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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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It is a Slow Time for TV Sports

It is such a slow time for televised sports that I thought about taking a Saturday off.

Then I decided it was a perfect time for this blog to give seven illustrations of how slow it is in the TV sports business.

With apologies to the late Johnny Carson, it is so slowwww that:

* Channel 4’s John Murphy actually carried an item Thursday about the Buffalo Bills putting tight end Joe Klopfenstein on injured reserve. He explained that Joe (you think I’m going to type his last name again?) caught one pass last year in a game in the snow.

It is safe to say that most Bills fans didn’t realize Joe was on the team and certainly had no idea how to spell his last name.

* In its ever expanding quest to avoid talking about sports and fill time, WGR started a local Food Draft. On Friday morning, Jeremy White declared that pizza was No.1. I’d almost rather White and Howard Simon talked more about TV shows like “Lost” than food. Or talked about Joe K.

* Just about every day that I turn on one of the ESPN channels, the ESPYs is playing.

* I actually look forward to “The T.O. Show” on VH-1 each Sunday night.

* The amount of time it is taking Channel 4 to hire a third member of the sports staff doesn’t seem that foolish this month. (Channel 4′s Mylous Hairston, via Facebook, reported this morning that he will anchor news and sports at 6, 10 and 11 today).

* At a bagel store Friday morning, I heard an enthusiastic cycling fan describe a recent stage of an event carried by Versus and make it sound better than a sudden death NFL playoff game. Then he turned to me and asked: “Did you see it?” I hadn’t. His description had to better than seeing it anyway.

* The 10 p.m. highlight show of the Empire State Games carried by Time Warner Cable seems like must-TV.

pergament@msn.com

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NBC's Luke Russert Spars with House Heavyweight

Tim Russert’s son Luke did the late host of “Meet the Press” proud on Thursday, refusing to back down in a tough, contentious interview with 80-year-old Congressman Charles B. Rangel.

Rangel didn’t appear to realize who he was wrangling with when Luke asked him whether he feared losing his job over ethics violations that the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is facing.

“What are you talking about?” asked Rangel. “Are you just trying to make copy?”

The congressman then tried to intimidate Russert by noting his youth.

“You are young,” said Rangel. “I guess you do need to make a name for yourself.”

Of course, Russert’s name is pretty recognizable already because of his family tree.

Rangel continued by saying “basically, it’s a dumb question” and asking Russert who was his employer.

When Russert replied he worked for NBC and MSNBC, Rangel said “it doesn’t sound like NBC… asking these dumb questions.”

Actually, Russert was asking legitimate questions. Reportedly, Rangel apologized today and accepted any questions asked. And even if the questions were as dumb as Rangel thought they were, any journalist would know that some of the dumbest questions can led to the best answers and the biggest news.

NBC supported Russert’s line of questioning by playing the entire scene on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

By the way, Rangel knew Luke’s father very well, having been a frequent guest on “Meet the Press.” Three years ago, Tim Russert interviewed the congressman on the program after Rangel wrote a book containing his memoirs.

pergament@msn.com

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38367462/ns/politics-capitol_hill/

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"Mad Men" As Good as Advertised

“Who is Don Draper?”

If you have to ask, then you haven’t been following the Emmy-winning basic cable series “Mad Men” for the last three seasons.

And even if you do ask – as a journalist does in the opening scene of the fourth season premiere of the AMC series at 10 p.m. Sunday – don’t expect even the character played by the criminally handsome Jon Hamm to have an answer.

Unquestionably, “Mad Men” is a series admired by critics and award voters more than it has been by viewers.

And just beginning to watch this acclaimed series set in the Madison Avenue advertising industry in the 1960s will be a little like seeing the end of a commercial without knowing what product is being sold.

“Mad Men” writer-creator Matthew Weiner is repackaging the series in its fourth season, giving creative director Don Draper a bigger role in a new advertising company with the people he admired in his old one.

It is such a start-up project that the new firm — Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce – doesn’t even have a table in its conference room and falsely claims to have a second floor of offices to impress its clients.

It isn’t always easy to be instantly impressed by “Mad Men,” which doesn’t have the same quick pace as most television programs and relies more heavily on atmospherics and character development than almost any TV show alive.

“Mad Men” unfolds like a novel one can’t put down every season, which makes it better when it is packaged on a DVD and viewers can watch the entire season in a night or two.

No question, Sunday’s opening episode is a page-turner, which is full of small moments that speak volumes about new business partnerships, dissolving marriages, advertising manipulation and how to play journalists.

Besides Hamm, the mesmerizing cast includes John Slattery as Draper’s politically-incorrect business partner; January Jones as Don’s drop-dead gorgeous and wronged wife, Betty; Vincent Kartheiser as an aiming-to-please account executive, Pete; Elisabeth Moss as Peggy, a copywriter who Don took under his wing and who is learning how to survive in a man’s world; Christina Hendricks as Joan, the sexy officer manager; and Jared Harris as Lane, the British advertising executive who ran the previous firm and joined the new one when his parent company kicked the feet out from under him.

Every character is richly drawn. However, it is Hamm’s portrayal of a brilliant, self-destructive and self-loathing man who has ruined his marriage and Slattery’s brilliantly-timed sarcastic humor that make the opener fly by as quickly as a 60-second commercial.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

pergament@msn.com

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Dry-witted Criticism From North of the Border

One of my favorite moments as a TV critic came when I visited a friend who used to be the TV critic for the Boston Globe.

One night, I sat down with him to watch the local news and instinctively criticized it. The criticism included some catty comments about the veteran co-anchors, who at the time were husband and wife.

This shocked me. “Boy, he got the better of the deal,” I said.

Then I criticized just about everything about the newscast as my friend took mental notes.

He ended up writing a column about my criticism that didn’t please a female producer or director in Boston. The female called up a lawyer in Buffalo she knew and immediately asked: “Who is the a-hole TV critic in Buffalo?”

The lawyer’s deadpan response was: “That a-hole is my brother-in-law.”

Which brings me to a recent visit to Buffalo by a friend from Toronto who used to be a TV critic and grew up thinking all of Buffalo was on fire when Channel 7’s Irv Weinstein anchored the news.

The name of the critic is being withheld to save the a-hole comments. We watched the first 10 minutes of the news on Channel 2 and Channel 4 Tuesday.

Channel 2’s newscast included a Google earth shot of where one story happened.

“I loved the Google earth,” dryly noted my Toronto friend. “It is like they are saying, ‘yes, we have computers.’”

When anchor Maryalice Demler appeared, the Toronto critic was amused by her appearance.

“Anchors don’t look real people,” noted the critic. “They look like wives looked 15 years ago. She is wearing an orange shirt and has streaks in her hair. It isn’t her fault. That’s what they make you look like in TV news. They all look like robots.”

The critic was also amused by the people interviewed on the Channel 2 newscast, including a long-haired lawyer.

“This guy is his lawyer,” said the critic. “Holy crap! Seriously?”

The Congressman Brian Higgins appeared.

“That guy needs better hair,” noted the critic. “Does everyone in Buffalo need a haircut?”

I explained that Higgins is a very hard-working congressman.

After the coverage of a stabbing, a sex arrest and a few other less than big news stories, it was off to Channel 4 and anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker.

“These guys are like Greek gods,” noted the critic. “These guys are so much better. It is like we were watching a college station and graduated to a grown up station. Even the video looks better. Suddenly it is like watching real TV.”

The critic then noted something else about the people being interviewed in stories.

“There are a lot of fat people in Buffalo,” the critic noted.

Hey, pizza and chicken wings tend to do that.

Then there was amusing video of Jacquie Walker in her stocking feet in an open convertible waving to the crowd at Canal Fest.

“She looks like Malibu Barbie,” said the critic. “It is so Buffalo. I am a celebrity. I’m in the car but I don’t want to get the seats dirty.”

“In local news, people should look like family,” added the critic in approval. “It’s not like I’m standing up reading the news and looking so cool like they do on Channel 2… TV viewers don’t want anyone in local news to be cool.”

The critic also was impressed more by Channel 4’s presentation of a crime story than Channel 2’s. Then Channel 4’s Postles was standing up reading some news.

“But it’s in a more real way,” the critic noted. “Do you think Don Postles wants to be cool? No. Does the audience want him to be cool? No.”

Then the critic noted Postles’ complexion: “Do you not want your local newscaster to look orange and wise?”

With the quick critique over, the critic had one thing to add to hold off any a-hole remarks from blog readers: “Please tell people I really do love Buffalo.”

pergament@msn.com

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Back to School for Channel 4 Anchor-Reporters

Channel 4’s Jacquie Walker, Don Paul and Mylous Hairston apparently are going back to school.

The owner of the CBS affiliate started mandatory training for AFTRA Buffalo members at WIVB-TV and WNLO-TV last week that will teach them how to shoot and edit stories.

The training became mandatory after a previous company request for “volunteers” fell on deaf ears.

AFTRA represents the on-air reporting and anchor staff at the station. It is a national trend for on-air personnel to report and shoot stories, which reduces the need for photographers. It has been AFTRA’s position that reporting and shooting stories is under the jurisdiction of NABET, which represents photographers and other behind-the-scenes personnel.

Mylous Hairston, president of AFTRA Buffalo, said the union “finds it interesting the company first asked for volunteers (which AFTRA first proposed during bargainng sessions last year) but was rejected by the company.

“The company then assigned training times for each AFTRA Buffalo member at WIVB/WNLO. For its part, the company has maintained even during contract talks everyone would/will be trained. The company is still in negotiations with NABET, which has jurisdiction over shooting and editing.”

Of course, the upside of having anchors and reporters shooting and editing their own stories is reducing personnel costs.

The downside is that the staffers may be so overwhelmed with the technical aspects of the job that there will be less time to write and report the stories as well as they have been written and reported in the past.

In other words, the product may suffer.

* Recommended viewing : “Covert Affairs,” the new USA Network series about a pretty young CIA agent, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo), that has its second airing at 10 tonight on the basic cable channel. Last week’s premiere episode has played countless times over the last week.

The broadcast network worthy cast includes Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, a dry-witted colleague blinded in a previous mission who is Annie’s tour guide to the agency; Anne Dudek as the sister who wants to find Annie a new man; Kari Matchett as Joan Campbell, who is Anne’s boss and who is married to the director of the Clandestine Service Department of the CIA.

Best of all, Joan’s hubby and the Clandestine boss, Arthur Campbell, is played by scenery-chewing Peter Gallagher, who is pretty busy this summer. He also plays an irreverent priest on FX’s “Rescue Me.”

Though Perabo is so tiny that she hardly seems CIA material in the action series, “Covert Affairs” had enough action, suspense, humor and heart in the premiere to give it the potential to be one of the more pleasant hours of summer TV. Tonight’s second episode should uncover whether that potential will be tapped.

A couple of things to note: The pilot was directed by Tim Matheson, the actor who may be best known for playing “Otter” on Animal House. And Sendhil Ramamurthy, the former star of “Heroes,” joined the cast as a regular character after the pilot was filmed.

pergament@msn.com

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Holy Crap! A Legal Decision for Modern Times

In the immortal words of Frank Barone (the late Peter Boyle) on “Everybody Loves Raymond: “Holy Crap.”

A federal court judge panel last week struck down a FCC ruling on “fleeting expletives” that cost the broadcast networks big bucks after Bono, Cher or someone else said a dirty word or Janet Jackson showed too much skin on a live televised event.

The decision didn’t get anywhere near the attention that the “fleeting expletives” did.

It was the right call, even if it has upset conservative watchdog groups and it may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It really was ridiculous for the broadcast networks (celebrities can and do say anything on live cable network awards shows) to be blamed for not seeing dirty words coming from unscripted programming.

Besides we no longer live in a “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” world, with cable and the internet moving the line of what is acceptable in language and behavior. The controversy that resulted after a bad word here and there aired on live TV actually led to millions more people watching it later on You Tube or on some other website. In other words, the bad words got more exposure and more power.

In my years heading out to Los Angeles to cover the fall seasons about to begin, some of the controversies illustrate how much the language and content line has moved.

Twenty years ago, CBS transformed the theatrical comedy “Uncle Buck” into a series and controversy ensued when a very young character said “you suck” in the pilot. The line was harmless. It meant “you stink” then and now and you needed a dirty mind to think otherwise.

In 1993, the PG-13 language used on the pilot of a 10 p.m. series “NYPD Blue” that was designed to compete with looser cable standards led to several ABC affiliates declining to carry it. Quickly, it became a critical and audience hit and the republic still stood.

Audiences realize that times change and the networks have to change with them. Networks also are aware that the renewal of their licenses are made by the government, which means they aren’t about to go too far and jeopardize their existence.

However, they can’t fully control what happens on live television and shouldn’t be punished when some celebrity goes too far and a minor portion of the audience is offended.

To be honest, it was hard to even realize that Janet Jackson’s breast became visible on the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show unless one watched it over on a VCR at the time.

* Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly has made a very smooth transition to television in recent years. His Sunday piece on the bond between British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and black caddy Zak Rasego at the end of ESPN’s coverage was one of his best.

* Had to laugh about how Fareed Zakaria closed his Sunday morning CNN program. He noted that President Obama gave multi-billionaire (and Buffalo News owner) Warren Buffett a White House tie. CNN then showed footage of Buffett wearing the same tie at functions he’s attended over six years. In closing, Zakaria said that that consumer spending is the key to improving the economy and that the new tie paid for the government should be viewed as a second stimulus. In other words, Buffett should start wearing the tie.

* I’ve cheered Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan before when she wrote about the paper’s decision to end the practice of allowing online readers to say really offensive and insulting things anonymously without using their real names. Of course, I have a vested interest in the decision. I want to find out who “Bobbycat” is since that is the online moniker of one of my harshest online critics over the years.

pergament@msn.com

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Ratings Remain Strong Here for T.O. Show

This is what I’m thinking:

* Terrell Owens is gone but not forgotten in Buffalo.

The second season premiere, “Bye Bye, Buffalo,” of VH-1’s “The T.O. Show” had a 2.1 rating here last Sunday. That’s about a third lower than the series premiere last season but a 2.1 still beat the average ratings for ABC’s new Sunday scripted series.

However, you do have to wonder if Western New Yorkers will continue to watch Owens’ show now that he has left Buffalo.

ESPN’s cameras spotted Owens in the crowd during Wednesday evening’s telecast of the ESPYs, which was surprisingly very entertaining for a change.

Much of the credit has to go to host Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live,” who managed to be funny without being too raunchy.

He did near the line a few times, including when he defined the ESPYs as when sports and entertainment come together.

“It is like a Kardashian sister’s bedroom,” cracked Meyers.

Then the cameras found Reggie Bush in the audience and he was laughing. Of course, he dated one of the Kardashians — Kim. According to recent reports, she has moved on to another NFL player.

Almost all the funny bits worked, except when Tracy Morgan was involved.

But the emotional highlight was the tribute to Ed Thomas, the legendary Iowa high school football coach who was tragically killed by a mentally ill former player.

* Happy talk moment of the week: On a Thursday sportscast, Channel 4′s John Murphy noted that one golfer at the British Open (it was Tom Watson) said of the St. Andrews course: “The old lady had no clothes on today.” To which Murphy added that it sounded like ideal conditions for Tiger Woods. Good line that also illustrated how much the line has moved on local TV. His co-anchors either didn’t seem to get it, enjoy it or know how to react to it.

* If you can’t get to the Empire State Games, Time Warner Cable will bring them to its viewers. It is carrying Wednesday’s opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. and a nightly highlights show at 10 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.

* Not surprisingly, America’s Pastime got beat Tuesday by “America’s Got Talent” locally. The NBC reality show, which featured a Buffalo singer, averaged a 10.4 rating on Tuesday on Channel 2. The National League’s win in the All-Star game had a 6.5 rating on Channel 29, which actually was higher than the 6.2 the game had a year ago here. Nationally, the All-Star game had a 7.5 fast national rating, making it the lowest-rated in history.

For me, the All-Star game highlight was hearing the taped introduction of New York Yankee great Derek Jeter by the late Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard.

* Finally, Time Warner cable subscribers have more reason to sweat now that ESPN is running advertisements that suggest its channels may be pulled by the cable giant in September. We’ve heard that song before. The ESPN channels are among the most expensive in cable. However, they also are among the most popular. If TWC drops ESPN during the football season, there will be a national revolt. The decision will be made at a corporate level and not in Buffalo. Look for an 11th-hour settlement similar to the one that TWC made with Fox before the college bowl season ended in January.

pergament@msn.com

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