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“Dancing” Is Hot Here, “Idol” Not as Much

Julianna Margulies at the 2009 Tribeca Film Fe...

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It is always interesting and educational to see what network television shows Western New Yorkers are watching.

We watch a lot more network shows here than people do nationally. That is especially true of CBS shows carried by Channel 4.

Here are the Top 10 noticeable things about the recently-concluded network sweeps in May.

No. 1: “Dancing” is Supreme: ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” is so popular here that its lead-in gave Channel 7 News a rare election night victory, which the station is trumpeting by mentioning a “blog” report. Yes, that was me. If it is going to use this blog in its ads, it probably would be smart to use my name so viewers don’t think it is just a guy in his pajamas writing about TV (I don’t wear pajamas). “Dancing” averaged a 17.5 rating here, the results show a 15.4.

No.2: “American Idol” Slips Here: Much has been made of the ratings resurgence of “Idol” with the new supposedly improved talent and new judges Jeniifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. But “Idol” slipped here, with the Tuesday performance finale (12.2) even falling out of the Top 10. The show averaged a 14.2 rating on Wednesdays on Fox affiliate WUTV and a 13.2 on Thursday for sixth and seventh place here.

No.3: If It Isn’t Dancing or Singing, We’re Watching CBS: Led by the top-rated scripted drama “NCIS,” and the top-rated scripted comedy, “The Big Bang Theory” (which tied for No.3 with a 15.3 rating), all of the Top 10 here were CBS shows. That is largely due to the quality of its programs, but it also is helped by the older audience here that watches more network TV.

No.4. “The Big Bang” Moves Pays Off Big: The “Big Bang” rating is especially impressive since the show moved from Mondays to Thursdays last fall, taking a lot of movie advertising dollars with it.

No.5: “The Good Wife” On a Roll Before Its Move: With all the political scandals in the news, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Julianna Margulies’ (see above) intensely interesting and intricably plotted sophomore show is on a roll. It averages a 12.3 rating, tied for ninth place here with “Criminal Minds” (which aired a repeat), one spot ahead of the final “American Idol” performance show. And the audience should grow when “Wife” moves to Sunday in the fall, especially if NBC can’t carry NFL games because of the dispute between players and owners.

6: “Grey’s Anatomy” Is ABC’s Top Show Here: As rumors swirl about when Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo plan to leave, the medical soap opera continues to draw local fans. It averaged a 10.9 rating, finishing tied for 15th place. That is ABC’s top-rated show here, an indication of the problems the network has had creating new hits.

No.7: Selleck Stars in Only Fall 2010 Hit: Of course, ABC is not alone in having trouble finding hits. The top-rated new show here last year was CBS’ “Blue Bloods” with Tom Selleck (11.3). NBC’s spring reality series “The Voice” (9.3), which tied with Fox’s “Glee” for 27th place, also was a hit. But the Fox comedy that gets the most buzz and has been renewed, “Raising Hope,” finished in 68th place with a 4.8 rating.

No.8: “Two and a Half” Repeats as Popular as “Mother” Originals: The Charlie Sheen saga meant CBS didn’t have any original episodes of “Two and a Half Men” in May. But the show still did as well as “How I Met Your Mother” originals. Both averaged a 7.8 rating here.

No.9: Donald Trump Is Overrated: If you hear Trump tell it, his “Celebrity Apprentice” is a megahit. In Western New York it finished a mediocre No.47 with a 7.2 rating. It wasn’t even NBC’s top-rated reality show here. That honor goes to “The Biggest Loser.” However, it gets decent demographics.

No.10: Tears for “Brothers and Sisters” fans: ABC’s cancellation of the local drama upset local fans because it still averaged a healthy 8.3 rating here for 37th place. That is higher than ABC’s terrific comedy “Modern Family” and “Private Practice.


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Time for Kilgore to Reduce Role for Benigni

I wasn’t surprised recently that Rick Jeanneret decided to reduce his schedule next season as the voice of the Buffalo Sabres.

After the Sabres were eliminated from the playoffs, I made a mental note to call Jeanneret to see if he was ready to retire.

I got busy teaching and forgot to call before Jeanneret made his announcement on WGR, the team’s radio home.

I bring this up because I also have the sense that the schedule of another veteran broadcaster, Channel 2 Sports Director Ed Kilgore, may be cut shortly.

I have nothing to back it up but a feeling. Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said he won’t talk about personnel matters. I’d call Kilgore but I don’t think he’d be happy to hear from me because I’ve never been the biggest fan of the 2010 inductee into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

However, our relationship hasn’t always been combative. I recall running into him in August about three years ago when he told me that he just signed a new deal. If my math is correct, that means he’s contract is up in three months and it is time for him to talk to management about a new deal if he hasn’t already.

At age 64, Kilgore might want to cut down his role after 38 years at the station or he might be told it is time to do so because of the size of his contract. Channel 2 also has a younger, more aggressive anchor-reporter in Adam Benigni waiting in the wings. This isn’t to say Benigni is a youngster. He is 42.

It reminds me a little of the situation at Channel 4 years ago when Van Miller was the primary anchor and Dennis Williams was waiting to take over. Channel 4 eventually had Miller do the early shift and made Williams the 11 p.m. anchor before Williams eventually got the job entirely.

It would appear that is a good blueprint for Channel 2. It would enable Kilgore, the dean of TV sportscasters, to reduce his schedule and give the primary role to a deserving Benigni.
In a year or two, Benigni then would get the entire job.

Like Jeanneret’s situation, it makes too much sense not to happen. Don’t be surprised if it does.

* Here’s why all the Buffalo News coverage of the “on-air upheaval” at WECK-AM seems overblown and certainly won’t hurt the home town station: According to Mark Scott’s newsletter for the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, WECK didn’t even finish in the Top 20 stations in Buffalo with a .6 overall rating in the winter book. Canadian stations get more listeners here. Changes in the lineup can’t hurt.

* OMG, NBC really is bringing back “Fear Factor.” One of my biggest fears is that NBC’s new owner Comcast is going to carry more reality TV than the previous owner.


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“The Voice” Gets NBC Vote Too Early

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - JUNE 10:  U.S Actor Tim ...

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This is what I’m thinking:

* NBC has a dozen or so new shows lined up for the 2011-2012 season and the best thing it can do after the Super Bowl is carry the second season premiere of the midseason reality series “The Voice”?

If I had been making the decision, I might have waited until October to see if one of the fall shows struck it big and would have gotten a boost from airing after the Super Bowl in February.

Of course, at this point there is no assurance there will be a Super Bowl. But NBC doesn’t seem concerned since its fall promotional campaign heavily trumpets its popular Sunday Night Football schedule.

*The Super Bowl choice would appear to be popular with local viewers. Not surprisingly, the ratings for Tuesday’s episodes of “The Voice” (12.7) and “America’s Got Talent” (11.6) on Channel 2 more than doubled the ratings for the first game of the star-studded NBA Finals in which the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks (5.7). That was about 20 percent lower than the 7.0 local rating for Game 1 of last year’s series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

The NBA game Tuesday got off to a slow start, with ABC actually running a commercial in between the introductions of the Heat and Mavericks and then adding more commercials before the tip-off. Bad moves that were conducive to channel changing.

Nationally, Game 1 had almost double the local rating with a 10.7 overnight rating. It was the highest overnight rating for Game One of a series in seven years.

* Vancouver’s 1-0 victory over Boston in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday had a 7.2 rating on Channel 2. That should put Buffalo No. 2 in the nation, behind Boston.

The rating for the hockey game was about 20 percent higher than the NBA game but the NHL game didn’t have to compete with “Talent” or “The Voice.”

* Give credit to Channel 2 News, which had the resignation of Michael Mallia, Jane Corwin’s Assembly chief of staff, on Tuesday night before Corwin confirmed it Wednesday. Channel 2 also was the first to run the Mallia video confrontation with Jack Davis during the congressional campaign.

*Bill O’Loughlin had a radio show? Loraine O’Donnell had a radio show? I bet that was the reaction from most people reading about their departures from WECK-AM in the Buffalo News this morning. The underdog hometown station doesn’t get a big audience.

O’Donnell will be missed by the local theater crowd who listened to her morning show with news anchor Tom Donahue. Her replacement, former WGR sports staffer Corey Griswold, is expected to make the morning show more male-oriented.

*OK, I’m emptying out my DVR and watched the season finale of “Private Practice” and thought it was a little rough on women who know what they want. If you haven’t watched it yet, skip this item. It had one similar theme with executive producer Shonda Rhimes’ other ABC show, “Grey’s Anatomy.”

In both finales, marriages were endangered because the wife made a unilateral big decision and the husband didn’t like the decision and not being part of it.

It wasn’t all a romantic downer. Three couples also re-connected or connected. However, the cliffhanger was a sad one in which Dr. Pete Wilder (Tim Daly, see above) apparently had a heart attack while cleaning up the house with his toddler son playing in the background. That should add to the guilt that his wife Violet (Amy Brenneman) may feel for leaving Pete and her child for a few weeks to go on a book tour.

*I’m not appalled by PBS’ decision to run some commercials during Nova and Nature as an experiment to raise money and see if it can be added to other programs. To be honest, sometimes when nature calls I wouldn’t mind a commercial break in longer PBS programs.


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Scotty, Michael Scott and Certain Men

Ray Romano

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Memorial Day weekend can be especially tough for TV lovers.

That’s especially true for men when the NBA and NHL playoffs unfortunately are on holiday.

There was nothing on but reruns, which led me to try and empty my DVR list and look at DVDs of new episodes of cable shows.

First up on the DVR was the season finale of “Glee,” the Fox megahit that has stumbled this season by spending so much time with Gwyneth Paltrow.

The finale redeemed itself, as members of the McKinley High glee club headed to New York City for the big national competition.

It was a strong episode that rekindled old relationships and spoke to the joy of performing while highlighting New York landmarks.

Next up was the season finale of NBC’s “The Office,” an overloaded, laugh-less hour that fell flat despite guest appearances by Jim Carrey, James Spader, Ricky Gervais and Ray Romano and made one wonder if the show can survive next season without Steve Carell.

I also had time to watch the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy,” a downer of an episode that left the futures of several relationships up in the air. That includes the relationship between Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) at the same time rumors swirl about how long the actors want to stay with the series.

The finale certainly was a radical departure from the 2010 finale in which a madman walked around Seattle Grace Hospital and shot doctors as a SWAT team waited outside. Regular blog readers may recall that episode inspired this blog.

Finally, I found the very first episode of this season’s “American Idol” on my DVR list and thought it would be interesting to see if any of the Top 10 were on it. Surprisingly, eventual winner Scotty was the very first performer who actually sang, with new judge Steven Tyler coming up with one of his wild reviews that had to be censored.

Scotty may have made “Idol” history as the first person to sing first and end up first.

* Speaking of Romano (see above), he showed up on Late Show with David Letterman last week to talk about the Peabody Award that his TNT series, “Men of a Certain Age,” won. It was a self-deprecating conversation since Romano said he didn’t know what a Peabody was, except it meant something smart.

“Certain” is such a low-key favorite of mine that I spent six hours watching episodes of the new season over the Memorial Day weekend when I planned on stopping at two and going to bed at a decent hour. The new season premieres at 10 tonight.

If you’re not a “Certain” fan, Romano (Joe), Scott Bakula (Terry) and Andre Braugher (Owen) play three friends who meet periodically at a diner to discuss their love lives, urination flow and stress levels.

Joe is a divorced father of two teens who owns a party store and a gambling habit, dreams of playing on the Senior Golf Tour and still has feelings for his ex. Terry is a 50-year-old kid, a former actor who has spent his life sleeping around and now wants to settle down and keep his toothbrush in the same house as the mature woman he loves. Owen is married to a supportive wife — and a job running a car dealership that he inherited from his disapproving father.

Owen is the most responsible of the trio, Joe the most neurotic and conflicted and Terry the most likely to self-destruct and turn a good thing into a mess.

It certainly isn’t laugh out-loud funny, but there is something laudable about a series in which men share their feelings with each other and actually grow to understand themselves better and realize what is most important in life.

I think that’s why I watched the episodes until 2 in the morning.

On the other hand, it is easy to bash the heavily-promoted new TNT series “Franklin & Bash” that stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“NYPD Blue”) and Breckin Meyer (“Road Trip”). It premieres at 9 tonight before “Certain.”

Gosselaar and Meyer play accident-chasing lawyers with extensive pop culture expertise who hook on with a big L.A. law firm run by Malcolm McDowell over the objections of his nephew, Damien Karp (Reed Diamond of “Homicide: Life on the Street”).

“Why are they here?” Karp carps after seeing his uncle’s new hires. “Is this a joke?”

Garcelle Beauvais (“NYPD Blue”) also is on board in this over-the-top comedy series.
Peter Bash (Gosselaar) plays the guitar and is in love with a prosecutor. Jared Franklin (Meyer) is the son of a successful lawyer.

In one absurd early scene that tells viewers what “F &B” is going for, a beautiful witness starts stripping down to her underwear until a judge tells her to stop.

I imagine college kids – who must be the primary target audience for this silliness – also will play beer pong every time a celebrity’s name is mentioned in the script.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, F. Lee Bailey, Barnum & Bailey, Susan Boyle, Dame Judy Dench, the Grateful Dead, Emilio Estevez and Scarlett Johansson are among those mentioned.

Admittedly, “Franklin & Bash” isn’t going for a Peabody Award. It just wants to entertain people. But it is so silly, sophomoric and over-the-top that Karp isn’t the only one wondering “why are they here?”

Ratings: “Men of a Certain Age”: 3 and a half stars out of 4; “Franklin & Bash”: 1 and a half stars pergament@msn.com

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LBJ Stars in Summer’s Top Reality Series

MIAMI - OCTOBER 12:  Forward LeBron James #6 o...

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I hate reality TV. It is one of the reasons I left the Buffalo News a year ago.

That’s right. You missed the first anniversary celebration of this blog, probably because you were more concerned with Oprah saying goodbye last week.

Of course, reality TV is all over broadcast TV in the summer, which means I’m thankful I have most of the pilots of network fall series to watch on summer nights between now and when they premiere in September.

The only two summer reality series I enjoy start tonight and Wednesday evening.
No, I’m not talking “America’s Got Talent,” which probably will beat my top summer reality series in the ratings by a wide margin.

My top summer reality series, which starts at 9 tonight (forget what it says in Sunday’s TV Topics), is the NBA finals between the unjustly vilified Miami Heat and Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the other old-timers who play for the Dallas Mavericks.

The second best summer reality series starts Wednesday between the fourth most popular sports team in Boston – the Bruins – and the only pro team in Vancouver (the Canucks).

Western New York usually is more into hockey but that could change this postseason because of the Heat despite the fact the games could end close to midnight. According to ESPN, NBA ratings in Buffalo had the highest percentage gain of any market in the country during the regular season.

The Heat started the season as the biggest sports villains in the country because LeBron James (see above) took an hour of cable television to tell Cleveland he was jilting it to try and win the title with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

LBJ (LeBron James to those like a professor friend of mine who thought I was talking about the late President)  deserved the criticism for starring in ESPN’s hour-long reality series last summer, “The Decision.” But his decision to leave Cleveland has been proven to be the correct one basketball-wise. The talent level on the Cavs without LBJ was exposed this season when the Cavs finished 19-63 and “won” the top lottery pick in the draft.

During this year’s playoffs, LBJ has been a star on and off the court. On the court, he has made big play after big play and been favorably compared to Michael Jordan. Off the court, he has been Jordanesque as well, saying the right things about his teammates and his opponents in post-game interviews.

In short, he has grown up and no longer seems to be worthy of being cast as the villain. Like every pro athlete, he did what he was entitled to do and did what was best for him. Besides announcing it in a tasteless TV special, the only difference between LBJ’s decision to go to Miami from Danny Briere’s decision to leave the Sabres to go to Philly or Chris Drury’s to go to the New York Rangers was that LBJ didn’t do it for more money. He did it to get a better chance to win even if it meant taking a pay cut.

Short-term, LBJ took a big and deserved PR hit. Things look a lot better for LBJ long-term.

Truth be told, I’m rooting for the new, PR savvy LBJ in the finals even if I wouldn’t be upset if the Mavericks’ and Dirk won, either.

Ratings for the NBA finals should be high nationally because of the stars involved even if it might have been better for the league if a bigger market team like Chicago or Boston made it from the East.

The ratings for the NHL finals are certain to diminish from a year ago — when Chicago and Buffalo’s Pat Kane won — because Vancouver is a Canadian market and its ratings won’t count in the United States.

There is a Buffalo angle to the Stanley Cup finals as there always seems to be. The Bruins are owned by Buffalo native Jeremy Jacobs. But they still are the Bruins, which means they don’t get much love here.

That’s another reason I wouldn’t be shocked if the NBA finals had higher ratings on Channel 7 here than the Stanley Cup finals on Channel 2 and cable’s Versus.


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Job to Fill Jeanneret’s Role Isn’t Top Shelf Yet

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25:  Dancing with the Stars...

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Some leftovers before the Memorial Day weekend holiday:

* I’m not so sure that the applications for Rick Jeanneret’s job as the voice of the Buffalo Sabres will spike after Thursday’s announcement that he is cutting down his road schedule and only will work about 50-55 regular season games next season.

It’s a great deal for Jeanneret, who gets to call the shots because he is Buffalo icon. I wonder if Jim Lorentz would still be doing color commentary if he got the same deal a few years back.

I’m sure many of Jeanneret’s fans are thrilled that he’ll be around as the Terry Pegula era enters its first full regular season.

But what quality NHL radio play-by-play man (or woman) would apply this season to fill Jeanneret’s shoes to work a part-time schedule of 25-30 games and that wouldn’t include any playoff games?

The Sabres surely would have to give Jeanneret’s replacement another job in the organization and a guarantee about when he would be taking over for the 68-year-old legend. That would require Jeanneret to give the Sabres a date for his retirement, something I wouldn’t be so sure he is willing to do if he hasn’t already.

The job isn’t attractive for another reason – no one wants to replace a legend. It is better to be the second person to replace a legend.

Since it is going to be a part-time job, it is more likely that the Sabres will go in-house this season unless Team President Ted Black has someone in mind that he has followed in his years in the league.

I am a Facebook friend of former Channel 4 anchor Mylous Hairston, who suggested pre-game, intermission and post-game host Kevin Sylvester do the games that Jeanneret doesn’t do this season.

Since Sylvester already is on the Sabres payroll that would make sense this season, and Hairston got support for his plan. Long-term, I can’t see it being the answer. Sylvester is excellent as a host of the Sabres broadcast, average as a play-by-play man.

WGR’s Paul Hamilton also is getting support, but his full-time job is to be an objective reporter, a role that can be a contradictory to a play-by-play man these days.

A third candidate being mentioned — Rick’s son, Mark (who does Portland games) — was an unpopular Facebook choice. Some of the comments about him were pretty brutal.

When Jeanneret does retire, bigger names are likely to surface with Buffalo ties. Former Buffalo broadcaster Pete Weber (TV) and Buffalo native Tom Callahan (radio) do play-by-play for the Nashville Predators. It wouldn’t be shocking if they were mentioned as candidates even if they’re
not interested.

The Buffalo News reported today that the Sabres and WGR would consider having separate radio and TV announce teams for the games without Jeanneret.

That would come at some cost, which probably means that Pegula would have to open up his check book and the Sabres would pay. I can’t see the need for that.

While many fans are celebrating the fact that Jeanneret is staying on board, the situation does have some potential problems.

What would happen if Black brings in a new guy and he is impressive enough to have some fans thinking the unthinkable – that he should replace Jeanneret?

As popular as Jeanneret is, he seems to be putting the Marv Levy philosophy (“once you’re thinking of retiring, you are already retired”) to a test and he has some Facebook critics.

All right, it was just a thought. I can’t really see much of a chance of that happening.

* Talk about Election Night upsets, Channel 7 won the 11 p.m. local news battle the night that Democrat Kathy Hochul won the race for the 26th Congressional District.

The local ABC affiliate — which usually is a poor third in news ratings — rode the coattails of the lead-in it received from “Dancing with the Stars” to victory. “Stars” averaged a 17.9 rating in the final 15 minutes on Channel 7 when Hines Ward and Kym Johnson (see above) were crowned champs, which was about triple what its rival stations averaged then.

Eyewitness News started the 11 p.m. news with a 10.6 rating that slipped about one-third to a 7.2 at 11:15 p.m. for an 8.9 average. Channel 4 started with a 9.0 at 11 p.m. and lost 10 percent to an 8.1 rating at 11:15 for an average of 8.6. Channel 2 had a 7.5 at 11 p.m. and gained slightly to a
7.6 at 11:15.

* To those who asked: Channel 23’s new 8 a.m. show “Wingin It! Buffalo Style” had a 1.5 rating in its first sweeps period, down only slightly from the 1.6 rating the station had a year ago when it carried another hour of “Wake Up!” Of course, the program isn’t about ratings, it is about making its advertisers happy.

* You may have read in the Buffalo News that VH-1 President Tom Calderone is a
Buffalo native. Not so. He is a graduate of Buffalo State College who is originally from my native Long Island. Of course, after you spend so much time in Buffalo it is easy to feel like a WNY native. I certainly do.


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Oprah Exits, Impact To Be Felt at Ch.4

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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OK, I missed most of the Oprah hoopla. On purpose.

It almost made the Katie Couric promotional tour when she became anchor of the CBS Evening News seem low-key and underhyped.

Oprah’s goodbye almost got as much attention as Will and Kate’s marriage.

I met Oprah once before she became Oprah.

I think it was former Channel 7 General Manager Steve Kimatian who brought Winfrey in to promote her new syndicated show. As I recall – and this was decades ago — there was a joke about Kimatian firing her from a news anchor job when he ran a station in Baltimore.

He actually upset Winfrey by moving her from the evening news to a morning show that led to the creation of the Oprah Winfrey that viewers have known and loved for 25 years. Winfrey owes Kimatian thanks for removing her from a role she apparently wasn’t suited for and then casting here in a role to become the superstar she is today.

Winfrey’s show was initially carried on Channel 7 here before the ABC affiliate let Channel 4 grab it rather than spend the money needed to renew it.

It was one of the dumbest decisions ever made in local television because it had a big impact on the decline of Eyewitness News and the emergence of News 4 Buffalo as the top-rated station in town.

A lot of tears were shed Wednesday as viewers watched Oprah’s low-key final show, a lecture in which she played teacher and reminded viewers about what empowerment messages she has sent out in a quarter century and what she learned from the audience.

I haven’t watched a lot of Oprah lately so I guess the reminder was warranted here. It felt like I was watching an hour-long therapy session, with Oprah reminding me of the importance of self-worth and controlling your own destiny.
I imagine her devoted fans loved it and were moved by it.

Some of the biggest tears might have been shed over at Channel 4, which is losing her as a news lead-in. She was an expensive lead-in, no question, as the cost of carrying her show remained high despite diminishing ratings. Now the question in the fall will be how much she was worth as a lead-in as Channel 4 faces a serious challenge from Channel 2 for news supremacy.

In the final Oprah-fueled sweeps period that ended Wednesday, Channel 4 remained No. 1 in household viewing everywhere but in the early morning, where Channel 2 has the lead.

The ratings were pretty consistent with the results in May 2010, which actually is a good thing for Channel 2 since Oprah’s Goodbye Tour led to a ratings spike for Channel 4′s news lead-in this May.

Her Monday telecast had a 7.9 rating, the celebrity-filled Tuesday telecast had a 9.2 and Wednesday’s final had a 11.1. Those are significantly higher than Oprah’s average in recent years and certainly higher than Dr. Oz will get next fall when his show moves from 3 p.m. to take Oprah’s 4 p.m. time slot.

According to sources, Channel 4 plans to fill Dr. Oz’s spot with a new talk show from CNN’s Anderson Cooper. But that hasn’t been announced yet.

Two things are noticeable about this May’s news numbers.

First, the Kathy Hochul-Jane Corwin-Jack Davis congressional race didn’t lead to a spike in news ratings and neither did the lousy weather.

Combined news viewership was flat or slightly down from a year ago just about everywhere but noon and 10 p.m. (where News 4 gets a strong 6.2 on WNLO.)
Secondly, Channel 7 News keeps falling. It improved at 6 a.m. to a 3.5 rating, which is still third place in the market by a considerable margin. It also gained at noon.

But it dropped at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. by a double-digit percentage and slipped 7 percent at 11 p.m.

How low can it go? Its rating at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. are the same as its rating at 6 a.m. Ouch.

Here is some more early things note from the May ratings.

The final “American Idol” competition between eventual winner and Alfred E. Newman lookalike Scotty McCreery over Lauren Alaina was surprisingly low. The Tuesday finale had only a 11.5 rating here on WUTV. The star-packed, two-hour finale Wednesday in which McCreery was announced as the winner at the end earned a 16.0 rating.

The end of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” had a bigger following here. The final competition program Monday had a 15.1 rating on Channel 7,  with the Tuesday finale in which Hines Ward and Kym Johnson were declared the winners getting an 18.1 rating.

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“Today,” “Family Guy,” YNN and Hochul Victory

This is what I’m thinking about the coverage of the upset by Democrat Kathy Hochul over Republican Jane Corwin in a three-way race with Independent Jack Davis for a Congressional seat:

* I woke up this morning expecting to hear all about Hochul’s victory on NBC’s “Today,” the most-watched network morning show here.

It seems much bigger things were going on nationally – like tornados, former Presidential candidate John Edwards possibly being indicted, President Obama and his wife in England and an airline mess in Europe caused by a volcano.

Hochul got about 10 seconds read by Ann Curry as some video of her victory speech ran in the background.

I guess we’ll have to head to cable tonight or wait until the Sunday morning talk shows to hear what the national pundits – some of whom in Corwin’s words “don’t even live here” – have to say about the upset and its national implications.

Just when Corwin was winning me over at the start of her classy concession speech Tuesday, she had to take the shot at the pundits and channel Sarah Palin by talking about the impact of “gotcha politics” on her losing campaign.

That’s when I turned off Corwin’s speech to go back to the final minutes of Miami’s win over Chicago in Eastern Conference finals of the NBA playoffs so I’m not sure if she ever took responsibility for a campaign that often insulted the intelligence of voters.

* I had to laugh at 10:30 p.m. during Channel 2’s news on WNYO-TV when anchor Scott Levin said the station had to leave during Hochul’s victory speech.
What was so important?

A “Family Guy” rerun was about to start.

Channel 4’s 10 p.m. news on WNLO-TV stayed on until 10:36 p.m., when it was time for TMZ on its sister channel.

*Three cheers for YNN, Time Warner’s 24 hour news channel, which was all over the Hochul-Corwin race while the network affiliates were primarily running reality show finales.

YNN provided results and interviews more than an hour before the local news channels and gave an early indication that Hochul was pulling an upset.

With all the money that Channel 2, Channel 4 and Channel 7 got from political ads, you might have thought they would have at least carried constant crawls rather than force interested political viewers to go to the Buffalo News website and TV websites for results.

* Channel 4’s Rich Newberg and Channel 2’s Michael Wooten both learned while they were on the air shortly after 10 p.m. that the Associated Press had declared Hochul the winner.

Channel 2’s Aaron Saykin channeled former Channel 4 analyst Joe Crangle to show results throughout the district that made AP’s call understandable.

However, anchor Maryalice Demler pulled a Yogi Berra and advised viewers that it isn’t over until it’s over.

“Any prediction by AP may be a little premature,” advised Demler. “We still got those absentees (ballots) to count.”

Ten minutes later, Corwin conceded.

* Channel 2’s Marissa Bailey needs a math lesson in probability. She noted that Davis had 8 percent of the vote at one point, which added to Corwin’s 42 percent at the time would have given the Republican the victory over Hochul’s 48 percent at the time.

Her presumption was that all of Davis votes would have gone to Corwin, which seems highly unlikely considering how many Republicans crossed over party lines in this race.

*Finally, the Analyst of the Night Award goes to Republican Carl Calabrese, who gently said on Channel 2 that Corwin lost the race more than Hochul won it. He said Corwin didn’t speak to the right issues, didn’t address them properly and never energized her base. He also said the Davis camera incident with her chief assembly aide didn’t help.

And Calabrese isn’t a national pundit who doesn’t live here.


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Who is the Puppet in 26th Race?


As I’ve written before, I live in the 26th Congressional District, where Democrat Kathy Hochul, Republican Jane Corwin and Independent Jack Davis are running for the seat vacated by Christopher Lee.

I don’t know any of them. Davis does play tennis on Saturday mornings on a court near me. He has played on weekends during the campaign, so I don’t know how serious he is about winning.

The only thing I knew about Hochul before the race came when I waited to make a change in my mortgage at County Hall. Some of her county workers openly criticized the changes she made in handling things, which surprised me considering all the good press she has had as Erie County  clerk.

I have never seen Corwin and had no opinion of her before the race other than she is very rich and pretty enough to be a TV news anchor.

But living in the district, I have taken such a keen interest in this race that as you read this I am even driving home from New York City to cast my vote today.

I mean after having to endure all those ads, I had to have my say.

Of course, with all the commercials running on local TV, everyone in Western New York has been forced to pay attention even though they aren’t all in the district and eligible to vote.

The winners in this race are clear – the local TV stations that have collected all the money from the campaigns and the out-of-town PACs that are spreading lies about both candidates.

The political ads have become an issue. They are legalized lies. The TV stations can’t edit them, but they can review them and Channel 2 has done a very good job at that.

The chutzpah award goes to Corwin, who repeatedly runs a deceitful ad that basically says that Hochul is bad for seniors who are fearful of losing Medicare when anyone who watched a debate carried by Channel 2 debate knew that Corwin is the one who supports a Republican plan to change Medicare to the displeasure of seniors.

Since only 1.2 percent of Buffalo viewers watched the debate and many of them can’t vote, Corwin’s campaign may have thought that it could get away with the Medicare lie. However, it was such a blatant lie that the Buffalo News did a story about it.

The Hochul camp also is guilty of exaggeration, saying that Corwin supports a plan that “essentially” ends Medicare. “Essentially” is a qualifying word that means it doesn’t end Medicare.

The problem with political ad reviews is that the lies often aren’t measured for size. On a scale of things, the Hochul ad is a lie the size of a Clarence street, the Corwin lie is as big as Erie County.

The ridiculous award goes to the Republican ad in which Hochul and Davis are depicted as puppets of Nancy Pelosi. It was funny the first time, annoying and just “Saturday Night Live” silly after that.

The smartest ad is the Hochol ad that just reads snippets of editorials by The Buffalo News and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that support Hochul and indirectly address the lies in the Corwin campaign in a straightforward manner.

Of course, ads aren’t the only things that determine the winner. News coverage also paints a picture of the candidates.

Corwin has gotten more coverage than Hochul because her campaign has gotten in more hot water. The silliness in which Corwin’s Assembly chief of staff was shown filming Davis before the candidate took a swipe at his camera got days and days of coverage.

Corwin was right — it got too much coverage. But that was Corwin’s fault. She extended the coverage by foolishly saying that she wouldn’t discipline the guy because he was doing something outside of his Assembly work.

As I’ve written before, the 26th District seat is vacant because Chris Lee did something outside of his congressional work. People are suspended, fired and resign all the time for doing embarrassing things outside of work.

Corwin should have just suspended or fired the guy and ended a controversy that really said little about the issues that will be addressed in Congress by the winner. Her handling of the silliness, advertising, and just about everything else in the campaign make one wonder how effective she would be in Washington, D.C.

The irony about the Puppet Ad is that Corwin appears to have been a puppet in her own campaign.

If she loses in a heavily Republican district, the national networks and their Sunday morning pundits may erroneously view it as a condemnation of the new Republican majority in the House. In reality, a Corwin loss would just mean that the old Republican campaign playbook doesn’t work in a community that is paying attention to the issues and only has to focus on one race with three candidates.

If she wins, it will be another triumph for negative and false advertising and the theory that any attention one gets from the news is beneficial even if it is negative attention.


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HBO’s “Fail” Banks on Stars, Gets Passing Grade

William Hurt signing autographs at the 2005 To...

Image via Wikipedia


You don’t need to be a banker or hold an economics degree, to
completely understand tonight’s HBO 9 p.m. movie “Too Big to Fail.”

But it would help.

Revolving around the 2008 financial crisis, “Fail” gets a
better than passing grade because of a cast led by William Hurt (see above) as Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson, Paul Giammati as Federal Reserve  chairman Ben Bernanke, and James Woods as Lehman Brothers chief executive Richard Fuld.

Based on the book by New York Times reporter Andrew Ross
Sorkin (who has a cameo as a reporter), “Fail” makes Paulson the overwhelmed hero trying to save the financial world from the greedy bank leaders trying to save their
companies. Fuld plays the fool, who overplays his hand, turns a significant
crisis into a disaster and delivers a classic line aimed at financial wizard
Warren Buffett (who owns the Buffalo News). Bernanke just eats a lot with
Paulson, dishing out morsels about how to avoid duplicating the 1929 Depression
as a crisis in confidence hits the banks and investment houses.

“People act like we’re crack dealers,” says Fuld as the value of Lehman free falls after he rejects a Buffett offer.

Of course, it isn’t easy making a movie about finance that is appealing and understandable to a wide audience of people, some of whom can’t balance their bank accounts.

In a sense, the topic will be “Too Big to Understand” for some viewers. Heck, it wasn’t easy for the network newscasts to explain the crisis while it was going on. “Fail” smartly uses news footage and drops in some extended dialogue an hour into the film that simplifies the complex
problems brought about the mortgage and real estate collapse, deregulation, and debt held by China and Russia.

“With one phone call, they can take down the entire U.S. economy,” Paulson notes of the Chinese and Russians.

Pretty scary stuff. “Fail” becomes quite a horror and disaster story that only isn’t edge-of-the-seat stuff because we now know that America and the world have survived.

There is a reasonable amount of suspense caused by some missteps, miscalculations and some things that Paulson, Timothy Geithner (played by Billy Crudup) of the Federal  Reserve
in New York and other good guys just missed because of all the chaos going on
around them as one crisis followed another one.

“I did the last one, you’re going to do this one,” Paulson tells the bank leaders he brought together to try and save Lehman and restore confidence.

Later, he adds: “You need to fix. You need to pay for it. We will remember anyone who is not helpful.”

Of course, some of his own help misses some key things.  At one point, Paulson says to members of his team “We’re like “The Gang That Doesn’t Shoot Straight.’” In the end, just about everything was straightened out.

Of course, bankers will have their own take on which leaders are accurately depicted and which ones are treated too kindly or too negatively.

One clear winner in the film would appear to be President Obama, who came into office months after this mess was taking place. His 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, is
depicted as almost ruining a plan to save the financial world by making a grandiose
gesture to stop his campaign when things had just about been decided on the
bank bailout plan.

President Obama can also point now to a revived stock market. Of course, his critics and critics of bankers note that the revival hasn’t yet hit Main Street. But “Fail” will be helpful in reminding voters that things could be much, much worse.

Even more importantly, it should serve as a warning to make sure this potential horror story doesn’t happen again.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4


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