Monday, June 30, 2008

WBBM-TV special inducted to Paley Museum

An investigative report regarding a series of large security loopholes at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport - which resulted in a number of arrests and spurred a federal investigation - is being inducted along with 22 other local specials into the William Paley Center.

The television museum, located in both New York and Los Angeles, is screening WBBM-TV's investigative report Fly at Your Own Risk, which aired during the station's newscasts in 2006 and 2007.

The special evolved from a tip regarding a possible bomb threat at the airport into a full-blown investigate series headed by Pam Zekman.

Another program being submitted was the story behind television's first all-African-American dance shows ever on TV. A documentary titled The Teenarama Dance Party aired on Howard University's WHUR-TV in 2006. It told the story of how the 1960'se dance show was created in response to an all-white teen dance show airing in the Washington D.C. market. The program ended in 1970 - the same year Soul Train premiered in Chicago.

Other stations having their material submitted into the Paley Center include four programs each from WISH-TV in Indianapolis and WIVB-TV in Buffalo.

The Paley Center is named after CBS founder William Paley, who died in 1990.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Comic-Con: The New NATPE? (updated)

Remember when the major studios (especially in the 1980's and 1990's) had big booths at the NATPE convention to entice station buyers with costumed characters, major stars, and even wrestling matches? Well, those days are over as escalating costs have driven them off the convention floor and into hotel suites and the carnival sideshows have been cut.

But it seems the costumes and the carnival atmosphere (and the money) is being re-directed - to a convention in San Diego and instead of buyers - it's geeks (like me) that are being targeted.

Television studios are bringing out the heavy artillery to Comic-Con to promote their shows - and this year, they are taking center stage, creating an atmosphere which was prevalent at the NATPE conventions back in the day.

And why not? These die-hard fanatics of everything geek - from TV shows to comic books to computers - are quite loyal consumers. And marketers know that very well. And that loyalty transfers to ratings points and dollar signs.

For example, Twentieth Television is sending its stars and its shows to Comic-Con - the comic book and sci-fi convention which takes place in San Diego every year. Twentieth is even putting a booth on the floor of the San Diego Convention Center, joining Warner Bros., which has seven shows represented. NBC Universal is also expected to be represented by a few shows, including Heroes.

Twentieth will be sending its two new shows - Dollhouse and Life on Mars, as well as existing shows 24, Prison Break, and Bones, as well as every one of its animated prime-time properties (except for King of the Hill.)

Comic-Con, which takes place between July 24 and July 27, is being covered extensively by cable networks SciFi and G4, and on the web by sites such as Toon Zone.

Updated 2008-06-30 at 2:27 p.m. (slightly altered post to add another TV Week link to the story)

Houston station changes its call letters - again

And you thought WLS-FM had a quite a number of call letter changes: Chicago-based Tribune Co.'s CW affiliate in Houston is dumping its KHCW-TV call letters for KIAH-TV, as of July 15.

The move is not meant to distance itself from the fledgling CW network, but the new call letters are in reference to the airport code for Houston's airport - IAH - assigned to the George Bush International Airport.

Station officials are also re-branding its newscasts, now known as CW 39 News at 10 to 39 News at 9. The move was made because CW does not have a national newscast, and the target audience for the network (women 18-34), do not generally watch newscasts, which are targeted mainly to adults 25-54. For this reason, sister stations WGN-TV in Chicago and KTLA in Los Angeles do not use CW branding in their news operations.

This is the fourth time Channel 39 in Houston has changed its call letters. The station signed on as KHTV in 1967, and three years after being sold by Gaylord Broadcasting to Tribune (in 1999), the calls changed to KHWB - reflecting the station's ties to the WB at the time. When the WB network merged with UPN to form the CW in 2006, KHWB became KHCW.

Former WMAQ-TV news anchor Ron Hunter dies

Ron Hunter, a news anchor who made headlines as an news anchor for NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in the 1970's, passed away at his home in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Hunter made headlines for Chicago's TV critics, who relentlessly bashed him for his on-air persona. He succeeded Floyd Kalber at WMAQ in 1976, and lasted just two years at the station, which was then branded as NewsCenter 5. He worked with other famous alumni at the station, including Jane Pauley and Maury Povich.

He also hosted a short-lived weekly late-night local talk show bearing his name at WMAQ.

Hunter was savaged by local critics, often being compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Ted Baxter (played by Ted Kinght), a popular sitcom on the air at the time (Moore ended in March 1977.) Hunter's style was parodied by Will Ferrell in the movie Anchorman.

After Hunter left in 1978, he landed more successful gigs at TV stations in other markets, including WPLG-TV Miami, KYW-TV Philadelphia, and WVUE-TV in New Orleans - returning to the city where he got his start (at WWL-TV.)

Hunter went into radio in the late 1980's in New Orleans, but his career went downhill after 1990 after his wife called in to his show to discuss their martial problems while he was interviewing a sex thearpist on the air. A few hours later, his wife was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hunter was fired from his radio gig several days later.

He later worked other odd radio jobs and hosted an America's Most Wanted-type program at WNOL-TV in New Orleans. He retired from the business in 1998.

Updated 3:13 a.m. on 2008-06-29

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Retro Television Network sold

Equity Broadcasting has sold the Retro Television Network to Henry Luken (who is head of Luken Communications), in order to raise cash to pay off debt. Operations of the digital sub-channel network are not affected. In Illinois, RTN is coming soon to digital sub-channels of Rockford's WREX, Rock Island's WHBF, Springfield's WRSP/WBUL, and is already on the air in Mount Vernon at WPXS-TV, which serves the St. Louis market.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Wipeout" doesn't wipeout

ABC's new game show/obstacle course show Wipeout, is so far the highest rated new show of the summer, winning its time slot in adults 18-49 and in households, and beating NBC's new Celebrity Family Feud with Al Roker (and not the host of the syndicated version - John O'Hurley.) But NBC points out the program did it best rating in the time slot in ten weeks.

The other new show, ABC's I Survived A Japenese Game Show, had solid sampling. The program tied second in adults 18-49 with America's Got Talent. But it did drop in audience from the first half-hour to the second.

Thought: While I yet to see Wipeout, the promos tell me it's already better than the awful 1988 daily game show strip of the same name, with former Press Your Luck host Peter Tomarken (Wipeout was buried at or around 2:10 a.m. in the Chicago market on WBBM-Channel 2 at the time - airing on late Friday nights only - so basically no one saw it. Ouch!) Al Roker seems comfortable as host of Celebrity Family Feud, though anybody is better than former host Louie Anderson (1999-2002). Roker is Feud's sixth host.

For my thoughts on I Survived A Japenese Game Show, click here and scroll all the way down.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mike North out at The Score

It looks like Mike North's morning show... has headed south. WSCR (The Score) has canceled his show amid a contract dispute. As with any radio personality who gets terminated these days, you only get to say goodbye on your website...

The media news roundup (aka A bunch of stuff)

I thought I'd just slap together these stories for you...

- Here are The Daytime Emmy Award winners, held last Friday Night. The biggest surprise here was Tyra Banks beating out Dr. Phil in the best talk show/informative category (and Tyra also told off her critics as well...)

- Mike North didn't show up Monday at WSCR-AM - told by management to take a day off. This is in part of a salary dispute with the all-sports station, as his contract expires on July 1. My guess is negotiations aren't going all that well...

- NBC said it will air the first episode of Saturday Night Live this week as a tribute to the late George Carlin, who died on Sunday. The episode, which premiered in November 1975, featured the debut of The Not Ready For Primetime Players, which consisted of Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Garrett Morris, among others.

- WFLD-TV meterologist Amy Freeze was an answer on the game show Jepoardy! Huh? It's true. Check it out...

- Troubled CBS affiliate WTVR in Richmond, Va. was sold to Sinclair Broadcasting by Raycom Media. Sinclair palns to spinoff its Fox affiliate (WRLH-TV) to Carma Broadcasting, but will continue to provide sales and other services via a local marketing agreement. The sale comes after Raycom purchased Lincoln Broadcasting, owner of cross town rival NBC affiliate WWBT-TV. WTVR reguarly places third in the local news race.

- And finally, best of wishes to Barry Melrose, who becomes the new head coach of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning. Merlose was ESPN's colorful hockey analyst for 12 years.

Monday, June 23, 2008

WMEU (Me-Too) to air classic movies

WMEU-TV (better known as Me-Too) is bringing back an independent station stable from back in the day - The Prime Time Movie.

Before movie rental chains, Netflix, DVDs, and the arrival of the Fox and CW networks, movies were staples on independent stations in the 1970s and 1980s, with syndicators getting rich selling movie station packages to station groups. The business for prime-time flicks on indies dried up in the 1990's, as those same stations joined the WB and UPN networks and competition from cable became too much.

Now, the Me-TV spinoff is bringing back the Prime Time Movie in Me-Too's Movie Classics, which runs weeknights at 7 p.m. beginning June 30.

The station also promises to show the movies uncut, except for inapporiate content (think of the children.)

Among the movies the Me-Too has on tap include Taxi Driver, The Producers (1968 version), and Easy Rider, plus classic films from the 1950's and 1960's.

Program Partners offers new shows

Program Partners is offering two new strips in syndication this fall - both coming from north of the border.

The company already offers several first-run dramas which have originally aired on Canadian broadcast networks CBC, CTV, and Global in weekly broadcast syndication, including ReGenesis and Cold Squad.

Branding the block Daytime Plus, Program Partners is offering Style by Jury - a makeover show airing on cable specialty channel the W Network in Canada - where individuals are judged by a jury after a fashion makeover - somewhat similar to Ambush Makeover, a program which aired as a syndicated strip a few years ago. Program Partners is also offering Inside The Box, a game show about TV trivia which airs on the Canadian cable channel TVtropolis. Box is somewhat similar to MTV's game show Remote Control, and Group W's syndicated Couch Potatoes, both of which aired in the late 1980's.

The two imported strips join Merv Griffin's Crosswords, which returns for its second season, but with a limited amount of unaired episodes. The program is now on indefinite production hiatus.

A reason why Program Partners (as well as producers Merv Griffin Enterprises and the William Morris Agency) decided to take the production hiatus is because the production costs for Crosswords were becoming prohibitive. Crosswords has struggled in the ratings this past season, with numbers averaging below a 1 rating.

Stations will get to pick and choose which programs to air, and all have a split of 2:30 national commercial time to sell to national advertisers, and 4:30 for local ad inventory for stations to sell. The same advertising block will run on all three programs, meaning the same barter commercials.

It is not known at this time whether or not Crosswords' local affiliate in Chicago (NBC-owned WMAQ-TV) will carry the new block - though its more likely the two new programs will end up on another station. WMAQ has the new weekday version of Deal or No Deal lined up for this fall.

For the record, the last time a Canadian game show strip was sold in syndication was D.L. Taffner's Talkabout, which ran during the 1989-90 season.

updated 3:23 p.m. (added B&C link, plus more info)

George Carlin dies

The controversial and edgy comic - best known for his raunchy stand-up material, has passed away at the age of 71. George Carlin, of course, was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1978, regarding indecency and his "seven words" routine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The 25 Worst Sitcoms Ever - Maybe...

Emmy-award winning sitcom writer Ken Levine links to an article from TV Crunch on his blog, and it's yet another worst TV shows list - only this time it is sitcoms post-1980 and it lists losers such as Webster, Mr. Belevedere, Charles in Charge, and others, ranked from #25 to #1.

The problem I have with these lists is, ranking these shows are somewhat useless given someone's personal taste is always different from somebody else's. Was It's a Living really worse than We Got It Made? (who can tell the difference, anyway...) Yours truly got burned when he ranked The Simpsons the number one excellent show for 2007 - and it turned a complete 360 and took a nose dive south thanks to an infamous episode titled That '90's Show.

Ironically - of all the programs on the entire list - only two shows are in The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame - We Got It Made and Cavemen - though this list gives me a whole new bunch of nominees (how could I forget Homeboys In Outer Space?) But originally, I wrote the list in response to the Chicago Tribune's list of 25 Worst TV Shows Ever which came out last October, featuring programs that appear on almost every worst TV show list. I rewrote the post a few months ago to make it more fun and more theater-of-the-mind like.

The TV Crunch list is quite predictable, as some of those shows actually did well in the ratings - not exactly what you call flops. The reason Charles in Charge and Small Wonder aren't on my list because they were actually successful for the stations that ran them (and they were actually funny. Yes, I said it.) Family Matters was a successful show as well, lasting nine seasons. If it was that bad, it would've lasted past 1991. To make the Hall of Shame, you must have a stigma of failure attached, though I grant waivers from time to time. This explains why Drew Carey, Hour Magazine, and According to Jim is on the list.

But then again, who needs TV Crunch's list when abominations like Celebrity Circus continue to pop up? (It's not a sitcom, but it midas well be one.)

My guess is some pop-culture expert from Gen Y looked at Total Television and Tim Brooks' Prime-Time Directory books and came up with this list, without watching these shows. And so you have a bunch of 1980's and 1990's sitcoms that Gen X made popular (or not), with a few shows from the last decade or so thrown in. How creative.

Obviously, they omitted Life With Lucy and Chicken Soup for some reason. But Harry and the Hendersons made the list? I forgot that show was even on the air! (And as you know, anything with the Henderson name in it is pure gold...)

If you want a real list of TV abominations, visit The TDog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame, where you don't just see inane sitcoms - you'll see inane talk shows, reality shows, dramas, etc. and its written by someone who actually watched the material at least once and regretted it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Comcast, Big Ten Network reach a deal

The Chicago Tribune is reporting Comcast and the Big Ten Network have reached an agreement for the collegiate sports network to be put on Comcast's expanded basic package effective on August 15 in states with Big Ten schools including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. After the 2008-09 college basketball season ends, Comcast has the option to put BTN on an digital tier.

Comcast also plans to put Big Ten Network material on VOD (video on-demand) and in high-definition.

updated 4:40 p.m. (added additional material from TV Week)

WLS-FM is back!

(Courtesy of Citadel broadcasting)

An old name from the past is resurfacing.

With the tentative date of June 26, Citadel Broadcasting plans to change the call letters of its True Oldies outlet from WZZN-FM back to WLS-FM, with FCC approval. Many message board posters have been suggesting this move for the last three years, since it flipped to True Oldies.

The WZZN call letters are a leftover from the station's days as an eighties outlet and later with an alternative/active rock format. Known as "The Zone", the station floundered until September 26, 2005, when the station flipped to Scott Shannon's True Oldies format.

The station's last stint as WLS-FM was in 1991, when the station flipped from contemporary hit radio (known as WYTZ-FM, or "Z95") to a simulcast of all-talk WLS-AM, and spun-off its own talk radio format shortly thereafter. The call letters changed again in 1996 when it became WKXK with a country format, and again in 1997 as classic rock WXCD, lasting until 2000 when WZZN and "The Zone" took over (the call letters actually changed in January 2001.).

For a complete look at WLS-FM's history (and WLS-AM's as well), scroll down to The Museum (it's on the sidebar to the right) and click on Scott Childers' or Jeff Roteman's WLS tribute sites.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celtics, NBA big winners

The Boston Celtics won their first NBA championship in 22 years, and ABC scored its highest ratings for NBA in their current broadcast deal.

The 131-92 blowout win by the Celtics over the Lakers averaged 17 million viewers and a 6.9 Nielsen rating among adults 18-49 and a 7.1 among adults 25-54 (from 8 p.m. to 11:01 p.m. CDT), according to Nielsen (what's amazing is the season premiere of America's Got Talent averaged 12 million viewers against the game.)

The series' first five games were up 56 percent from last year's Cavs-Spurs series, which ended in a four-game sweep.

However, all the news isn't good for the NBA: A poll taken by Ad Age revealed 37 percent of respondents believe the league somewhat or likely alters the outcome of their games and the number rises to 41 percent among casual fans. This comes after disgraced referee Tim Donaghy alleged that NBA executives manipulated the results of games to boost ticket sales and TV ratings (if this was the case, then how come the Bulls still aren't winning games?)

"Soul Train" may ride again

Is Soul Train about to make a comeback? The venerable program, which ended its long run in 2006 after 35 seasons with little fanfare (the program simply went into weekly reruns afterward) may return in the future.

MadVision Entertainment, a company formed two years ago, has bought the rights to Soul Train from Don Cornelius Productions in a deal which includes existing episodes in the program's library and the rights to future remakes - plus the right to distribute the program on new media platforms.

No word on when the Soul Train revival may hit the air, but MadVision is currently in talks in potential producers.

Trifecta Entertainment recently took over the syndication rights of The Best of Soul Train from now-defunct Tribune Entertainment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I was right!

But I wish I wasn't... Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti has signed a multi-year contract extension with the paper.

Thought: I guess the Reader Alienation Plan continues at the Sun-Times. Read the Think Tank I wrote last week. Didn't I tell you? And to think the FCC is ready to bail out the newspaper industry by axing the cross-ownership rules. Once again, Big Media gives us the middle finger. Whether its Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke or the Bush Administration and their lackey Kevin Martin, they can give less than a damn about what their constituents think and do whatever the hell they want, regardless of what the public thinks.

And this comes as the Sun-Times is prepared to make more cuts... which means more layoffs. In other words, its basically telling their employees that, compared to Mariotti - you're worthless.

My only hope is The CW doesn't read this story. I guess a contract extension for Dawn Ostroff isn't too far off...

It's a sad day for journalism in the Windy City. Chicago deserves better than this. There's no credibility left and Big Media doesn't care. Hopefully, America elects the right person to the White House this fall to take control of our media from the corporations and bring it back to the public where it belongs.

Pat Foley returns to Blackhawks

The longtime voice of the Blackhawks is back.

Pat Foley, who was unceremoniously dumped by the team in 2006 in a very unpopular move, has been re-hired as the play-by-play man on the Chicago Blackhawks' television broadcasts beginning this fall.

The move is the latest in fan-friendly overtures the Hawks are making to win back fans after years of alienating its' base with many questionable moves.

Foley had been the voice of the Hawks for 22 years, moved over to the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves as their play-by-play man, a team which recently won the Calder Cup.

In his new (or shall we say old role), he'll be paired with Chicago native and former Blackhawk and Pittsburgh Penguin Eddie Olczyk for the games airing on Comcast SportsNet and WGN-TV (in the Chicago area only.) Foley was re-hired by new president John McDonough, who held a similar position when he was with the Chicago Cubs.

Dan Kelly, who was the play-by-play man for the Blackhawks for the last two years, was released by the team last month.

For the first time, all 82 games will be available for broadcast. In the past, most home games were blacked out, a policy that was lifted this past season.

Interestingly enough, the Hawks did not contact Foley until the Wolves' season was over, and both teams showed respect to one another during the process ( a rarity in sports nowadays.)

The Hawks will also have a new radio home too, moving to WGN-AM after several years at WSCR-AM (The Score). Troy Murray and John Wiedeman have the call.

Read the official press release from the Chicago Blackhawks

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is Tribune abandoning The CW? (updated)

Probably not, but if The CW doesn't make it into season four, Tribune is creating a contingency plan - just in case. Tribune owns fifteen CW affiliates, including WGN-TV in Chicago, WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles.

However, CW officials deny their network is going out of business anytime soon, pointing to the increased haul they took from the recent upfronts and support from the advertising community.

But even so - with ratings still weak for The CW, is there a rift developing between the network and Tribune?

As they say in TV land - stay tuned.

UPDATE: The link in the story above was corrected, as there was an error in the story regarding an opt-out for affiliates in January 2009 which did not exist.

Thought: Personally, I think it's time to pull the plug on this turkey. Even with an increased haul of ad dollars (misguidedly spent, of course), this network is still going to bleed money. What if it doesn't meet its rating targets? It's make-good-a-palooza time.

A general broadcast network targeting a narrow demo (women 18-34) that's basically abandoning television for the Internet isn't exactly a good business plan, but the suits at CBS and Time Warner don't want to hear any of it. In fact, cable networks MTV, Lifetime, and Oxygen does a better job targeting women 18-34 than The CW. WGN and the rest of the Tribune group really doesn't need this network. They can come up with better programming - not sissy junk like Gossip Girl and a 90210 retread (Star Trek: The Next Generation it isn't.)

And by the way, Gossip Girl is not a success. This is like saying the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals are having wonderful seasons thus far. The Mariners fired their GM today. How about that? Even the worst baseball team in the majors is making smarter decisions than The CW.

Unless they can find the next American Idol or Simpsons, The CW is today's version of DuMont - the network that died in the 1950's.

updated 2:31 a.m. on 2008-06-17

"Dr. Oz" is the man behind the curtain for Sony

In a major coup for Sony Pictures Television, the syndicator has picked up the new Dr. Oz project from Harpo Productions, which is Oprah Winfrey's production company.

The program features Dr. Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon who has made appearances on Oprah and on programs produced by Discovery Communications.

Many syndicators were bidding for Oz, but Sony came up big - despite the fact it lacks a connection with a major station station group like the other major syndicators.

On the plus side, it means Sony and Harpo can get more money from bidding wars between stations.

The daily strip is being planned for a fall 2009 debut.

Usually, Harpo's productions are syndicated through CBS Television Distribution - a relationship that dates back to the mid-1980's when Oprah Winfrey signed a deal with King World to syndicate her talk show. CBS bought King World in 1999, and merged their syndication operations with those of CBS Paramount in 2006 to form CBS Television Distribution.

CBS Television Distribution plans to launch its own medical strip called The Doctors this fall. Doctors is being produced by Dr. Phil McGraw's production company. Dr. Phil is a protege of Oprah Winfrey.

Futility in first-run

Historically, the syndication division of Columbia Pictures - whose name would often change as much as Chicago's weather - running the gamut from Screen Gems to Coca-Cola Telecommunications to Columbia TriStar Television - has never really had a major hit outside of Ricki Lake's talk show. In fact, the entity didn't even have a first-run division until 1985, when it produced What's Happening Now (under the Columbia Pictures Television name with LBS Communications) and a short-lived half-hour nighttime version of The Price Is Right (under The Television Program Source name) with host Tom Kennedy.

Over the last fifteen years, Columbia/Sony only hit with Ricki Lake and Judge Hatchett in first-run and had marginal success with revivals of The Newlywed Game and Dating Game. But it also struck out with The Newz, Vibe, Donny & Marie, Pyramid, Shipmates, Life & Style, Moving In with Pat Croce, and Greg Behrendt. Currently, Sony is syndicating Judge Maria Lopez (whose ratings are iffy at best) and is set to premiere Judge Karen in the fall.

Sony is best known for off-network repeats of Seinfeld, which continues to be successful in syndication. But now with Dr. Oz in its' corner, it gives Sony a bigger foothold in first-run it has not had in years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert dies

The Meet the Press host and Buffalo native died at NBC News bureau in Washington of a heart attack. He was 58.

UPDATE: Politicians and dignitaries took time out to remember Russert, and here's a obit from TV Barn's Aaron Barnhart.

NBC is putting together a Russert tribute on this Sunday's Meet the Press, hosted by Tom Brokaw.

Updated 9:49 p.m.

WBBM-TV delays move

CBS-owned WBBM-TV has delayed its move to its new Washington St. headquarters in the Loop at Block 37 until further notice because of technical problems at the facility.

Station officials hoped they could move their operations from their long-time home at McClurg Court this summer, but because of those technical and operational issues, station officials decided to postpone their move downtown no earlier than September.

The move of WBBM's newscasts to high definition have also been delayed.

WBBM and CBS aren't the only entities have problems at Block 37: The CTA has suspended work on a new "super station" at the Block 37 site indefinitely because of cost overruns.

Dancing With A Controversy

The folks at WGN-TV's morning show are dancing mad - at rival WMAQ-TV for ripping off a segment of their program.

For years, WGN has had a Friday Dance on its news show on - Fridays. Well, WMAQ recently started a new segment on its Friday morning newscasts. All you have to do is switch the words around of WGN's segments and volia! You have Dance Friday.

WGN's Steve Lightning (and no, I'm not making that name up - although the personality seems to be) investigated the story on Thursday, and came up with this:

"What do you think of a news organization that would STEAL from another news organization?" "See that Peacock? It should be a snake! It should be a weasel!"

No word whether or not WGN plans to kidnap Ellen DeGeneres in retaliation.

UPDATE: Here's a video clip... and believe it or not, it features a surprise cameo appearance...

updated at 12:56 p.m.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

NBA Finals continue to score

Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers continue to shoot excellent three-pointers behind the line, according to Nielsen:

- The game drew a total of 14,5 million viewers for the entire game, up 55 percent from last year's Cavs-Spurs series.

- The program easily won among adults 18-49, 18-34, and 25-54 in the prime-time portion of the game, also up from last year's series.

- The Lakers won 87-81, ensuring a fifth game to be played in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Sunday - which is good news for the league and ABC. Last year's series ended in a sweep for San Antonio.

- Of course, the series has been successful so in Los Angeles and in Boston, where more than a third of adult 18-49 viewers have tuned in to the series.

- The Lakers and Celtics are among the two most storied franchises in the NBA and in sports. While nostagia may be driving this series in the ratings (the two teams have meet in the NBA finals more times than anyone else), the games themselves been very good. How about the Celtics' Paul Pierce making a Willis Reed-like return from an injury later in Game 1?

Don't forget, Game 4 is tonight at 8:00 p.m. (CT) on ABC (locally over WLS-TV.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stars burn deliciously dim on "Celebrity Circus"

This favorable review comes from New York Magazine, the same publication that declared Gossip Girl the best TV show ever and also thinks Jay Mariotti is the best sports columnist ever.

WFLD scores with weather coverage on Saturday

While the attention over the last few days has been on former WFLD anchor Mark Suppelsa joining WGN-TV, Fox-owned WFLD-TV has some good news: Its' coverage of Saturday's wild weather throughout the Chicago area drew good ratings (for a Saturday) and praise from viewers.

Tornadoes hit the south and southwest suburbs on Saturday evening, tearing a path from Wilmington to Lansing and Dyer and Schererville in Northwest Indiana. Damage was limited to the villages of Richton Park and University Park as well as Monee and the unincorporated townships of Will and Green Garden (areas yours truly knows very well from his days as a Meter Reader at ComEd.) Some northern suburbs (including Mundelein) also reported some tornado activity (click here to see one of the tornadoes crossing I-57.)

While other Chicago stations were drifting in and out of coverage, WFLD - and its sister station WPWR - went on the air at 6 p.m. and stayed on until 7:15 pm. with weatherperson Mark Strehl. The special report nabbed a 1.5 Nielsen rating on WFLD among adults 18-49 (tying for first) and a 1.7 rating among the 25-54 demo, finishing second. WPWR contributed a 0.6 rating in each demo. WFLD's website also had heavy traffic on Saturday, with at least 2500 people viewing a live chat.

WFLD's Strehl and chief meteorologist Amy Freeze received received e-mails of praise from numerous viewers, including this viewer from Chicago Heights - one of the suburbs affected by last Saturday's tornadoes.

I tuned in for some of WFLD's coverage (flipping back and forth from Star Trek) and the job the station's weather department did was very solid.

Suppelsa and Sanders

It looks like Mark Suppelsa's move to Tribune-owned CW affiliate WGN-TV is all but a certainty, while handling Steve Sanders' situation could be dicey, according to this article from Robert Feder in today's Sun-Times.

WGN is expected to sign Suppelsa to a contract after June 17, the day WFLD's option to match any offer a competitor may have expires. If signed, Suppelsa may start with the station's planned early fringe newscast, scheduled to launch sometime this summer - possibly to ease him to the 9 p.m. anchor chair currently occupied by longtime veteran Steve Sanders.

The move would certainly re-energize a news operation that's already strong. The station's morning newscasts finished first in the recent May sweeps, ending the longtime dominance of ABC-owned WLS-TV in the daypart. The station's midday newscast outdraws CBS' The Young and the Restless and other syndicated talk and court shows, and its' 9 p.m. newscast ranks ahead of WFLD's competing newscast and often beats CBS-owned WBBM-TV's 10 p.m. newscast.

Even with low-rated lead-ins from the flagging CW, WGN has been able to increase from the lead-in by double digits, essentially making WGN's popular newscast "appointment TV" - thanks to icons like weatherman Tom Skilling, whose segments are often the highest-rated. In fact, its sister stations in New York (WPIX-TV) and Los Angeles (KTLA-TV) have never matched the ratings success WGN has had in late news.

The real question now is, what to do with Steve Sanders? The well-respected news veteran has always kept a low-key profile and with good ratings to boot. If WGN signs Suppelsa, this issue has to be addressed. But anyway you look at it, adding Suppelsa would be a huge coup for WGN.

Meanwhile, Phil Rosenthal of the Trib talks with Suppelsa regarding the situation of him possibly joining WGN - but it isn't much giving he is still under contract to WFLD (and check out the article below regarding how some parents of Barney fans aren't exactly loving WTTW.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Report: Mark Suppelsa headed to WGN-TV

Mark Suppelsa, the anchor who left Fox-owned WFLD-TV last March, is rumored to join Tribune's WGN-TV later this summer, replacing Steve Sanders alongside Allison Payne on the station's 9 p.m. newscast.

Suppelsa is technically still under contract to WFLD - the station has a right to match any offer a competitor offers until June 17. WGN is likely to make an offer after the date. For now, Suppelsa is doing news for WTMX-FM's Eric & Kathy Show.

The person Mark Suppelsa would be replacing is longtime anchor Steve Sanders, who could stay with the station in a high-profile role.

WGN's 5 p.m. news plans

WGN is also considering using Suppelsa as an anchor for its new 5 p.m. newscast it plans to launch this summer. No word on a start date or the length, but the newscast would replace syndicated reruns of My Wife & Kids (which moves to WCIU-TV in 2009) and/or According to Jim. WGN would become the first CW affiliate in a major market to launch an early-evening newscast.

The news expansion comes as stations are finding it difficult to fill early fringe and prime access time slots with off-network sitcoms since those type of programs have been replaced on the networks over the years with more dramas and reality fare. In the past, WGN has filled the early-evening time slot with reruns of everything from The Muppet Show to Charles in Charge to Full House.

And WGN isn't alone in trying to capture more news viewers. Raycom's WXIX-TV, a Fox affiliate in Cincinnati, is launching a 6:30 p.m. newscast in August not only because of the lack of proven programming in the marketplace - but also because of changing lifestyles. The new local newscast would take on the three network news shows in the slot. Like WGN's planned newscast, WXIX's show is going to be surrounded by sitcoms.

Trivia: The "XIX" in WXIX is the roman numeral for nineteen - the channel number WXIX is on in Cincinnati. It was also the average age of the solider in the Vietnam war, as described in Paul Hardcastle's 1985 dance hit "19".

T Dog's Think Tank: O'Reilly, Mariotti aren't going anywhere

Hope you enjoyed the little piece below. While the post was intended for comedy, the antics of the dummy duo - Bill O'Reilly and Jay Mariotti - are really no laughing matter.

It seems both "journalists" have been stepping up their antics as of late - with both men accused of sensationalism to the highest degree.

A lot of people are angry at these two, for a lot of obvious reasons, and would like to see them removed from their respective positions. But the hard truth is, they are not going anywhere.

Why? As long as O'Reilly and Mariotti have backing from their corporate owners, they are here to stay.

You would think both are related. Neither of them does serious journalism - they do stories without covering them and state absurd opinions rather than fact, and both have abrasive attitudes.

Now as you may know, these types of media personalities are nothing new - e.g. Joe Pyne, Morton Downey Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and others. There's always a market for bombastic, over-the-top personalities, and always will be.

But as far as Big Media is concerned, the shitter they are, the better.

A perfect example of this comes in the latest controversy regarding Mariotti. There was a piece written by Rick Telander that was supposed on run on Wednesday, indirectly criticizing Mariotti for his negative columns on the White Sox, despite their winning record. This piece was rejected by Editor-In-Chief Michael Cook without explanation. Another column written by Telander on Friday was altered.

Now think about that. A column criticizing Mariotti was spiked, but those written by Mariotti - which usually contains personal attacks, inaccurate stories, and flat-out lies stays. Now you tell me which columnist gets the preferential treatment. The Sun-Times would fire Telander and the entire sports writing staff before they let Mariotti go.

Meanwhile, O'Reilly invites guests on his show who make wild accusations ("the Obama fist bump is terrorist", etc.), continues to make flat-out lies about people, and sends reporters to ambush people who don't agree with him.

And the rest of cable news isn't any better. Keith Olbermann's Countdown show on MSNBC does the same thing - only to the right and often rips into O'Reilly and Fox News on his show, while O'Reilly returns the favor. The cable news' war of words is much like the WLS-WCFL and the B96 (WBBM-FM)-Z95 (WYTZ-FM) Top 40 music wars back in the day - only without the fun and with the meanness.

But what else do you expect from a media that is becoming more and more sensationalist by the day? Controversy sells. Journalistic integrity doesn't matter to news organizations anymore - it's not profitable. The truth doesn't matter anymore either. As long as Big Media let nutballs like Jay Mariotti and Bill O'Reilly spew their warped views of society, the media is never going to regain its credibility - not that it matters to them. Only money does. Big Media could care less what the public thinks. They feel they don't owe them anything.

And the growing contempt of the public by Big Media is growing. As I posted on Friday, TBS started "pausing" episodes of its off-network sitcoms to push The Bill Engvall Show, with the network basically telling viewers to screw off if they didn't like it. This is arrogance to the highest degree. Is it any wonder why viewers are abandoning television and radio programming in droves to get programming from other sources (The Internet, DVDs, iPods, etc.) Media companies often forget they have to serve the public interest. But with their entities facing smaller circulation and audience numbers, they rely on sensationalism to get bigger numbers because their traditional business models they have relied on for decades are falling apart. And this is now more apparent as media companies consolidate more and more to get bigger.

Look at ESPN and SportsCenter, which is becoming a more embarrassing joke by the day. It seems the anchors are more interested in polishing their stand-up routines rather than giving us highlights while the show airs meaningless top 10 lists on topics they have already done a thousand times (The Top 10 coaching meltdowns - again!), letting the overrated Mike & Mike strut around the network like they own the place, and rerunning clips of White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen going off.

Does the last sentence sound familiar? That's exactly what the cable news networks did a few months ago when it reran Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermon over and over. It's no surprise ESPN takes this same stance with sports figures with the cable-news wannabe populating its sports shows with Mariotti and other self-smarming windbags like Chris Berman and Skip Bayless.

And let's not forget the recent antics of Entertainment Tonight, when they reported on Angelina Jolie giving birth to twins. The only problem was, she didn't give birth yet. ET was fooled by an impostor pretending to be Ms. Jolie's assistant - and yet, the celebrity newsmagaine stood by its story, and even knew about it.

The media would never admit it is wrong on many stories. It has too much pride for that.

As I said before, there is no difference between TMZ, the National Enquirer, the Sun-Times, and the cable news networks. It's all sensationalist junk, with no insight whatsoever.

And the media could care less, because sadly, there's always an audience out there that gobbles this stuff up.

But as far as credibility goes, as long as O'Reilly and Mariotti are steering the ship of sensationalism, The Big Media Boat will continue to sink. The only thing is, the dumb duo's fans - if any - are too stupid to get off the ship.

The inmates are running the asylum

It's not everyday two of the biggest pains in the butts in media make news on the same day, but today must be the day: Bill O'Reilly makes news for annoying people, while Jay Mariotti annoys his co-workers (notably Rick Telander) at the Sun-Times. Oh, I feel a sitcom coming on...

Coming this fall...

The O' Reilly & Mariotti Show!

Two of the biggest douches in the world share an apartment in the city. Can they survive annoying people without annoying each other? Starting Bill O' Reilly and Jay Mariotti, comedy is guaranteed when they are yelled at, chased, and beaten!

Bill: I want you to clean up this mess, Jay! Right now! Do it live!

Jay: No, I won't. I'll hire the Blizzard of Oz to do it. He has just a big mouth as you....

Bill: You're right. I'm sorry. Loud mouth foreigners - that's all they're good for, right?

Jay: Right. (In a mocking Latino voice) Clean your floor, sir?

(They both laugh. The doorbell rings. Bill opens the door - and look! It's Special Guest Stars Rick Telander and Eric Deggans with baseball bats!)

Bill: Um, may I help you?

Rick: This is the place, Eric! This is where those two dumbasses live!

Eric: Let's get them!

Bill: Uhh... It's for you, Jay.

Jay: AHHHHHH!!! OMG! OMG! Let's get the hell out of there!

Bill: I'm with you!

(Bill and Jay run around their apartment screaming like little girls, being chased by Rick and Eric with baseball bats.)

See how funny that was? It's the best comedy of the new season! It's a show for losers featuring two losers. A guaranteed hit! You'll be rolling on the floor laughing!

Don't miss The O'Reilly & Mariotti Show! Coming Friday nights this fall... on The CW.


And guess what... the show will never be canceled, no matter how low those ratings get. This explains why According to Jim has been on the air so long...

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Insider", "ET" to move to new digs - and go HD, too

CBS Television Distribution's two syndicated prime access magazine strips - The Insider and Entertainment Tonight are moving to a new home - and getting a HD makeover as well.

Beginning this fall, both shows are being shot in high-definition from CBS Studio Center in Studio City (yes, the same place where they shot Gilligan's Island and My Three Sons.)

The move means the last ties for Entertainment Tonight have been cut from Paramount, the original syndicator of the long-running magazine show, now in its 27th season. ET has been shot from the Paramount lot (Stage 28) since 1981.

Both programs came under the ownership of CBS Corp. after Paramount owner Viacom split into two companies in 2006.

As for Insider, the program moves back to Los Angeles from New York, where it has been based for the last year. Lara Spencer continues to host (she recently inked a new contract), with former co-host Pat O'Brien now regulated to special correspondent. O'Brien took a leave of absence from the show earlier this year.

ET and Insider become the latest syndicated programs to convert to HD this fall, joining other series including Dr. Phil, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Ellen. In total, nine syndicated programs have or are expected to make the jump. Already, CBS' Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are available in HD.

But the conversion of the programs to HD could become a problem for stations, as they must upgrade their servers (mainly software to the existing Pathfire servers) to handle satellite-fed downloads of larger HD files for broadcast, as well as rebuilding their infrastructure - which could become an pricey proposition.

Insider airs weeknights at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. locally on WCIU-TV, while ET airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and 1:37 a.m. on WBBM-TV.

St. Louis' TV news viewership down

While TV News in other markets are either constant or actually up a little bit, ratings for TV newscasts in the Arch City were down.

Belo's CBS affiliate (KMOV-TV) won at 10 p.m. by a decisive margin, beating longtime dominant NBC affiliate KSDK-TV, owned by the Gannett Corp. KSDK was off by two points, while KMOV was essentially flat.

Fox-owned (now Local TV-owned) KTVI lagged way behind at 10 p.m. with its' newscast finishing a distant third.

KTVI also lost ground at 9 p.m., despite the presence of American Idol. Its' newcast was down two share points, while Tribune's CW affiliate (KPLR-TV) was up a full share point with its' half-hour newscast.

The mornings provided a bit of a surprise: KTVI's local newscast tied The Today Show in share.

ABC affiliate KDNL-TV does not produce local news.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Twisters hit Southland

Tornadoes ripped through the Southland on Saturday, from Wilmington to Northwest Indiana, leaving lots of damage in Monee, Green Garden Township, Richton Park, and University Park (those were places where I use to read electric meters for Comed.) Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. The two videos you see here was shot by a trained weather spotter showing a tornado crossing I-57 just south of Monee.

Sportscaster Jim McKay dies

The man best known for telling us about "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" passed away at his home in Maryland on Saturday.

Jim McKay brought us sports of all sorts from around the world on ABC's Wide World of Sports every Saturday for decades. Whether if it's hitting a golf ball over the Great Wall of China, or covering sled dog races, he brought it home to us to see on the tube.

But he's wasn't just known for Wide World of Sports. He was essentially the face of ABC's Olympic Coverage - he was there every step of the way from the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, to the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games, to the last one he anchored for ABC - the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.

McKay was on the air for 16 hours straight in September 1972 when Palestinian terrorists kidnapped eleven Israeli athletes during the Summer Olympic Games in Munich. It was McKay who told America the commando raid sent to aid the athletes ended in tragedy.

Throughout his career, McKay won thirteen Emmy awards and praise from everyone who worked in the industry. McKay last worked on NBC's Olympic coverage in 2002, and produced a documentary on HBO which he wrote and narrated himself.

Jim Mckay is survived by his wife, two children (one of which is CBS Sports' Sean McManus), and three grandchildren.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Now a word from a total douche

Oh no they didn't! An "interstitial ad" for the unfunny The Bill Engvall Show on TBS popped up during a Family Guy episode on Monday night. Engvall simply walked up to the screen, paused it, and plugged his useless sitcom - then unpaused it and was back to Family Guy. Three seconds later, a real commercial popped up (and in the middle of the act, no less.)

And those viewing weren't very happy about it.

TBS and Time Warner officials defended the act, saying they used similar tactics to launch Envgall last year, during episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, and claimed they had no complaints (but they didn't read this thread at Radio-Info.)

Yours truly never watches off-network sitcoms on cable TV - it's a chopfest with end credits retyped and squeezed onto the bottom of the screen and closing theme songs eliminated so they can plug whatever crappy new show they are pushing. Recently, Jim Shea of WWYW-FM (103.9 FM) in Dundee complained about this practice regarding TV Land and the end credits of The Andy Griffith Show (scroll down), in which the closing theme is cut for TV Land promos - and got support from none other than Andy Griffith himself (you can listen to the interview here and sign a petition to reinstate the full closing credits - with the theme song here.)

The best way to watch off-network fare? Though DVDs and if possible, your local TV station (they may chop the show up for more commercials, but at least you won't have anyone coming on to your screen and pausing just to promote the latest episode of The Bachelor.)

As for The Bill Engvall Show, My Boys, and Frank TV, these programs are no different from the lame first-run comedy fare TBS served up in the 1980's - remember Safe At Home, Down to Earth, and The New Leave It to Beaver? Neither do I. And no one will remember these wastes of time, either.

Instead of Very Funny, TBS' new tagline should be We Pause Your Quality Shows to Promote Our New Inferior Crap Because Its Not Very Funny And If You Don't Like It, Then Screw Off.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

NBA Finals, "Swingtown" draws viewers to the tube

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics drew 9.5 million viewers in prime time and a 3.7 rating in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen, up 28 percent from last year's Game 1 (Cavs-Spurs.) In all, 13.4 million viewers tuned in to the game from 8 p.m. to 10:59 p.m. (Central Time.)

Meanwhile, CBS' new wife-swapping 1970's drama Swingtown debuted with a surprisingly good number, nabbing a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49, and 8.6 million viewers overall, while NBC's new anthology series Fear Itself, drew only 5.2 million and averaged only a 2 rating in 18-49s.

As expected, Swingtown skewed heavily female opposite the NBA Finals.

Mike North headed south?

With owner CBS Corp. cutting salaries and jobs across the board, it's no surprise that insiders are speculating on the future of morning personality Mike North at sports talk station WSCR-AM.

With his contract expiring at the end of this month, North may no longer be at the helm in the mornings, given his $1.5 million contract. With ratings for his show declining and losing to the inane Mike & Mike in the Morning on rival WMVP, North might have to take a pay cut or move to another, less expensive time slot. A possibility is Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley's midday show moving to the morning.

Mully and Hanley actually draw better ratings (among the target audience of men 25-54) in middays than North does in the mornings (however, this is like comparing the performances of Live with Regis & Kelly and Wheel of Fortune - they both air in different dayparts.)

Fox pushes its fall schedule back to Sept. 1

Realizing people are actually interested in the political conventions after all, Fox has decided to push back the premiere of its new shows to the week of Sept. 1. while J.J. Abrams' new drama Fringe bows on Sept. 9. Click here to see Fox's full schedule of season premieres and debuts.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hockeytown rules

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last night to win their fourth Stanley Cup in eleven years.

But the biggest winner was the NHL.

Ratings for last night's Game 6 were up 17 percent from Game 5, and it was the most watched Game 6 in eight years (between the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars in 2000 on ABC.) Among adults 18-49, it averaged a solid 3.0 rating.

Pittsburgh led the overnight numbers, followed by Detroit (not counting coverage on cross-border CBC outlet CBET.)

The NHL clearly has bounced back after a disastrous lockout in the 2004-05 season, which wiped out the Stanley Cup Finals. This season, the NHL's regular season and playoff games on Versus and NBC were up in the ratings, and the NHL's website ( is recording record page and video views.

And don't forget the contributions made by the Chicago Blackhawks. Even though they haven't made the playoffs this year, a number of fan-friendly moves - lifting the decades-long home TV blackout and bringing back former Blackhawk players as ambassadors (such as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Tony Esposito) - not to mention a young team headed by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane - has gotten fans excited in the Windy City about hockey for the first time in over fifteen years. This can only help the NHL.

While it has a ways to go, there are sunnier days - (or should I say icy days) - for the NHL ahead.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Warner Bros. scores a hat trick

This is the 1,200th post. Hurray for the blog!

Three syndicated freshman strips from Warner - Two and a Half Men, TMZ, and George Lopez scored gains in the just-concluded May sweeps, according to Nielsen. Men ranked as the top off-network sitcom in syndication last month, while Lopez surprised everyone by finishing fifth among all off-net sitcoms, jumping up 41 percent from September 2007.

It was also a good book for Twentieth - whose Family Guy finished second among off-net sitcoms. Perhaps reflecting a shift to lower-rated My Network TV stations owned by Fox in a few markets, Everybody Loves Raymond took a hit, down 27 percent from last year.

Among other shows, CBS' Judge Judy scored a 7 percent gain year-to-year, while Jeopardy! scored a three percent gain. Judy topped Wheel of Fortune in GAA ratings by two-tenths of a ratings point. GAA ratings are used when a show is run more than once in a day, such as in the case with Judy (Wheel does not use GAA ratings, since it's only run once a day.) Judy was the only court show to increase its' audience year-to-year while other programs in the genre declined.

Among new shows using September 2007 to May 2008 averages, it was a mixed bag: Judge David Young was flat, Jury Duty was up and game shows Merv Griffin's Crosswords and Temptation were down. Temptation is not expected back this fall.

May was a bad month for talk, with almost every entry down. The biggest drop came with Jerry Springer, down 31 percent from last year (there is some hope!) Live with Regis & Kelly, Dr. Phil, and Oprah also reported double-digit decreases. While Tyra and Martha also saw decreases, they can at least point to increases in Local People Meter markets. Warner's Ellen was also down, but only by 5 percent. The only talk show to score an increase was Twentieth's The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet.

The tabloid/entertainment prime access shows were all down, except for one - TMZ, which was up 10 percent since its September premiere.

Updated 8:45 p.m. (added TVNewsday link)

WFLD expands Good Day Chicago (updated)

KRIV in Houston also expands its news by adding 5 and 5:30 p.m. newscasts

As expected, Fox-owned WFLD-TV is expanding Good Day Chicago to 10 a.m. beginning on July 7, with the news show now five hours long. The extended hour will feature breaking news and weather, plus discussion of hot topics with local commentators and other segments. The newscast takes on talk-show powerhouse The Oprah Winfrey Show at 9 a.m.

The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet - now airing at 9 a.m. on WFLD - is expected to shift to the 10 a.m. time slot.

During the recently concluded May sweeps, Good Day Chicago from 5 to 9 a.m. only averaged an 1.5 Nielsen household rating, compared to a 3.8 household rating for market leader WGN-TV.

Meanwhile, WFLD's sister station in Houston (Fox-owned KRIV) is also expanding its newscasts by adding newscasts at 5 and 5:30 p.m. KRIV is going head-to-head with the three major network stations in town: CBS affiliate KHOU-TV, NBC affiliate KPRC-TV, and ABC-owned KTRK-TV.

KRIV has a good chance to beat longtime ratings laggard KPRC in this time slot, since the Post-Newsweek-owned station trails other competitors badly in Houston. At one time, KPRC's 5 p.m. newscast finished behind The Simpsons on KRIV.

KHOU leads at 5 p.m. in households, with Oprah as its lead-in.

Thought: Good Day Chicago seems to be the lowest-rated morning newscast of any Fox O&O or affiliate station in a Top 50 market in the country (Fox's WNYW in New York, KTTV in Los Angeles, KRIV in Houston and others fare much better in the ratings in their respective markets.) Expanding the newscast to 10 a.m. isn't an answer for the program's ratings woes. Robert Feder's non-endorsement of this program pretty much cement this fact.

Ironically, co-host Jan Jeffcoat used to work for KRIV in Houston.

Updated 5:20 p.m. on 2008-06-05 (added B&C link -- man, if I have to update this post again...)

Welcome back, Bill Cameron!

Wonderful news: WLS-AM has rehired Bill Cameron as City Hall beat reporter, just three months after the Citadel-owned station let him go during an avalanche of staff cuts that affected Citadel stations nationwide.

An opening became available after Ryan Hermes resigned after being able to obtain an early release from his WLS contract. He has re-joined the Illinois Radio Network.

Cameron was the City Hall beat reporter for several Chicago radio stations for three decades. He's been at WLS since 2000.

It's not every day a radio station owns up to its mistakes. Thank goodness WLS and Citadel did in the case of Bill Cameron.

My Network TV unveils 2008-09 schedule

My Network TV recently unveiled its 2008-09 lineup, and it contains branded nights - i.e. entertainment programs on Mondays, reality crime dramas on Tuesdays, a Thursday night action movie, and so on.

The branded nights are being pitched to advertisers with integration opportunities and points out the ratings rise My Network TV has experienced over the past year.

MNT's third season will feature Celebrity Expose and Magic's Greatest Secrets Revealed on Mondays; Tuesdays is reality crime drama night with Jail and Street Patrol; Wednesdays are comedy nights with the returning Under One Roof and a Funniest Moments show; Thursdays and Saturdays feature movies with action flicks on the former night and family films on the latter. Advertisers will be able to buy sponsorships on those movie nights.

Fridays of course, will feature the recently acquired WWE Smackdown, which begins Oct.3. On the night before (Oct. 2), MNT is featuring a two-hour paired-down version of the most recent Wrestlemania. Smackdown has aired on CW for the past two seasons.

MNT also confirmed it has pick up a comedy sketch show from Tony Rock (the brother of comedian Chris Rock.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Red Wings - Penguins scores in triple overtime

Last night's Stanley Cup Final triple-overtime thriller (Game 5) between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBC was a clear winner last night (regardless of what anyone says) with ratings the best since the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Red Wings played the Carolina Hurricanes. Overall, the game averaged a 4.3 household rating and a 8 share.

The ratings were up 79 percent from last year's Game 5 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins won, forcing a Game 6 to be played back in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh scored the best ratings with a 35.4/52, with Detroit following at 29.6/46 (for WDIV.) Chicago did not finish in the top ten (the red-hot Cubs played last night at the same time), while New York or Los Angeles didn't, either.

Thought: With the Red Wings and Detroit all ready to party to celebrate the Cup, Pittsburgh tied it up in the final minute to send the game into overtime, and the Red Wings eventually lost the game on a high-sticking penalty in the third overtime. This Chicagoan laughed his ass off.

"Simpsons" voice actors reach deal

The people behind the voices of The Simpsons have signed a new four-year deal to continue with the program. The deal means the voice actors will now make $400,000 per episode - considerably more than they were previously making.

The deal does not include Harry Shearer, who has reportedly clashed with producers of The Simpsons in the past. His fate is uncertain. Shearer voices Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders on the show.

Though the voice actors have a four-year deal, it does not mean Fox has picked up the series for that length of time - The Simpsons are only renewed until 2009.

This upcoming season - which ties Gunsmoke for the longest-running scripted series in prime-time history- is only scheduled for 20 episodes, same as this past season.

Monday, June 02, 2008

WMAQ-TV prepares for Chicago marathon

This story in TVNewsday (registration may be required) from Arthur Greenwald talks about how NBC-owned WMAQ-TV (NBC 5) is preparing for the upcoming Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which takes place on October 12. WMAQ gets the rights back from WBBM-TV, which held them for the last five years.

The marathon (formerly the LaSalle Bank marathon until Bank of America acquired the entity from ABN AMRO last year), WMAQ will promote the event through numerous platforms including video screens on Shell stations and Jewel food stores; the Wrigley Field concourse; and on video downloaded on U.S.Cellular phones. The station will also promote the marathon during NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics (a no-brainer.)

WMAQ also plans to enlist the help of the NBC 5 Fitness Team, who appears regularly on the station's newscasts.

Former WBBM-TV anchor under investigation

Larry Mendte, the former WBBM-TV and Access: Hollywood anchor who now toils at CBS-owned KYW-TV in Philadelphia, is under FBI investigation - for hacking into the e-mail of former anchor Alycia Lane, who was fired from KYW a few months ago after getting into a fight with a police officer in New York City while being accompanied by her boyfriend - Philadelphia DJ Booker, who was recently cut loose from Top 40 outlet WIQQ-FM (Q102).

Mendte is now on leave at KYW, at least for now.

"Sex and the City" wins weekend box office

The big-screen adaption of the popular TV show was the box-office champ over the weekend with a haul of $56 million, defeating last week's champ Indiana Jones and exceeding expectations from studio Warner Bros.

However, it fell short of the $72 million earned by The Simpsons Movie last July - the last adaption of a TV show that hit movie theaters.

Sex and the City's audience was mostly female, as expected.

Sex and the City ran six seasons on HBO (1998-2004) and its reruns are currently airing on TBS and in off-network syndication (locally over WGN-TV at 11 p.m.), where it has met with success on each platform, particularly in female demos. The program also has strong DVD sales.