.
pergament@msn.com

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Bills Ratings Also Take a Big Hit

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 13:  A Dallas Cowboys...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The number of local television viewers who left the Buffalo Bills bandwagon Sunday was as large as the voters who abandoned former County Executive Chris Collins on Election Day.
The Bills’ 44-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Channel 4 had a season-low 29.2 rating and 50 share of the audience despite the appearance of the Cowboy cheerleaders (I’m kidding. I just needed a picture to spice up the blog, so see right). Confession time: I also bailed in the fourth quarter to go to a movie, “Margin Call.”
The Bills games have been drawing ratings in the mid to high 30s recently.
The Cowboys’ margin of victory wasn’t the only factor in the low rating. The weather was also unseasonably warm for Nov. 13. And to put the rating in perspective, the Bills game will still be the top-rated TV show of the week in Western New York by far..
The one-sided loss makes it extremely unlikely the Bills will get a flex game on NBC’s Sunday Night Football schedule.
Let’s hope that Brian Williams won’t spend any more time with comedians on tonight’s edition of NBC’s “Rock Center.” Tina Fey’s appearance a week ago was just as weak and forced as Jon Stewart’s on premiere week.
Local viewers have flown away from ABC’s “Pan Am,” which is in danger of being canceled. It didn’t get a 5 rating Sunday night, playing opposite the New England Patriots-New York Jets game on NBC. On the other hand, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” remains a local hit. It got another two-digit rating, a rarity for a new show these days.
pergament@buffnews.com

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