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Segal Move Giving Ch.4 Early Dividends


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Round 2 in the November news ratings at 6 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is too close to call between Channel 2 and Channel 4.
But Channel 4 News, despite all the negativity surrounding it and a controversial weather move at 6 a.m., seems to be gaining momentum going into the second half of the month-long competition.
The move of meteorologist Amelia Segal into Mike Cejka’s old spot on “Wake Up” and the massive amount of promotion she is getting seems to be paying some early dividends for WIVB-TV.
In week 2, Channel 2’s “Daybreak” held only one-tenth of a point over “Wake Up” at 6 a.m. In the two weeks of the sweeps. “Daybreak’s” is only three-tenths of a point ahead, well below the 1.1 point lead it held a year ago in the time period.
After losing from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the first week of the sweeps without Oprah Winfrey as its lead-in, Channel 4 won in week two at 6 p.m. by two-tenths of a point and narrowed the gap at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (where it only lost by one-tenth of a point).
In the early morning and late afternoon and early evening time slots, Channel 2 had a total of 31.9 ratings points in week two and Channel 4 had a total of 31.6. That’s a statistical tie within the margin of error.
Channel 2’s margin of victory in week one still gives it the two-week lead over Channel 4 at 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Channel 4 continues to dominate Channel 2 at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., as it did in week one.
Channel 7’s Eyewitness News continued to be a poor third in all time slots.
With two weeks left in the sweeps, it looks like the difference between Channel 2 and Channel 4 at 6 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. will be marginal no matter who gets to proclaim victory. It would be a surprise at this point if the winner and second-place finisher aren’t in a statistical tie during those time slots.
Channel 2 should can its slogan promoting its high definition news — “Channel 2, Not HD. HD on Your Side.” What exactly is that trying to say? By the way, I haven’t noticed much difference between Channel 2’s new HD and its old simulated HD.
Inquiring minds want to know: What happened to YNN anchor Jen Markham? She has confirmed to me through Twitter that she’s left Time Warner’s 24-hour cable news channel. But she hasn’t returned my query about whether she has a new job.

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Ch.4 is Election Night Ratings Winner

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This is what I’m thinking:
* And the winner of local news coverage on Election Night was …. Channel 4. In a landslide.
Thanks to a lead-in from the CBS drama “Unforgettable” that was about three times the lead-in of  Channel 2’s “Parenthood,” Channel 4 had a 12.0 rating at 11 p.m. Tuesday. Channel 2 grew its audience the most from its lead-in but finished second with a 7.6. Channel 7 was the only local news station to lose audience from its lead-in and finished with a 3.9.
Channel 4 also dominated at 10 p.m. as usual with a 5.6 rating on sister station WNLO to Channel 2’s 2.4 on WNYO.
It sure was scary to watch CNN’s coverage Wednesday of the protests of Joe Paterno’s firing as the head football coach of Penn State University.
CNN’s egal expert Jeffrey Toobin and some sportswriters who cover Penn State initially were reluctant to believe the actions of a “few students” represented the entire student body and they also speculated the students were just looking for TV time.
The size of the crowd was as scary as the students’ absence of a moral compass. It seemed many of them believed it was appropriate to defend a coach despite his moral failure in the case involving one of his former assistant coaches accused of the sexual abuse of minors.
Clearly, those students need to spend more time in classes about ethics and morality. The action of the students was every bit as embarrassing as the actions of the Penn State officials in the case involving former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

The students weren’t the only one’s embarrassing themselves. So were media members interrogating the spokesman for the Board of Trustees (who handled himself with dignity and class). The questions asked by reporters made many of them seem to be so pro-Paterno that they had lost their objectivity.
Yes, Paterno’s ouster is sad. But it is deserved. Paterno could have taught students a lesson when many of them came to his house Wednesday. He could have told them to stop protesting and accept the verdict of the Board of Trustees. But from his brief comments, it appeared he hadn’t accepted the verdict. He wasn’t about to tell students to do the right thing and avoid furthering the embarrassment of a university that may not get over this scandal for years.
Not surprisingly, NBC has announced the scheduled Sunday Night Football game Dec. 4 between New England and the woeful Indianapolis Colts has been moved to the afternoon. It hasn’t announced what game is replacing it. The Buffalo Bills game with Tennessee is just one possibility. The Bills game with the New York Jets Nov. 27 also could be a flex possibility, though the Jets’ dominance of the Bills last Sunday could scare aware NBC.
Showtime has announced that it has renewed the highly-involving “Homeland,” the series about an American soldier that a CIA officer believes is involved in an Al Qaeda plot planned on American soil, for a second season. Based on an Israeli series, it stars Claire Danes (see above) as the CIA officer, Damian Lewis as the soldier and Mandy Patinkin as the mentor of Danes’ character.
Can’t wait to see the “Saturday Night Live” parody of Rick Perry’s memory loss in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate. Perry’s smiling appearance on “Today” this morning also is ripe for parody. The big question is whether “SNL” will open with Perry or Herman Cain, who also is the gift that keeps on giving to “SNL” writers. The Penn State scandal is so serious that it would appear to be off-limits for humor.


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Giambra, Buffalo News Coverage Impressive

Before the first vote was counted in the Erie County Executive race on Election Night, former County Executive Joel Giambra knew the answer to the question Chris Collins was asking about six hours later.
Giambra, who is now Channel 4’s political expert, told co-anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker on the 6 p.m. news that he thought that the message that Collins was a “nasty, mean and arrogant person seems to be taking hold.”
During his concession speech to Democrat Mark Poloncarz, Collins said he didn’t know “quite what to make of what” the voters were telling him.
Giambra and other political experts clearly knew. As I wrote a few days ago, Collins was facing two opponents – Poloncarz and Not Collins. His abrasive and condescending manner made him so unlikable that many voters didn’t seem to care he had done a good fiscal job managing the county.
He lost because people didn’t like him and didn’t see the kinder, gentler, sympathetic Collins that appeared out of nowhere in his concession speech. In the debates and in his TV news appearances, Collins’ manner was his undoing. In his last appearance on Monday, he called some people who he accused of stealing political signs “thugs.”
That was a little overboard. They didn’t hurt anybody physically. They supposedly took signs. But then again, that was Collins’ style. Even if one agreed with his policies or conclusions, it was hard to accept his manner. By contrast, Poloncarz played the steady, good guy who was unfazed by all the nastiness in the campaign. Len Lenihan, the Democratic party chairman, noted the contrast Tuesday by saying “Mark’s not mad at anybody.”
All the local stations and The Buffalo News seemed reluctant to declare Poloncarz the winner for some time when it seemed obvious, perhaps because the pre-election polls declared the race a dead heat. The Collins camp turned out to be right about the polls, just in the wrong way. However, pollsters could claim they were accurate in that they depicted the momentum going the way of Poloncarz in the final days on his way to what looks like a 53-47 percent victory.
Giambra was the star of local TV coverage, a straight-shooter who didn’t pull any punches and even displayed some self-deprecating humor. When asked what advice he would give Poloncarz now that he has the difficult job, Giambra cracked “don’t use red and green in the budget process.”
Of course, he was alluding to one of the larger issues that led to his undoing as county executive. It isn’t easy to accept defeat. Giambra noted it would “be interesting to see how (Collins) handles humility. It is not one of his strong suits.” Ouch.
Channel 2’s political experts, former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello and former Deputy County Executive Carl Calabrese (who now work together), also gave strong analysis. Calabrese blamed Collins’ loss on “a failed campaign” that didn’t seem to get the message from the congressional loss of the Collins’ backed Jane Corwin to Kathy Hochul months earlier.
The expert political analysis was just about the only thing missing from the “historic” Buffalo News website covered anchored by Phil Fairbanks and Brian Meyer, with their laptops in front of them. The newspaper’s first foray into video coverage on Election Night was impressive, with reporters Denise Jewell Gee and Charity Vogel especially strong in the field considering they are TV rookies.
Their interviews with the spokesmen for the two parties went on much too long, but that wasn’t their fault. A TV producer or news director certainly would have told them to end them earlier. Gee and Vogel were so smooth that I could see them taking jobs in local TV if it wasn’t for the fact that TV reporters get paid less than newspaper reporters.
Fairbanks, who has TV experience, did a solid job, though he did it without the energy level viewers have come to expect from TV anchors. The paper brought in reporters to add their expertise for races in the small towns that TV usually downplays. All in all, a successful start more in the tradition of YNN than the local network affiliates.
I could see political news junkies loving the video coverage (even if my computer occasionally lost it while someone is in mid-sentence) and the live chat anchored by reporter Pat Lakamp and featuring a full roster of News reporters. A husband of a local TV anchor was among the chatters praising the News coverage. I’d just advise The News to hire a former elected offical like  Giambra to add to its coverage.
The News should be proud of its “historic” coverage, even if was missing something very important to the news business: Commercials. And most likely enough viewers to make all the effort worthwhile from a business standpoint, especially if newspaper sales decline today.
By the time Poloncarz is up for re-election in four years, The News should know if TV and website coverage will help save the newspaper.

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A Vote for Buffalo News Coverage Tonight

If you are a political news junkie, undoubtedly the place to go tonight is the website of The Buffalo News.
As many of my blog readers know, I’m not afraid to criticize my former employer so this praise shouldn’t be diminished as the act of a pro-newspaper columnist.
I’m basing my opinion on years of annually reviewing the local TV stations and reporters on election nights. I kept track of all the mangled names, the misleading vote counts and confusing explanations of issues that illustrated how difficult it is for the small band of TV reporters and anchors to be instant political experts.
I caught many of the mistakes, but there wasn’t a post-election morning that I wasn’t greeted at work by several News staffers coming up to me to tell me other errors I had missed while trying to watch three stations at once.
There were TV reporter exceptions, of course, most notably Channel 2’s Scott Brown, who worked in politics in between his two stints at the NBC affiliate and has a firm grasp of all issues. But generally, the TV people needed to rely on political experts like former Democratic chairman Joe Crangle to help viewers understand what was going on.
This isn’t a severe criticism of the local TV news departments, just an acknowledgement that they had and continue to have a fraction of the manpower of the local newspaper even after all the recent newspaper buyouts. All the recent departures of TV news veterans – especially at Channel 4 — also won’t help the stations tonight.
The Buffalo News has as many or more people covering politics and government daily as the local stations have covering everything that goes on in all of Western New York on a daily basis..
So naturally, the newspaper has a great advantage tonight — especially in the suburbs and smaller towns — that it is trying to exploit tonight via its website. In a Sunday column, Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan explained that the newspaper is taking its election coverage “to a new level” by providing live, continuous video on its website starting at 9 p.m.
So I advise news junkies to figure out how to attach their computers to their TVs to see reporters Phil Fairbanks (who worked in TV in Binghamton, I’m told) and Brian Meyer (who worked in local radio) anchor the Buffalo News coverage.
It isn’t hard to connect your computer to a newer TV, even a technological idiot like me now can watch TV shows off of my computer. So I’m sure political news junkies can find a way to do it, too.
I’m just not sure enough there are enough political news junkies right now to make the extended coverage pay off for the newspaper. It is trying to become more like local TV stations, which have the advantage of easier access, viewer tradition and also are emphasizing their website coverage. The newspaper also is trying to become more like TV without training its reporters how to shoot video or about the differences between how stories are told in the different media. This is a warning to website viewers tonight who might expect TV quality work.
There is the strong possibility that all the attention the Buffalo News website is getting will diminish the quality of Wednesday’s newspaper product, which still pays the bills. After all, most of the same staffers working on the website coverage will be writing and editing stories for the paper on deadline and it isn’t easy doing two jobs at once.
The newspaper dilemma is obvious. The emphasis on the website might be great for the future. I say “might be” great because studies show that website readers aren’t as likely to look at advertising, which makes it harder to make money. The website coverage also decreases the demand for the newspaper, which also reduces revenue.
The emphasis on the website undoubtedly is costing the newspaper readers. The paper has run stories about Buffalo Bills games late on Sunday night that make it unnecessary for fans to buy the paper on Monday to read what columnist Jerry Sullivan and other sports reporters have to say about the game.
If I had a nickel for every 40something or 50something friend or acquaintance who has told me since I left the paper that they only read it for free online now, I’d be able to pay my cable bill.
So enjoy the newspaper coverage tonight. If you want to see more of it in say, 5-10 years, buy the newspaper Wednesday to help keep it alive and the staff size nearly intact.
* After the newspaper was delivered today, I checked to see the coverage of a story that Channel 2 led with Monday night about people in a van picking up signs for County Executive Chris Collins in Amherst and replacing them with signs for his challenger, Mark Poloncarz. In a Channel 2 interview, Collins called the alleged sign stealers “thugs” and blamed the Poloncarz campaign (which denied any involvement).
The sign stealing story was addressed in The Buffalo News near the end of an exhaustive Page 1 story about the Collins-Poloncarz race, where it belonged. That’s another thing that the newspaper does much better than TV – provide perspective about stories that really should have no impact on who wins and who loses.

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Things That Would Annoy Andy Rooney

Here are a few words about the coverage of the Buffalo Bills, the county executive race, the late Andy Rooney (at the end, of course) and a few things that would have annoyed Rooney:
The local news stations are front-runners.

Larry David at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
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  All week long, the local experts were saying the Bills game with the New York Jets Sunday was their biggest game in a decade.
So what happens on the 11 p.m. newscast Sunday after the Bills lay an egg in a 27-11 loss?
Channel 4 and Channel 7 lead with crime and a fire, the two things that are so easy for TV news to cover and that rarely have an impact on anyone who isn’t involved. (Channel 2’s newscast usually starts around midnight after NBC’s Sunday night game).
The Bills, who are routinely the lead at 11 p.m. Sunday when they win, were dropped down a few minutes. If stations believe the Bills deserve to be the lead when they win, then they should lead with them over crime after they lose the biggest game in 10 years.
I suspected the Bills were in trouble before the kickoff when CBS’ Bill Cowher – normally a big Bills fan – picked the Jets because he said their power matched up well against the Bills.
I was thinking someone on the Bills should have inspired the team by showing the pre-game huddle speech by the Jets’ LaDainian Tomlinson before kickoff. Tomlinson passionately told his teammates the Bills play “pretty ball” while New York plays physical ball. He ended up being right, too. Maybe the Bills can be shown that video before the rematch Nov. 27.
If you stayed until the end, CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were gentle on the Bills, with Simms saying they still are a very good team and proved that with their five wins.
I wish I knew how politicians got a hold of my cell phone number. It is very annoying to get calls, especially on a football Sunday.
Speaking of annoying, does Channel 4’s Amelia Segal really have to shout at the end of the 30 second promos the station constantly runs about her move to “Wake Up!”?
Channel 2’s Saturday night poll declaring the county executive race between incumbent Republican Chris Collins and Democratic challenger Mark Poloncarz a dead heat certainly makes Tuesday’s election coverage something to look forward to. I’m not surprised, since Collins seems to have two opponents. People seem to think they have a choice between voting for Collins, Poloncarz and a third candidate – Not Collins. I think the poll should have asked voters if they were voting for anyone but Collins. He may be doing a good job fiscally, but he has gone out of his way to upset people by the way he does things and that could cost him in a tight race.

After reading a Buffalo News story in which Dan Neaverth Jr. blamed Collins for losing his county job, I guess we don’t have to wonder why Dan Neaverth Sr. has been the voice of Poloncarz advertisements. You wonder if the senior Neaverth even asked to be paid.
I have smart readers. After I noted how unfair Time Warner Cable’s decision to raise DVR rates by $2 a month after hooking subscribers on them, a reader advised me to go back to using a video recorder. Now will someone remind me how to wire one to my TV?
60 Minutes” was wise to rerun a Morley Safer interview with Andy Rooney on Sunday, a day after his death at age 92 was announced, that showed how lovable he was without mincing words about his unlikable qualities. It played like an obituary. Rooney was one of the last of his kind for several reasons. The chief among them were the fact that he was a World War II veteran and he was a brilliant TV writer who learned how to write while working on a newspaper.
I know it would never happen, but Larry David (see above) of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would be a perfect replacement for Rooney at the end of “60 Minute” because he is so easily annoyed and doesn’t worry about what people think of him.
Speaking of Rooneyesque annoyance, I went to see the Ben Stiller movie “Tower Heist” with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy over the weekend by myself. I always look for a seat far away from everyone because I hate it when people talk during the movies and the previews as if they are in their own loving rooms. Sure enough, two groups of young adults came in and proceeded to talk loudly as the previews ran. I asked them to please be quiet and was told “the movie hasn’t started.” I advised them I like to hear the previews. So I’m asking why can’t people just shut up (or at least whisper) when they go to the movies? If they want to talk, why can’t they wait outside the theater until the previews are over?I think Rooney could have done something with this. Or maybe Larry David in the next season of “Curb.”

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Ch. 2 Takes Round 1 in Sweeps

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Round 1 of the November sweeps during the early evening hours goes to Channel 2 News. Three more rounds to go.
In the first sweeps week since Channel 4 lost the 5 p.m. lead-in from Oprah Winfrey, Channel 2 was the local news winner at 5 p.m., 5.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. by margins ranging from three-tenths of a point to 1.1 points.
Channel 7 was a poor third in all three news time slots, getting less than half the audience of Channel 2 and Channel 4 at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and a little more than half the audience at 6 p.m.
Channel 4, the only newscast that is not in high definition now, maintains a comfortable lead at 11 p.m. thanks to its strong lead-in from CBS prime time programming. Channel 4 also dominates at 10 p.m., when its newscast airs on sister station WNLO-TV.
It may be hard to believe considering how easy it is to change channels, but lead-ins still give news and entertainment programs a significant advantage.
Channel 4, which has had significant change in its news personnel, lost about 15 percent of its 5 p.m. audience from a year ago and about 12 percent at 6 p.m.
All three 11 p.m. newscasts lost audience from a year ago, with the cumulative decline about 10 percent. Channel 2 had the biggest 11 p.m. drop, undoubtedly hurt by the first week lead-in it was getting from NBC’s 10 p.m programs.
It is too early to make a final determination of the success of Channel 4’s decision to move young meteorologist Amelia Segal into Mike Cejka’s spot on “Wake Up!” to try and grab some audience away from Channel 2’s more popular “Daybreak.“ “Wake Up!” gained one tenth of a point from a year ago at 6 a.m. in the first week of the sweeps. “Daybreak” remained No.1, but lost half a point from a year ago so the race is tighter. Channel 7’s ratings were flat at 6 a.m.
At 11 a.m., Mary Friona went into John Beard’s former anchor seat at Channel 2 without any audience slide in week one. The newscast had the same 3.2 rating it had a year ago, which is good news considering that the noon newscasts by Channel 4 and Channel 7 lost viewers from a year ago.
Speaking of Segal, Channel 4 is now running 30-second promos highlighting her move to “Wake Up!” I can’t recall the last time one meteorologist got promotional attention like that. Stations usually highlight their weather teams.
As far as Western New York is concerned, Fox may have renewed Simon Cowell’s (see above)  “The X Factor” for a second season prematurely. Wednesday night’s episode had about the same 2.7 local rating at 9 p.m. that the latest edition of the CW’s “America’s Top Model” had on WNLO-TV. A “Seinfeld” rerun at 10 p.m. on WUTV out-drew Cowell’s show.
Considering that WNY is a strong “American Idol” market, Cowell’s show is a big local disappointment for WUTV.
Here’s what analyst Phil Simms, who works the Bills-Jets game Sunday with Jim Nantz, had to say in a CBS release about the key matchup: “The Jets coming off of a bye week and going on the road is a big deal. The league has shown us this season that the bye week has been a detriment to a lot of teams. So can the Jets overcome that? Going to Buffalo is tough. The Buffalo Bills are real. I believe. They’re 5-2 and the way they are doing it is impressive. Ryan Fitzpatrick is for real. Fred Jackson is a star. I’ve gone up there in years past and even when they weren’t a good team, in that stadium and with that crowd, they’re always tough. It’s going to be a tough test for the Jets.
The Jets have a couple things that are going to be great to watch: Darrelle Revis against Steve Johnson; and Kyle Wilson, Antonio Cromartie against the spread offense. Buffalo’s offense is extremely varied. I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to defense them because they do such much. How the Jets defense is going to attack against the Bills’ offense is going to be very interesting.
“For three straight games the Jets have run their offense the way Rex Ryan always has envisioned it. The big question is will we see the next little bit of improvement from what they’re really trying to do and that is kind of control it. Use Mark Sanchez for what he is designed to do, and that’s play-action pass and be an athlete. And make some good throws down the field. I never thought at the start of this season that I would be saying the Jets going to Buffalo was going to be a big game or an important game for the playoffs. But we are in that stretch now. These games are important. It’s a divisional game. This game is going to be quite exciting. This might be the game of the week.”
Might be? In Buffalo, it certainly is that and more.

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“Bones” Returns With Satisfying “Unsolvable Situation”

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Stephen Nathan, the Buffalo native who is one of the executive producers of the Fox hit series “Bones,” wrote a message to the nation’s television critics that came with the DVD of the first two episodes of the seventh season.
He wrote: “’Bones’ finds itself dealing with a happily unsolvable situation: Brennan (Emily Deschanel, see right) and Booth (Buffalo native David Boreanaz ) are a couple. And they are about to have a baby. Sure, they have been stealing glances and secretly lusting after each other all these years, but we also have seen they couldn’t be more unsuited for each other. Will it work out? How is a child going to change them?”
They are both very good and very interesting questions. The larger question is how is the situation going to change the series? After all, babies often are the kiss of death for series.
As usual, the murders in the first two episodes on WUTV – tonight’s “Memories in the Shallow Grave” and next Thursday’s “The Hot Dog in the Competition “– are secondary to the relationship between Brennan and Booth and all of the secondary characters. The “Hot Dog” episode – which involves the murder of an eating contest champion – is the more involving of the two.
Relationship-wise, the episodes highlight the differences between the rational scientist (Brennan) who is clueless about how to behave when living with the more emotional homicide detective (Booth) she supposedly loves.
Of course, the scientist is self-aware when it comes to hormonal issues. But she isn’t aware of her partner’s needs to have input in every decision about the baby, including being at the doctor’s office to find out the sex and deciding where the family should live. The couple also has typical debates about money and sexual needs that they would be better off addressing before becoming parents.
Brennan’s better financial situation – she is a millionaire off her book sales – is an amusing sub-plot as Booth is determined to split all expenses 50-50.
Booth and her co-workers also seem determined to educate Brennan about how to behave in a loving partnership, making “Bones” seem as much like a couple’s counseling session as a murder mystery.
Of course, what leads to love and romance often can be a mystery. As warm and lovable as some elements of these episodes often are, it is easy to question whether this couple can survive as long as the series already has.
In real life, Brennan and Booth are so different they might last about as long as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. But in the fantasy world of TV, one would expect love will triumph over all of Brennan’s cluelessness and Booth’s frustrations. Rating: 3 stars out of 4
*Another year, another Time Warner Cable hike. That’s about as much a surprise as the inevitable protests that will lead to some customers canceling their service.
The most aggravating part of the increase is the $2 extra each month it is going to charge for DVR service. TWC undoubtedly realizes that customers have become addicted to the device that allows them to record their favorite programs and watch them at their own convenience. So that increase seems to be cruel and unusual punishment. A dollar raise should have been enough for the greedy cable company.
* It must have been tough for former Buffalo Sabre Matthew Barnaby to utter these words Wednesday night on ESPN while talking about New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur: “Him and Patrick Roy – along with Dominik Hasek – are the three best goalies to ever play the game.” Sabre fans may recall that Barnaby and Hasek didn’t get along that well when they were teammates.
* Had to laugh when Channel 7 news had a news item during the 11 p.m. newscast Wednesday about Western New York actress Charlene Amoia having a role in the next “American Pie” movie. Sure, we’re all happy for her. But in what universe, did it belong in the news portion of the newscast? It seemed weirdly out of place.
* Channel 7 also promoted a story for the late newscast tonight in which reporter John Borsa is going to camp out with the Occupy protesters downtown. It wasn’t so long ago that news organizations considered the size of the protest before giving it attention that might inflate its importance. The promotion of Borsa’s involvement could spike the number of people at Occupy tonight. If Channel 7 felt compelled to give the protesters attention, it should have sent Borsa without hyping his appearance.

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Milch’s “Luck” Out of the Starting Gate Early

Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival.

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This is what I’m thinking:
* A sneak preview of the the premiere episode of the next series from Buffalo native David Milch, HBO’s “Luck,” will air on the pay-cable channel on Dec. 11 after the second season finale of “Boardwalk Empire.”
“Luck,” with a cast that includes Dustin Hoffman (see right), Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and Jason Gedrick, is set in the horse racing world that Milch knows so well. It has a nine-episode order and will make its “official debut” on HBO on Sunday,  Jan. 29.
It is getting three episodes less than “Boardwalk” got a year ago in its premiere season. Milch, who has written for or co-created “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood,” is seeking to change his luck at HBO. His last series, “John in Cincinnati” with Ed O‘Neill (who went on to star in “Modern Family”) was canceled after one season. This time around, Michael Mann (“Miami Vice’) is also aboard as one of the show’s executive producers.
* Buffalo Bills fans might want to tune in to ESPN’s “NFL Live” at 4 p.m. today when it gives out its midseason awards. Coach Chan Gailey is one of the best coach candidates and the team is up for two awards – best comeback (against the Patriots) and best story (with two other surprise teams, Detroit and San Francisco). Surprisingly, Fred Jackson isn’t a MVP candidate.
Ratings time: ABC’s fairy tale series “Once Upon a Time” had a strong local 10.0 rating on Channel 7 for its second episode Sunday, which wasn’t much of a fall-off from its premiere a week earlier. The premiere of NBC’s darker fairy tale series, “Grimm,” had a 6.1 local rating opposite Game 7 of the World Series. That is a very decent rating by Channel 2’s standards. The Sunday premiere of Fox’s latest animated series, “Allen Gregory” lost almost half of its lead-in from “The Simpsons.” “Allen” had a 3.2 rating locally and lost 20 percent of its audience in the last 15 minutes. The two animated shows that followed “Allen,” “Family Guy” (3.0) and “The Cleveland Show” (3.2) were in the same range as “Allen.”
* Inquiring minds want to know: When will Channel 4 news be carried in high definition? It is a good question now that the station is in a competitive disadvantage with Channel 2 News, Channel 7’s Eyewitness News and YNN all carried in some form of high definition. Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. You would have thought that Channel 4 would have joined the 21st Century before the November sweeps started. Since it didn’t happen, you might expect it to wait until 2012. The absence of HD certainly can’t help Channel 4 News draw viewers.

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The Supreme Court and the Bills

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This is what I’m thinking:
* The Buffalo Bills’ 23-0 win over Washington on WUTV didn’t hit the magic 40 rating. Far from it.
The game had a 36.3 rating, which means that 36.3 percent of area households were tuned in Sunday to see Ryan Fitzpatrick and Company dismantle the woeful Redskins.
The rating for the game beat the combined local ratings for the first six games (35.4) of the World Series on WUTV. As expected, St. Louis win in Game 7 finally broke the double-digit barrier with a 12.4 rating.
Of course, the baseball games lasted so long that Fox and its affiliates were able to sell much more advertising than they could sell in a three-hour Bills game.
* I took a long drive Sunday and heard a national radio broadcast of the Bills win by play-by-play man Chris Carrino and analyst Brian Baldinger that was amusing for several reasons unrelated to the action.
Carrino thought the drive from Buffalo to Toronto would take an hour. He and Baldinger speculated that there were many more U.S. Supreme Court justices from Harvard than million dollar NFL quarterbacks like Fitzpatrick. But they added Harvard grads might be prouder of Fitz.
* It is time to reassess which Bills game might be flexed to NBC’s Sunday Night Football schedule. I originally thought the Bills rematch with the New York Jets on Nov. 27 would be an ideal replacement for the scheduled game between Pittsburgh and Kansas City. But that probably has changed with the resurgence of the Chiefs, who have won four straight.
So now the more likely game to be flexed would be the Bills home game with 4-3 Tennessee on Dec. 4. NBC’s scheduled game on Dec. 4 is between winless Indianapolis and New England.
However, the Bills and Titans are both small market teams, which could argue against it. Additionally, there are other games on Dec. 4 – including Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, Detroit at New Orleans and Kansas City at Chicago – with flex possibilities.
* In case you missed it, The Senator got a midseason vote Sunday for defensive player of the year from NBC’s Rodney Harrison. “He’s been getting it done all year round,” Harrison said of the Bills’ George Wilson. Do I hear a talk of a raise?
* I had to laugh at two great lines in Sunday’s episode of “The Good Wife”:
Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), upon learning that his ex-wife had slept with a relative of Osama bin Laden who isn’t a terrorist: “Oh my god, she banged a nice bin Laden.”
Will Gardner (Josh Charles) after a young, pretty, new lawyer told him how nice the lawyers inside the firm have been to her. “Lawyers, the nicest people in the world.” I don’t have to tell you he was being sarcastic.
* Finally, the line of Monday came from one of the co-hosts of NBC’s “Entertainment Tonight” when referring to Kim Kardashian’s (see above) filing for divorce 72 days after she married NBA player Kris Humphries in a cable television special: “Has it destroyed the credibility of the Kardashians?”
Whoever thought they’d hear the word credibility and the name Kardashian in the same sentence? And it wasn’t said with sarcasm.

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All About Jeff and Me

I’m going to do my imitation of esteemed Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon in this blog.
It is all about me.
After all, Jeff is a columnist who can spend the first 15 inches of a tribute (a very good tribute) about a legendary Buffalo entertainer writing about himself.
I was inspired to write about me after reading Jeff’s Friday column, “the dark days are getting darker for Channel 4 News” (a column, which by the way, I largely agreed with except for the stuff about me that deserved to be included).
When we worked together at the News, I always thought we had a good relationship and our styles complemented each other and benefitted The News.
I also liked him and even had him speak to one of my Buffalo State classes about film. Well, it was supposed to be about film. Many of my students later complained that Jeff actually talked about his favorite topic: Jeff.
Anyway, when we worked together, we couldn’t have more different styles and likes and dislikes. Jeff once told me after a discussion of our likes and dislikes “the trouble with you is you are too normal.”
Nobody has ever accused Simon of that. On Friday, the day of Simon’s Channel 4 column, I got a kick out of a Facebook comment made by someone who read a Simon review of a movie that day: “Simon gave it four stars but I’m going to see it anyway.”
Anyway, when we worked together, I basically did the reporting about local news and added my opinions about it and network TV shows.
Jeff wrote his opinions from the seat of his pants, unsullied by any facts or reporting. He also repeatedly criticized other critics and praised the few local personalities he talked to (do I have to tell you Irv Weinstein and Carol Jasen were two of them)?.
Which brings me back to me and my blog and some missing facts in Jeff’s column, which dealt with (among other things, there are always other things in a Simon column) meteorologist Mike Cejka’s move from “Wake Up” to the weekends.
In it, Jeff wrote: “I first heard of the Cejka affair a couple of weeks ago during one of the online chats with readers that some of us here are doing (and enjoying immensely – not to mention learning from).”
Apparently, Jeff is a lot better remembering what happened when he met Don Rickles 40 years ago than what happened a week ago. I sensed — rightly or wrongly — that he may have written ”a couple of weeks ago” to diminish my breaking the story..
I was so surprised by his memory failure that I did a little reporting to see when Jeff was educated about the Cejka move. I haven’t been among the 50 or so people who chat with Simon about all the shows he tells them he hasn’t seen. However, I have heard about a couple of cheap shots that he has thrown my way from some of his chatters (by the way, this isn’t coming from a disgruntled former News critic. I couldn’t be happier since leaving the paper to teach, blog and freelance).
So I went online to look at replays from the Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 chats he had. Since his timeline of two weeks ago would have meant he was talking about Oct. 13, I first looked at that chat review and saw that Cejka never came up. However, he did come up on Oct. 20, which also was the morning  that this blog broke the story about Cejka’s move. I have no idea if Rob from Randolph, who brought it up, read it here first or if he is a Channel 4 insider. (Rob, if you read this, please write me)
But there is a possibility that Rob was passing along information to Simon (who laughingly instantly speculated that Cejka might be happy about his schedule change) that he had just read in stilltalkintv. It has happened before during chats, notably when Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan was asked about speculation that he might leave The News after it was reported in stilltalkintv.
Now it is a time-honored tradition in publishing to give credit where credit is due. A couple of national media sites – TV Spy and Media Bistro among them – credited my Cejka report when they wrote about it. When Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed his big deal last week, The News credited ESPN for the initial report. But Simon seems determined to not give credit where it is due and also to disguise how major TV news has been broken.
But back to me with a little self-promotion. I don’t think I need to tell you — my blog readers — that stilltalkintv has broken several major local TV stories since it began, including the departures of Lisa Flynn, Mylous Hairston, Michele McClintick and Lorey Schultz from Channel 4, the reduction of the schedule of Channel 2 sports director Ed Kilgore (which Simon also thinks Kilgore is happy about) and the Cejka story.
In almost every case, Jeff has praised or credited The Buffalo News reporter that followed up on my blog a few days to a week later. I really think The News ought to at least give me a finder’s fee on all these stories.
In the case of the Cejka story, reporter Jane Kwiatkowski wrote it a full week after it first appeared in stilltalkintv. Nontheless, Simon wrote: … “Jane Kwiatkowski’s reportage in Thursday’s News clearly conveyed that Channel 4’s treatment of the popular Cejka was unequivocally clumsy at best and downright rotten at worse.”
If I were Kwiatkowski, I’d be embarrassed by Simon’s remark and would have blamed him for being beaten on the story. If Simon had heard about it a couple of weeks ago as he wrote, then he should have showed an ounce of reporting instinct and either called his sources (not that Simon is big on calling or doing any reporting) or at least told Kwiatkowski about it so she would act like she is working for a daily instead of a weekly.
(By this time, do you realize I’m using a lot of parentheses in honor of Simon’s style).
But then again, I’ve been embarrassed by the way The News has treated television – the most powerful and influential medium – ever since I left the newspaper. Apparently, The News thinks it is less important than covering any form of music.
At the same time, The News treatment of TV has helped my blog, which is growing weekly by word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter, my radio and TV appearances and my new role as a contributor at Buffalo Spree.
I don’t have to tell my regular readers that they have a choice – they can read the latest happenings in local TV on stilltalkintv or wait a week or two until The News decides to write about it and disguise it as its own.
But I am going to remind you anyway. After all, this blog was all about me.

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