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World Series Beaten Soundly Here

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 San Francisco’s five-game World Series victory over Texas certainly wasn’t a treat for WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.

 The Giants’ 3-1 clincher over the Rangers Monday night only averaged a 7.2 rating on Channel 29.

 That was in line with the five-game average of 7.4, which was slightly more than half of the 13.8 rating that the New York Yankees’ six-game Series triumph over Philadelphia averaged in 2009.

 Of course, the Yankees are a big draw in Western New York and the game six clincher a year ago had a 15.7 rating.

 The highest-rated game of the 2010 Series was Game One, which averaged an 8.5.

 It wasn’t that long ago that the NFL tried to avoid World Series games, which could split the sporting audience.

 But the NFL is king opposite baseball’s premiere event these days.

 New Orleans’ Sunday Night win over Pittsburgh averaged a 12.7 rating on Channel 2, which was almost double the 6.6 rating for Game Four of the series on WUTV. Indianapolis’ win over Houston on ESPN’s Monday Night Football averaged a 10.4 rating here, which was about 30 percent higher than the baseball game.

 The Game Five clincher only beat NBC’s lame Monday night shows in this market. ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” was the big local winner with a 16.0 rating on Channel 7. CBS’ shows on Channel 4 also did better than baseball here.

 Notably, the 10 p.m. ABC Monday drama “Castle” beat the new CBS hit “Hawaii 5-0 for the first time in our market, 9.2-7.9.

 We’ll find out next week if “Hawaii’ can get back on top without baseball competition. It is a show that is likely to appeal more to male viewers than “Castle.”

 * Speaking of the Series coverage, you make the call. Which is more painful to watch: Bud Selig’s (see above) presentation of the Commissioner’s Trophy to the winning Series team or The Masters presentation to the winner on CBS in April? It’s a tough call but I’m going with Selig’s presentation.

 Inquiring minds want to know: How did the new Channel 7 morning team of Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery do in the ratings in their first week on the job? “Eyewitness News This Morning” averaged a 2.2 for the week, down from the 2.6 it averaged this season with Bridget Blythe and Mike Randall (who remains on weather).

 Here’s one last thing to vote on: Which negative ads were more ridiculous in the Tim Kennedy-Jack Quinn III State Sentate race? The ads that blamed Kennedy for unemployment in Western New York or the ones with the baseball metaphor of strike 1, strike 2 and strike 3 dealing with Quinn’s voting record on sensitive issues? Not to be too negative, but both ads were an insult to the intelligence of voters.

 * Finally, a note about the blog. I took a few days off to relax and also because the power source to my computer broke. I guess it was trying to tell me that I was working too hard. In the future, I’ll try to warn readers when I’m taking time off.   


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Dead Arrives to Enliven Sundays

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Now that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has announced he is planning to marry his secretary on the season finale of “Mad Men,” AMC is premiering a new 10 p.m. Sunday series that couldn’t be further in taste and style than the Emmy-winning drama.

 It is called “The Walking Dead.”

 And no it isn’t about the Democratic Party prior to Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

 Written and directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Frank Darabont (“Shawshank Redemption”), it’s a series about mad men and women who are roaming the streets of Atlanta as zombies.

 The timing of the 90-minute premiere on Halloween night couldn’t be any better.

Of course, zombie shows always seem to be timely.

They usually follow a familiar formula. “The Walking Dead” doesn’t exactly break new ground. Darabont said in press materials that he is a big fan of George Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” and it shows.

“WD” features a diverse cast of relative no names and faces who are trying to survive while the undead walkers try to catch them and eat them alive.

 The second episode, “Guts,” is an incredibly violent, bloody and fast-paced hour that is built around the theme of the importance of team work for survival.

 It also has some good involving twists – not all of them tastefully handled. I wouldn’t advise anyone to watch immediately after eating pizza, wings or another stomach-turning Bills loss.

 You can practically smell the fear of those trying to escape the clutches of the zombies even before they decide one of the best ways to avoid detection is to smell really, really bad.

Besides the violence, there is a good deal of dry humor and loud action scenes that would wake up the dead.

British actor Andrew Lincoln (see above with co-star Sarah Wayne Callies of “Prison Break”) stars as the sheriff who becomes the leader of a diverse group of survivors holed up in a department store that becomes unsafe after he leads the zombies there. 

Cast members that may look familiar to regular TV viewers include Buffalo’s Jeffrey DeMunn (who is in all of Darabont’s films), Callies (“Prison Break”) and Jon Bernthal (“The Pacific”).

The living trying to escape to a camp outside the big city include one powerful white trash racist.  His ugly attitude in episode two tests the all-for-one beliefs of the other living people, including a highly moral black man who is asked to forgive despicable racial taunts.

 The script resolution of that test is skillfully handled.

 Without breaking new zombie ground, “The Walking Dead” is a fast-paced, well-produced series that provides some thrills and excitement along with a positive message.

 It smells like a hit.

 Rating: 3 stars out of 4

* Welcome to the 21st Century: After co-host Robin Roberts said on “Good Morning America” Thursday that she missed President Obama’s appearance with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show,” co-host George Stephanopoulos quickly said he watched it online. I’m sure he didn’t mean to tell Roberts to join the internet age, but it sure came out that way.

President Obama’s appearance on “The Daily Show” didn’t make a lot of news but was still the lead of the Thursday morning network programs, with reporters noting that Stewart didn’t treat him as gently as he had in the past.

 That was a given. It is a lot easier to treat a candidate who doesn’t have any power well than it is to treat a president who is being held responsible for what is wrong in America. Stewart always reminds people that he isn’t really a journalist, but he asked the right questions, was fair and allowed the President to talk… and talk … and talk.

Stewart can go places with the President that serious journalists can’t go and that enables his show to have entertainment value as well as educational value. 

The President may have set an unofficial record for using the phrase that Larry David had so much fun with on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — “having said that.”

Having said that, I thought both Stewart and the President acquitted themselves very well and had to please their constituencies.

 Play ball: San Francisco’s high-scoring victory over Texas in Wednesday’s World Series opener had an 8.5 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That is considerably lower than the 12.1 here for Game 1 of last season’s Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia. But the Yanks are a big draw here – and just about everywhere.


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Ch. 7 Starts Slow in the Morning

Henry Winkler and Ron Howard
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This is what I’m thinking:

* It isn’t going to be easy for Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery to grow an audience for Channel 7’s newly-named “Eyewitness News This Morning.”

 That’s apparent from the ratings for the first two mornings of the 6 a.m. program that is now without Bridget Blythe.

 Channel 7 averaged a 2.0 rating for the two mornings. It got a 1.8 rating for Monday’s premiere, then rose to a 2.2 Tuesday. Those ratings are in line with the average for the morning program when Blythe and Mike Randall (who remains on weather) were co-anchors. (This just in: Wednesday’s rating rose to a 2.7, a figure the Blythe-Randall version hit at times).

 The 2.0 rating for the first two days is less than a third of the average for Channel 2’s first-place “Daybreak” and slightly above a third for Channel 4’s second-place “Wake Up.”

 It might have helped if Channel 7 did more promotion of the new team or better yet paired Taney and Geoffery in September when the new TV season began.

 * The new LeBron James ad for Nike that deals with his image as a villain after leaving his native Ohio (Cleveland) for Miami is an instant classic. It cleverly answers his critics and beautifully delivers the message that James was doing what he felt was in his best interest and not what others wanted him to be.

 * Speaking of classics, Channel 2 is airing a Halloween episode of “Happy Days” (see picture of Henry Winkler and Ron Howard above) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and two classic episodes of “The Twilight Zone” from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.  on the same night. The programs are hosted by Lydia Dominick, the host of the station’s classic programs running at noon weekdays.

Channel 2 is preempting Saturday repeats of the “Law & Order” series but is running them at different times.

* The political advertisements running have been a gold mine for all the local TV stations. They’ve accounted for more than half the ads in many newscasts and as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of the ad time on Channel 2’s news time at 6 p.m.

 In case you are wondering, the stations aren’t allowed to fact check the ads. They allow all the candidates to say whatever they want to say about their opponents. And they’ve said just about everything.

 * Today is the start of the November sweeps but don’t expect any big entertainment programs from the networks. Sure, there will be some big guest stars in many programs. But the days of big events have long since passed as the networks relay on their popular series now more than ever to grab audiences.

 * The New York Giants 41-35 victory over the Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football scored a 11.9 local rating, which was higher than every network show here that night except ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” And the football game lasted much longer than those two entertainment programs.

*Finally, it is only a few days before ABC programs are scheduled to join the On Demand feature on Time Warner Cable. TWC had previously said the feature will be available Nov. 2, which is Tuesday.


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“Friday Night Lights” Remains a Winner

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It is time to get sentimental about “Friday Night Lights.”

And with “Friday Night Lights.”

The series about life in a small Texas town where high school football is king is entering its final season at 9 tonight on DirecTV’s The 101 Network before it gets a larger audience in 2011 on NBC.

 In a TV season that is without a must-see new hit, “Lights” shines as brightly and as beautifully as ever tonight in a premiere episode entitled “Expectations.”

 The series received Emmy respect last season, with the actors playing the best husband and wife team on TV, (Buffalo born) Kyle Chandler (see above, Coach Eric Taylor) and Connie Britton (guidance counselor Tami Taylor), deservedly getting nominations.

 This being high school, the departure of Minka Kelly (Derek Jeter’s fiance), Scott Porter (who now is on “The Good Wife”),  Adrianne Palicki (who was on this year’s flop “Lone Star”) and Zach Gilford as regular cast members have been skillfully handled. They all will return for appearances in the final season.

 Tonight, the Taylors have to deal with the heartache of seeing their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) head off to college.

 It is a very sentimental goodbye that should resonate with any parent who recently experienced the emotional pain of seeing a child leave while at the same time being proud that they raised him or her to be independent.

 At one point, Eric looks at his wife and daughter having a conversation at the kitchen table about shopping and says “I’m going to miss this.”

 There is a lot to love about “Lights,” with the Taylors’ ideal family life high on the list.

 The remaining characters from the original cast in tonight’s premiere include bad boy Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch) and good guy Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons). However, it looks like they also will be taking a back seat to the newcomers on the series.

 And the show’s writers have done a great job in the past few seasons incorporating new teen characters played by Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Madison Burges into the series. This year, they have added Grey Damon (“90210,” “True Blood”) to the cast as a basketball player who initially takes the very un-Texas like position that “football is stupid.”

 Though “Lights” has been one of the best shows on TV for four seasons, it never has been able to attract the audience it deserves for a combination of reasons.

For one thing, it isn’t easy getting viewers to watch family dramas.

 The football backdrop also may have turned off many female viewers from even trying it, though those who have seem to love it.

 The story lines also can be a little too dark and depressing since they deal with very real issues involving teens in a poor Texas town dominated by football – including the inequities between funding of schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs, racial discord, neglectful and abusive parents and boyfriends and the difficult of escaping the cycle of poverty. 

 But it is the intelligent way that “Lights” deals with all those issues that makes it a TV classic that deserves to go out a winner.

 And all indications tonight are that it has a solid game plan for a final season after last year’s winning season in which Coach Taylor left the comfort of Dillon High to go cross-town to coach with considerably less resources at East Dillon.

It wasn’t an easy move for his wife, either. The guidance counselor is about to face frustrations after heading East at season’s end after taking a principled stand that upset the Dillon School Board.

 It looks like Coach Taylor will once again try to teach his players at East Dillon lessons about teamwork, pride and family, while his frustrated wife tries to help them overcome the low expectations that their parents have given them.

 In the end, if you don’t shed a tear or two as the Taylors prepare to say loving goodbyes to their daughter, then check your pulse to see if you alive.  

I’m going to miss this series.


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Criqui Still On His Game

Seth Meyers
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 This is what I’m thinking:

 * As far as I’m concerned, it is too bad that play-by-play man Don Criqui and analyst Steve Beuerlein can’t work every Buffalo Bills game on CBS.

 The entertainment value of the Bills’ 37-34 Sunday loss to Baltimore was heightened by the work of the ageless Criqui and his broadcasting partner.

 Criqui, a Kenmore native, still sees things before they develop as illustrated when he called a Raven touchdown on a flea flicker before quarterback Joe Flacco even threw the pass.

He isn’t a Bills homer, but Criqui certainly knows how fans in his hometown think when he mentioned “good teams know how to win and bad teams, well, you know the rest.”

Only so well.

He also seemed to be warning Bills fans against pinning future hopes on college football quarterbacks such as Washington’s Jake Locker.

“He is not in the same planet as Ryan Fitzzpatrick,” assessed Criqui. “He’s inaccurate.”

 If Criqui made one questionable call Sunday, it was speculating that the Ravens had the game well in hand when the Bills fell behind by 10 points with about 10 minutes left in the game.

 Criqui has been around long enough to realize NFL games are never over.

 Beuerlein, meanwhile, was excellent in questioning why the Ravens just didn’t run the ball down the Bills throat and praising Bills receiver Steve Johnson well before it was clear that he was going to have the game of his life.

 Beuerlein also was sharp on instant replays, accurately predicting rulings. And that doesn’t always happen with many analysts.

 The announcers also realized that they had watched a very entertaining game.

 “What a football game,” said Beuerlein after it was over.

 “It’s been tremendous,” agreed Criqui.

 * University at Buffalo graduate Howard Kurtz generally isn’t that  opinionated as host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday morning.

But when a New York City newspaper reporter noted that she was glad that potential viewers got to learn more about Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, Kurtz instantly said “I don’t want to get to know him any better than this.”

* I’m not a fan of Channel 2’s latest gimmick of allowing people to give their two cents about issues. But I did laugh at Rob Lederman’s funny take on people who don’t have the proper etiquette at food drive-in windows.  It was Larry David-funny.

 * Everybody probably is talking more about Kenan Thompson’s imitation of “Rent Is Too High Party ”candidate Jimmy McMillan on “Saturday Night Live,” but I thought the filmed piece satirizing Minnesota quarterback Bret Favre’s woes was funnier. It certainly was more outrageous. McMillan has become a You Tube hit, with clips of his appearance at the gubernatorial debate drawing 3.4 million hits as of Monday.

 * The best take on the NPR-Juan Williams saga came from “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers(see above), who is becoming one of my favorite “Update” anchors of all time. He noted that Republicans Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were so outraged about NPR’s decision that they even supported “a black guy named Juan.”


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Ch. 7 Morning Opener is Walkman-like

}Sony Walkman TPS-L2
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 What do Channel 7 news and the Sony Walkman cassette recorder (see right) have in common?

 They were both popular in 1979.

 I bring this up because one of the stories mentioned in today’s first edition of “Eyewitness News This Morning” with new co-anchors Patrick Taney and Ginger Geoffery was the end of the manufacturing of the Walkman cassette recorder.

 “I’m a little sad about the Walkman,” lamented Taney.

 I feel the same way about Channel 7 news in the morning, which has been decades behind rivals Channel 2 and Channel 4 in presentation, manpower and personality.

 Not to mention ratings.

 Co-anchor Bridget Blythe took the fall last week, with Mike Randall going back to focus on weather.

 Taney and Geoffery, who have anchored at 5:30 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, respectively, are supposed to bring life and lively personalities to a morning show.

 You might think that would mean they would discuss their new roles and introduce themselves to new viewers on this morning’s opener. After all morning TV is all about personality.

 At 5 a.m. , Taney mentioned he expected to be wearing a heavy coat on his first day in his new role but the warm weather changed those plans. But from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., he and Geoffery didn’t even mention they were on their first day on their new jobs. 

 The one thing a viewer learned about Geoffery today is that she may need glasses after she had trouble seeing on a monitor whether it was 6:06 a.m. or 6:08 a.m.

 “You need glasses,” advised Taney.

 “I think I do,” replied Geoffery.

 More than new anchors, Channel 7 needs some vision on what it wants the morning program to be and what stories speak to local viewers.

 The set was full of people – Elizabeth Carey of Business First joined Taney, Geoffery and Randall. But the one reporter on the show, smooth newcomer Jaclyn Asztalos, was only briefly seen outside the Rath Building talking about a budget protest by small cultural institutions scheduled for late this afternoon.

 That and a visit today by Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo were the local stories getting the most attention. Many of the stories that the anchors mentioned dealt with situations in Indonesia (a possible volcano), Oregon (snow) and Texas (a tornado).

 Nothing says switch the channel more than stories that are several hundred or several thousand miles away.

 Admittedly, Monday morning can be a very slow news time. When Geoffery opened the show by saying “we’ve been very busy overnight gathering the news” you had to wonder “what news?”

 Apparently she was talking about events in Oregon and Texas.

 I’m usually never one to suggest a station focus too much on sports.

 But since it was a slow news morning and the Bills played their best game of the season in a 37-34 overtime loss in Baltimore Sunday, it probably would have been a good morning to spend more time on a game that undoubtedly will led to water cooler discussions today about the future of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 Channel 7 only had one canned report by weekend sports anchor Shawn Stepner on the surprising game in the entire hour. That was a bad call.

 It may not have a lot of personality, but “ENTM” does have one thing in surplus: Commercials. I DVRed the hour and was able to watch it in about 40 minutes or so. You can speed through the hour in 30 minutes if you’re not interested in the frequent weather and traffic reports.

 Of course, morning TV is a marathon and not a sprint so maybe Taney and Geoffery will exude more personality and attract more viewers. But except for some sharp graphics, this morning’s opener wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Walkman era and it was hard to see any special reason to make  viewers come back Tuesday.  


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Murphy, Kelso Remain Enthusiastic

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With a 0-5 start to the Buffalo Bills season going into Sunday’s game in Baltimore and more home TV blackouts on the way, fans unquestionably will be hearing more of radio play-by-play man John Murphy and analyst Mark Kelso throughout the rest of the season.

 That’s one reason why I checked out the last blacked-out game they did two weeks ago – the Bills 36-26 loss to Jacksonville.

 And it was clear from the broadcast carried on 97 Rock and 103.3 The Edge that Murphy and Kelso have two things in short supply this season.

 Murphy has remained enthusiastic.

 And Kelso is paying close attention to every play.

 In Murphy’s case, the enthusiasm is a huge plus.

 Before kickoff, he declared the Jacksonville contest “a winnable game,” an assessment that seemed accurate when the Bills got off to a quick lead.

 After a Jacksonville turnover, Murphy excitedly declared “there’s a break, that’s exactly what they need.”

 Now in his seventh season as the Bills’ radio voice after years as Van Miller’s analyst, Murphy has developed into one of the best play-by-play men in the game. He always had the great voice and a good feel for the game. He noted early that the Bills defense switched to a 4-3 against Jacksonville, which made Kelso “extremely proud.”

 Murphy’s enthusiasm also is more natural than it was years ago and he does a great job trying to get Kelso to explain his extremely technical dissection of every play.

 During the Jacksonville game, Kelso talked of a “TF trap,” a “zip screen” and something I think he referred to as a “deep dive.”

 Those terms undoubtedly are well-known in the Bills film room but not so much in the stands. When I tweeted about the TF trap the day of a game, a friend who has followed the Bills misfortunes this season guessed that the T stood for totally and the F in the play stood for an expletive.

 I won’t go there, but he did make me laugh.

 Kelso often falls into trap of thinking that every play has to be dissected after it is over. It is an incredible skill. Kelso’s ability to recall where practically every player was on the field during a play is quite impressive.

 It also can be exasperatingly dull. He would be wise to get out of the trap and zip his mouth once in a while to explore more often the bigger issues concerning the Bills defense, offensive line and wide receivers.

 It is not that he doesn’t address it – Murphy smartly asks Kelso questions about that. He should just look at the bigger picture more often.

 Kelso also is a former player and by many accounts an extraordinary human being, which suggests he isn’t about to harshly criticize any player.

But if the Bills are going to keep losing – and there is no reason to think the streak won’t be extended Sunday against the favored Ravens – then fans will take entertainment anyway they can.

 And that would include possibly hearing Kelso cut down on the technical talk about meaningless plays in double-digit losses and focus more on which players are playing dreadfully.

 Admittedly, I suspect the chances the Bills will beat the Ravens are higher than the chances that Kelso will turn into Cris Collinsworth.

 * Kenmore’s Don Criqui works his first Bills game of the season in Baltimore alongside Steve Beuerlein. On Oct. 31, Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker work the game in Kansas City.


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Getting Nervous About Media Firings

Juan Williams
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In one of the communications classes that I teach in college, I predicted Thursday that there would be a backlash against National Public Radio for firing news analyst Juan Williams (see right) for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News on Monday.

 Sure enough, I woke up this morning to watch the NPR-Williams saga become the lead story on NBC’s “Today.”

 Host Matt Lauer steered the conversation toward the difficulty of a journalist like Williams offering opinions for one news organization (Fox News) while being told to avoid controversy while working for another one (NPR).

 It is a tough act to pull off, but these days it isn’t uncommon and it isn’t like it was something news for Williams. 

 I wouldn’t have fired the guy. After all, he made the comments Monday and most of the TV world didn’t seem to realize it until three days later when he was fired. That suggests the comments weren’t that controversial.

 I might have suspended him or put him on double secret probation for telling Bill O’Reilly on Fox he gets nervous at airports when he sees people in Muslim garb.

 It was a stupid, insensitive comment on multiple levels.

First, Williams had to realize making such politically-incorrect, stereotypical statements about religion or ethnic heritage recently cost broadcaster Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas their jobs. It’s just stupid to go there, especially in this climate.

 Secondly, anyone who has watched an episode of Fox’s “24” or any other entertainment series dealing with terrorism realizes that one shouldn’t worry about the people openly and proudly dressed as Muslims. That’s basically asking security — which is guilty of profiling – to pay attention. The terrorists in the entertainment shows – and more likely in real life — are the ones hiding or disguising their identities to avoid suspicion.

 Thirdly, the conservative Williams had to realize that NPR – which has a very liberal image – might have been looking for a reason to fire him if he just gave them cause.

 It was just as easy to predict that Republicans would pounce on Williams’ firing as an example of NPR’s liberal leaning and threaten to pull funding.

 The political right has NPR over the barrel on this one. No media outlet – liberal or conservative — wants to look like it is suppressing free speech and practicing censorship. It might have gotten away with a suspension, but not a firing.

Some of the blame should go to O’Reilly, who got in hot water a week earlier making some stereotypical, politically-incorrect comments about Muslims on ABC’s “The View” that led to regulars Whoopi Goldberg (who defended Williams Thursday) and Joy Behar to initially walk off the set of their own show.

O’Reilly essentially was asking Williams to fight his battle, which led to the analyst to shoot himself in the foot. O’Reilly could have helped save Williams by telling him how easily his comments could be misinterpreted and asking him if he wanted to re-phrase them. Williams later tried to put the comments in better context.

 I’m getting more than a little nervous about how quickly news organizations are to fire people when suspensions and some sensitivity training might be the proper punishment.

 * Now on to another lighter controversy involving a Fox program: “Glee,” the high school musical series that on a weekly basis teaches the lesson that is important for people to be themselves.

 Cast members Lea Michele (Rachel), Dianna Agron (Quinn) and Cory Monteith (Finn) did a magazine photo shoot in which they appear in racy poses that adults would hope high school students and fans of “Glee” would avoid.

 Of course, Michele and the other cast members aren’t high school students. They just play them on TV. They are in their 20s. When some images of the photos were passed around the class of another communications course that I teach Thursday, one of the female students cracked: “Oh, I have pictures worse than that.”

 Everyone laughed. But the comment does illustrate the disconnect between kids and parents, as well as Fox News and Fox entertainment.

 Many adults may be appalled by the pictures of the stars in their underwear, but kids in their teens and 20s will tell them that ordinary young adults put much worse on Facebook or one of the other social networks.

 I’d also guess that some conservative Fox News commentators (now that’s a phrase that is redundant) would be appalled. However, Fox entertainment executives probably are privately gleeful that the controversy will improve the show’s strong ratings.

 Fox News may be a conservative’s dream. But some of Fox’s prime time shows – especially the animated ones — are a conservative’s nightmare.


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Ch.7 Morning Moves Weaken It Overall

From left: Tracy (Morgan), Jack (Baldwin), Liz...
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 This is what I’m thinking:

* Channel 7 executives never have listened to me, so why should they start now.

 I wouldn’t have blamed Bridget Blythe for the ratings disaster that is “Good Morning Western New York.” I would blame the limited resources it puts in the lifeless show compared to what Channel 4 and Channel 2 do.

 Additionally, at times “GMWNY” seems much more concerned about pleasing advertisers than viewers.

 I also wouldn’t have moved weekend Ginger Geoffery to the mornings to co-anchor with Patrick Taney. Geoffery has done fine as a weekend anchor. But she isn’t loaded with personality and that’s very important for a morning co-anchor.

Additionally, all the moves weaken Channel 7 in its other news time periods.

It would have been smarter to keep Laura Gray – who has been filling as the co-anchor in the morning this week – in Blythe’s seat. Gray would have been my choice for the job to begin with.  

Inquiring minds want to know what the likelihood would be that Blythe could catch on in the market at another station. There aren’t a lot of job openings and the ones there are have been filled slowly.

Channel 4 continues to take its time replacing Lia Lando at 5:30 p.m. weekdays, which suggests it isn’t that high on former CBS News overnight anchor Emily Smith, a Buffallo native. Smith is expected to be interviewed shortly by Channel 2, which has a Saturday morning anchor spot open with the departure of Erika Brason. Blythe could also be a candidate for that job since Channel 2 is known to use staffers from other stations in town as part-timers.

* Last week’s disappointing live episode of “30 Rock” (see cast above) saw a significant ratings bump here to a 5.8, slightly ahead of “The Office” (5.6), the comedy that usually is NBC’s top-rated Thursday show here.  But sadly, CBS’ “Sh-t My Dad Says” almost doubled the “30 Rock” rating playing at the same time.

 * In other notable local ratings news from last week: Ed Kilgore’s climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in a Channel 2 Saturday special had a very low 1.1 prime time rating.

 NBC’s decision this week to give the Monday suspense series “The Event” a full season didn’t get a ringing endorsement from local viewers as the Oct. 11 episode sank to a season low 5.3 rating. It rose slightly to a 5.6 this past Monday.

 The Friday night premiere of NBC’s feel-good reality series, “School Pride,” had only a 2.5 rating on Channel 2.

And one has to wonder where all the Thursday viewers are going at 10 p.m. as two popular series of old, ABC’s “Private Practice” (3.9) and NBC’s “The Apprentice,” (3.3) couldn’t even hit a 4 rating opposite CBS’ “The Mentalist” (11.9).

The rent is too damn high for the networks to pay for prime time Thursday  shows that get ratings that low.


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It Was Too Damn Hard to Find Debate

HEMPSTEAD, NY - OCTOBER 18: Jimmy McMillan of ...
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 The sponsors of Monday’s gubernatorial debate did a lousy job explaining to local viewers where they could find Carl Paladino, Andrew Cuomo and the five people tossing out one-liners against them on television.

 And the local media wasn’t much help in promoting where to go, either.

 To paraphrase Jimmy McMillan (see above), it was just too damn hard to find the debate if you didn’t have cable.

 Time Warner Cable officials noted that it didn’t produce or distribute the debate. It also proudly claimed that the only place to watch the debate locally was on YNN, its local 24-hour news channel.

But anecdotally that wasn’t the case.

 A friend told me that she could have watched it on the internet on newsday.com if she had agreed to pay the debate sponsor, Cablevision, an access fee. She declined to pay the cable company that owns Newsday, one of the three sponsors of the debate.

 A student told me his parents are DirecTV subscribers who watched the debate on C-Span 2.

 Adding to the misconceptions about the debate were comments made by an University at Buffalo political science professor on WBEN-AM. He said “the networks” didn’t carry it because they are interested in ratings.

 First of all, the professor doesn’t understand the difference between networks like NBC, CBS and ABC and their network affiliates — Channel 2, Channel 4 and Channel 7.

 None of the national networks would carry the debate because – with a few exceptions — it only had interest to viewers in New York State.

 Channel 2 was one network affiliate that certainly would have carried the debate if the cable company that had its rights would have allowed it to carry it. Cablevision and not Time Warner had the rights and wouldn’t allow Channel 2 to carry it, said Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner.

 He added he would have carried it despite the fact the 90-minute debate was held without commercial breaks. However, the debate did end a few minutes before 8:30 p.m., minutes that might have been used for commercial time.

 There is no way to prove it, but I imagine that Paladino’s appearance would have meant that Channel 2 would have gotten big ratings here if it had carried the debate. It certainly would have had much bigger ratings than YNN, which is only available on cable.

 The decision to make it difficult for all Western New Yorkers to see the debate was a disservice to potential voters and the public interest.

 However, considering how much style overwhelmed substance during the debate not much was really lost except for the entertainment value.

 At times, the debate was unintentionally funnier than “Saturday Night Live,” which could have a delicious time satirizing Monday night’s events.

 But I’m not sure it is going to happen. Once again, only New York voters saw the debate and not even all of them had the opportunity.

 Anyone expecting David Letterman, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert to weigh in on the debate Tuesday was sadly disappointed because the late-night comedians were either carrying reruns or focusing on something else.

 But don’t give up. They still have plenty of time to weigh in about how high the rent is in New York.


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