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Up-close and objective (Night 5 of the May sweeps)

The Fort Worth school district's surprise swine flu shutdown not surprisingly topped Wednesday's late night D-FW newscasts. In our latest compendium, we bug them about it -- so to speak. Also, how did President Obama's prime-time news conference do against holdout Fox's competing Lie to Me? Get the details in our daily "Local Nielsen Ratings Snapshot."
Ed Bark

NBC5's Meredith Land expecting soon


Inquiring readers wanted to know, and yes, it's true.

NBC5 anchor/reporter Meredith Land and her husband are expecting their first child, the station confirms.

She's due to deliver in June. Land joined NBC5 in October 2003 from WCBD-TV in Charleston, South Carolina. She co-anchors the station's 5 p.m. newscasts and reports on the 10 p.m. edition.

We wish her well.

In other local TV baby news, CBS11 weathercaster Jeff Jamison posted a video blog on April 23rd announcing that he and his wife, Molly, are expecting their first child in early September. It'll be a boy, he said.

Ed Bark

One day of Weeks

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Paul Potts coming to North Texas; Jerome Weeks already here.

A weekly TV presence is in the works for Jerome Weeks, former book critic at The Dallas Morning News and now a member of Dallas-based KERA's Art&Seek staff.

Beginning in May, Weeks will join host Krys Boyd at the end of the Friday television version of Think (7:30 p.m. on Ch. 13). KERA says he'll interview guests from the "world of art and culture" in a segment produced by another former DMN Arts & Entertainment staffer, Anne Bothwell.

I'm not sure if TV qualifies as art or culture. In fact I'm pretty sure it doesn't. But if Weeks ever wants to explore the finer points of TV Land's The Cougar or NBC's upcoming I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Outta Here!, well, he knows where my lair is.

Seriously, good luck, Jerome and Anne. This sounds like a good idea.

***Before Susan Boyle, there was Paul Potts. And the plain-faced classical singer from an earlier edition of Britain's Got Talent is coming to Grand Prairie's Nokia Theatre on Monday, July 6th. Potts' latest CD is "Passione."

Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 2nd at 10 a.m. via the usual venue, Ticketmaster.

Up-close and objective (Night 4 of the May sweeps)

OK, you, me and a lot of other people were watching the Mavericks punch out the Spurs during Tuesday's under-watched late night D-FW newscasts. But through the miracle of DVRing, I'm here to tell you about 'em anyway. Also, check out those whopping big ratings for the Mavs in our latest Nielsen numbers game.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective (Night 3 of the May sweeps)

Monday's late night D-FW newscasts proved to be quite a vision. Our latest four-ring roundup is here.
Ed Bark

NBC's MVP back in Tonight trenches

Jay Leno put NBC at ease Monday with his return to the Tonight Show after a health scare last week. We've got a sight gag and some of his gags. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings make all of the market's major TV news providers happy -- at least once. And CBS sentences Harper's Island to hard labor while also changing a few of its series finale dates.
Ed Bark

Obama's 100th day news conference nixed by Fox (updated)

Fox has decided not to carry President Obama's Wednesday, April 29th prime-time news conference, which also marks his 100th day in office.

The network instead will go with its regular lineup of the freshman series Lie to Me and an American Idol performance hour.

ABC, CBS and NBC all have announced they will carry Obama, who's making his fourth appearance in prime-time since becoming president. Fox had carried the previous three appearances, including a pair of Tuesday night outings (on Feb. 24 and March 25th) that bumped Idol's performance show to Wednesday and the show's results hour to Thursday.

Cable's Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel will carry the president's Wednesday night appearance, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (central). It also will be available on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Univision. PBS announced Tuesday afternoon that it, too, will cover Obama's news conference live.

Up-close and objective (Night 2 of the May sweeps)

Which D-FW news anchor has resorted to tweeting during newscasts? And what is he/she tweeting? The answer might surprise you, as they say in the TV news biz. Our May sweeps compendium of Friday's late night newscasts is here. Also, catch up on the ratings for the Dallas Mavericks' big win Saturday in our latest look at the D-FW Nielsen numbers.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Night 1 of the May sweeps

Yes, it's back, because unclebarky.com is nothing if not masochistic. So for each and every weeknight of the May "sweeps," we're going to watch the featured nighttime newscasts on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. And then we're going to perhaps live to tell about them. Our first dispatch is ready when you are on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings show big returns for the Dallas Mavericks on the first night of the sweeps. There are some interesting local news results, too.
Ed Bark

May day

The May "sweeps" have officially started (never mind that it's only April 23rd), which means that the official May 20th end of the 2008-09 TV season is coming up fast. In commemoration, unclebarky.com has compiled a list of series finales, which you can print and save after first going here. Also, the eve-of-the-sweeps D-FW Nielsen ratings show a potentially hot horse race at 6 a.m., with even CBS11 not all that far back.
Ed Bark

Hot story

Fox4's roving Good Day reporter, Fiona Gorostiza, suffered a second degree burn while hot-coal walking on Tuesday's edition. But the Dallas-based station's web site is treating the mishap as a semi-comical sidebar.
Ed Bark

WFAA adds extra layers of live to 5 p.m. newscasts

Dallas-based WFAA8 is addressing its 5 p.m. newscast ratings dip with a lighter, hands-on approach. That included a live appearance Tuesday by three rescued baby hawks. Get our first impressions here. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in.
Ed Bark

New inside

CNBC has a fun time with infomercials -- and who wouldn't? -- in Wednesday night's As Seen on TV. We also revisit the infancy of infomercials in a Back Channels article, circa 1990. Plus, Terrell Owens has another off-field venture set for this summer, this time in partnership with an oft-unclothed model. And the Dallas Mavericks score big in the D-FW Nielsen ratings Monday despite laying an egg in Game 2 at San Antonio.
Ed Bark

"I'm not doing anything, sir" -- El Paso TV reporter pleads case to no avail as officer cuffs him on video

Darren Hunt of El Paso's KVIA-TV

Caught on video Monday: Reporter Darren Hunt and photographer Ric Dupont of KVIA-TV in El Paso were handcuffed and taken to police headquarters for interviewing witnesses near the scene of a serious car wreck.

In his handling of the matter, police Sgt. Raul Ramirez looks all too reminiscent of Dallas police officer Robert Powell in the nationally publicized Ryan Moats incident. Powell resigned from the force on the day after pleading for his job in a CBS11 interview.

Hunt, who joined the ABC station in January 2006 after more than two decades as a sports reporter, was on the opposite end of the freeway on which the accident occurred. Ramirez can be seen climbing over a chain link fence to order him away from the scene.

"We're doing our job," Hunt protests before heading toward the KVIA vehicle. With his back to Ramirez, Hunt then says, "He can shoot if he wants to," referring to his photographer.

This prompts an incensed Ramirez to run after Hunt and eventually handcuff him after the reporter says, "It's fine. I'll go."

"You're not going," Ramirez tells him.

"I'm not resisting," the reporter protests. His KVIA microphone is clearly visible on the vehicle's car hood.

A handcuffed Hunt later is pushed against the chain link fence by Ramirez, who has been assigned to desk duty while the El Paso police department investigates the matter. Police spokesman Javier Sambrano told the station on camera: "It's unfortunate at any time that any member of the public or the news media feels that they were treated unfairly by any member of our department. And so that's a very serious type of allegation -- something that we definitely have to ensure that we investigate completely. And that's the reason that we are here and conducting an investigation."

Hunt and Dupont were released shortly after being taken to the Westside Regional Command Center, KVIA says.

Here's the video. It's quite arresting, so to speak.

Who makes the A-team?

Television has had many stars whose surnames begin with the letter A. But who's in the all-time Top 10? Our Making A List page begins a periodic new feature by starting with A and eventually covering the whole alphabet. Also, former WFAA8 anchor Bob Gooding dies after a lengthy fight with cancer. And the latest D-FW ratings show a nice bump for the suddenly very watchable Mavericks. Plus, we answer another batch of questions on the Ask Uncle Barky page.
Ed Bark

Sign o' the times: cutbacks claim former WFAA8 personality Bill Ratliff after generation-spanning career in Tampa


Bill Ratliff, former co-host of Dallas-based WFAA8's PM Magazine with Leeza Gibbons, is calling it quits at Tampa, Florida's WFLA-TV after 27 years as an anchor.

In short, the station made him an offer he could refuse -- fewer hours and far less pay, according to a story by Tampa Bay Tribune TV critic Walt Belcher.

Ratliff, 60, joined WFLA-TV in 1982, shortly after leaving PM that same year.

"It's been a great ride, but the economy did me in," he says.

WFLA news director Don North told the Tribune, "We really wanted him to stay. But the news business is changing at an unprecedented pace, and in this tough economy we've had to make some difficult decisions.

WFLA carries NBC programming and WFAA is an ABC affiliate. Ironically, though, both are Channel 8s.

Ratliff and Gibbons can be seen fleetingly as PM co-hosts in a vintage WFAA sales video recently posted on unclebarky.com.

HBO's Grey Gardens and a Fox cartoon character named Miracle Grohe

Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange excel in HBO's Grey Gardens. But Fox falls flat with the animated comedy Sit Down, Shut Up, despite a wealth of behind-the-scenes talent. Thursday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are inside.
Ed Bark

See for free: Mavs-Spurs will battle on TXA21

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You won't need cable or a dish to watch the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs hoop it up in first round NBA playoff action.

All of the games will be on TXA21, unless ABC decides to cherry-pick one for a national over-the-air telecast. But that won't happen during the first four games because the schedule is already set. Here it is:

Sat., April 18th -- Mavs at Spurs (7 p.m.)
Mon., April 20th -- Mavs at Spurs (8:30 p.m.)
Thurs., April 23rd -- Spurs at Mavs (7:30 p.m.)
Sat., April 25th -- Spurs at Mavs (3 p.m.)

The Mavs also will get cable exposure, with TNT showing the April 20th and 25th games and ESPN the April 18th opener. Game 3, on April 23rd, also will be on NBA TV, which few have.
Ed Bark

Madden retires, successor seems obvious

John Madden's surprise retirement from broadcasting Thursday leaves NBC with a big Sunday Night Football vacancy. An obvious candidate is already in the house, though. Read all about it here. Also, the latest D-FW ratings are very good tidings for Fox and Fox4. And we have a video blast from WFAA8's Midday past. Plus, a Dallas woman will strut her 41-year-old stuff in the second season of TV Land's She's Got the Look. P.S., they're looking for the "next great supermodel" -- over 35 years of age.
Ed Bark

Cowboys' 2009 schedule comes up short for Fox4

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The lots-to-prove Dallas Cowboys may not be ready for prime-time in the 2009 season. But Jerry's Palace is.

NBC's Sunday Night Football will have the first regular season game from the so-called "Eighth Wonder of the World," with the New York Giants in town as the loyal opposition on Sept. 20th.

Cherry-picking marquee games increasingly is a sport within a sport in the NFL. Which means that Dallas-based Fox4 has to swallow hard and accept one fewer Cowboys game than it had last season.

The 2009 schedule also gives NBC a pair of Sunday night games with the Cowboys' two other NFC East rivals. They'll visit Philadelphia in prime-time on Nov. 8th and will be in Washington under the lights on Dec. 27th.

Dallas also hosts Carolina Sept. 28th on ESPN's Monday Night Football. And the Cowboys will be at New Orleans Dec. 19th on the NFL Network. Fox4 won't get to show off the Cowboys' new stadium until the sixth game of the season, on Oct. 25th against Atlanta.

The annual Thanksgiving Day game goes to CBS this season, with Oakland in town. CBS also has a Dec. 13th game between the host Cowboys and San Diego.

That leaves Fox4 with just nine regular season games, even though its network is home base for the NFL's NFC teams. Split by a bye week, Fox4 will have four consecutive games early in the season, beginning with an Oct. 4th road game against Denver and ending with a Nov. 1st home matchup with Seattle.

Fox4 also gets the Cowboys' Sept. 13th season opener at Tampa Bay and the last regular season game on Jan. 3rd, with Philadelphia visiting. But the station will have just two of the Cowboys' six final regular season games, when a post-season spot presumably will be on the line.

New inside

TV Land's The Cougar isn't a nature show, although its 40-year-old star enjoys preying on tender young meat. Our review is here. Also, the Back Channels page revisits a time when D-FW reporters regularly moved on up to the network news level, with some not liking it much. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings likewise are inside, as is a new TV Bulletin Board with lotsa fresh tidbits.
Ed Bark

What's up with Macie Jepson?

Readers regularly ask about former WFAA8 anchor Macie Jepson. So here's the latest, complete with new pictures. Also, her former 5 p.m. newscast running mate, Jeff Brady, is aggressively selling himself and his new company. Check out his pitch -- but beware of curveballs -- on our Web Browser page. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in, too.
Ed Bark

Fox Sports Southwest has own Project Runway -- starring Jet Terry


Cue the unscripted drama on Fox Sports Southwest Photo: Ed Bark

What could have been a crushing home loss to Minnesota's woeful Timberwolves became a tingling two-point win Monday night when guard Jason "Jet" Terry canned a clutch jumper.

The victory at least temporarily snatches the Dallas Mavericks from the jaws of an eighth seed playoff matchup against the all-powerful Los Angeles Lakers.

A final regular season home win against Houston on Wednesday -- or a loss by the Utah Jazz to the Lakers Tuesday night -- gives the Mavs at least a fighting chance to avoid a third consecutive first round playoff knockout. But will enough fans be on board to pump up the team's deflated Nielsen ratings?

We'll see -- one game at a time.
Ed Bark

Good Day in a good way? The co-anchors keep shifting (updated)

Six weeks after Megan Henderson's departure and nearing the start of the May "sweeps," Fox4's Good Day continues to rotate co-anchors. Is that a good idea -- or maybe an idea whose time has come in these tough economic times? We bat it around here. Also, PBS looks deep into Native American history Monday night with the first film in its five-part We Shall Remain. And the weekend D-FW Nielsen ratings are paced by Sunday's Masters shootout.
Ed Bark

R.I.P: Matt Quinn

Former WFAA8 and ABC News reporter Matt Quinn and his wife, Cathy, were killed when wildfires decimated their home in rural Montague County. We look back at what Quinn meant to the station in times when stylists had more room to roam. Also, the latest D-FW ratings show how three network series premieres fared Thursday night.
Ed Bark

Breaking huddle: Friday Night Lights ends Season 3 with a new score to settle

Friday's third season finale of NBC's Friday Night Lights is full of senior moments, plus an unexpected challenge for Coach Taylor that sets up what should be a game-changing fourth season. Get the details here.
Ed Bark

Body counting on CBS, CSIs excluded

CBS already has plenty of whodunits, but its new Harper's Island will keep doing it for 13 weeks before fingering the killer. Check out our full-bodied review here. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in their usual spot.
Ed Bark

Updating inside: reviews of two NBC Thursday night newcomers and a buncha stuff on the TV Bulletin Board page

NBC ventures into an ER-less Thursday with two new series -- a comedy starring SNL alum Amy Poehler and a cop drama from ER's former maestro. See our reviews here. Also, the TV Bulletin Board page has a new slew of breathless announcements. No really, it does.
Ed Bark

Inside pages

Should Shelly Slater be filling one of those 5 p.m. newscast anchor vacancies on WFAA8? We talk about it here. Also, Eminem's first new video in ages finds him in uniform as Tony Romo throwing a hamburger to a mock Jessica Simpson. Delish? Watch the video on our Web Browser page. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in.
Ed Bark

WFAA8 silent on DMN layoffs but Neiman Marcus job losses make the cut

WFAA8, corporate sibling of the Belo-owned Dallas Morning News, made no mention of the newspaper's latest round of layoffs Tuesday night. But its 10 p.m. newscast did make note of the job cuts that same day by Neiman Marcus.

Even more disheartening -- or maybe even disgraceful -- WFAA8 as usual plugged a story appearing in the next day's DMN. For shame.

This is the same station that went after a rival network's "To Catch a Predator" series on Dateline NBC. And investigative reporter Byron Harris won national awards for his sleuthing. Harris' reports were valuable, but I wondered at the time whether WFAA8 would have proceeded with the same zeal had Dateline been an ABC news magazine. I think we might know the answer to that after Tuesday's 10 p.m. blackout of the DMN layoffs.

At least 50 editorial employees were laid off at the DMN Tuesday as part of 200 job cuts newspaper wide. That includes a staggering 13 from the sports department, according to the in-house dmncuts.blogspot.com. Eleven Metro staffers also were dropped. Only a handful have gone public with their farewells so far, including the inimitable Nancy Moore, who regularly comments as "Shaggy" on unclebarky.com.

It's the second time Nancy has been laid off, and this time she lets her freak flag fly in a declaration of independence posted on unfairpark. There are many sides to Nancy, who's also a very accomplished singer/songwriter. So check this out.

As might be expected, many of the banished have ample mileage on them. And many of the comments on dmncuts question why no managers were among the casualties. Here's a particularly apt contribution from someone who was spared Tuesday:

"And now, all of us 'Stepford' worker bees will sit in our meetings tomorrow with George and Bob (managing editor George Rodrigue and editor Bob Mong) and politely listen and nod our muted heads in a very understanding way, when all we really want to do is scream obscenities. But we have to cling to our jobs by our fingernails like every other middle class American and pray we're not on the list the next time. It's pathetic and maddening."

Or maybe someone might just want to SAY SOMETHING!!!

On the other hand, that's how you end up where I am. Hurts so bad. Feels so good.

Rescue Me at long last returns with a newfound burning intensity

FX's Rescue Me was hit harder than most by last year's writers' strike. After a Sopranos-like gap, it's finally back for an extended fifth season of 22 episodes. See our review here. Also, Monday's D-FW Nielsen Snapshot highlights the day's two big sports events. And if you want the latest information about the ongoing layoffs at The Dallas Morning News, here's the best source. My sympathies and best wishes are with all who are being forced to walk the plank today.
Ed Bark

More new stuff

NBC5's new Geico-derivative spot makes the most of the budding partnership between old hand Newy Scruggs and newcomer Matt Barrie. See what we're talkin' about. Also, ABC re-embraces Bob Saget -- again -- in the new sitcom Surviving Suburbia. And the weekend D-FW Nielsen ratings show a strong appetite for country-fried extravaganzas.
Ed Bark

A day unlike any other


Looks good so far on Fox4: Rangers lead 4-0 after 2. Photo: Ed Bark

Rangers at home for one-timer on Fox4 -- unless the playoffs or a World Series magically intervene

A self-described "Rangers fan of epic proportions" made this 30-second video a few months ago. The team's promotions department should sign him up.

Our one and only pro baseball club begins anew at 1:05 p.m. Monday, and it's the only game scheduled all season on Fox4. Must be big. So let's muster at least one more "Go, Rangers" -- exclamation point optional.
Ed Bark


D-FW's NBC5 lately has stretched its out-of-studio pictures to full screen size on its HD newscasts. We offer two sight gags from Thursday's 10 p.m. news. Also, Showtime's The Tudors and HBO's In Treatment are back in view Sunday night.
Ed Bark

New inside

Boston's NBC station is saying no to Jay Leno's upcoming prime-time show. And MSNBC has hired another left-of-center personality who otherwise doesn't look like your typical TV type. Get the details here, and also see how ER did in the D-FW ratings with Thursday night's two-hour series finale.
Ed Bark

Have backpack? Will hire

Dallas-based KDAF-TV's 9 p.m. local newscast is looking to hire a few good "backpack journalists." We look at the implications as TV newsrooms of all sizes and quality strive to go cheaper.
Ed Bark

Disney Channel ready with new Jonas brothers sitcom


Already flush with Hannah Montana and the High School Musical movies, Disney Channel will add the Jonas brothers to its kid-powered arsenal with a new comedy series set to premiere on Saturday, May 2nd.

It's not surprisingly titled JONAS, even though Kevin, Joe and Nick will be playing brothers with the surname Lucas. But they'll still be "rock and roll superstars" navigating their way through "unexpected, unpredictable and often absurd situations . . . as they try to live ordinary lives," says a Disney publicity release.

Original songs also will be created for the show. The first episode, titled "Wrong Song," will be available a week before its cable air date via the On Demand services on Time Warner and Verizon Fios among others.

The brothers recently bought a house in the Dallas suburb of Westlake, but have had little time to occupy it during an ongoing promotional blitz. Disney says their TV show will emphasize music and comedy, which the network describes as "the two primary drivers of the kid and tween entertainment landscape."

March "sweeps' no spring fling for some

The just-concluded March "sweeps" ratings period came up pretty much empty for one local TV news provider. But its losses were others' gains. See our complete report here. Also, Wednesday's D-FW Nielsens are in the house, and we say goodbye to ER and an era on our Network News & Reviews page. And if you haven't already, check out our all-time top 10 TV docs list to see if your favorite operators made the cut.
Ed Bark

New for you

The Peabodys have announced their latest batch of winners. See who's got the prestige this time. Also, look who's adding Wanda Sykes to the late night mix, check out the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings and get more of your questions answered in a new "Ask Uncle Barky."
Ed Bark

Unclebarky.com rolls over, but doesn't play dead

It's that time of month again.

Recent material on unclebarky.com gradually will relocate to the March 2009 archives (scroll down along right-hand border and then click) as April postings magically appear.

We begin with new entries on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page (look what the Texas Rangers have for you) and the Network News & Reviews page (a look back at Tuesday's dreadful Osbournes: Reloaded).

Thanks again for your continued patronage and well-wishes.
Ed Bark