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Murphy, Kelso, Tasker, Bentley Ready to Judge 80 Bills Auditions

Steve Tasker

John Murphy, who is entering his seventh year as the radio play-by-play man of the Buffalo Bills, isn’t buying the idea that interest in this year’s edition of the team is down as it prepares for the preseason opener at 7:30 tonight against the Washington Redskins.

“I know it is fashionable to say ‘I don’t care about the Bills,’ but I think people are interested,” said Murphy this morning. “In all my years covering the team, I’ve never had a year when people weren’t interested in the Bills even in a bad year.”

In a way, all the negative talk about the Bills makes tonight’s game carried on 97 Rock and Channel 7 more interesting.
Murphy views the game as one of 20 Bills games he’ll get to do with analyst Mark Kelso this season – four preseason and 16 regular season games.

“I don’t look at as a preseason game but as one of 20 broadcasts to do our best,” said Murphy.
It won’t be easy tonight. Murphy discussed the difficulty of doing the first preseason game with TV announcer Steve Tasker Thursday while they drove together to the Rochester airport for the team flight to D.C.

“It is not like a regular season game,” said Murphy. “There is no pace, no strategy. It is 80 different auditions going on simultaneously. It makes it tough to broadcast. Steve said it also is tough on the established players because they are playing with young players who believe it is the game of their life.”

But back to the negativity about the Bills. Murphy concedes the Bills have big question marks on the offensive line and at quarterback but wants to see if the defense will go as good against the Skins as it has been in training camp.

“As far as wins and losses, I hope they can win seven games,” said Murphy.

That’s almost double the fashionable nationwide prediction of three or four wins.

Of course, the Bills preseason opener with the Redskins on Channel 7 will be the TV event of the early summer and reduce the radio audience. The ABC affiliate has a 30-minute pre-game show at 7 p.m., followed by the 7:30 p.m. telecast announced by former Bills Tasker and Ray Bentley.

It’s a relatively meaningless game for everyone except new Bills Coach Chan Gailey, the three quarterbacks and several rookies trying to make a good first impression.

But the Bills are the biggest TV draw in this market. Regular season games regularly get ratings in the high 20s and 30s. Preseason ratings carried live can get ratings in the low or high teens, which is double or triple what the top entertainment shows on the networks get here in the summer.

Channel 7 also is carrying next Thursday’s game in Toronto with the Indianapolis Colts at 7:30 p.m., the Aug. 28 home game with the Cincinnati Bengals and Terrell Owens on Aug. 28 (live, if it is sold-out) and the Sept. 2 preseason finale at Detroit.

The Redskins game or the Colts game – which is played on Thursday when potential viewership is higher than it is on Friday — figures to be the highest-rated of the four.

* Inquiring minds want to know: Who is Christie Witt, the new Traffic Tracker on Channel 2’s “Daybreak”?
She is a 2009 graduate of Medaille College who went on to graduate school at my alma mater, Syracuse University.

On a personal note, she was a former student of mine in a media criticism course I teach at Medaille.
Besides doing the morning traffic reports, Witt also is a web producer at the NBC affiliate.
Considering her relative on-air inexperience, Witt has been quite good delivering her quick early traffic reports and is bound to improve as she puts more TV miles on the road.

* Inquiring minds also want to know who is going to replace Lou Piccone as the radio analyst alongside Paul Peck on University at Buffalo football games this season on WECK?

Jim Kubiak, a former St. Francis High School star quarterback who had a solid career at Navy before playing for the former Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena League, is expected to be announced as UB’s choice shortly. It could happen as early as today. Kubiak is bound to be an improvement on Piccone, a likable personality who provided few insights as an analyst and didn’t seem to realize his role wasn’t that of a cheerleader.

*Speaking of Channel 7, I had to laugh when looking at the 10 most popular items on Channel 7’s “Inside WKBW” website feature. Here is the list: 1. Bridget Blythe 2. Job openings 3. Jennifer Stanonis 4. Laura Gray 5. Ginger Geoffery 6. Joanna Pasceri 7. Kyla Igoe 8. Linda Pellegrino 9. Aaron Mentkowski and 10. Kendra Eaglin.

Do I have to tell you why I laughed? There are eight women on the list and one weatherman. Look at the list and make your own judgment on the order of the women. I wonder how being out of the Top 10 made lead anchor Keith Radford, Mike Randall and Patrick Taney feel.

pergament@msn.com

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Sex and the City Part 3, Batavia Style

This is what I’m thinking on a rainy morning:

Sex and the City, Part 3: The June adultery case involving a Batavia woman ended with a reduced charge and reduced coverage on local television.
The adultery charge gave the story top-of-the-news treatment in June. On Wednesday, local stations dismissed the case against a 41-year-old married Batavia woman, Suzanne M. Corona, in about a minute down a few stories in the newscast after she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of public lewdness.
Channel 2 and Channel 4 did find time to allow Corona to give a brief post-plea lecture on marriage.
She explained to reporters that she felt the case was “a private matter between husband and wife.” Then she added “everyone has a different type of marriage.”
Yeah, just what viewers need: A marriage lecture from a woman who admits to public lewdness after picnic table activities with an Oakfield man, Justin M. Amend, who earlier pleaded guilty to the same misdemeanor.
Corona had the right to give the lecture. The stations had the right to ignore it and should have done just that. Dr. Phil she is not.
Igoe Ends Streak: When former Channel 2 consumer reporter Mike Igoe (picture above) heads to Zhuhai, China later this month to teach media courses, he’ll end a pretty impressive TV streak.
Igoe said it was the first time he’ll miss being involving in the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon in 30 years during Labor Day weekend. He had been a host at different stations in Wilkes-Barre, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Buffalo’s Channel’s 2 in that time.
Channel 2 and Channel 4 bragging: You got to love the promotional bragging going on between Channel 2 and Channel 4. Before the news starts, Channel 2 notes it has the best newscast in New York State because a broadcasting organization gave it that award. Of course, Channel 4 brags about being the most-watched news in Western New York. Somehow, Channel 7 hasn’t decided to brag about all the praise that The Toronto Critic (TTC) gave co-anchor Joanna Pasceri in a recent stilltalkintv blog.
Channel 2 to End Paid Programming at 11:30 a.m. Good news for viewers of Channel 2’s 11 a.m. weekday newscast. Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said the station plans to drop paid programming at 11:30 a.m. weekdays. However, he isn’t ready to say what the station plans to put in its place. One thought: Why not rerun the 11 a.m. news at 11:30 a.m. like cable stations do with a variety of programs so viewers get a second chance to see it?
pergament@msn.com

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Shatner's Show is a Piece of You Know What

I had to laugh at the question headline in Tuesday’s Buffalo News about the new CBS comedy, “$#*! My Dad Says,” starring William Shatner: “Is Shatner’s new show cursed by its title?”

I laughed harder at the headline than I did while recently watching the pilot that comes from the same writing-producing team behind the longstanding NBC hit “Will & Grace.”

The answer is it isn’t cursed by its title. To put it bluntly, it’s cursed because it is a crappy show that should only benefit from the controversy surrounding the title that has been fueled by the conservative Parents Television Council.

The PTC is doing Shatner and CBS a favor to draw attention to this series about a lifelong, gun-toting, thrice married, verbally abusive 72-year-old father named Ed with two sons from different wives.

This being a sitcom, Ed gets an epiphany in the pilot from a gay man behind the counter of a local department of motor vehicles and decides to become a more supportive dad to his younger son.

Shatner isn’t far off from his “Boston Legal” character, Denny Crane. He totes a shotgun, riles against Andy Rooney and says countless inappropriate things that are supposed to be funny because they are said by Wiliiam Shatner, the female version of Betty White (whose late-in-life comedy career also got a boost from “Legal”).

Unfortunately, Shatner is machine-gunning painfully unfunny lines rather than sharing clever dialogue with James Spader.

The mildly suggestive title isn’t the only thing that may upset PTC members. Ed’s daughter-in-law, Kathleen (Nicole Sullivan), shouts out she has a “broken vagina,” Ed talks about urinating three times early in this mess and there are an assorted number of sophomoric jokes dealing with bodily functions.

In short, it is a piece of —-.

Hmm. I forgot. I no longer have to be that politically-correct. One of the frustrations of writing for a daily newspaper concerned the dirty language barrier. The clues about the title given in Tuesday’s News article are unintentionally, hysterically-funny.

Under one editor, I often couldn’t insert dialogue in my column that was declared suitable by networks for all audiences at 8 p.m. in prime time. It was like newspapers had to live in the old, pre-cable world for fear of offending someone or some organization.

It would have been better if the paper could have labeled my column “mature” for audiences over the age of 12 who have attended a sporting event once in their lives.

If PG-13 language offends you, then stop reading now because I’m about to give the offensive word in the title of the Twitter feed that inspired the best-selling book (listed by the New York Times as “—- My Dad Says”) that led to the TV series. Here goes the actual title: “S-H-*-T My Dad Says.”

OK. I just couldn’t break years of newspaper suppression and use all the initials. But you get the picture.

The PTC needed some historical context to ignore this issue.

Twenty years ago, the big language controversy was over an early line in the CBS comedy, “Uncle Buck,” that was based on the John Candy hit movie.

A very young character said “you suck” early in the pilot. During an interview session in Los Angeles with TV critics before the show premiered, you might have thought the republic was doomed because a kid said something that had become known to mean “you stink.”

The series, which starred Kevin Meaney, went on the air and quickly died because it was lousy. Like “S-H-*T My Dad Says.”

I probably should add that my kids know that I’m much more offended by bad behavior than bad language. I don’t advocate cursing around the house and certainly don’t want my adult children doing it in front of adults because it makes one look classless.

But a curse now and then among friends can be tolerated and practically is inevitable in some loose phone conversations involving sporting events.

Recently, I caught myself before I was about to use a mild expletive when talking to my 17-year-old son Max.

Max got upset with me. Not because I almost cursed – but because I tried to catch myself. He said he used to be in the backseat after his older brother Ben finished high school basketball games and he’d hear an occasional expletive as we replayed the games.

In Max’s view, repressing the curse word meant I wasn’t as comfortable or as close to him as I was to Ben.

So I did what any father would do at that point and told him he shouldn’t give “a sh*t” about that.

Of course, I didn’t say that. Max had me over a barrel because of my longstanding belief that mild expletives between friends and relatives occasionally don’t harm anyone.

I couldn’t win my argument with Max. Just like the PTC can’t win in its battle over the title of this crappy CBS comedy.

pergament@msn.com

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Generational Postcards from a Wedding Weekend

Leonardo DiCaprio

I’m back from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming wedding, a true vacation in every sense of the word for a TV critic who blogs.

You see I stayed in a room with my two sons, which meant the only TV I watched was ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and its exhaustive coverage of Tiger Woods’ collapse.

Of course, Woods’ professional and personal collapse is a big story now. But all the coverage made me wonder how long the focus will be on how badly Woods is performing after his personal life collapsed instead of on the players performing well.

But I digress.

One of the best things about weddings is being able to keep track of the generational divide between middle-aged and senior parents and their children.

The divide doesn’t include music. A Los Angeles band was flown to Wyoming for the wedding and performed tunes from my generation that are embraced even more by the current generation and succeeding ones.

Amazingly, there wasn’t one tune that I didn’t recognize, making one wonder if succeeding generations will ever play wedding music from its own eras.

The generational divide is wide when it comes to movies. Take “Inception,” the current hit starring Leonardo DiCaprio and featuring some guy (OK, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

On the last night of the wedding weekend, I was seated at dinner with four amusing relatives in their 20s and 30s who absolutely loved the movie.

Me? Not so much. I loved it visually and thought the music was great. But it was too much work to follow and figure out. I don’t want to be told that you have to see a movie four or five times to really know what’s going on.

Instead of showing 20 minutes of previews before Christopher Nolan’s film started, I think movie ushers should pass out a 20-page guide for viewers to read that explains the concept of dreams so all the “walk and talks” during the film would become easier to follow.

After awhile during the film, I gave up. My best friend – who is of my generation – hated the film.

My view of “Inception” shocked my younger dinner partners, who all declared “Inception” the greatest movie of the year and practically called me an “idiot” even though they had trouble explaining what the ending meant. I assume they would have called me an “idiot” if I wasn’t related to them.

My 30something nephew compared “Inception” to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Total Recall.” To be honest, I didn’t recall much about it. But I did note that any Arnold movie was loaded with so much action and violence that the plot rarely made much difference to its enjoyment anyway.

“Inception” is totally a thinking theater-goers movie, which puts it in a different category than “Recall.”

Some more amusing movie talk occurred when a 20something male said he went to one of the “Twilight” movies. Voluntarily. And without a date. He said he wanted to see what all the hype was about. Then he said it was the worst movie he’d seen in years. Soon everyone in his generation started making fun of the actors who have become teen idols. To the 20something male, it was a lesson in hype.

The surprising thing about the generational divide over “Inception” is that it is usually older film-goers who are looking for smart films.

The best movies I’ve seen this summer haven’t been the heavily-hyped comedies aimed at kids or middle-age kids – “Grown Ups,” “Dinner for Schmucks” and a few others that were so lame that I can’t even remember the titles.

My summer must-see list includes “City Island,” “The Secret of the Their Eyes,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Kids Are All Right.” Rarely do you see anyone under 30 in the theater watching those films – certainly no one in their teens — unless their parents dragged them to the theaters.

Of course, the biggest generational divide usually concerns television. When I was a kid, parents drove taste. That all stopped when advertisers relied on demographics and decided younger viewers were more valuable than older viewers because the younger ones hadn’t decided what car, shaving cream or beer they preferred.

The move away from parental control accelerated with the rise of cable television, which started this whole reality TV craze that is driving down taste to a scary level.

Which made the end of my final wedding meal almost as confusing as the end of “Inception.”

I had to leave dinner before dessert to get a few hours sleep before an early morning flight back home.

The 20something at the table who voluntarily saw one of the “Twilight” movies asked for an early ride back to his room, too. He wanted to catch Sunday night’s episode of “Mad Men,” the quality series set in the 1960s advertising industry.

I immediately wondered if he was once again drawn in by all the hype for “Mad Men.” Then I decided to be optimistic and conclude maybe there is some hope for succeeding generations to get some taste after all.

pergament@msn.com

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TV Blogger Takes A Holiday


TV never stops. But stilltalkintv is going to take another rest for a few days.

I’m telling you this because after taking a few days off last week I got a few emailers asking me if I were sick.

Hey, even bloggers deserve a vacation.

Now I’m heading to a wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where I’m not even sure they have TV.

Okay, that’s just a joke.

Television is everywhere I go.

Last Sunday morning, I actually was taking in the beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. To my amazement, the homily by Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, included a television reference.

The Archbishop said he didn’t care much for television. But he had just returned from a vacation, saw an old episode of “Bonanza” and was able to weave the deaths of all the actors who starred in that TV classic into his sermon.

If you get some television criticism in church, I’m sure you can get it anywhere.

Even Wyoming. The point is I’m sure something will happen in Wyoming that will lead me to write about television after I return.

So stay tuned.

Actually, I’ve already learned that the weekend is a good time for a blogger to take off. The hits seem to peak on Wednesdays and Thursday and decline on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

A buddy of mine used to run a test pattern on weekends rather than new blogs because so few people read them on weekends.

In any event, enjoy the weekend with the knowledge that I am so healthy that I am going to go whitewater rafting with my three children. Catch up on some old blogs. I’ll see you some time next week with more TV stories to tell.

Who knows? Maybe the person officiating the wedding will talk about that classic western, “Laramie,” set in Wyoming.

pergament@msn.com

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The Toronto Critic Strikes Again

You asked for it. When a former Toronto critic gave her acerbic view of Channel 4 and Channel 2 news a while ago, one reader of stilltalkintv requested that Channel 7 get the same treatment.

So Tuesday night, The Toronto critic (henceforth referred as TTC) watched the 11 p.m. news co-anchored by Keith Radford and Joanna Pasceri.

TTC was impressed before they said a word. The classic phrase “it is 11 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” turned TTC nostalgic.

“You know what, I love that,” said TTC. “I have heard that since I was 5 or 6 years old.”

TTC wasn’t quite as impressed by half of the anchor team.

“(Radford) is like another orange anchor guy,” said TTC, referring to the other orange anchor guy, Channel 4’s Don Postles.

Told that Radford was Canadian, TTC questioned it: “Really? He’s Canadian? I’ve never heard of this guy. I think he is a fake Canadian.”

I assured the TTC he was a very real Canadian even if he’s been the main anchor here since Irv Weinstein retired.

TTC was much more impressed with Pasceri.

“She looks young, fresh and normal,” said TTC. “She looks like a real person.”

Real person and TV? What a concept.

Then came another nostalgic moment when Channel 7 showed pictures of two politicians who did telephone interviews addressing the passing of the state budget.

“The phone calls,” said TTC. “TV is awesome. It like we have pictures of someone so let’s show their face. Imagine the rest.”

Soon there was some discussion of waterfront and downtown development, which no longer will include Bass Pro,

“In Toronto, Bass Pro is a store,” said TTC. “Here it is the destiny of Buffalo. In Toronto, it is like a thing in a mall that no one goes to. Here is it a big deal.”

It was a big deal. No longer.

After that big city putdown, TTC felt it was time for more praise of Buffalo and noted that a cabbie made a save that day when TTC was about to go the wrong way down a one-way downtown street.

“Nice people, Buffalo,” said TTC.

When Channel 7’s John Borsa covered a story, TTC was impressed.

“He has extremely well-groomed eyebrows,” said TTC.

TTC wasn’t quite as impressed by community leader Kevin Gaughan, who now is leading the controversial effort to abolish the Village of Williamsville.

“He is scary intense,” said TTC.

Especially to opponents of downsizing government.

When Channel 7’s Adam Francis did a report, TTC didn’t think anything about him until being told he is one of the photographers at the station who has been turned into a reporter.

“He is OK,” said the TTC.

TTC wasn’t impressed by a news report about the fun things — that supposedly included dancing — that were happening at a festival. The video on the report showed people exercising with a hula hoop.

“In Canada, we call it a hula hoop, we don’t call it dancing,” said TTC.

By then, TTC realized that Channel 7’s news presentation was as old as the question, “do you know where your children are?”

“It is like a really old-fashioned newscast,” said TTC. “They don’t have a lot of stuff. The anchors are just sitting there as talking heads. They are like Presidential spouses. Nod sagely in a very stiff format.”

But TTC remained impressed with Pasceri. TTC even liked the anchor’s “fake little laugh.”

“I would lift her out of there and take her somewhere else to work,” said TTC. “She doesn’t get a lot of air time.”

Then a commercial for the law firm of Cellino and Barnes popped up.

“We make fun of this whole Cellino and Barnes thing in Toronto,” said TTC. “Classic ambulance chaser ads. Lawyers were only recently able to advertise in Canada. They don’t want to be like Cellino and Barnes.”

Hey, don’t knock it. I was on Long Island on vacation a few days ago. The same Cellino and Barnes ads featuring that pretty woman with the great voice play here.

“But remember to say how much I love Buffalo,” added TTC.

Channel 7 news? Not so much. It soon became evident to TTC that the news department doesn’t have many resources.

“They must like have under 10 people working,” suggested TTC. “They do OK. It’s just a very old-fashioned plain job.”

TTC also had some compassion for Radford and Pasceri, who TTC figured get so little to do that their script for the entire newscast would only be four inches long.

“It is just boring,” assessed TTC. “It is a boring job. I feel bad for them.”

Maybe TTC should feel badly for the viewer instead. After all, TTC loves Buffalo.

pergament@msn.com

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Lando, Channel 4 Score in July Ratings


Channel 4 and Channel 2 both got some good news during the July sweeps, which is considered the least important of the four ratings periods during the year.

After all, summer viewing is lower and the networks generally don’t provide as much lead-in help in the summer while emphasizing reality programs in prime time.

But here’s the biggest news:

Channel 4 won every newscast time period.

However, Channel 2 narrowed the gap from a year ago at 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. The lead-in from NBC’s popular “America’s Got Talent” undoubtedly helped Channel 2 somewhat at 11 p.m., where it is only .7 of a point behind Channel 4 after being behind by 2.5 points a year ago. It is only .4 of a point behind Channel 4 at 6 a.m.

Interestingly, collective news viewership is up about 10 percent from a year ago.

The departure of Lisa Flynn from Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on sister station WNLO-TV had minimal impact as the station had virtually the same audience with temporary anchor Lia Lando as it had a year ago with Flynn.

And Channel 4 saw about a 25 percent increase to a 7.5 rating at 5:30 p.m. with Lando in Flynn’s old anchor seat. Channel 2 also saw a big gain at 5:30 p.m., going up more than 20 percent to a 6.3. The ratings at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. should help Lando if she wants the job permanently.

However, it generally takes a few ratings periods outside of the summer to assess the impact of any anchor change after the initial sampling wears off.

As far as Channel 7, it remains deep in third place in every time period and was either steady, up slightly or down slightly in every newscast.

* The NFL Network, which remains unavailable to local Time Warner Cable subscribers, announced that Fox analyst and Lewiston-Porter graduate Daryl Johnston is on board as an in-studio analyst to its NFL Total Access program. Johnston, who became a Dallas Cowboys star after graduating from Syracuse University, makes his debut at 7 tonight. He also will contribute to other NFL Network shows and specials.

pergament@msn.com

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Levin Is Tops in Editorializing


Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin as a spokesman for Tops?

Of course, that’s an absurd idea. A journalist can’t endorse any commercial enterprise.

But Levin sure sounded like he was up for the job Tuesday night after the station ran a very positive story about the success the supermarket has had with gas sales and its plans to expand the number of its stations in the area.

“Smart company, smart move,” said Levin.

Levin often is moved to editorialize at the end of a story. He probably was just saying what many viewers were thinking. But it would be smart of any anchor to avoid praising advertisers. That’s not his or her role.

* Maury Chaykin, a Brooklyn native who studied drama at the University at Buffalo and moved to Toronto to become one of Canada’s best actors, died Tuesday on his 61st birthday. His American TV roles included appearances on “CSI,” “Boston Legal” and “Entourage.” He played a producer on “Entourage,” Harvey Weingrad, that was widely believed to be based on another UB grad, Harvey Weinstein.

* On Tuesday, the stilltalkintv move from a Google blogspot home to wnymedia.net didn’t happen without a few glitches. Several readers told me that they received a 404 error message when they were re-directed to the new site. The blog is back to the old site for now. Hopefully the move to the new site will be resolved later today. Additionally, comments weren’t able to be posted on the new home and comments made to the old home weren’t transferred. That should be resolved soon, too.

Ironically, the glitches came on a day that I gave a mini-review of the revised Buffalo News website. Check that. My 26-year-old son, who lives out of town, gave it two thumbs down.

My son is not alone. I received a few emails that agreed that — while the site looks better — it is much more difficult to navigate to find what a reader is looking for as easily as it had been in the past.

* It usually isn’t surprising when the president of any network entertainment division resigns. It’s a tough, time-consuming, pressure-packed job. But Tuesday night’s announcement that ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson has called it quits after six years was a surprise because of the timing. In a few days, he was going to meet with the nation’s television critics in Los Angeles to discuss the new season that is two months away.

McPherson was often described as a volatile personality, so I suppose that makes the move less of a surprise in hindsight. He was always first class in my dealings with him and genuinely interested in what a critic in the relatively smaller market of Buffalo had to say or ask.

While the announcement of his departure noted that ABC fell into third place last season and has aging hits like “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” McPherson also was behind the very successful launch of Wednesday night comedies “The Middle,” “Modern Family” (which is produced by Fox) and “Cougar Town.”

McPherson walked into a good situation six years ago when “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” were developed by his predecessors, who were fired before they got on the air.

So that was a lesson about network politics. A couple of last year’s ABC dramas – “Flashforward” and “V” (which was renewed anyway) — didn’t click. But “Castle” became a hit in its second season. In other words, McPherson seemed to have enough success last season to earn the right to finish out his contract. However, that’s not how things usually work in the pressurized network TV business.

pergament@msn.com

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Talkin' About New News Look and My Old Blog

This is what I’m thinking:

* I love the new look of the Buffalo News website. However, I have a harder time finding what I’m looking for on the site than I did in the old format.

My 26-year-old son, who lives out of town and diligently reads the paper online, put in succinctly in a text sent to me last week: “The new Buffalonews.com format sucks. Everyone I know hates it…It is almost like it is their goal to stop having people read it online so they will buy the paper.”

Of course, the newspaper still makes an overwhelming share of its money from newspaper advertising and sales. Online revenue is minor now, though it is supposedly the future.

Since I left the paper on May 1, I can’t count the number of people who have told me that they now read it online and stopped buying it. I’ll just say it is a very scary number in the demographic that reads the newspaper. If the new format drives more people to buy the paper, then I’m all for it. However, one does wonder if the readers who have moved online can be brought back to the paper. That certainly won’t happen to readers like my son who live out of town.

One of the things that I haven’t been able to find in the new format is the former blog, “Talkin’ TV,” that inspired this blog, stilltalkinTV. It appears “Talkin’ TV” has been abandoned at least for now. I suspect the new format is a work in progress so perhaps things will change.

If online is really the future, one would think the newspaper would be adding new blogs and not cutting popular ones that deal with the most powerful medium in the country. But the Buffalo News seems to think that pop music is the most powerful entertainment medium in the country.

* It is time to mention a relatively new Time Warner annoyance. The fast forward feature in the DVR makes it easier to bypass commercials. However, it makes it harder to get to the exact spot a viewer wants because the technology often has a mind of its own and returns to the spot it wants to return to after the end of the commercials. I like the old way better because I could control where I wanted the DVR to land.

* NBC has officially confirmed what you read here weeks ago – that series lead Steve Carell is leaving “The Office” after this season. The show will go on — it is one of NBC’s few demographic hits – but Carell’s shoes are big ones to fill.

* The Buffalo News smartly featured the return of AMC’s “Mad Men” in a TV Topics cover story Sunday. However, if a reader hadn’t seen the previous seasons, I suspect he or she wouldn’t know who the characters were because the writer assumed the story was only going to be read by the show’s regular viewers. And there aren’t that many of them.

*ESPN’s Adam Schefter is scheduled to attend the Buffalo Bills camp on Wednesday, Aug. 4 as part of the sports network’s feature of having Schefter and Chris Mortensen visit 32 training camps in 19 days.

* Fresh from his headline grabbing victory in a federal case in which a couple was convicted of extortion in a plot against him, John Stamos is a very busy actor. He just appeared on Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Entourage” and now comes words that he will guest as a dentist on “Glee” next season. His character may get involved with guidance counselor Emma (Jayma Mays), according to a Fox release.

* Martin Bashir is leaving ABC’s “Nightline” for NBC’s “Dateline.” I can’t see it having much of an impact on other show.

* If Terrell Owens signs with the Cincinnati Bengals, I suppose we should give VH-1 some credit. T.O.’s reality show follows another reality show by Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco on the cable network every Sunday. Ochocinco’s dating show makes Owens’ show look like an Emmy winner.

pergament@msn.com

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Lando a Full-Time Candidate to Replace Flynn

With only a few days until the end of the July sweeps period, the big question over at news leader Channel 4 and sister station CW23 is whether 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchor Lia Lando will stay aboard.

Lando was thought to be a temporary fill-in for Lisa Flynn after Flynn left the station to concentrate on raising her 7-year-old son Thomas.

There had been some speculation that Lando was just going to anchor during the July sweeps, which are the least important of the four month-long ratings periods in the year. After all, Lando lives in Rochester and has two young children so it wouldn’t be that easy to do the job permanently.

But when asked about Lando’s status Friday, Channel 4 News Director Joe Schlaerth said “she’s absolutely a candidate” for the full-time position and has told him she is willing to take the job.

As far as the Rochester complication, Schlaerth noted that reporter Tricia Cruz also lives there.

He added “there is no solid date” for filling the job, but expected the decision to be made before the new fall TV season.

Schlaerth said the position was just posted and advertised and Lando is “certainly not the only candidate.” “We’re getting interest from around the country,” he said.

Asked if Lando was the favorite, Schlaerth said “I wouldn’t want to categorize anyone as the favorite.”

One name that continues to be the subject of speculation is Emily Smith, a former WBEN radio reporter who now is an anchor of “Up to the Minute” on CBS. However, one of the big unknowns is whether Smith would be willing to leave a network job to return to anchor in her hometown.

Of course, we all know how long it can take Channel 4 to fill a position. The station has been looking to replace former sports reporter and anchor Robin Adams for several months.

This past weekend, news anchor Mylous Hairston also anchored the sports report. But with the Buffalo Bills training camp about to open, the University at Buffalo football team only a few weeks away from practicing and the Sabres camp not too far behind, the need for a third sports person is obvious. After all, Channel 4 sports director John Murphy is the voice of the Bills and anchor-reporter Paul Peck is the voice of the UB Bulls.

“The plan is to hire a third sports person,” said Schlaerth. Again.

* Did you catch Sunday night’s episode of VH-1′s “The T.O. Show” in which Terrell Owens walked the runway of a fashion show in New York City with a hideous wig on his head? Who says he isn’t a good sport. The wig proved that bald is beautiful.

This past week, Owens also showed off his basketball skills in Spike TV’s “Pros vs. Joes.” One of his basketball teammates was quarterback Donovan McNabb, a Syracuse football legend who also played some hoops for the Orange. McNabb and Owens didn’t exactly see eye to eye as Super Bowl teammates with the Philadelphia Eagles. But obviously they have repaired their relationship to some point or they wouldn’t have been on the same reality show.
Owens still has skills as a wide receiver. So it’s clear that his reputation as a potential troublemaker has slowed his return back to a NFL team even though he was a model citizen with the Bills last season and had a decent year considering the Bills’ deficiencies at QB.
pergament@msn.com
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