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Ch.2′s Bailey Heading to Chicago

Channel 2 anchor-reporter Marissa Bailey will be leaving the station in a month to seek employment in the Chicago market.

In an email to staffers today, News Director Jeff Woodard said Bailey’s last day at the station will be Jan. 18.

The station tried to keep Bailey, who has become increasingly valuable as an anchor and a reporter in a variety of newscasts in the past five  years.

Woodard’s statement didn’t address why she is leaving Channel 2 without a job elsewhere . But other sources say she is leaving at least partly because she has had an ongoing long distance relationship with a boyfriend who lives in the Windy City.



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A Classic TV Move to Replace Sports Channel

Alfred Hitchcock (Madame Tussauds London).

Alfred Hitchcock

The new classic TV station WBBZ is going to get more local competition on Jan. 1.

That’s the date that Channel 2 will begin carrying Antenna TV on the digital channel that is currently carrying NBC’s Universal Sports on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 114.

Universal Sports dissolves on Jan. 2 when its programming becomes part of the NBC Sports Network that is replacing Versus on the same day.

Antenna TV won’t have the equivalent channel location of WBBZ (which is on Channel 5) but it will have more power to enable more non-cable homes to receive it with strong antennas.

According to its website, Antenna TV’s lineup includes such old series as “Sanford and Son,” “The Monkees,” “Three’s Company,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Jack Benny Program, “Hazel,” “Dragnet,” “Adam-12,” “McHale’s Navy” and “Too Close to Comfort.”

That lineup may be too close for comfort for WBBZ, which almost equaled the daily audience of WNLO-TV (Channel 4’s sister station) and WNYO-TV during the November sweeps  even though those channels carry Channel 4 and Channel 2 10 p.m. newscasts, respectively.

WBBZ is planning to increase its local programming to differentiate itself from just a classic TV station. It wouldn’t be surprising if Channel 2 carried repeats of some of its local programming on Antenna TV. Sources say that the digital channel won’t have any paid programming.

Stilltalkintv was on WBEN-AM this morning to try and explain the ongoing public relations battle and rate dispute between Time Warner Cable and MSG, which carries Buffalo Sabres game and New York Knicks game.

On Sunday, TWC sent out a release stating it wouldn’t take the Sabres games off of MSG on Jan. 1 once the current contract expires. That release was designed to put the blame on MSG if the games disappeared.

MSG countered with a full-page ad in the Buffalo News today with the headline “Time Warner Cable Might Cancel Your Sabres Games” with the sub-head “Time Warner Cable May Drop MSG and MSG plus on January 1st.”

In other words, each company is trying to blame the other if the games disappear. TWC’s offer to keep the games on past Jan. 1 would remove all the leverage (the games) that MSG has in the contract talks. It is somewhat like a business telling its union workers they can keep working for the same wages after a contract ends and hoping the union doesn’t use its only leverage and strike.

MSG’s ad today is similarly misleading. TWC doesn’t want to “cancel” the Sabres games. It will only take then off if MSG takes the “strike option” and forces it to take them off when the contract expires.

TWC has claimed that it would have been willing to accept an earlier price hike of about 6 percent but adds that MSG now wants a 53 percent rate hike to carry the channel and the low-watched Fuse channel (which has been taken off). MSG has countered by saying TWC is misrepresenting the negotiations.

Of course, cable companies and suppliers don’t usually reveal specific contract requests. I would be more comfortable with TWC’s claims if they detailed exactly what they are being asked to do in dollars and cents.

MSG is telling TWC subscribers that they have agreements with DirecTV and FiOS and could switch to get the Sabres games.

It is easy to see who Sabres fans and non-hockey fans should root for – TWC. The more it has to pay the more subscribers eventually will have to pay. And that includes all the TWC subscribers who don’t care about hockey because cable companies pay a per subscriber fee whether you watch the Sabres games or not.

As I said on the radio this morning, there are more reasons for MSG and TWC to make a deal locally and downstate than there was for MSG and DISH a year ago when Sabre games left the satellite provider.

The TWC and MSG battle is essentially one between two cable companies (since MSG is owned by a subsidiary of Cablevision) and not between a cable programmer and a satellite provider. Additionally, Cablevision owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers and presumably would want their  games to continue to get exposure on TWC in the downstate area.


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NBC Game Show Is a Dumb, Campy Joke

English: Halle Berry in Beverly Hills, Califor...

Halle Berry

If I had Mitt Romney’s money, I’d bet $10,000 that half of the viewers to NBC’s new game show, “Who’s Still Standing?” wouldn’t last past the second commercial.

It took me 15 minutes to bail out of the series, which will have a pre-Christmas run of four straight nights starting at 8 tonight. If I had a nickel for every promo that NBC has run about the series in the last few weeks, I’d probably have $10,000.

I did get a laugh from the headline in the TV Topics cover in Sunday’s Buffalo News that proclaimed the series as “Floor-Dropping Fun” and added in the sub-head that it “offers thrills for the whole family.”

Fun. Wow. The headline was more entertaining than anything in the series, which arrives after a successful run in Europe.Of course, Europe already is driving this country crazy with
economic problems that have made our stock market schizophrenic. Now this?

But back to “Standing,” a campy, cheesey game show hosted by bald Ben Bailey, who is the answer to his own trivia question. Who is the host of “Cash Cab”?

“Standing” basically borrows from every game show on TV. “Wheel of Fortune,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Jeopardy” immediately come to mind, with the more recent ones escaping my memory because they didn’t last very long.

The rules are simple. One overly-enthusiastic contestant tries to eliminate 10 equally enthusiastic contestants in a trivia contest full of elementary questions such as what is the hottest hand in five-card poker and what movie role did actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry play at different times. (I’ll answer in a few paragraphs below).

When one of the contestants can’t answer, he or she is dropped 20 feet through a trap door to a floor to no-man’s land to the thrills of the overly enthusiastic audience.

The rules favor the main competitor, coed volleyball coach Jared Young tonight, over his 10 challengers. He can pass on a question and a challenger will be eliminated if he or she can’t answer it. If he defeats five competitors (I didn’t stay past one), Jared can walk away with his winnings to that point. To get the $1 million grand prize, he has to carry on..

Answers: “Catwoman” and a royal flush.

I ’m never one to underestimate the intelligence level of the American audience. I mean “Deal or No Deal” lasted far longer than I would have guessed. But I think I’d have a better chance of getting a royal flush in a card game tonight than “Who’s Still Standing”? has of becoming the next “Millionaire.”

Sports Beat: New York Giants and the New York Jets fans downstate had to suffer Sunday afternoon in two blowouts losses. But why did Buffalo viewers have to suffer along on an afternoon the Bills were blacked out when better games were available?

The Giants were being pounded by Washington on Fox’s Channel 29 at the same time that Kansas City was upsetting the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers. The Jets were being pounded by Philadelphia on Channel 4 when New England was in a closer contest with Denver and Tim Tebow. (The Pats eventually won by a big margin).

Someone answering the phone in Channel 4’s newsroom told me that the station asked to carry the New England- Denver game but was forced by CBS to carry the Jet game. You can’t blame Fox for sending Channel 29 the Giant game because nobody could have expected K.C. to beat the Packers. However, Denver is the Bills’ next opponent so there was extra interest in the Tebow game here Sunday and more reason to carry it over the Jets game.

It would have been nice if the networks switched our area to the more competitive games, but that doesn’t happen much anymore and it is less likely to happen when New York teams are involved. I’d guess one reason for the minimal switches is to protect DirecTV, which carries all the games on the NFL Sunday Ticket.

Got to hand it to Time Warner Cable, which “announced” late Sunday night that it wouldn’t take off Buffalo Sabres games during the season despite its ongoing battle with rights-holder MSG. It is a smart public relations move, which basically puts the puck in MSG’s court. TWC is telling fans that MSG will be the blame if the games are dropped after the current contract expires on Jan. 1. Of course, that’s not exactly accurate. After all, the best card that MSG has is pulling the games off in the hope that disgruntled fans would force TWC to make a deal. If MSG allows the games to continue to air, TWC won’t have as strong an incentive to make a deal.


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X Factor Is No Factor Here; Kane Scores on Versus

Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene and Josh Kracjik have hardly become household names in Western New York.

English: Paula Abdul at the American Idol Expe...

The zany Paula Abdul

They are the three finalists in Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor,” which has a two-night finale next Wednesday and Thursday.

The 90-minute semifinals Wednesday night only earned a 5.2 rating on local Fox affiliate WUTV, meaning 5.2 percent of area households were tuned in. That is higher than the 4.5 rating the show averaged during the November sweeps, when it was tied for 59th  place with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (which was canceled as a regular series Thursday) in prime time locally.

But the 5.2 rating is well below the national average and about one-third the average of what “American Idol” has gotten here even in recent declining years. Thursday’s results show dropped to a 4.3 rating, indicating few local viewers cared who advanced to the finals.

Why has “Factor” not been a local  factor despite having two former “Idol” judges – Cowell and Paula Abdul, who can be more zany than Newt Gingrich?

For one thing, Fox waited too long to put it on. By the time it aired, NBC had previously aired three similar shows with singing – “America’s Got Talent,“  “The Voice” and “The Sing Off.”

Additionally, Cowell has lost his bite and became a kinder and gentler analyst.

The early shows also were so bloated with bells and whistles and phony drama that they became almost impossible to endure.

Finally, there’s the talent thing. I watched on and off Wednesday night and concluded I wouldn’t pay $5 to see the performer who stands to win a $5 million recording contract and be part of an “iconic” Pepsi commercial.

The question now is how much of an impact the existence of “The X Factor” will have on the return of “Idol“ in a month. Fox has always been reluctant to carry two “Idols” per season on the theory that it would overexpose the brand. “X” is so similar to “Idol” that Fox essentially has had the equivalent of two “Idols.”

One thing is for sure. “X” can’t help “Idol,” which may be one reason why Fox has been heavily promoting “Idol” for about a month now.

It is official. Channel 2′s revised daily noon show Monday will be called “2 Sides With O’Loughlin and Mazurek.” Bill O’Loughlin now will be debating Kristy Mazurek, a former Channel 7 reporter who is a member of the Erie County Democratic Committee and Democratic campaign coordinator.

South Buffalo native and Chicago Black Hawks star Pat Kane was the subject of Wednesday’s premiere of the new Versus series, “NHL 36.” The series follows a NHL player for 36 hours before, during and after games. Buffalo and Kane’s father got a lot of camera time, too. The 30-minute show included footage of Kane bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo last summer and being involved in a Chicago charity event. A few hours after the show aired, Kane illustrated his stick magic during a sick shoot-out goal that was No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. If you missed NHL 36 (I missed the first five minutes), it re-airs on Versus at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29, at 5 p.m. Jan. 1 and at 9 a.m. Jan. 6 after Versus becomes known as NBC Sports Network. It airs on the NHL Network at 4 p.m. this Saturday and at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Kane shootout goal undoubtedly will re-air for decades.


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Classic Notes About Perry Mason, Trump and “Cheers”

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter


This is what I’m thinking:

It was slightly surprising that WBBZ, the independent station that carries classic TV shows, had an audience during the November sweeps that almost equaled that of WNYO and WNLO.

After all, WNYO and WNLO have advantages. WNYO is owned by the same company that owns Fox affiliate WUTV and carries more expensive and more recent syndicated programs as well as Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news. WNLO is the sister station of WIVB-TV and carries Channel 4’s very popular 10 O’Clock News and network programs from the CW.

WBBZ, which is locally owned by Phil Arno, was able to come within one-tenth of a point of those two stations on the strength of repeats of “Perry Mason,” “The Twilight Zone,” the old “Hawaii Five-O” and “The Untouchables.” Most of those series air at late night.

Speaking of classics, I stumbled into Barbara Walters’ program about the 10 most fascinating people of 2011 just in time to see Barbara pull Trump’s hair to see if it was real and then hear Trump deliver one of his classic inflated lines about himself. He noted that his endorsement in the Republican presidential race is extremely important and added this line: “I’m not saying that from an ego standpoint. “ Of course not. Can’t there be a moratorium on Trump network appearances? I’m just saying.

On the same program, Walters told New York Yankee star Derek Jeter that he’s been able to avoid any bad press or controversy about his personal life. “Don’t jinx me,” said Jeter. The interview undoubtedly was taped a while ago because Wednesday a New York tabloid “reported” that Jeter gives all of his female conquests a bag full of memorabilia after they leave his home in a limo. Jim Rome had a field day with that item on his show, which is carried locally on WGR.

By the way, the late Steve Jobs was named the most fascinating person of the year, ending the Walters policy of picking someone who is still alive.

Back to the classics. It seems kind of weird to hear the theme from “Cheers” and the lyrics “where everybody knows your name” during a commercial for an insurance company. It also is a little sad. Who knows, maybe Ted Danson will eventually become the company spokesman.

I had to laugh when Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon made a classic mistake and referred to the excellent Showtime series “Homeland” as “Homecoming” this week in the same column in which  he referred (again) to journalistic hacks when talking about critics who aren’t as worthy as he is. He called it “Homecoming” four times, which shows it wasn’t a typo. It was later fixed online. I sympathize with Simon. I used to refer to HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” as “Boardwalk Jungle” more than a few times myself. Sometimes, the fingers and the brain don’t work well together and it can turn out to be embarrassing when you’re supposed to be an expert.

By the way, last Sunday’s semifinal of “Homeland” cut into the audience for HBO’s sneak preview of David Milch’s horse racing series, “Luck.” “Luck” had slightly more than a million viewers nationwide. It joins HBO’s lineup Jan. 29. More on it down the road. The “Homeland” finale is this Sunday.

A buddy of mine and I agree on some wild speculation concerning Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. We both think the Bills will tell everyone after the season that he’s been playing hurt for awhile. Remember, you read it here first.




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Ch.4 News About to Add HD

Host of American Idol, and numerous other radi...

Ryan Seacrest

It looks like News 4 Buffalo is going to enter the 21stCentury in 2012.

According to sources, WIVB-TV is expected to carry its newscasts in high definition in late January in time for the February news ratings.

Channel 4 is presently the only local station that doesn’t carry its news in some form of high definition. The first inkling that it planned to follow competitors Channel 7, Channel 2 and YNN came from a reader who claimed he read about it in one of Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul’s weather blogs.

I couldn’t find it in Paul’s blog. But sources confirmed that Channel 4’s owner, LIN Media, is spending money on its facilities and has given the go-ahead for high definition equipment. It takes time to implement, with the February sweeps the target date.

Despite being the only local station without HD, Channel 4 rode the strength of its 10 p.m. newscast on sister station WNLO and its regular 11 p.m. newscast to an overall victory in the November sweeps.

However, Channel 2 recently has been running promos proclaiming it the overall ratings victory in the morning and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Channel 4 wins at 5 a.m., Channel 2 wins at 6 a.m. Channel 2 is able to declare itself the early morning victor on the strength of NBC’s “Today,” which dominates in the market from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. while the CBS morning show on Channel 4 still gets very low ratings here and is about to change its anchor team again.

Channel 2 wins the local news competition narrowly from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. over Channel 4, with its margin of victory increasing at 6:30 p.m. because of the dominance of “The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” in the network news battle.

Speaking of “Today,” there have been published reports that “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is talking to NBC officials about joining the morning program in some capacity. NBC wants Matt Lauer to sign a new deal to stay as co-host beyond 2012. It would be unlikely that Seacrest would want to drop all of his other lucrative jobs to be full-time on “Today.” But stranger things have happened. Most likely, NBC wants Seacrest for now in some other role besides co-host.

Nationally, “Today” is losing some audience to ABC’s “Good Morning America” and there is some speculation that new co-host Ann Curry could be in some jeopardy because Lauer isn’t a big fan and might want a change to renew when his current deal expires at the end of 2012. He seems much more comfortable with Savannah Guthrie, who subs for Curry at times.

Despite the Buffalo Bills six-game losing streak, they remain a TV hit. The 37-10 loss to San Diego last Sunday had a 29.4 rating on Channel 4, meaning 29.4 percent of area households were willing to endure the suffering. The rating is about double what any prime time program averaged last week. The Bills will likely have only one more televised game locally – the finale at New England.


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Ch.2, Ch.4 Treat Tobe’s Hiring Differently

Ted Koppel at Invesco

Ted Koppel

This is what I‘m thinking:

What a difference a few minutes makes on local TV news.

Channel 2’s Scott Brown did a 6 p.m. news report Monday on the appointment of Richard Tobe as deputy county executive by County Executive Mark Poloncarz after Channel 2′s introduction by anchor Marissa Bailey deemed it a “controversial” choice.

Switch to Channel 4 a minute or so later and there was no mention of any controversy or that Tobe had been released by Mayor Brown in 2008 when assigned to do a similar job with responsibiities for economic development.

Channel 4 was remiss in not mentioning Tobe’s tenure in the mayor’s administration and his ouster. But I’m not sure labeling Tobe’s hiring as “controversial” is accurate. After all, we’re talking politics and Poloncarz and Brown reportedly don’t see eye-to-eye despite being in the same party.

Political insiders are more likely to understand if Tobe was forced out by the mayor because of job performance or because of a personality conflict with other members of the administration.

The Buffalo News report this morning on Tobe’s hiring properly dealt with his departure from the mayor’s administration.

Does anyone else think that Channel 4’s new reporter, Ed Drantch, looks a little like Alan Cumming, who stars on “The Good Wife” as political consultant Eli Gold.

I hope you enjoyed play-by-play Kevin Harlan and analyst Solomon Wilcots on the Bills’ 37-10 loss in San Diego. They also are assigned Sunday’s home game in Miami, which is unliikely to be sold out in time to be televised locally. The announcers do a decent job and really are being more punished to work another Bills game than fans who won’t have to watch another one this Sunday.

Ted Koppel practically had me at hello on his new assignment as a reporter and political analyst at NBC News. Assessing Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, Koppel quoted Lily Tomlin by saying “no matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.” He added he was “breathless” over Gingrich’s ability to get so many Republicans to forget about his infidelities, his making millions with the help of his Congressional ties and other negatives that would bring down most candidates.

One could quote Lily Tomlin on cynicism, too, when it comes to coverage of the college basketball brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier Saturday. An ESPN analyst (I believe it was former Coach Dan Dakich), said almost immediately after the fight that he would throw any player who threw a sucker punch or any punch off his team. Of course, it is easy to say when you are not the coach. While I agree that his punishment would have been proper, my cynicism was reaffirmed when the stiffest penalty given a player on either team was a six game suspension.

Where is Adam Benigni? Where is Ed Kilgore? Those are among the questions I had while watching Channel 2’s new holiday promo. Perhaps they weren’t around when the promos were being shot. Third-string sports staffer Ben Hayes is in the promo.

Chelsea Clinton isn’t a TV natural and wouldn’t have gotten a job on NBC News without her parents’ name, but she did a decent job Monday on her initial reports for “NBC Nightly News” and “Rock Center.” She is a little stiff on the air, but she has compassion, style and intelligence, which suggests she will improve after doing more “Making a Difference” reports like Monday’s about an Arkansas woman who sacrificed her life savings to help young children who rarely have enough to eat. Clinton, who took some cruel and undeserved hits as the First Daughter, also has grown into an attractive young adult.


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Mystery of the Holiday Promos Uncovered

CONCORD, NH - SEPTEMBER 04:  Former Massachuse...

Mitt Romney: A Bad Bet?

Call it the Holiday Tale of the Dueling Promos.

Channel 2 has begun running holiday promos that have had some of my blog readers questioning whether they were inspired by (or copying) the old Channel 4 holiday promos that were noticeable by their absence until this past weekend.

Not so, wrote Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner after I texted him about the similarities. He explained that the station’s holiday promos involve something different every year. He added that Channel 2’s new marketing director, Larry Watzman, arrived from Dallas in June and hasn’t seen Channel 4’s holiday spots.

Of course, local viewers hadn’t seen them this year, either, until this past weekend. According to my sources, a corporate executive from Channel 4’s owner, LIN Media, recently told the staff he didn’t care if they ever aired this holiday season. Some of my more cynical readers added it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to rest those promos for a year, too.

Bah humbug.

Then they showed up over the weekend, though not too often. They certainly don’t air as often as all the weather promos fronted by meteorologist Don Paul.

A couple of reader comments made me laugh out-loud before the promos returned. Wrote Gman: “Wouldn’t the staff have to produce and film their own little ‘happy holidays’ segment? That’s the new way of doing things at Channel 4. This year truly may be my ‘favorite time’ – not having to be overexposed to that ditty.”

Wrote Rob: “Maybe News 4 hasn’t had a chance to get the kiddie corps to the mall to take their photos with Santa.”

I saw the revised Channel 4 spots for the first time during Saturday’s Army-Navy football game. They had to be revised because of all the Channel 4 personnel that has departed and arrived in the past year.

The familiar holiday theme song played as a variety of Channel 4 staffers were shown with their families. I even recognized most of the staffers, though I bet many viewers would have trouble identifying every one of them without a scorecard.

Channel 2’s holiday promo features a variety of its news personnel hanging ornaments on trees, wrapping presents and doing other traditional holiday things to a much livelier song that ends with “Happy Holidays From 2 on Your Side.”

In that sense, the promos are a lot like the stations’ newscasts. Channel 4’s promos look and old musty despite all the newcomers featured. Channel 2’s promos seem much more modern and energetic.

Channel 2’s promos also don’t have their personalities interacting with any of their real family members. Rather, they try to create the illusion that all the people anchoring and reporting there are part of one big happy family. You might even get the erroneous impression that some of the anchors are married to each other.

Many of the faces in Channel 2’s promos are much more recognizable than those in Channel 4’s promos, which says a lot about how much local television news has changed in the last few years.

Whoever would have thought a decade ago that Channel 2 would become the model of stability?

Speaking of my readers, a couple of them correctly noted that Kristy Mazurek – who will be joining Channel 2’s noon show with Bill O’Loughlin next Monday – was a former Channel 7 reporter and not just a former intern at the station.

Death Notice: Memo to my friends at the Buffalo News: For the past few weeks, the front page of the website has featured a local obituary of a man who owned an Amherst insurance agency. Needless to say, somebody must have died in the interim. When you click on the obituary, it says it was first published on Dec. 26, 2011, which is almost two weeks away. Fill in your own punch line.

Worth a $1 Bet? I’d bet a buck that most people watching Saturday night’s Republican presidential candidate debate didn’t take Mitt Romney’s proposed $10,000 bet with Rick Perry as seriously as the news analysts did. I’m no big fan of Romney but I don’t think he was illustrating how rich he is and how out-of-touch he is with the middle class. I think he was just doing what many people do when they know they are right — exaggerate how much he’d bet to illustrate how sure he was of his position. How many times have you said “I’ll bet you a million dollars that I’m right?”


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WBBZ in Classic Ratings Battle with 2 Weak Stations

Publicity photo from The Dick Van Dyke Show. P...

Morey Amsterdam, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore

Perry Mason, Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke want to clear up one of the final mysteries from the November sweeps: How did WBBZ, which airs classic shows, do?

The buzz is positive for Owner Phil Arno’s channel. WBBZ is no threat to the Big Four network affiliates. But according to Nielsen, WBBZ did almost as well during the 28-day ratings period as two other stations in the market that have been around longer and have more support from big pocket owners.

Quite frankly, this shocks me even if I got the information from a very reliable source.

For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, WBBZ averaged a .6 rating or six-tenths of a point during the November sweeps. That is one tenth of a point lower than WNLO-TV, Channel 23, and WNYO-TV, Channel 49.

WNLO is the sister station of WIVB-TV, Channel 4, and carries its highly-rated 10 O’Clock News and prime time programming from the CW Network.

WNYO-TV has the same owner as Fox affiliate WUTV, carries Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news on weekdays and some expensive, more recent syndicated programs.

After Wednesday’s report on Channel 2’s revising of its low-rated noon program with Bill O’Loughlin by adding Buffalo native and former Atlanta news reporter Kristy Mazurek, more details about the Dec. 19 changes have emerged.

Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner has confirmed the title of the debate show will be “2 Sides with Bill O’Loughlin and Kristy Mazurek.” He also cleared up the mystery of whether Lydia Dominick will remain involved. Toellner said Dominick will be part of the show as an interactive specialist who focuses on researching blogs, story comments and social media and will interact with viewers on the subject the debaters will address.

Late last week, Fox revealed its midseason schedule. Naturally, the biggie is the Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 premiere of “American Idol.” Fox has been promoting its return for weeks and may fear that Simon Cowell’s “The X-Factor” will impact the new “Idol” season negatively. For years, Fox  smartly rejected the idea of doing two “Idols” every season. But “X-Factor” sort of does that. Cowell’s show does much better nationally than it does locally and has been renewed for another season.
My favorite Fox pilot, J.J. Abrams’ “Alcatraz,” has a two-hour premiere on Jan. 16 and a week later will air on Mondays after “House.” Jorge Garcia of “Lost” and Sam Neill of “Jurassic Park” are two of the stars of the series that a Fox release says is about “an unique team investigating the shocking reappearance of notorious prisoners 50 years after they vanished.” The first hour available to critics over the summer was pretty creepy and very involving.

Kiefer Sutherland of “24” fame also returns in a kinder, gentler role in “Touch,” playing a single father that a Fox release says is “haunted by his inability to connect to his 11-year intelligent son. But everything changes when he discovers his son possesses the gift of staggering genius – the ability to see things than no one else can and the patterns that connect seemingly unrelated events.” Sounds, well, touching. The series from Tim Kring of “Heroes” has a sneak preview on Jan. 25 before its official series premiere on March 19.

Reminder: A sneak preview of David Milch’s next HBO series, “Luck,” set in the horse racing world, airs Sunday after the season finale of “Boardwalk Empire.” I’ve been told that one horse racing fan wrote on Twitter that HBO has to be high on the series because it plans to send critics DVDs of all the episodes before its official Jan. 29 premiere. If HBO is high on the series, that isn’t the reason. It often sends critics multiple episodes of new series.

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Holiday Mystery at Ch.4; Ch.2 Revises Noon Show

English: Madonna at the premiere of I Am Becau...


This is what I’m thinking:

What happened to those syrupy holidays promos that Channel 4 traditionally has run this time of year?

That’s what some of my blog readers have asked in the last few days. The questions even have come from some readers who have ridiculed the promos that primarily show anchors and reporters like Jacquie Walker, Don Postles, Paul Peck and others with their families huddled around Christmas trees and other holiday traditions.

With only 17 shopping days until Christmas, you’d expect those promos to be running by now.
The mystery of why they haven’t run isn’t easy to solve and there have been plenty of conspiracy theories.

One theory making the rounds is that Channel 4 didn’t want to spend the time or money filming and highlighting all of its new staffers.

Another theory is that the station wants to use the promo time to sell more advertising.

A third theory is that they will eventually air after all.

According to my sources, footage of the newcomers has been shot. However, a corporate executive with LIN Media, Channel 4’s owner, came to town recently and said he didn’t see the need to run them. The same sources said the promos still could air if management is convinced enough viewers miss them.

Do you miss them?

Channel 2 is planning to revise its low-rated noon talk program with Bill O’Loughlin on Dec. 19. Kristy Mazurek, a Buffalo native who was an investigative reporter and anchor in Atlanta before coming home a few years ago to work for a local politician and deal with a health issue, is set to join the program. She attended Buffalo State College and is a former Channel 7 intern. The noon program will have a new name – either “2 Sides with Bill O’Loughlin and Kristy Mazurek” or “2 Sides with Bill and Kristy.” No word on whether Lydia Dominick will remain with the program. I don’t know if the addition will work, but O’Loughlin needs someone to debate to enliven the program.

It was more surprising that ESPN didn’t fire former Buffalo Sabre Matthew Barnaby after his first brush with the law several months ago than it did fire him this week after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated. ESPN has had to deal with several staffers in recent years that have had legal programs and clearly and understandably is worried about its reputation. Barnaby also was expendable because the guy that he originally replaced – Barry Melrose – rejoined the cable network after he was quickly fired from a head coaching job. ESPN really didn’t need two hockey experts since it doesn’t carry the sport.

Fans of Fox’s “Bones” and ABC’s “The Middle” want to know how those prime time shows fared during the local November rating period. They both did well. “Bones,” which co-stars Buffalo native David Boreanaz, averaged a 9.6 rating. It was Fox’s highest-rated series here, tying ABC’s “Castle” for 26th place. “The Middle” averaged a healthy 8.9 rating, which tied it for 29th place with “Harry’s Law.”

Had to laugh at all the attention that the news that Madonna is going to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show on NBC for a couple of reasons. First, it was old news. There were several reports about it months ago. Secondly, the NFL – which scrupulously protects its image and doesn’t want another Janet Jackson incident – now thinks Madonna is family entertainment.


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