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The World Series ends and Barack Obama tries to close out John McCain (plus a sidetrip in search of a DMN endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate)

It was a TV night unlike any other -- ever. Baseball's biggest showcase, the World Series, brought major league drama to its closing act. And before that, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama submitted himself for approval via a half-hour national pitch on four broadcast and three cable networks. How did much drawing did each big show have in North Texas homes? Unclebarky.com pays close attention in this very deluxe edition of our longest-standing fixture, the Local Nielsen Ratings Snapshot.

And, um, er, has The Dallas Morning News, in well over a century of publishing, ever endorsed a Democrat for president in the finals?
Ed Bark

If not Joe the Plumber, then who?

For better or worse, a majority of the electorate by now knows who Joe the Plumber is. He increasingly likes that idea, and has just signed a management deal with a Nashville-based talent agency. Read all about it in a new "Picky Picky" poll conveniently located this time on the Network News & Reviews page. Then pick from among our four other ______ the _________ nominees. Which of them has the best chance to be part of the national conversation 10 years/5 years/6 months from now? You decide. Early balloting is encouraged.
Ed Bark

Still pumpkins in the playoffs, Mavs open latest regular season with Halloween eve outing on TNT

Will this season's TV ratings be scarily lower as the stand-pat Dallas Mavericks get into costume for a pre-Halloween night opener against the Rockets? Get our chilly forecast. Also, Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings are in the house, and Barack Obama will blanket all but one of the Big Four broadcast networks with a half-hour ad Wednesday night.
Ed Bark

Leachman unleashed; Banfield under oath

Once, twice, eight times an Emmy winner, semi-crazed Cloris Leachman is still kicking at age 82 -- in high heels. Easily the oldest competitor ever on ABC's Dancing with the Stars -- and also lasting longer than Mark Cuban did -- Leachman has network censors on high alert whenever she speaks her mind. She likewise seemed to be from another planet during a long-ago interview in Dallas.

Also, former Fox4 anchor Ashleigh Banfield earns her stripes off-camera. And a rain-soaked World Series game muddies the latest D-FW ratings.
Ed Bark

Hot flashes in local TV news

Check out our trio of D-FW news "Talking Points," plus the latest Cowboys-infused local ratings snapshot.
Ed Bark

Today's last post

As many may already know, today was another layoff day at The Dallas Morning News. More of my former newsroom colleagues will be looking for work in a withering economy. If you can help in any way, please do.

Newspaper employees are by no means alone in this. Far too many people -- in many other lines of work -- are also suddenly and involuntarily jobless. The most that I can do, via this little web site among millions, is to wish all of you future good fortune and happiness.
Ed Bark

One-month report card for Big Four networks finds only one crowing so far (and it's not the Peacock)

The new fall season is a month-old and all of its new series are now operative. Well, actually two are already canceled. Get all the further details in our first look at where the new shows and the Big Four networks stand.
Ed Bark

Hey, how'd Game 1 of the World Series do nationally?

Fox's World Series team: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver

OK, we've already established that Fox's Game 1 telecast of the World Series tanked big-time in the Dallas-Worth ratings.

But how did it do in the country at large? The final Nielsen numbers are in -- and the Series pretty much did OK.

Wednesday's opener between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays, which ran from 7:30 to 11:01 p.m. (central time), averaged 14.6 million viewers nationally, according to Nielsen Media Research. The game was close throughout, with the Phils prevailing 3-2 over the Rays in the Florida upstart's first-ever Series appearance.

That's down 13 percent from the 16.9 million who tuned in last year's Game 1 between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies. The Red Sox ended up sweeping the Rocks in a minimum four-games Series that ended up averaging 17,123,000 viewers.

So far that's the second lowest total audience ever, barely a smidgen "ahead" of the 2005 Series, in which the Chicago White Sox swept the Houston Astros in four games to the tune of 17,162,000 viewers.

The 2006 Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers retains at least one unwanted title. Its first game remains the least-watched ever, with 12.8 million viewers nationally. So far it's also the all-time "champ" in the ratings loser division, averaging just 15.8 million viewers for a five-game Series won by St. Louis.

Fox has been the exclusive network of the World Series since 2000. It's also had pretty lousy luck of late. Three of the last four Series have been four-game sweeps.

The only four-gamer that did exceedingly well on Fox -- and for obvious reasons -- was the historic 2004 Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals. Exorcising the "Curse of the Bambino" (Boston's trading of Babe Ruth to the Yankees), the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918.

Fox feasted on an average of 25.4 million viewers per game. That Series also had a buildup sent from the baseball gods. The preceding American League Championship Series with the hated Yanks, also on Fox, found Boston almost miraculously become the first team ever to overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit. That one was a ratings smash.

The overall fate of the Phillies-Rays World Series almost certainly depends on its length. Thursday night provides even tougher competition from rival networks, with ABC's Grey's Anatomy and CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation both going against the Series at 8 p.m. (central).

On Wednesday night, CBS edged the Series in total viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. with a competing episode of Criminal Minds. Fox almost desperately needs a compelling, close game on Thursday night to keep the ratings from burrowing into too deep a hole. The network also would love to see a Rays home win to ensure at least a five-game Series. What would Fox give for a seven-gamer? Only Rupert Murdoch knows for sure, but there's nothing he can't afford.

Game 1, which was close throughout, kept gaining viewers as the night wore on. What happens Thursday night could go a long way in determining whether baseball will at least be very good to Fox -- or much closer to a whiff with the bases loaded.

Hey, how'd Game 1 of the World Series do in D-FW Wednesday night?

Um, don't ask. But it did beat NBC's Lipstick Jungle. For all the messy details, dial up our daily "Local Nielsen Ratings Snapshot."
Ed Bark

Baseball and presidential politics mix as Fox opens 2008 World Series

sen-john-mccain image001 ObamaBarack

Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama will be on the same team -- for a few fleeting seconds at least -- during Fox's coverage of the 2008 World Series, which begins Wednesday, Oct. 22nd, at 7 p.m. (central).

The network, as part of its plan to portray diamonds as one of the country's best friends, will open each game with spots that present baseball as a "beacon of hope through some of America's most difficult times."

They're narrated by Michael Douglas, who says that during the roughest patches in American history, there is one faithful companion. "Standing by our side, as it does tonight," he says, "has been baseball."

Obama and McCain have played their parts off-camera by recording "inspirational quotes from American icons." In an extended and suitably stirring preview sent by Fox to TV critics, Obama reads words from Franklin D. Roosevelt and Albert Spalding while McCain stands in for Herbert Hoover and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The two disparate presidential candidates then join in the end to simultaneously quote John F. Kennedy: "I think that both baseball and the country will endure."

This year's "Fall Classic" matches the upstart Tampa Bay Rays, in existence for just 11 seasons, against the Philadelphia Phillies, who began playing ball in 1883 as The Quakers. They officially became the Philliies in 1890, and have won just one World Series in all those years -- in 1980.

Now the Rays can match that total. Or as crusty icon Uncle Barky once said majestically -- and at length, "The Chicago Cubs, whom I foolishly favored as a Dairyland youth in those cherished Dick Drott glory years, have yet to even play in a World Series during my too many years on this godforsaken planet."

Even so, "Play ball!" Absence (of the Cubs or my since adopted Milwaukee Brewers) only makes the heart grow fonder.

Former CBS11 anchor/reporter Maria Arita now shooting on her own

Former CBS11 anchor/reporter Maria Arita advocates for Barack Obama in the first film from her new Frisco-based film company. And the latest D-FW ratings snapshot charts another bumpy Tuesday night.
Ed Bark

New for you

Where have Oprah's ratings gone? And how is WFAA8's 5 p.m. newscast faring without those big booster shots? Our latest local Nielsen ratings snapshot zooms in. Also, look who's getting two more seasons to ply his gruesome craft and see where old hand Dan Rather will be on election night. Click to the TV Bulletin Board for further details and more.
Ed Bark

Inside pages

Have the Cowboys hit rock bottom yet? The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings know the score. Also, talented MADtv alum Nicole Sullivan gets her own Lifetime sitcom, Rita Rocks. And two pro athletes with mixed success in Dallas -- Dennis Rodman and Hershcel Walker -- will be teaming on a new edition of a celeb-driven network reality show.


The Starz cable network's first original drama series is a continuation of the Oscar-winning film Crash. Too bad it's a train wreck. The latest D-FW Nielsens also are in. And that's not good news for the second episode of ABC's Life on Mars.
Ed Bark

No man is an island, but Crusoe's on one

NBC has an engaging, first-rate adventure yarn in its new Crusoe series, premiering Friday. (Note to readers: Wednesday's D-FW Nielsens weren't immediately available. We'll try again on Friday.)
Ed Bark

Inside pages

John McCain has company in being upstaged by running mate Sarah Palin. Check out our countdown of TV's Top 10 show-stealers. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in play. And Comedy Central's Chocolate News begins a 10-week run, with David Alan Grier fake-anchoring.
Ed Bark

Sounds of silence: WFAA8's late night Sat. newscast takes a one-time knockout punch

Several readers have asked what happened to WFAA8's Saturday night local newscast, which already had been delayed until roughly 10:45 p.m. by ABC's NASCAR race overrun.

Basically, the newscast went on, but without audio. Then it went off, never to return. The syndicated Entertainment Tonight instead took over.

"We lost an audio board," WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said by phone Monday evening. A backup board was in place, he said, "but for some reason that didn't kick in and work properly either. So we were just never able to get a newscast on."

A new audio board has been on order to replace the well-worn existing one, Devlin said.

The station took another hit Monday, when a "significant power loss" punched out both the 3:30 p.m. edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the opening minutes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Devlin said.

"It's been a pretty tough couple of days," he said.

Get your latest local news

It's a boy -- and a girl -- for CBS11 investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham and his partner, Michael Spann. Also, it at least was another big ratings Sunday for the Cowboys, with Fox4 the happy recipient this time.
Ed Bark

Shale.TV dead before planned arrival (updated)

As posted earlier Monday morning, trusted, reliable sources told unclebarky.com that Shale.TV will not be making its planned debut in October -- or ever.

They were right. The official announcement came just before noon Monday from Jerri Robbins, manager of public relations for Fort Worth-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which was to have been Shale.TV's sole sponsor. She cited an ongoing anemic economy as the primary reason.

"We truly regret having to make this tough decision," Robbins said. "But we know, given today's economic challenges faced by our country and industry, it is the right decision as we focus our time and resources on exploration and production activities."

Former CBS11 and WFAA8 anchor Tracy Rowlett, veteran, award-winning local television producer John Sparks and former network television producer Olive Talley (who earlier reported for The Dallas Morning News) were hired in July to be the linchpins of the planned new web site.

It was billed by Chesapeake as a vehicle to discuss production of natural gas in the Barnett Shale and other gas shale throughout the country.

Emails to Rowlett and Sparks seeking comment have not been returned yet. Rowlett, in an interview with unclebarky.com on the day of the stunning Shale.TV announcement, said that maintaining journalistic integrity in the new venture was his overriding concern.

"I guess the best way to put it is the proof will be in the pudding," he said in a telephone interview at the time. "If people will just give us an opportunity, they'll see that what we'll be doing is good, objective reporting. Chesapeake is just the sponsor, and there's nothing truly different about having a sponsor in news programming. I really won't be answering to Chesapeake. They have already said we'll have full editorial control."

Robbins, in the Chesapeake statement, said that Rowlett, Sparks and Talley "have been tirelessly working to produce a high-quality program covering an assortment of developments pertaining to the Barnett and other shale plays . . . We are deeply disappointed that their extraordinary work will not be seen."

Rowlett left CBS11 to join Shale.TV. Sparks earlier had been dropped from the station as part of another corporate-mandated downsizing by parent company CBS. Another CBS11 reporter, Mark Johnson, recently resigned from the station to join Shale.TV.

All four now will have to look elsewhere.

Inside pages

USA network's The Starter Wife restarts as a weekly series Friday night. Fans won't be disappointed. Also, Pete 'n' Dale get legal in a new and clever WFAA8 promo that's certain to further displease viewers who say they're already turned off by the pair's nightly newscast banter. And in a pivotal night for new and returning network series programming, see how they ran in a very special (sorry) "Local Nielsen ratings snapshot."
Ed Bark

More crime time on CBS

Thursday night's third new series, CBS' Eleventh Hour, is another "police procedural" from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. We take a look while also paying respects to the network's godfather of the genre, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It begins Season 9 tonight with an exceptionally affecting episode anchored by series star William Petersen.
Ed Bark

Inside stuff

Our reviews are in on two new Thursday night series -- ABC's Life On Mars and NBC's Kath & Kim. Also, Tuesday's D-FW Nielsens gave ABC a landslide win in the presidential debate ratings.
Ed Bark

Local developments

The 33"s weather team is now a one-man band after veteran Fred Barnhill called it a day. This of course brings up Rebecca Miller's name anew. See what she has to say. Also, Monday's D-FW Nielsens are feast or famine for some of the Big Four broadcast networks' best-known series.
Ed Bark

Cuban packs the house at Saturday's climactic Uncle Barky Show


Dallas Mavericks owner and TV entrepreneur/star Mark Cuban sports a lovely parting gift -- an inaugural unclebarky.com T-shirt -- at Saturday's seventh Uncle Barky Show. At left is Matt Miller of the Dallas Mavericks Foundation, recipient of a $1,000 donation in connection with Cuban's guest appearance. Photos: Ed Bark

Many thanks to the many who attended Saturday's seventh Uncle Barky Show with guest Mark Cuban. It finally happened after an originally scheduled Sept. 13th episode was waylaid by concerns over the impact of Hurricane Ike.

Our venue for all seven shows, Stratos Global Greek Taverna, donated $1,000 to Cuban's designated charity, the Dallas Mavericks Foundation.

That's a grand total of $5,500 in worthy contributions during times when the economy keeps sinking to new lows. In that context, this was the last Uncle Barky Show at Stratos, and we greatly thank management for all of their generosity. They've gone way above and beyond.

Your friendly content provider's recent health problems also are a warning that one person can only do so much. Stress can crush you if you let it. Many already have learned that lesson. It's time for me to at least enroll in a 101 class. Unclebarky.com will remain a high priority. It just can't be the only one. After two years of virtually non-stop diligence, it's time to ease off the throttle a bit.

For the record, here's our roll call of previous local media guests at the seven Uncle Barky Shows:

Dec. 1st -- Gordon Keith of "The Ticket" and "The Gordon Keith Show"
Jan. 19th -- Tracy Rowlett, generation-spanning anchor at CBS11 and WFAA8
Feb. 23rd -- Tim Ryan and Megan Henderson, co-anchors of Fox4's early morning "Good Day"
April 12th -- Documentary filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Manny Mendoza, who collaborated on the recent "Stop the Presses"
May 17th -- Dale Hansen and Pete Delkus, respectively the sports and weather anchors at WFAA8
July 19th -- News anchor Tracy Kornet and the Eleven21 band
Oct. 4th -- Mark Cuban

Thanks to all of our guests, to Stratos and to the many who attended these shows. It's been quite a party, and I know we gave a variety of worthy charities a welcome boost during tough economic times. Without question, that's been the very best part of this.


Cuban signs an autograph as The Uncle Barky Show signs off.

It's the eve of the next Uncle Barky Show, with guest Mark Cuban

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Your friendly content provider very much hopes to see you this Saturday, Oct. 4th at a brand new "episode" of The Uncle Barky Show, with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the house. (See the above, ever-present banner ad).

Show time is 4 p.m., admission is free, and first-rate food and drink are available for purchase before, during and after the show.

Cuban will be the seventh in a series of local media guests. As always, our host, Stratos Global Greek Greek Taverna (2907 West Northwest Highway), will make a very generous donation to the guest's designated charity.

The beneficiary for this event is the Dallas Mavericks Foundation, whose mission is to "assist young people through programs stressing education, good health and skills necessary for their future success." The $1,000 donation will make a grand total of $5,500 to date. That's the best part of this by far.

Stratos has been the venue for all previous Uncle Barky shows, beginning with last December's kickoff featuring mondo "Ticket" radio personality Gordon Keith.

As with our previous six shows, we'll leave ample time for audience questions. Most of mine will be on Cuban's various on-and off-camera TV adventures. They range from competing on Dancing with the Stars to the controversial hiring of Dan Rather as a prominent player on Cuban's high-definition cable network, HDNet.

Also, many thanks to all who have kindly inquired about my recent and persistent health problems. They've pretty much knocked unclebarky.com out of commission for the past two weeks, keeping new postings at a bare minimum. But things at last seem to be getting better, so Saturday's show will go on.

I hope you'll be part of it.