This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Mon., Nov. 27)
11/28/06 06:34 PM
By ED BARK
Dallas-Fort Worth is sports-crazed, right? We can't get enough of the Cowboys, Mavericks, etc.
One big-time local TV sports anchor is losing that argument -- big-time. And every now and then Newy Scruggs of NBC5 goes a bit public with the fact that his three rivals all get lots more time at 10 p.m. than he does. The disparity has been noted previously in these columns, with Scruggs responding via email, "Thanks. Finally somebody said it for me."
He doesn't want to go any further, and there's no intent here to put him out on a limb. But Scruggs did go ahead and make a point on Monday's 10 p.m. newscast. He did so with a simple statement of fact that spoke volumes. "That's my two minutes of sports," he told viewers. "We'll be right back with more news."
"New Dawg," as he's sometimes called, had a hangdog look on his face. And there was no joy in Mudville when he somberly sat to the left of anchor Mike Snyder after the nightly light "kicker" story put the newscast to bed.
Let's look at precisely what Scruggs is up against while also noting that NBC5 is still clinging to the overall No. 1 spot at 10 p.m. in the face of a closing charge by Belo8, which won handily in Monday night's Nielsens.
Here's what a stopwatch shows. Scruggs, the only anchor to have his sports segment split in two, got 59 seconds in the first half. Make that one minute, four seconds if you count the tease he had to read for the Dallas Stars game footage in his second half.
Then came 3 minutes, 36 seconds worth of commercials and promotions, allowing Scruggs ample time to take a run around the station building if he chose. He then got 59 more seconds to mop up, excluding the three seconds it took for him to flog "more news" at the butt-end of his segment. What was that news? A quick hit on a Dallas hotel selling off its old fixtures during a major renovation.
Unlike his peers, Scruggs doesn't get any time to banter with his fellow anchors. Not that you'd really want to when Snyder's pretty much your only recourse. But byplay can be a big part of the sports segments on Fox4, Belo8 and CBS11. It makes the athletic supporters feel included and important, not that Belo8's Dale Hansen would ever fear otherwise.
Over on CBS11, sports anchor Babe Laufenberg basked in a league-leading 3 minute, 23 second sports spot. It gives him a chance to flesh things out, have a little fun and actually use his reporters in the field. Scruggs, who has a vibrant personality, just doesn't have enough time to do any of that. If he clears his throat, he loses about one-twentieth of his segment.
Hansen got three minutes, 20 seconds. That provided enough time for reporter George Riba's interesting story on the adversity overcome by Allen's injury-wracked high school football team, which is still in the playoffs. We're not even including anchor Gloria Campos' pre-game warmup, in which she asked, "Are you a Romosexual?" This supposedly is a new urbandictionary.com word for infatuation with Cowboys QB Tony Romo.
Fox4's Mike Doocy had three minutes, 15 seconds to show and tell, even though his station's 10 p.m. newscast is five minutes shorter than the others. In a happy talk close that flowed naturally, he asked anchor Clarice Tinsley how to pronounce "Poinsettia" after noting that TCU's football team is going to a bowl game of that name.
She gave him a quick My Fair Lady lesson, prompting Doocy to acknowledge that he'd just managed to say it wrong in two different ways. These are the kinds of natural unscripted moments that actually work to the benefit of a newscast. But Scruggs wouldn't know because he's not allowed to come out and play. Simply put, the station is wasting him.
NBC5 otherwise found time Monday night to sprint through 36 "stories," including of course, a purse snatching. Crime, tragedy and ridiculous health or consumer reports suck up virtually all of this air. Do viewers watch simply to get a good laugh? Otherwise, how to explain?
Two NBC5 health reports vied for the biggest hoo-hahs Monday night. Kristi Nelson solemnly told viewers about "Desk Rage," which can occur when people are frustrated with their jobs.
"It can lead to poor productivity," she said before turning to the wisdom of Dr. Mauricio Papini. All in all, "Specialists say anger is normal," Nelson concluded. "But don't let it ruin you."
Anchor Jane McGarry then might have brought your house down with her tease of Meredith Land's probing report on protruding stomachs. Here it is, verbatim: "Well, battling belly budge, er, bulge, means staying away from the bar and picking up the barbells. But a new pill is promising to beat bloat and tighten your tummy."
A nice selection of sculpted women in bikinis then interceded before Land clued viewers to a new "Flat Stomach pill" that of course isn't yet approved by the FDA. Cue another bikini shot. That's a wrap.
Belo8 anchor Gloria Campos weighed in with her own slip of the tongue while introducing Debbie Denmon's hard-hitting piece on ... well ... let her try to tell it.
"They are embarrassing, unslightly (sic), and it's no stretch to say women hate stretch marks," Campos informed viewers. "Many try without much luck to rub them away with creams, Vitamin E oil or cocoa butter. But finally stretch marks might have met their match."
Denmon then reported on two different outpatient techniques that cost between $175 to $600 a pop.
"Sounds like about 10 sessions for you and I, Pete," anchor John McCaa quipped to weathercaster Pete Delkus.
CBS11's Shannon Hori got caught in this net, too, with a story on how eating heart-healthy foods such as beans can both unclog arteries and make you "feel more frisky" in the ol' sackeroo.
Hori looked more than frisky during her standup at a grocery store. In fact she looked alluringly ready for a Victoria's Secret runway walk in heavy makeup and a cute 'n' flimsy negligee top. A little horn music and candlelight imagery helped her bring the story on home. "If you can shake it up in the kitchen, perhaps you can stir it up in the bedroom, too," she deduced.
Two nights to go before turning out the lights on the November "sweeps." Maybe I need a bean salad.