Sunday, May 31, 2009


Sports anchor Terry Brooks of ABC affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland gets a little too excited - on the air - when LeBron James sunk a game-winning shot in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic on May 22.

You would not believe this if I told you, so yours truly has a clip.... (look for it at the :40 second mark)

I wonder how Terry Brooks feels now since the Cavs and LeBron have been sent home...

(Special Thanks to

Saturday, May 30, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

Another edition of T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag:

- As you know by now, Jay Leno's final Tonight Show was last night. Courtesy of TV Barn, here's a short transcript of Leno's monologue from his final program, and here's an article on how Jay Leno's reign of The Tonight Show didn't change much during its 17-year run.

And the best part of the show... no Dancing Itos clips!

Conan O'Brien (who was a guest on Leno's final program), is taking over The Tonight Show full-time beginning on Monday.

- Interesting article from The's Mark Anthony Neal: He talks about why black radio has failed the African-American community.

- While TLC's John & Kate drew all the publicity and ratings for their season premiere Monday, they were topped by Kobe Bryant.

Game 4 of ESPN's Los Angeles Lakers-Denver Nuggets NBA Western Conference Finals drew 9.9 million viewers over Jon & Kate's 9.8 million. Game 5 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday drew a 5.6 HH rating and 9.2 million viewers on ESPN.

Ratings for the NBA Conference Finals are averging 8.6 million viewers and are up 43 percent from a year ago. As mentioned in an earlier post, the NHL's ratings for its second season are up by double digits, too.

Playoff fever. Catch it!

Versus shoots and scores with NHL playoffs

- The Chicago Blackhawks may have lost its Western Conference Finals series with the arch rival Detroit Red Wings, but they were big winners locally in the ratings.

Despite the fact Versus isn't carried on a few systems (WOW to name a few), Game 5 still earned a 7.1 household rating Wednesday night where the Wings beat the Hawks to win the series and to go to the Stanley Cup Finals to play the Pittsburgh Penguins beginning tonight.

Nationally, Versus broke a personal record Wednesday with the Hawks-Wings game drawing 1.6 million viewers.

In Detroit, the ratings were even higher. Game 5 drew an astounding 15.9 household rating on Versus - even with CBC carrying the game (Detroit viewers can receive CBET-Channel 9, CBC's affiliate out of nearby Windsor, Ont. over-the-air and cable.) And even more astounding, Game 2 of the Hawks-Wings series even drew more viewers than American Idol finale in Detroit, which aired the following night.

The Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes also fared well for Versus, with Game 4 setting a ratings cable record for hockey in Pittsburgh.

Overall, ratings for Versus' coverage of the NHL Conference Finals are up 25 percent in households from one year ago.

The Choice

(Borrowing a skit from The Trib's Steve Rosenbloom)

... and remember, death isn't an option:

Mancow's waterbroading stunt or Jon & Kate?

Which one of these attention whores are you sick of hearing about?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Network TV's new 2009-10 lineup

But don't call it new.

The network, which now bills itself as a programming service, unveiled its 2009-10 lineup with barely any original programming. The only original program airing on the service is WWE Smackdown on Fridays.

Monday through Wednesdays will feature reruns of existing fare with Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Mondays; Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader and Deal or No Deal on Tuesdays; The Unit on Wednesdays (the show enters weekend syndication in 2010); a movie on Thursdays and Smackdown on Fridays.

The rerun episodes of Deal are those that ran in syndication; the existing NBC episodes have been sold to GSN for stripping beginning on Monday. NBC canceled the prime-time version of Deal or No Deal earlier this year.

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader will make its first-run syndicated debut this fall.

My Network TV gave Saturday nights back to the affiliates to program. With The CW making a similar move on Sundays, both netlets are out of the programming business on the weekends, with the exception of 4 Kids TV's lineup on CW on Saturdays.

While repeat programming will dominate the schedule, there are first-run specials on tap including The 2009 World Music Awards and The Hollywood Christmas Parade.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

The scorecard for the past week in media:


- Chicagoland Radio and Media. Larz predicted WNUA would flip this year and would changeto a Spanish format. His site the closet thing to Rob Feder's sorely-missed columns.

- WLS-TV. They dominated the local ratings in May, including all local newscasts. So what else is new?

- According to Jim canceled. The long national nightmare is over.

- Chuck renewed. NBC finally does something right.


- American Idol. Despite an entertaining show and a surprise winner (Kris Allen over Adam Lambert), the annual season finale was the lowest rated ever and Chicago viewers all but ignored it, scoring the fifth-lowest household rating among the 56 metered markets (scroll down five posts to see ratings.)

- Tony Kornhiser. Many thought he would make Monday Night Football interesting. Wrong. Now he can stay on PTI and continue to be a hypocrite, given he can't make up his mind on whether or not to be a Mets or a Yankees fan.

- WNUA-FM. The axe finally swung at the longtime Smooth Jazz outlet, though the format's shortcomings are likely the reason for the switch to Spanish Pop than WNUA itself.

- Lewis Lazare. Okay, I held my tongue for long as I can on Feder's replacement on the Sun-Times' media beat. Lazare finally mentioned WNUA's flip to Spanish on Friday - only after CRM, Rosenthal, DJ Headlines, and even this blog (and its Twitter page) broke with the story. After reading this guy's stories, you wonder if a sixth reader writing for the Weekly Reader would do better. I'm sorry, but this guy just plain sucks as a media writer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Turner gets aggressive with broadcast networks

CW is turning into the All-Drama Channel. Another is already there. Only difference is they actually know drama.

Turner networks unveiled their new programs at the network upfronts with TNT's focus on dramas and TBS' focus on comedies and sitcoms - and a new weeknight talk show hosted by George Lopez.

TNT, one of the top-rated cable networks, trotted out Steven Speilberg, and Steven Bochco and announced some new projects, including a new alien invasion drama from Speilberg and DreamWorks Television. Other dramas in development include Bochco's Zapata, Texas and Pastor Jazz, starring former Roc star Charles S.Dutton as a minister. To see the complete list of shows in development, click here.

New seasons of The Closer and Raising The Bar debut June 8, while Jada Pinkett Smith's new drama titled Hawthrone debuts in June 16, along with the season premiere of Saving Grace. Leverage's season premiere and new drama Dark Blue do not premiere until July.

TBS meanwhile, has several comedies developements including a sitcom from Kevin James (King of Queens) titled The Game of Life. Another project features Second City members telling what us Chicagoans do during the Wee Hours from midnight to 6 a.m. Another program (called Big Tow) features a single dad who runs a towing company. TBS premieres a new animated comedy next year titled Neighbors from Hell. There also a possibility of recently disposed NBC sitcom My Name Is Earl alnding on the cable network with new episodes.

TBS has season premieres of Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Meet the Browns this Wedensday and The Bill Engvall Show later this summer.

Adult Swim also has some new programming on tap. At its upfront Wedensday night (which was more of a party), it announced it will produce another Star Wars sendup on Robot Chicken, a new variety special (Freaknik), and a live-action edition of Aqua Teen Hunger Force on May 31 featuring rapper T-Pain.

Finally, TruTV has a new series titled NFL Full Contact, which feaures exclusive behind-the -scenes look at the league's football teams. This marks the first association the NFL has had with Turner since 1997, when it held one of the league's packages.

CW unveils 2009-10 schedule

Call it The Drama Channel.

CW announced new dramas for the 2009-10 television campaign at its upfront presentation with a lineup with no comedies and just one reality show.

Mondays remain status quo, Tuesday is retro night with new episodes of 90210 and Melrose Place, Wednesdays has Top Model and the new scripted drama Beautiful Life, featuring models trying to make it in New York; Thursdays has Dark Shadows clone Vampire Diaries and the returning Supernatural, while Fridays have Smallville and a Top Model encore. Midseason has Parental Discretion Advised - no, CW isn't raunching up its schedule Family Guy style, but it's a new drama regarding a girl looking for her biological parents. Clever title.

Analysis: If you're looking for good dramas - try TNT - their tagline is We Know Drama. The CW's tagline should be We Don't Know Sh** About Drama.

Outside of Supernatural and Smallville, there's no reason to watch this network. Turning it into the all-drama channel won't boost ratings.

Is CW's Tuesday night lineup stuck in 1993? This was Fox's Wednesday lineup. Boy, it was good. But this is 2009 - nothing new or innovative about it. The Beautiful Life - wait a minute, is this another remake? Remember Models, Inc.? Should be just as entertaining as NBC's lame remake of the lame Harver Valley PTA sitcom Parks and Recreation (wait, that isn't a remake?)

Bad move breaking up Smallville and Supernatural - Thursdays were the only successful night CW had with two very good shows. And there's still a Top Model encore Friday nights? The only smart thing they did was give Sunday back to the affiliates to program.

CW should stand for Can't Win. They won't with this pathetic lineup.

Kathy & Judy out at WGN-AM

On a morning when WNUA-FM flipped to a Spanish format, came another bombshell: WGN-AM canceled the long-running Kathy & Judy show after 20 years.

While Kathy O'Malley's and Judy Markey's mid-to-late morning program drew a loyal audience, the show - like WNUA-FM's format - may have become a casualty due to Arbitron's new Portable People Meter system.

The last hour of the show provided some emotional moments. O'Malley broke down while reading a live commercial on the air. Fans of the program gathered outside the station's Tribune Tower storefront studios for a chance to say goodbye.

Ratings for the program had slid constently over the years and even more so since the PPM system was implemented. In April's survey, Kathy & Judy ranked 33rd among adults 25-54.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

WNUA-FM to flip to Spanish-language format

After 22 years as a pioneering "Smooth Jazz" outlet, Clear Channel-owned WNUA-FM is changing formats to Spanish Pop, effective Friday at 9:55 a.m.

The station is being branded as "Mega 95.5". and is being made available online at

The move is being made as other stations across the country are dropping the Smooth Jazz format. On Tuesday, Clear Channel dropped Smooth Jazz from its KKSF-FM in the Bay Area (SF/Oakland) to launch a Classic Rock format.

The format has also disappeared from Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Dayton in recent years.

Many industry say the format's older-skewing audience, the inability to generate revenue, and the lack of new artists are among the main reasons stations are pulling the plug.

While ratings for WNUA have gone in a upswing in recent months, it was not enough as revenues at the station sagged in 2008. Cutbacks began several years ago, as the station ended its Sunday morning brunches at downtown hotels, and most recently, fired popular radio personality and program director Rick O'Dell after 20 years.

Meanwhile, the audience for Hispanic radio has grown, evidenced by the successes of heritage WOJO-FM, WLEY-FM, and newcomer WVIV-FM, who was the biggest gainer month-to-month in the recent April PPM survey.

This is the latest change for the 95.5 frequency. The station's roots date back to 1959 as a station owned by the Moody Bible Institute. By 1970, it became WDHF with a Top 40 format, flipped to rock as WMET-FM in 1977, then WRXR-FM in 1985 (when the AOR/Rock foormat was dropped), and finally WNUA-FM with a New Age/Contemporary Jazz format, which was picked up by other stations across the country. WNUA was one of Chicago's most successful radio stations, ranking in the top five at one time.

WNUA's most notable personality was Ramsey Lewis, who based his daily syndicated show from Chicago.

Thanks WNUA, for the memories.

Also: Alternative is having a tough go of it as well. Entrecom's KWOD-FM in Sacramento is dropping the format tomorrow, as is sister station WMFS-FM in Memphis, who dropped Alternative today to go all-sports. Bonneville also dumped Alternative from WSWD-FM in Cincinnati.

To borrow a phrase from Marc Berman - for WKQX-FM (Q101)... Tick-Tock, is the cancellation clock ticking?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CBS reveals schedule for 2009-10

The Tiffany Network unveiled its 2009-10 schedule to advertisers at Upfront Week. The Church of Tisch is keeping the status quo on some nights and has made changes to others, including the addition of former NBC stalwart Medium to Friday nights, leading out of Ghost Whisperer.

Click here to read the press schedule and look at the lineup.

Three new dramas and one new comedy (Accidentally on Purpose) join the schedule. The three new dramas are NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, and Three Rivers. Mentalist goes to Thursdays after CSI, Big Bang Theory stays on Mondays, but moves to the time slot after Two and a Half Men. Cold Case moves to 9 p.m. (CT) on Sundays.

New reality shows include Arranged Marriage and Undercover Boss, both in mid-season.

Analysis: CBS is advocating stability in its lineup, with Wednesdays staying put and some key shows keeping their slots on other nights. While Medium moving from NBC to CBS is questionable, keep in mind the last show to jump from NBC to CBS was JAG in 1996 - and ran nine more seasons.

Mentalist moving to Thursdays after CSI is a great move and helps solidify the night. How I Met Your Mother is now an anchor on Monday while Big Bang should flourish on Monday after Men. Purpose looks to be a bad show, but should be a time period hit. The Good Wife and Three Rivers look like good dramas to watch. NCIS is successful, but CSI it's not: the spinoff might not have enough legs.

All in all, look for CBS to continue to do well in total viewers and to be very competitive with ABC and Fox in the 18-49 race. Now if CBS can only translate its success to its Chicago O&O...

Power 92 surges in April PPMs (updated)

Click here to see the results. Keep in mind these are numbers based on Persons 6+.


WBBM-AM, WGN-AM, Power 92 (WPWX-FM), Kiss (WKSC-FM), WVIV-FM, The Score (WSCR-AM)

Down, but not out:

The Drive (WDRV-FM)

Waiting For The Axe to Swing:



Q101 (WKQX), WIND-AM, WCPT and their repeaters

- Because of the focus on the network upfronts this week, yours truly will skip the analysis for Chicago radio's latest PPM survey. However, this can not be ignored: The ratings surge for WPWX-FM (Power 92), who grew 35 percent from March to April. What was once an insurmountable lead for rival WGCI is now down only to a few tenths of a share point.

- Believe it or not, Power 92 wasn't the month's biggest gainer. That honor goes to Univision's WVIV-FM, whose ratings grew 41 percent month-to-month with its Spanish Adult Hits format targeted to Hispanic listeners.

- On the surface, WNUA's numbers really shouldn't justify a format change. But with a mostly older skewing audience and billing lower than some mid-level performing outlets, the axe is waiting to swing on WNUA.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Chicagoland Radio and Media, here are the Women 25-54 and Male 25-54 demos, and the Persons 25-54 numbers.

Updated at 11:39 p.m. on 2009-05-20

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag- The Sports Edition

A lot of sports-related news today:

- CBS and Fox have extended their deals with the NFL until 2014 with CBS getting rights to carry Super Bowl XLVII (47) in 2013 while Fox has Super Bowl XLVIII (48) in 2014.

- The NFL has also agreed to bury the hatchet with Comcast over the NFL Network. The two struck an agreement today to end years of bickering over carriage on the nation's largest MSO. The deal means the NFL Network will move from a sports package-tier to a digital classic one, enabling the net to reach more homes.

- And Comcast wasn't done deal-making: The MSO also made a deal with ESPN to carry web channel ESPN 360. With the addition of Comcast, ESPN 360 is now available in 41 million homes. ESPN 360 carries sportiong events from college basketball to soccer.

- The NBA scored record ratings for Game 7 of the Orlando magic-Boston Celtics semi-final. TNT notched a 5.2 HH rating and drew 8.4 million viewers and was the most-watched Game 7 semifinal ever in households and total viewers. The Magic won, eliminating the defending-champion Celtics (hey Boston, you can't win everything.)

- Sunday's Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings (where the Wings won 5-2) drew a 7.7 household rating and 19 household share locally, according to Nielsen. However, in Detroit (and with no CBC simulcast), the game drew a household rating and share of 16.9/38. Nationally, the game did a 2.0 household rating.

Man, Detroit beats Chicago - even in the ratings.

NBC announces new lineup for 2008-09 season - this time with an actual schedule

NBC released its 2009-10 schedule to advertisers, even though it previewed its lineup at its "InFront" two weeks ago.

The lineup is being split in two: one for fall 2009, the other for midseason 2010, after the Winter Olympics from Vancouver. Click here to see the official press release.

Keep in mind Jay Leno will be stripped at 9 p.m. (CT) every weeknight, so the focus is on the first two hours of prime-time.

New shows for fall include Trauma, which will air on Mondays after Heroes (who moves to an earlier time); Parenthood, a more dramatic version of the feature film (not to mention a short-lived 1990 TV Show); and Community, which debuts after Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday wraps up. Fridays contains veteran Law & Order and the second season of Southland.

Once the Olympics are over, NBC plans to slot Chuck on Mondays while new shows 100 Questions, Mercy, and The Marriage Ref debuts.

Bubble shows returning include Chuck (thanks to a fan campaign and Subway, who scored a product placement tie-in to the show) and Friday Night Lights (which hasn't been slotted).

Canceled shows include My Name Is Earl and Medium - however, both may end up at Fox and CBS respectively. Kings is also gone, along with Howie Do It - the second Howie Mandel-hosted show to be canceled in the last few weeks (The prime-time version of Deal or No Deal was dropped by NBC earlier.)

Analysis: See this post yours truly wrote two weeks ago regarding NBC's new shows this fall. Outside of Jay Leno, the only good things about this lineup is the return of Chuck and The Biggest Loser and perhaps Community, which yours truly plans to check out.

ABC announces new schedule for 2009-10

ABC is bringing eleven new shows to prime-time for the 2009-10 season, with four comedies, six dramas, and one new reality show (Shark Tank), the network announced today at its upfront presentation.

The big news here is new sci-fi drama Flash Forward gets the Thursday lead-off position at 7 p.m. Central, replacing Ugly Betty, which moves to Fridays at 8 p.m.

Taking a page from what CBS did in 1996 to launch its fall lineup, ABC is relying on familiar names to front its network, relying on familiar faces such as Courtney Cox, Ed O'Neill, Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer (the latter two were paired on Fox's 2007 sitcom Back to You.)

In 1996, CBS launched shows featuring Bill Cosby, Ted Danson, and Rhea Pearlman (not to mention a little show called Everybody Loves Raymond.)

ABC is taking its biggest risk on Wednesday, with a night of all-new shows replacing duds Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money.

As for midseason, The Bachelor and Lost will return, while ABC and Warner Bros. hopes to take a page out of Battlestar Galactica's playbook and reimage V, a 1983 NBC mini-series which was also a short-lived regular series on the peacock network in 1984-85.

On the other hand, its Sunday lineup (featuring Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters) remains the same.

Shows on the bubble returning include Scrubs, Better Off Ted, and Castle. Canceled shows include Samantha Who?, The Unusuals, and as noted here earlier, According to Jim.

To see the 2009-10 schedule, click here.

Analysis: ABC's strongest nights remain untouched, and that's a good thing. Two new shows (Shark Tank and Forgotten) surround Dancing With The Stars Results Show and may get solid sampling. With no veteran show anchoring Wednesday, ABC will be in for a long night. Flash Forward is out of place with two female-skewing dramas on Thursday - don't think this show will make it. Ugly Betty moving to The Friday Night Death Slot only adds to that legend, not to Betty's own. Betty is likely done after this season.

Overall, a decent schedule for ABC, but Wednesdays are definitely going to be a sore spot.

So long,"Jim"

ABC axes According to Jim after eight seasons.

So, what do you do to mark the occasion?


Goodbye to bad TV. Don't hit your ass out the door, Jim!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fox introduces new 2009-10 schedule

The broadcast network upfronts began today in New York City, and first up is Fox, who released its fall and midseason schedules today to advertisers. Fox defended its position on why the broadcast networks are better than cable and declined to talk about the controversy over the fourth judge on American Idol (Kara DioGuardi) and whether or not she will be back.

The schedule is marked by the surprise return of Dollhouse and a three hours a week (!) of So You Think You Can Dance, the summer hit now appearing on the fall schedule for the first time. Keep in mind however, summer perennial Big Brother ran in the winter of 2008 and bombed.

Canceled shows include Sit Down, Shut Up and Secret Millionaire. King of the Hill ended production earlier this season and has a few episodes remaining, but it's likely they'll run next summer either on Fox or on Adult Swim, who holds the cable stripping rights.

Fox did not mention whether or not any of its other reality shows (5th Grader, Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Don't Forget The Lyrics) would return. 5th Grader airs in first-run syndication this fall.

Click here to see the full schedule.

Thought: Fox's 2009-10 lineup is clearly disappointing. Dance is on for three hours a week - too much for a mid-level performer. I'm high on Brothers - but paired with 'Til Death, this comedy block will likely post numbers no better than The Bernie Mac Show and Malcolm in the Middle, both flopped in the same hour four years ago. On the other hand, thumbs up on moving Fringe to Thursdays after Bones, where it will compete against Grey's Anatomy and a declining CSI. Sons of Tuscon has a rather dumb premise - three boys pay someone to be their father. Laugh track, please. This makes Sit Down, Shut Up look good (OK, maybe not.)

Another head scratching decision is the decision to slot Animation Domination encores on Saturday nights after Wanda Sykes' new show. It's a dumb idea - it reminds me of what CBS did in the '70's and '80's in late night when it ran mostly off-network dramas, who average clearance rate was 65 percent. If you are airing network reruns at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, why not give the time back to the affiliates? And they canceled Spike Feresten's show - for this? Bullshit.

Did you know? Brothers was also the title of a groundbreaking sitcom that aired on Showtime from 1984-89 on two fronts: It was the first sitcom to ever be produced for pay-cable - and the first to feature a lead gay character. Unfortunately, laughs were few and far between on this program (be thankful Fox isn't remaking this program!) Thankfully, the quality of premium cable sitcoms have improved greatly since (Sex in the City, Entourage, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, to name a few.)

Brothers was sold in broadcast syndication by Paramount (now CBS Television Distribution) in 1989.

Brothers is a member of T Dog's TV Hall of Shame.

Patti Blago to appear on "Celebrity?"

Patti Blagoveich is in discussions to appear on NBC's upcoming revival of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. If you recall, her husband Rod - the former governor of Illinois - tried to get on the show, but a judge denied the request - since he would travel outside the country.

Now, just in case The Tribune - who self-appointed itself as "The Corruption Watchdog", but won't answer about ethics problems in its own house - doesn't post yours truly's comments on the story on its Sirens and Blotter Blog, I'll post them here:

"Wow, a wife of a politician who's a joke on a reality show that's a joke on a network (Nothing But Crap) that's a joke.

Hey, maybe they can revive "Pink Lady and Jeff" and put her in a tight outfit and make her perform with Zucker... I'm certain GE will fit the bill."

UPDATE: The Trib's idiotic Sirens and Blotter Blog never did post yours truly's comments - which contained good-natured humor with no profanity. So typical of Big Media. No wonder why people don't bother with Chicago's newspapers anymore or their websites. I'll just add The Sirens and Blotter Blog to the list of my many targets.

Updated 12:34 a.m. on 2009-05-19

Sunday, May 17, 2009

T Dog's Think Tank - Follow Up: Hawks got with the program

The very first Think Tank yours truly wrote back on November 28, 2006 dealt with the follies of the National Hockey League and its Chicago franchise, and those of broadcasters (over-the-air TV stations and networks), sharing the same tale of missteps and woe. After the Chicago Blackhawks fired head coach Trent Yawney, yours truly wrote this on a comment board regarding the state of the franchise:

"Everything about this team SUCKS, including the management. Now I can see why the NHL is behind NASCAR, Golf, and "Deal or No Deal" in popularity in this country. I would rather watch a Britney Spears video than this poor excuse of a "hockey" team."

My oh my, how times have changed. Ratings for golf and NASCAR have declined (but are still potent), Deal or No Deal is nearly dead (and deservedly so), and Britney Spears is still... Britney Spears.

But the Hawks are definitely not the Hawks - and that's a good thing.

Since owner William Wirtz died in October 2007, the once-moribund franchise has been rejuvenated, thanks to Mr. Wirtz's son Rocky, who took over the franchise and turned it around to become once again a hot ticket in town.

Taking a page from Mark Cuban, who turned a Dallas Mavericks basketball team from a laughingstock into a perennial playoff contender, Rocky Wirtz implemented huge changes within the Blackhawks organ-i-zation to boost attendance and its profile in the nation's third-largest television and radio market. In the last two years, he has done the following:

- Lifted a decades-long policy on not televising home games, realizing putting them on the tube actually promotes the team's product, not hurt it.

- Struck a deal with WGN-TV to carry games in high definition, marking a return to Blackhawks hockey to Chicago over-the-air broadcast television on a regular basis for the first time in 28 years.

- Struck another deal to carry games on WGN radio in a standard rights deal after buying time on WSCR-AM for the last few years.

- Hiring the Cubs' John McDonough to market the team and to connect the Hawks with fans of other Chicago sports teams (i.e. letting Jonathan Toews throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game, and such)

- Promoting the team's young and rising stars - notably Towes (a 2006 third-round draft pick) and Patrick Kane (a 2007 first-round draft pick).

- Being selected by the NHL to host the Winter Classic on January 1 at Wrigley Field against its longtime rival Detroit Red Wings. The outdoor game was a ratings smash and the highest-rated hockey telecast in 34 years.

- The Hawks went from as low as 29th in the league in attendance to first - averaging more than 21,000 a game and drawing a million fans to the United Center alone this season - unheard of for a hockey team.

- Successfully reconnecting with Blackhawks legends from the past including Hall of Famers Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull.

- Though it fired Dennis Savard as coach earlier this season (and replaced him with Joel Queenville), they kept him in the organ-i-zation as an ambassdor.

- Correcting an error by hiring back Pat Foley as Hawks' play-by-play man.

- The Hawks' playoff run has boosted Comcast SportsNet ratings, with numbers not seen for hockey in Chicago in a long time, if not ever.

- Hawks' players appearing in commercials - and that even includes Pat Foley!

- And the ultimate OMG moment: with the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals against the rival Red Wings, NBC has decided to showcase the series instead of the one featuring Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (whose team plays the Carolina Hurricanes) - the "golden boy" of the NHL.

Wow, what an impressive list. And just a couple of years ago, ESPN ranked the Chicago Blackhawks as the worst organization in professional sports.

The resurgence of the Hawks' popularity in Chicago is quite amazing. Granted, the team was a potent Stanley Cup contender from the late 1980's to the mid-1990's, with sellout crowds at the Chicago Stadium and near-capacity crowds at the United Center. But some serious flaws were exposed when the team's fourtunes went south in the late '90's, and the fans literally fled for the exits.

Between 1998 and 2008, the Hawks made the playoffs only once and won just one playoff game. All that changed this year when they beat the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks in the first and second round respectively, and now this young, exiciting team faces the defending champ Red Wings to see who goes to the Stanley Cup Finals. And even if they lose this series, the Hawks should be commended for a great season and should be Cup contenders for years to come.

The Hawks' fortunes have also helped the NHL, whose ratings are up on Versus this year. However, the channel is hard to find on cable and satellite systems, and some MSOs don't carry the net at all. Hopefully, the NHL can strike a deal and return to ESPN so the league can reach a larger audience.

So the lesson learned here is - if the Chicago Blackhawks can turn themselves around, so can any other organization - the Los Angeles Clippers and Oakland Raiders (like the Hawks, it might take removing the owner to achieve this goal), the Detroit Lions, Washington Nationals, and even NBC and The CW.

So in essence, the Hawks got with the program, and to a lesser extent, so has the NHL. Now, as for broadcasters... Well, two out of three isn't bad.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Reaper" headed to syndication?

Reaper, the quirky dramedy currently airing on Tuesday on CW, may be headed for first-run syndication.

The series - now in its second season - would be sold to CW affiliates for airing on Sunday nights at either 7 or 8 p.m. However, Disney-ABC Television Distribution could sell the show to a My Network TV affiliate, independent station, or even a Big Four network affiliate for weekend late fringe if the CW affiliate in a market turns it down.

Disney-ABC already has Legend of the Seeker in first-run syndication - it could be paired with Reaper in some markets.

CW announced last week it was planning on handing its Sunday night lineup back to stations due to low ratings and the awful economic climate. Many CW affils have opted to acquire a movie package from MGM to fill some of those slots starting this fall.

Reaper's showrunners have left ABC Studios for deals at Fox, and would have a new writing team. The show's production budget would likely be cut, with a move to Canada a possibility.

Of course, this isn't the first time a canceled network drama would have been revived for first-run syndication.

When the Big Three were forced to hand a half-hour back to their affiliates in 1971 because of the Prime Time Access Rule (which reduced prime-time to just three hours a night - four on Sundays), the networks canceled scores of shows, including Lassie and Hee Haw. The two shows were quickly picked up by syndicators and sold to stations for those newly created prime-time access periods. Lassie would run until 1973 (it would have a brief syndicated revival from 1989-91) and Hee Haw until 1992.

In 1983, Metromedia and MGM decided to syndicate Fame to stations after NBC canceled the critically acclaimed but low-rated series (Fame would switch to Tribune-owned stations in 1985.)

In 1990, producer Stephen J. Cannell and his production company syndicated new episodes of 21 Jump Street (without Johnny Depp) to stations after Fox canceled it after three seasons.

And of course, the best example would be Baywatch. After NBC dropped it after one season in 1990, it moved to first-run syndication in 1991 and would run for ten years.

Other examples include Viper and Due South. Sitcoms that were canceled after two or less seasons and revived in syndication included Too Close for Comfort, It's a Living, Charles in Charge, and We Got It Made.

If Reaper is picked up for syndication, it could make a killing in international sales, which helped fund many first-run action series in the 1990's, including Baywatch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hawks rock the house

It's official: the Chicago Blackhawks have surged to the top of Chicago's sports chain (I didn't think it was possible either, but wow!)

Last night's thrilling Game 6 between the Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks scored a 7.8 household rating on Comcast SportsNet, which is believed to be the highest-rating ever for a hockey game on the regional sports channel.

The third period - in which the Hawks cliched victory by scoring an unbeliveable number of goals - peaked around a 12.6 around 10:30 p.m.

With the victory, the Hawks move on to the Western Conference finals for the first time since the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95, where they will face the winner of the Detroit Red Wings-Anaheim Ducks series. All games are airing exclusively on Versus, which Comcast subscribers can find on Channel 48.

The Hawks lost the '95 Confrence Finals to Detroit in five games. The Red Wings went to the Stanley Cup Finals and was swept by a hot New Jersey Devils team (it was Fox's first Finals series, glowing puck and all.)

For the ten Blackhawks playoff games airing on CSN this season, ratings were up 150 percent from 2002's Hawks-St. Louis Blues plyoff series (which aired on predecessor Fox Sports Chicago.)

Yes, it's nice to have hockey back in Chicago!

Monday, May 11, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

I'll tumble for the 4 pack - the week's winners and losers:

Winners of the week:

The Chicago Blackhawks. Great job by the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday Night taking a 3-2 lead over the Vancouver Canucks. The Cinderella run continues. Go Hawks!

(UPDATE: The Hawks defeated the Canucks tonight 7-5 to go to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1995. Way to go Hawks! )

David Rehr steps down as President of the National Broadcasters Association. The winner here is the NAB. Good riddance. This time, can you guys find someone who's actually in broadcasting to head the organization and not someone who spent his time getting wasted with Dennis Green at Coors Light Press Conferences?

David Rehr is who we thought he was.

Eddie George's appearance on Survivor. Yes, the former Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans football star is married to one of the contestants (Taj) and his appearance on last week's episode was a great highlight on what has been an otherwise dull season on the venerable reality show.

Big Media, R.I.P. If this Newsweek article is any indication. We can only hope.

Winners of the weak:

Bart takes a night off. And apparently so did viewers of Fox's increasingly lame and lackluster Sunday Animation Domination block with all new shows hitting season-lows. As for The Simpsons... after a 440-episode run, there was NO Bart. Predictably, there were no laughs either - or ratings, with last night's pathetic episode drawing just 5.16 million viewers.

Deal or No Deal. Speaking of pathetic, the return of the canceled prime-time game show only drew four million viewers last week. Au revoir, Howie.

Nielsen's overnight rating delays. What a joke from last week. Is Nielsen still using Windows 98 on its servers?

Joan Rivers wins Celebrity Apprentice. Can you say rigged? This says who we are about in this country when garbage like this does well in the ratings.

Updated 11:59 p.m. on 2009-05-11 (updated Hawks score)

"Star Trek" makes $76 million at the box office

Live long and prosper - at the box office.

J.J. Abrams' (Lost, Alias) reboot of Star Trek finished first this weekend with a haul of $76.5 million. It was a hit with critics as well, with an impressive 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So in honor of the new Star Trek's success, William Shatner - who looks like T.J. Hooker in this clip more than he looks like Captain Kirk - has some advice for you:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

T Dog's Grab Bag

A lot of items in The Grab Bag today:

- Warner Bros. and HBO has sold the sitcoms Entourage and Curb Your Enthauism to the Tribune station group for late-fringe time periods begining in 2010 on all-barter basis (meaning stations don't have to pay a dime - just surrender half of their ad inventory to the syndicator.) Locally, you can catch both shows on WGN-TV.

Meanwhile, Tribune declined to renew another HBO property (Sex in the City) for a second cycle, meaning it will exit broadcast syndication after four years. You can still catch Sex in the City on TBS, which has three more years to go on its deal.

- Also on the syndication beat: WPWR-TV has picked up the Tom Beregron era episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos to air as a daily strip this fall. The deal with Disney-ABC Domestic Television Distribution also includes nine other Fox-owned My Network TV affiliates, including WWOR-TV in New York and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

Repeats of the original version of AFHV (hosted by Bob Saget) has aired in syndication since 1995, and had three syndicators: MTM, Twenteith (who took over after acquiring MTM's owner in 1998), and currently Disney-ABC. You can still catch them weekday mornings on Me-TV (WWME-TV.)

Ironically, WPWR aired the Saget-hosted version of AFHV from 1995 to 2001.

- What do guys locally think of American Idol? Not much. Thanks to the Bulls and Blackhawks' playoff run, Comcast SportsNet topped the market in the ratings among all key male demos in prime-time, including American Idol and Dancing With The Stars. Adam who?

- But Stars is still a huge draw in Chi-town. Monday's episode scored the second-highest household rating among the thirty largest markets (scroll down), with Chicago's (WLS) 16.6 rating only behind Raleigh's (WTVD) 17.0.

On the other hand, the return of prime-time lame duck Deal or No Deal landed with a dud with a 2.1 rating in Chicago (WMAQ), and don't even ask about L.A. (KNBC) and the Bay Area (0.8 each).

- Saga Communications, owners of a few radio stations in Milwaukee, posted a 18% drop in revenue for the first quarter.

- Sad news: Dom DeLuise passed away Tuesday at the age of 75. DeLuise appeared in numerous movies, commercials (for Ziploc Bags), and television shows, including two different versions of The Dom DeLuise Show (1968 and 1987-88.) His sons Michael and Peter, were cast members of 21 Jump Street.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Chicago TV news & notes

So many local TV items today, so we'll just stick them here in one post:

- Fox-owned WFLD-TV announced the elimination of six full-time jobs today as well as a dozen vacation relief positions. This comes as ad revenues for the station plunged thirty percent from a year ago, reflecting general weakness in the economy and the lack of ad spending in the marketplace.

- NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is dropping its Sunday morning newscasts and will instead launch a new taped public-affairs program titled The Talk (how generic a title can get?), which will air at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays.

The elimination of Sunday newscasts follows a similar move at CBS-owned WBBM-TV, which recently dumped its Saturday and Sunday morning newscasts.

Beginning May 24, WMAQ's new Sunday schedule looks like this:

6 a.m. Our World
6:30 a.m. The Wall Street Journal Report
7 a.m. The Chris Mathews Show
7:30 a.m. The Talk (beginning May 31st)
8 a.m. Sunday Today
9 a.m. Meet the Press
10 a.m. House Smarts
10:30 a.m. LX-TV Open House
11 a.m. LX-TV First Look

(Geez, how many times LX. TV can air on a given weekend?)

- The layoff bug hasn't escaped NBC Universal's properties though: Telemundo affiliate WSNS-TV laid off three tafffers today, including anchor Vincete Serrano.

In an unrelated note, WMAQ weekend morning anchor Ellie Pai Hong is departing the station.

- CLTV and WGN -TV are now one step closer to merging their operations: according to Chicagoland Radio & Media, Marcus LeShock (who hosted the Metromix programs on CLTV) is moving over to WGN. Also headed to 'GN are two CLTV photographers.

CLTV will soon close their Oak Brook offices and move to Bradley Place where WGN resides.

CW gives up on Sundays

After initially denying they were giving Sunday back to the affiliates, The CW announced yesterday it was - finally waiving the white flag after getting pummeled in the ratings over the last few years.

The CW's ratings - and its predecessor The WB - ratings were so bad, the network decided last year to lease the Sunday night time slots to Media Rights Capital with forgettable junk such as Valentine and In Harm's Way - all of which earned lower rock-bottom ratings than the CW programming they replaced. CW ended the deal and is now filling the Sunday slots with syndicated programming and movies.

With the move, both CW and My Network TV - who earlier announced they were giving back two hours on Saturday Night back for affiliates to program - are both out of the network business on the weekends.

With The CW done on Sundays for good, syndicators will be lining up to grab some five hours worth of time periods available - notably at Tribune-owned CW affiliates. And Tribune is more than happy with their decision. The station group may be looking at airing some local programming to fill those time periods.

CW now can focus on its core weeknight lineup, which features Gossip Girl and 90210.

Even though CW is giving up on Sundays, it continues to program the 3-to-5 p.m. time period (with Tyra Banks' talk show beginning this fall) and leasing out Saturday Mornings to 4 Kids TV.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

TV Week - Print Edition, R.I.P. (1982-2009)

Kind of a sad day for yours truly, since I credit this magazine and the now-defunct TV/Radio Age for stoking my interest in this business...

Crain's Communications announced today it is folding its print version of Television Week and at the same time, launching a spinoff titled NewsPro as a print monthly. NewsPro is currently a monthly feature launched in the 1990's as a feature in what was then called Electronic Media.

But the good news is, TV Week will still be around as a web-only publication. You can find the link to the site on The Sidebar to the right.

The move is being made because there isn't much ad support for print trade magazines as they used to. In fact, TV Week's website reaches more readers than the print publication does.

Once upon a time, the NATPE issue of Electronic Media would fetch 130 or so pages. This year's NATPE edition of TV Week yielded only 28. With the dwindling number of syndicators over the last decade (thanks to mergers and consolidation), fewer companies buying ads means fewer ad revenue.

Recently, competitor Broadcasting & Cable returned to a traditional standard-size magazine, after years of being a large-size tabloid to save on publishing costs.

Television Week was founded as Electronic Media in 1982 as a weekly supplement inside Advertising Age based out of Chicago. It became a separate magazine a few months later, and grew to become one of the industry's leading media magazine. It covered not only television, but radio as well.

In 1999, the magazine moved its operations to Los Angeles to be closer to the industry it covers. In 2003, Crain changed the name to Television Week, to emphasize its commitment to serving the television industry.

The print edition ends on June 1.

Thought: Yours truly was a subscriber to Electronic Media from 1989 to 2007, when it was known as Television Week. I became a subscriber because of EM's coverage of all aspects of television from cable to broadcast - and especially syndication, which EM had the best coverage of any of the trade magazines. And by being based in Chicago, it was kind of cool to have a media magazine - a New York or Los Angeles kind of thing - based in the Midwest, in my hometown. During a time when my subscription was temporarily suspended and I had to go to Crain's on Rush Street to buy a copy, I got a chance to see EM's newsroom and see editor P.J. Bednarski working behind his desk.

But when publisher and editorial director (and former Chicago Tribune TV Critic) Ron Alridge retired in early 1999, and the magazine's headquarters shifted to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, it was kind of a beginning of the end.

When it became Television Week in 2003, the magazine's quality started to slowly slip when it started running pictures of Hollywood parties and some of the articles became more and more inane (Is Desperate Housewives More Popular in Red States than Blue States?) The website's reporting became sloppier and sloppier - referring to television stations by their dumb branding slogans instead of their actual call letters ("NBC 4 Washington launches cell -phone service"... huh?) and a columnist referring to Philadelphia during last year's World Series as "a small market" because the Phillies weren't a big draw compared to the Yankees and Red Sox.

And then there were the comments section. While many conversations were insightful and imformative, others were quite pointless. When James Hibberd had a blog on TV Week, the comments were often filled with political nonsense and even racial slurs.

But still, Electronic Media and TV Week gave insightful commentary and excellent reporting that no other magazine wasn't able to match.

If it wasn't for columnists like Alridge, Diane Mermigas, Alex Ben Block, Tom Shales, William Mahoney, Marianne Paskowski, and their knowledge and passion for this business - my fascination of the media industry - and probably this blog - wouldn't exist. And to them, Crain Communications, and the hard working staff who put the magazine together over the years, I say - thank you.

When I started following this business in 1985, there were four physical trade magazines - Channels, TV/Radio Age, Broadcasting (later Broadcasting & Cable), and Electronic Media.

Today, only Broadcasting & Cable remains as a print publication.

Man, how times have changed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

NBC announces new lineup for 2009-10 season

Here's Ben "Party All The Time" Silverman now, driving the Losermobile for another pathetic season at Nothing But Crap. All Aboard!

Pathetic, weak, terrible. And that just explains Heroes and Parks and Recreation. But no Chuck - at least not yet. Easy call to renew the Amy Poheler tripe but couldn't renew a show with a rabid fan following. Typical of Ben "Clippers Ballboy" Silverman, who seems to can't get anything right.

NBC announced their 2009-10 lineup today, with just two hours on weeknights (remember, Jay Leno has the 9 p.m. slot.)

The only worthwhile program announced even remotely interesting is the Chevy Chase vehicle Community, about the misadventures of a group of nerds and geeks at a community college (anything with nerds and geeks in it, you know I'm there.)

Out are Kath & Kim and Life. My Name Is Earl is also gone. Deal or No Deal will air exclusively in syndication this fall.

Click here for NBC's fall lineup.

Canadian TV stations saved - for a dollar

In perhaps the lowest amount ever paid for a TV or radio station in North America history, three small Canadian stations were sold on Friday - for a buck each.

Cable MSO Shaw Communications purchased CHWI-TV in Wheatley (Windsor), Ont.; CKX-TV in Brandon, Man.; and CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ont. from CTVglobemedia. All three stations are branded "The A Channel".

CTVglobemedia wound up with the three outlets due to its purchase of former owner CHUM Communications in 2006. All have lost money in recent years, and their financial situation grew so bad, CTVglobemedia considered closing the stations for good when the licenses to operate them expired, which would have taken place this summer. The last blow came when the Canadian Radio Television Comission (CRTC) ruled broadcasters could not collect retransmission consent money from cable operators.

For the record, the last time a station went dark and physically closed was in 1983, when Philadelphia's WKBS-TV was shuttered and its license returned to the FCC after owner Field Communications (former owner of WFLD-TV) was unable to find a buyer.

As far as CHWI is concerned, the station was hampered by low ad revenues and a weak signal- despite the fact its newscasts clobbered those of hertiage outlet CBET - a CBC O&O on Channel 9, whose stronger signal reaches into neighboring Detroit and is also widely available on the city's cable systems (CBET was once CKLW-TV, a general-market independent station owned by U.S. company RKO.)

Despite Calgary-based Shaw purchasing the three stations, their future is still in the air.

The deal is pending via CRTC apporval.

T Dog's Four Pack: Cheers! (and Jeers)

The past week's winners and losers:

Four cheers of the week

- Bulls-Celtics Playoff Series. Even though the Bulls did not win, admit it: It was the most entertaining playoff series in years. Thanks for the ride.

- ... but the Blackhawks are still in! They advanced past Calgary in the first round and now facing Vancouver in the second, with the series tied 1-1. Go Hawks!

-Fox downgrades Sit Down and Shut Up. And I thought it couldn't get ant worse than God, The Devil, and Bob and Father of the Pride.

- Disney joins Hulu. A huge win for the video site: A huge loss for You Tube. You can only go so far with videos of skateboarding dogs and cats falling off of TVs.

Four jeers of the week

WBBM-TV's demotion of Anne State. At the Church of Tisch, she goes from a Deacon to an Altar Person.

The Trib's marketing department solicitation of subscribers' opinions on stories BEFORE they were published. And this questionable ethics practice is from the same folks who are running State of Corruption articles. Hey Trib - maybe you should start investigating corruption IN YOUR OWN HOUSE. What a bunch of hypocrites.

WVAZ (V103) cuts long time vets Troi Tyler and Irene Mojica. And if you even think of getting rid of the legendary Herb Kent...

Supreme Court throws out Appellate Court ruling on indecency. A victory for whiny, self-absorbed, and gutless special interest groups everywhere. What happened to this "change" everyone was talking about?

Speaking of the PTC, I wonder what they thought about what happened to a 15-year old who was shot, beaten, burned, and killed in Chicago by gang members over the weekend...

I thought so. Their silence is deafing - mainly because the crime didn't take place in their members' precious upper-class neighborhoods.

Extra demerit: Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. What was up with the windmill dunk in last week's playoff game against Miami? And you missed? You're lucky basketball players don't have the mindest of hockey players - you would've been knocked into next week.

Chicago TV outlets to share raw news video

Well, I suppose its a sign of the times...

Chicago's news outlets announced they will pool their raw video in order to keep expenses down.

The news-sharing model was adopted by NBC-owned WMAQ-TV and Fox-owned WFLD-TV last fall (along with sharing a job), but now they have invited CBS-owned WBBM-TV and CW affiliate WGN-TV to join in.

This means a single crew will dispatch to a particular event, but it will be up to each station what they do with it.

ABC-owned WLS-TV was invinted to join in the co-op, but declined.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Celtics-Bulls Game 6 packs them in

Comcast, TNT score big ratings

Game 6 of the first-round playoff matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls was one for the ages.

The triple-overtime thriller - in which the Bulls beat the Celtics 129-127 - was the highest-rated first-round game ever, drawing a 3.5 household rating and 5.4 million viewers overall according to Nielsen. TNT also led all cable networks Thursday evening in key adult and male demos.

In Chicago, Comcast SportsNet drew a 6.4 household rating - making it the second highest-rated Bulls telecast ever on the regional sportschannel. In Boston, CSN nabbed a 8.2 household rating, making it the highest-rated Celtics telecast in the history of the channel.

TNT contributed another 5.2 rating points, giving Boston a combined 13.4 household rating overall (TNT's numbers were unavailable for Chicago.)

The playoff game certainly had an effect on the five major broadcast networks' schedules, as almost everything last night underperformed from year-ago time period numbers.

Many pundits are saying this matchup is the best first-round playoff series ever, with five games going into either overtime or double-overtime.

Game 7 is tonight from Boston. Hey, who said there isn't anything interesting on TV Saturday nights? The way this series has gone, believe me - you won't be bored.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Syndicated "Deal" renewed for second season (updated)

Production to move to Connecticut to join other NBC Universal shows

Well, what took them so long?After months of being on the fence, NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal syndicated strip is finally renewed for its second season - with a catch.

Production of the syndicated strip is moving production to Waterford, Connecticut from Culver City, Cal., a suburb adjacent to Los Angeles. Culver City is home to many television production facilities, including Sony Pictures Studios - home of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!

Deal will be joining other syndicated NBC Universal shows in making the move - Maury (from New York City), Jerry Springer, and The Steve Wilkos Show (both from Chicago) - to take advantage of tax credits offered by Connecticut. The three talk shows are scheduled to tape at a renovated facility in Stamford.

It is confirmed the series will leave The Culver Studios altogether, its home since 2006, since NBC will no longer air Deal in prime-time after this season.

Deal has been cleared in 85 percent of the country for season two.

Howie Mandel will continue to host, but it is unknown whether or not the two models on the syndicated version of the show (Tameka Jacobs and Patricia Kara) will continue in their roles.

But the "banker" will be there, rest assured. Just don't be surprised if the "banker" turns out to be Vince McMahon.

Or Rondo from the Celtics.

So where is Waterford, anyway? According to Google Maps, a commute from Rockefeller Center in New York (home of NBC) to the Sonalysts Studios in Waterford (where Deal will tape) is an 121-mile, 2 hour and 17 minute drive. Yikes!

From Providence's WJAR-TV (actually located in Cranston, RI), it's only a 53-mile, 55-minute trip.