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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., April 29)

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WFAA8's Brett Shipp, CBS11's Jack Fink and NBC5's Scott Gordon

The May "sweeps" have struck, launching their annual four-week engagement Thursday while also prompting the return of our up-close looks at the weeknight news content on Fox4's featured 9 p.m. edition and the 10 p.m. shows on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Let's begin with a shocker. Much-maligned in these spaces over the years, NBC5's late nighter actually is showing signs of improvement. The quick-hit police blotter approach of the past has given way to a higher-minded menu of stories that actually might resonate with viewers.

Let's begin with veteran "Night Ranger" Scott Gordon, whose story put the death of a seven-month old girl in perspective. Brianna Jones inadvertently had been left alone in a car for five hours. She then was found dead, with Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 all including the tragedy in their newscasts. Fox4 in fact led with it, via reporter Lynn Kawano.

It's easy to think the worst of parents under such circumstances. How could they be so stupid. But NBC5 co-anchor Brian Curtis set the table for Gordon's story by telling viewers, "Often it has nothing to do with neglect or bad parenting."

Gordon then interviewed an Ellis County woman whose six-month old daughter died after her father forgot she was in his pickup truck while he dropped an older daughter off at church. He got distracted by a phone call and road construction, Michele Terry said of her husband.

"It was an accident. I just couldn't blame him for that," she told Gordon. Nearly five years after the tragedy, her husband is still too emotional to talk about it on camera. But Michele Terry wanted to underscore that accidents like this happen all too frequently around the country, and that most if not all parents carry the emotional scars forever.

Co-anchor Meredith Land, briefly stationed outside NBC5's Fort Worth studios, then offered two preventive tips that actually seemed useful. Put a purse or another carry-with-you belonging in the back seat where your child is sitting, she said. Or put a stuffed toy in the front passenger seat to remind you that your infant is along for the ride.

Curtis unfortunately had a way of almost grieving on camera during his anchor wraparounds. That's called "feeling the news," and sometimes he can be a little too prototypically "caring."

Also, not every story's a "great story," as Curtis said twice Thursday night. Others, besides Gordon's, were pretty good, though.

Sturdy Omar Villafranca reported on a "Real Estate Rush" by homebuyers looking to take advantage of a substantial tax credit that expires at midnight Friday. Scott Friedman, who doubles as NBC5's early morning co-anchor, had an informative piece on the increase in airline overbooking and resultant flight bumping. And Randy McIlwain had the final chapter of a story he'd been following for fourth months -- a Frisco councilman's pledge to lose 40 pounds or donate $25,000 to Frisco Family Services.

Patrick Fallon barely hit his weight loss goal, but donated the money anyway. Nice ending and well-told by McIlwain, the former "Big Man Bloggin' " (on NBC5's older and much better website) who has told your friendly content provider in no uncertain terms that his own considerable bulk is a point of pride with him. OK then, but the visual contrast between reporter and subject could hardly be missed by viewers.

It also should be noted that NBC5 couldn't resist leading its newscast with meteorologist David Finfrock's much-ado-about-little weather alert. Uh-oh, gusty winds and maybe even a thunderstorm or two in outlying areas. Putting overblown weather bulletins up-top is an increasingly irksome practice by all of D-FW's major TV news providers. Only occasionally do they really merit such prominent play.

WFAA8 led its newscast with a classic worst case scenario investigation by veteran gumshoe Brett Shipp. Based on information from a DFW Airport "insider," Shipp said that an outmoded manual key lock system in effect since 1973 could compromise all of the higher-tech security measures in place.

The whistleblower wore a green hooded windbreaker and was given an almost comical Alvin the Chipmunk-like voice while talking with his back to the camera. Shipp, who obtained "Duplication Prohibited" keys from the informant, was able to easily replicate them at a local locksmith. A security specialist duly said it was "shocking" to see such a retro system still in place after Shipp showed viewers that one of the doors led directly to a terminal roof top overlooking the tarmac.

DFW Airport spokesman David Magana patiently told Shipp that "we're going to look at that." All of the keys replicated by WFAA8 have been destroyed, Shipp assured viewers.

It certainly can't hurt to further improve airport security. But the story had an alarmist tone typical of a ratings "sweeps" period. In other words, the award-winning Shipp has done far more impactful stories in the past. And he no doubt will again.

CBS11 currently doesn't have a formal investigative unit, but is rebuilding one under new news director Adrienne Roark. But reporter Jack Fink wore "The Investigators" mantle Thursday night in a piece on check fraud by identify thieves. It was a complicated story to tell, with Fink using two victims to flesh it out. But did he make a strong enough case that this is a growing danger? Not really.

Reporter Jay Gormley, another CBS11 veteran, had an interesting companion story to the "ethnic slur apology" from Criswell College interim president Lamar Cooper, who made a derogatory reference to illegal Mexicans during a recent radio broadcast. His comment was tied to Arizona's new and highly controversial illegal immigration crackdown.

Gormley interviewed Cornerstone Baptist Church of Arlington pastor Dwight McKissic, who said that the powerful 16.2 million member Southern Baptist Convention has no minorities in executive positions. The highest-ranking black is the head custodian, McKissic said. "Something is wrong with this." A spokesman for the SBC agreed that it should be remedied. Easy to say. Let's see what happens.

Fox4 was the only station to specify what Cooper actually said about illegals. He called them "wetbacks," said reporter Natalie Solis.

In the station's closing "Viewers' Voice" segment, co-anchor Steve Eagar read a dispatch from a woman who termed it "rather insulting" that Fox4 would use "wetback" on the air but otherwise fall back on "the n-word" when it comes to slurs against blacks.

Eagar said she had a "good point" before explaining rather lamely, "There isn't a nickname to use, like there is with the 'n-word.' And we wanted to be accurate, not insulting."

Nickname? Never heard it put that way before.

Near the top of the newscast, Fox4 spent a comparatively inordinate amount of time on the spreading Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Co-anchor Heather Hays first introduced a telephone report from a non-Fox4 reporter. Then staffer Matt Grubs offered a lengthy narrative from the station's newsroom. Grubs did this "Big Picture" segment very smoothly, and supplied some good information.

Bottom line, though. The spill so far is not considered a threat to Texas. So the attention paid by Fox4 stood out in sharp contrast to the brief anchor "readers" on rival stations. Then again, Fox4 has a full hour to kill. And local or not, the spill certainly is no trivial matter.

Fox4 reporter Emily Lopez had the night's only extended story on the grieving family of murdered newspaper deliveryman Robert Lawrence, whose survivors -- many from out of state -- held a press conference Thursday.

This didn't require any particular enterprise. But Lopez did a very good job of making the family's grief tangible and very real. It's often said that perpetrators receive a disproportionate amount of attention in such circumstances while the impact on victims and their loved ones is overlooked or underplayed. Lopez's account really hit home; she and her cameraman deserve credit for that. The subhumans who shot and killed Lawrence remain at large.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., April 29) -- Mavs end, May "sweeps" begin

The Dallas Mavericks' season-ending playoff loss to San Antonio won Thursday's prime-time ratings war but perhaps resulted in a few TV sets being damaged by flying objects.

TXA21 and TNT carried the game, which began with one of the ugliest first quarters in Mavs history and pretty much sealed their fate.

Beginning at 7:06 p.m. and ending at 9:39, Mavs-Spurs drew 217,162 D-FW viewers on TXA21 and 237,521 on TNT. The total of 454,683 viewers was the second highest of the six-game series, beaten only by Game 1 in Dallas.

The national cablecasts had more viewers than TXA21's homegrown coverage in all five games where the locals competed with either TNT or ESPN. Game 5, which drew the series' smallest crowd, was carried exclusively in D-FW by TXA21, with the NBA Network's simulcast blacked out in these parts.

Thursday also marked the start of the May "sweeps" ratings period. That means you'll see the last batch of new episodes of prime-time network series while local newscasts pump more do-or-die urgency into their presentations.

The big news on opening day was CBS11's twin wins at 6 p.m., where WFAA8 had dominated for decades until November's fall into a pair of first-place ties.

WFAA8 ran a relatively distant third Thursday in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. NBC5 took the silver in total viewers and Fox4 was a close runnerup among 25-to-54-year-olds. CBS11 respectively ran third and fourth in those measurements last November. The February sweeps were largely discounted due to NBC's dominant Winter Olympics telecasts.

At 10 p.m., WFAA8 overcame a skimpy lead-in from ABC's faltering Private Practice to edge CBS11 in the total viewer Nielsens. NBC5 got a nice opening day boost with a win in the 25-to-54 demographic, with CBS11 second and WFAA8 falling to third.

The 6 a.m. competitions again were controlled by the Peacock, a virtually sure bet to prevail against what seems to be its only serious competition -- Fox4. WFAA8 drooped to fourth place in total viewers but edged CBS11 for third place among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 had a comfy win at 5 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 narrowly took the 25-to-54 gold.

Send coach Carlisle to the principal's office after Mavs flunk another playoff test


Owner Mark Cuban near the end. There will be blood. Photo: Ed Bark

The lead sentence here initially was going to be quite different. Something like, "Clenched up and miserably inept, the Dallas Mavericks left their hearts in Frisco Thursday night."

But after a 22-8 first quarter deficit and a 22-point lead by the San Antonio Spurs at one point, the Mavericks rallied to take a very brief one-point lead at the 4:55 mark of the third quarter. They then inevitably faded down the stretch, losing 97-87 on the Spurs' home floor to make another early exit from the playoffs.

So no, the Mavs didn't die like dogs. But they did bury themselves nonetheless, with much of the blame going to Coach Rick Carlisle, point guard Jason Kidd (who played in cement sneakers all night) and shooting guard Jason Terry, who looked pretty much shot. Dirk Nowitzki as usual was a second half warrior, ending with 33 points. But his pair of stupid fouls in the second quarter made him mostly inoperative while his team struggled to climb out of a huge hole.

Carlisle will take a beating -- and very rightly so -- for waiting way too long to insert rookie guard Roddy Beaubois for his first meaningful playing time in this series. He sparked the Mavs where Kidd couldn't, scoring 16 points in just 21 minutes while Terry managed just a lone field goal in roughly the same amount of playing time. Kidd had a grand total of three points, and is incapable of penetrating or finishing anymore.

But then what did Carlisle do? He inexplicably pulled Beaubois in favor of Terry for much of the fourth quarter. The Dallas offense again slowed to the speed of a cement mixer, with Kidd at the half-court throttle and Terry doing nothing. A game that was still well within reach slipped away while Beaubois rode the pines. He didn't return until 2:44 remained in the fourth quarter, with the momentum-less Mavs down 89-81 after Spurs guard George Hill hit another dagger three-pointer. It was too late by then. And Kidd was too gassed and slow-footed to effectively cover any of the Spurs' guards.

Kidd ended up logging 43 minutes, way too much for a 37-year-old who very much looked to be on his last legs during the post-season grind. J. J. Barea could have been brought in to ease his load in Thursday's deciding Game 6. But Carlisle played him for just 6 minutes.

Owner Mark Cuban now must do the inevitable -- and he no doubt will. Not blow up the team, but make it considerably younger.

Terry will have to be released or traded. Ditto for two other geriatrics -- Shawn Marion and Erick Dampier. And Kidd, if he wants to fill out his contract, must give way to Beaubois next season. He may not be psychically capable of being a part-time player. If not, release him. The Milwaukee Bucks, still alive in the post-season despite decimating injuries to star players, went full-in with kid point guard Brandon Jennings this season. He's survived, learned and now is indispensable to both the Bucks' improbable playoff run and the team's long-term future.

I feel bad for Dirk. He may never get a ring. But newcomers Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood -- plus Beaubois -- still make for a solid supporting cast. Obviously they need help, though. Hey there, free agent Chris Bosh, it's time to rediscover your Dallas roots. Come home. Come home!

For now, though, it's still a bitter pill. For the third time in the last four seasons, the Mavericks are one and done in the post-season. And they probably got to the second round last year only because the crippled Spurs were without Manu Ginobili, who scored 26 points with a busted nose Thursday night.

On the hometown TXA21 post-game show, analyst Derek Harper raked Carlisle for not playing Beaubois throughout this series. The Mavs needed up-and-down quickness, and Roddy B certainly has that. But Carlisle stubbornly clung to too much Terry and Kidd.

In the end, all three games in San Antonio were winnable. Dallas had double-digit leads in two of them, but couldn't close the deal. And then on Thursday, they started the game as though they were going to a funeral before taking a shot at rising from the dead when Beaubois got rolling.

Carlisle then played his own undertaker, removing Roddy and falling back to his old habit of playing the geezers at crunch time. Maybe the Mavs don't win anyway. But with Kidd and Terry riding the range, you already knew it wouldn't end well. The thrill was gone.

Gray area: alleged hair color restorer makes news on CBS11, etc., etc., etc.

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Hair color restorer pills and their "creator," Cathy Beggan.

Content-sharing is hardly a phenomenon anymore. In fact it's a something of an epidemic.

In D-FW, Fox4, NBC5 and CW33 do it as part of a Local News Service (LNS) consortium. Once arch foes, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram also share sports and/or entertainment reporting and reviews on an almost daily basis. But each paper camouflages the practice with generic "Special Contributor" identifications (and nothing more) under reporters' bylines.

Questions can and should arise about the homogenization of news under these circumstances. Which brings us to a recent spate of CBS station stories about Go Away Gray, a dietary supplement pill that supposedly can restore hair to its natural color with prolonged use. A one-month supply costs about $30.

Several readers of unclebarky.com questioned the news value of the story and whether Go Away Gray "creator" Cathy Beggan perhaps had paid stations to have her product featured. CBS11's story was by Ginger Allen, who raised questions about Going Away Gray while also reporting that it's working for some people, most notably Stephanie Swanson of Irving.

Reader Shelly Fish said in an email that she usually ignores "product plug 'health' stories," but was curious about Go Away Gray after seeing Allen's story. Her google search showed that a number of CBS stations likewise did Go Away Gray pieces.

"I get the impression that this is commonplace," she said. "Do these companies pay the networks to have their affiliates do local 'stories' on their product? If not, what goes into the decision that a particular network's affiliates will all report on a certain product?"

Her concerns were forwarded to new CBS11 news director Adrienne Roark, who responded via email.

"No, the company did not pay for this story," she said. "This was simply an idea shared by a few CBS stations."

Roark said the idea for a story on Go Away Gray came during a weekly conference call among executive producers of CBS station newscasts.

"They shared this one and like it because no one had heard of a pill to stop gray hair," Roark said. "We all try to help each other with story ideas, especially ones that we think people would like in different cities."

A google search by unclebarky.com shows that Roark's previous station, CBS-owned WFOR-TV in Miami, was among those biting on Going Away Gray. Add CBS stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, San Diego and Tampa Bay.

Such stories generally are customized at least a bit, although sound bites from creator Beggan were common to all of them. She's also behind a product called Wake Up On Time, which supposedly will have its users bursting with energy in no time. Not surprisingly, she thinks Go Away Gray is g-r-r-r-eat. In the pre-taped testimonial used by CBS11's Allen, Beggan said, "We get phone calls and letters non-stop from people saying, 'This is amazing. I can't believe it.' "

Allen at least went to the extent of interviewing both Irving's Swanson, a Go Away Gray devotee, and skeptical pharmacist Dr. Jennifer Fix. The latter found no evidence the product will work but also said it's probably harmless to try it. The story ended with Swanson saying she hadn't colored her hair since January, when Go Away Gray came into her life.

Other CBS reporters, particularly San Francisco's Kim Mulvihill, M.D., did no discernible work of their own. Mulvihill more or less pretended to interview Beth Skelly, a Fort Lauderdale enthusiast of Go Away Gray who likewise was featured in several other stations' reports. Her take away quote: "A woman is happy when her hair is happy."

Nutritional biochemist Jay Foster also showed up in Mulvihill's "report." In fact, he was the semi-skeptic used by every aforementioned station except CBS11.

Chicago reporter Vince Gerasole at least tried Go Away Gray on himself, and said it didn't work. But he also resorted to those canned interviews with Foster, Skelly and, of course, Beggan.

The numbing sameness of the stories -- and the free publicity given a questionable product -- may not be the principal concerns here. In this view, it's equally or more troubling when reporters such as San Francisco's Mulvihill give viewers the impression that they're actually out there interviewing people. Making it even worse, Mulvihill's post-story banter with anchors included her notation that Go Away Gray is "having a special right now. Buy one, get one free."

My hair's still graying. But now my head hurts, too.

Up close and pretty personable: New CBS11 news director Adrienne Roark


CBS11/TXA21 news director Adrienne Roark in stations' Fort Worth studios. She's been on the job since March 23rd. Photos: Ed Bark

FORT WORTH -- CBS11's fourth news director in a little over three years says a change is needed.

Namely, someone who stays put.

"Yes, there was a bit of a feeling of being unsettled here, of people not being sure what was going to happen," says Adrienne Roark. "And yes, they definitely need stability, and I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. I want to be able to put my children in a good public school system and see it through. I can do that here."

Roark, 39, joined CBS11 on March 23rd from WFOR-TV in Miami, where she also was news director. She and her husband, a "stay-at-home dad," are parents of two sons, ages 5 and 10. They remain in Miami, finishing out the school year, while Roark searches for a home and admittedly gets lost a lot while getting to know the expansive North Texas viewing area, population 6.9 million.

"I've driven all over the place," she says in her first interview since joining CBS11 while also overseeing the news operation at sister station TXA21. "This is probably one of the friendliest places I've been. Everybody here wants to talk to you and wants to help you. It's a little different than Miami. Miami's not quite that friendly."

Roark is still feeling her way and bristles a bit when asked about putting her "stamp" on the two stations at the outset of the May "sweeps" rating period, which starts Thursday.

"I don't really like that term," she interjects. "My stamp? It's not about me. I just want to be here to grow on what we already have, and help everybody here do it . . . I believe in hiring good people and putting them in the right places and letting them go and do their jobs. And then I'll do the course corrections when we need it."

Her boss, CBS11/TXA21 president and general manager Gary Schneider, doesn't mind using the "stamp" word when asked to detail Roark's strengths.

"Being from the CBS family (WFOR also is owned by the network), she knows our culture," he says. "She has a very strong news mind as it relates to journalism, but yet she has a good handle on digital technology, too. She doesn't fight that. She actually embraces it. In the short time she's been here, she's made some great connections with the staff, keeping our successes going and at the same time seeing some areas she can put her stamp on."

Roark's first priority, which she underscores during our interview in her office, is rebuilding CBS11's badly decimated investigative unit. There basically hasn't been one since reporter Bennett Cunningham resigned late last year over a salary dispute.

The head producer of the investigative unit soon followed him out the door, leaving Roark to start from scratch. In Miami, which she describes as "a target-rich environment for investigative journalism," Roark had a nine-person unit of three reporters, two photographers, one editor and three producers.

One of her investigators was hired from the Miami Herald, and Roark says she'd ideally like to find at least one print reporter to join the CBS11 unit, too. Right now she has just two positions to fill.

"These are the stories that have to be told," she says. "And unfortunately, a lot of stations have gotten away from investigative reporting. It's something that is our duty as journalists. So that will be one of the things you'll see me do . . . I'm always the blue skies type of gal. I want to get as much as I can. But right now I'm just trying to get one reporter to at least get us back in the game."


President/GM Gary Schneider says Roark has "a strong news mind."

Roark, an Ohio State graduate who carries a pair of tree-grown, nickel-sized buckeyes in her purse, is the daughter of a Kent, Ohio English teacher who demanded that his children keep up with current events. That meant Walter Cronkite's CBS Evening News on a nightly basis, weekly doses of 60 Minutes and teaspoons of Castor Oil in the form of The McLaughlin Group.

"That was how I was raised," she says. "So I don't think I ever had a chance of getting into anything else (but news). I'm curious, and sometimes nosy, I suppose, which is a good trait for journalists. I just kind of knew in the back of my mind that this was what I wanted to do. And I love writing. Put it all together, and there you go."

Roark was ridiculed in some quarters for a website declaration of her news idealism. She wrote in part, "We need people who are advocates for the voiceless, for the downtrodden. That is what being a journalist means; to give voice to the voiceless; to fight for what's right; to be an advocate for the people. This all may sound corny. But it's what I believe, and what I live every day."

"I wouldn't have written that if I didn't believe it," she says during the interview in her CBS11 office, which overlooks the newsroom. "It should matter and it's really hard to do that."

But Roark says she succeeded in practicing what she preaches in Miami, "one of the most salacious markets in the country" where rival news operations supposedly pandered to the lowest common news denominator -- flash and trash.

Roark succeeded Scott Diener at CBS11 after he left the station in January to become news director at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, where former CBS11 president/GM Scott Mauldin had migrated.

Diener supplanted Regent "Run 'n' Gun" Ducas, whose disastrous tenure was cut short in the late summer of 2007. Ducas replaced Tom Doerr, for whom Roark worked at Miami's WFOR-TV. There also was a notable false start, with Greg Easterly from Cleveland's WJW-TV officially hired to replace Doerr in December 2006 before he belatedly reconsidered during the Christmas holidays. The station then made an abrupt U-turn toward Ducas, who specialized in the visual catnip of car wrecks and crime scenes. It didn't work, and his staff was soon in open revolt.


CBS11 enters the May sweeps as the defending champ at 10 p.m. in the total viewer Nielsen ratings, but by barely a hair over WFAA8. The station also has been running strong of late at 6 p.m., where it has a chance to pull off an upset.

WFAA8 management has insisted time and again that 25-to-54-year-old viewers are the only news audience that really matters. And advertisers are especially keen on attracting women in that age range. They consistently watch local newscasts in much larger numbers than men, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Men are more likely to opt for sports or cartoons.

Roark, who joins Maria Barrs and Susan Tully as the respective heads of the Fox4 and NBC5 news departments, is asked whether women bring a different sensibility to those jobs. Specifically, should women viewers be offended by stories about -- as her questioner puts it -- "another doctor who's got a different way of making your ass smaller?"

She laughs at the thought of stories on "the latest lypo and stuff like that."

"Sure, we're going to do stories that appeal to women," Roark concedes. "But the stories have to have substance. They can't be what you just said. OK? I'm not going to repeat that. Downsizing your derriere. There you go. I'm sure everybody in this market has done those stories. Across the country we've all done them. I mean, most of these ideas are recycled all over the place."

Roark says she plans to reach higher with stories aimed at women viewers of a certain age, but "I'm not telling you what we're doing in May . . . It's hard to put journalism in a formula. You have to let the stories dictate the format, not the other way around. You want to be No. 1, but you want to be proud of what you're doing along the way, too. It's hard."

One last thing -- her first name. Roark earlier had volunteered that she gets "Yo, Adrienne" a lot. Including on the day she first entered the CBS11/TXA21 newsroom. So how does she handle it?

"My general response is, 'Gosh, never heard that before,' " she says. Some people also have trouble remembering her name.

"They call me Andrea," she says. All it takes, though, is a reference to the Rocky movies, which Roark readily supplies.

And then they don't forget.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., April 27) -- stayin' alive in a big way on TXA21

TXA21 gladly took full control of Tuesday night's Mavericks-Spurs Game 5, which for the first time wasn't shared locally by either TNT or ESPN.

That's because the still relatively obscure NBA TV network carried the game nationally, but was blacked out in the D-FW viewing area. TNT and ESPN both have contractual rights to televise playoff or regular season games in all markets. Not so with NBA TV, which simulcast the homegrown TXA21 coverage to the rest of the country.

The Mavs' do-or-die rout of San Antonio, which ensures a Game 6 on Thursday night, averaged 298,597 D-FW viewers on TXA21. That's the smallest audience for any of the five games. But it was still good enough to beat or tie all competing programming -- except the last 15 minutes of Fox's Glee -- from its 8:42 p.m. start to the 11:01 p.m finish. From 9 to 10 p.m., a new episode of CBS' The Good Wife and Mavs-Spurs tied for first with 244,307 viewers each. The game then bludgeoned the 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Mavs-Spurs had an even easier time dominating among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, where only Glee outdrew the game from 8:45 to 9 p.m.

American Idol's latest one-hour performance edition controlled the 7 p.m. hour with 373,247 total viewers for Fox. That beat CBS' competing NCIS (291,811 viewers) and ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show (251,093 viewers), in which Dallas flyboy and former Bachelor star Jake Pavelka got weepy after being voted off.

It was a two-sided story at 8 p.m., with CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles beating Glee in total viewers but finishing a distant second to the Fox show among 18-to-49-year-olds. ABC's Lost rerun ran far back in fourth place.

At 6:30 p.m., WFAA8's Dale Hansen sports special on the impending Mavs game cratered with 40,718 total viewers in finishing fifth among broadcast stations. The No. 1 attraction, CBS11's Wheel of Fortune, had 176,444 viewers and also won with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In local news derby results, the spoils were split at 10 p.m., with CBS11 tops in total viewers and WFAA8 winning among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 again dominated at 6 a.m. with twin wins while WFAA8 slid to fourth place in both measurements.

CBS11 won in total viewers at 6 p.m., with NBC5 doing likewise at 5 p.m. Fox4 took a pair of firsts among viewers in the 25-to-54 age range.

CW33 dropping local 5:30 p.m. newscast (updated)

CW33 news director David Duitch confirms that the Dallas-based station will be ending its 5:30 p.m. local newscast on May 10th, substituting repeats of Family Guy.

The 5 p.m. edition, which launched on March 15th, will remain in place. CW33's 5:30 p.m. newscast arrived on Sept. 21st. All of the station's weekday local editions are anchored by Walt Maciborski and Amanda Salinas, who became the new 9 p.m. team on Feb. 16th of last year.

Monday's 5:30 p.m. newscast drew 13,573 viewers before the 9 p.m. edition weighed in with 47,504 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

***While I was briefly away in Chicago, KTCK-AM ("The Ticket") suspended co-host/producer Mike Bacsik (who mostly works with Norm Hitzges on the 9 a.m. show) for moronically tweeting "Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio" after the Dallas Mavericks' Sunday night loss.

Dan Bennett, vice president and market manager for the Cumulus-owned, Dallas-based station, said in a statement that Bacsik's comments "were unacceptable and offensive, and are inconsistent with the core values of KTCK and Cumulus. We have made the decision to suspend Mr. Bacsik with the hope that he will take this time to consider the insensitive and hurtful nature of his comments."

Bacsik, a former two-bit major league pitcher best known for giving up Barry Bonds' 756th career home run (which broke Hank Aaron's record), has officially apologized for what he terms his "horribly insensitive tweet." His original mea culpa, since edited, hit a trifecta of sorts by misspelling apologize, horribly and insensitive.

While weighing whether to fire Bacsik (it'd be no loss at all), management might want to re-examine the "core values" of all shows on The Ticket, particularly the afternoon drive "Hardline." Bacsik's tweet clearly is in a league of its own. But the base level humor regularly aimed at minorities and women in some ways set the table for this lout.

Update: Bacsik was fired by "The Ticket" on Tuesday.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 23-25) -- down 'n' dirty 'n' dead(?)

The Dallas Mavericks' twin street fights in San Antonio, both ending in bad news losses, had ample miserable company on Friday and Sunday nights.

Sunday's Game 4 of the NBA playoffs, which started shortly after 6 p.m., drew 142,512 D-FW viewers for the homegrown telecast on TXA21 and had 169,658 for TNT's presentation. Hand calculator technology says that's a grand total of 312,170 viewers.

Friday's later-starting game, which began at about 8:45 p.m., grabbed 156,085 viewers on TXA21 and 223,948 viewers on ESPN for a combined 380,033 viewers. That makes it the second most-watched game so far, well behind the 515,759 viewers who watched the series opener on TXA21 and TNT. Sunday's game so far is the least-watched.

All four Mavs-Spurs matchups have drawn bigger audiences on cable than on TXA21, where Mark Followill, Bob Ortegel and Jeff "Skin" Wade have provided the usual Dallas spin. On Sunday night, though, even Ortegel agreed that Mavs' sub Eduardo Najera was rightly ejected for grabbing the Spurs' Manu Ginobili by the neck as he drove for a layup. He already has a broken nose sustained in Game 3.

(Your friendly content provider now veers briefly off the ratings track to say that the Mavericks still have a fighting chance to win this series despite being down 3-1. The team at least implanted a manhood gene Sunday night, playing rough and tough while still being not quite good enough.

Then again, can Mavs coach Rick Carlisle work the refs the way the Spurs' very wily Gregg Popovich can? No. Is he the equal of Popovich in gearing his team up? No. And what if the Mavs' nemesis, Joey Crawford, saunters in as crew chief for any of the remaining games?

Still, Dallas can do it. Namely, come back from the near-dead to win three in a row. So that's the far-fetched prediction because I think this team is made of stronger stuff than they've had in a while. Go ahead, laugh.)

Back to the weekend ratings, where Friday's season finale of ABC's Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution managed to beat the 8 p.m. competition on CBS, Fox and NBC. But it didn't have quite enough heat in the kitchen to outdraw the second hour of MY27's WWE Smackdown!, which will be moving to cable's syfy channel next season.

In Friday's local news derby results, NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first in total viewers at 10 p.m., but the Peacock prevailed among 25-to-54-year-olds, the favored target audience for news programming.

NBC5 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers but Fox4 won by a hair among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 joined the winner's circle with a win in total viewers at 6 p.m., with Fox4 tops in the 25-to-54 age range.

The Peacock and WFAA8 shared the total viewer golds at 5 p.m., where Fox4 again had the most 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 fell into an abyss at 6 p.m., drawing just 47,504 total viewers in finishing a very distant fourth. It also cratered badly with 25-to-54-year-olds, where Nielsen says that a competing MY27 rerun of My Name Is Earl also had more viewers in this age group than WFAA8's local news.

HDNet's Road Diaries series recounts the ongoing rebounds of a former Mavericks hopeful


Ray Johnston pulls some strings with Dirk Nowitzki. HDNet photo

Dubbed "White Chocolate" and once envisioned as former Dallas Maverick Devin Harris' backup at point guard, Ray Johnston took a kick in a calf that wound up as a kick in the head.

It happened six years ago during a pickup game. The swelling persisted while Johnston's condition shockingly deteriorated. He was diagnosed as "84 percent leukemic," fell into a coma and almost bled to death.

"It was literally like looking at a corpse," says Mavericks president and GM Donn Nelson, who still has a hard time talking about it in HDNet's Ray Johnston Band: Road Diaries. The improbable, inspirational eight-part look at Johnston's recovery and re-invention premieres Sunday, April 25th at 7 p.m. (central) on HDNet., which is owned by Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban.

The opening half-hour begins with Johnston, now 31, singing "So I'm livin' my dream. But it wasn't my first dream."

At first it seemed like a pipe dream. Johnston, formerly a point guard for the University of Alabama, went undrafted by the NBA. But the Mavericks liked the way he looked during a Hoop It Up tournament at the American Airlines Center. He was signed to play with the team's summer league squad, which also included Harris and former Mav Josh Howard. Nelson terms it an "American Idol walk-on situation" in the early minutes of Road Diaries.

Howard, eventually diagnosed as a cancer on the Mavs before being traded to Washington this season, can be seen in a different light during Sunday's first episode. Wearing an HDNet jersey, he comes off as lucid and compassionate in talking about Johnston's huge health setback and prolonged hospitalization.

"To see him down and out the way he was, it just crushed me," Howard says.

Cuban, Johnston's parents, his pastor, various doctors and Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki are among the other talking heads in Road Diaries.

Nowitzki, a big smile on his face, plays and sings with Johnston while the closing credits roll for Sunday's opener.

"Looky there!" Johnston says. "It's the first duo we've ever done."

Nowitzki earlier says of Johnston: "The greatest thing about him is how resilient he is."

Realizing he no longer could play basketball at the pro level, Johnston began singing and composing before forming a band. Much of Episode 2, on Sunday, May 2nd, shows the band's first recording session at Palmyra Studios in Palmer, Texas. A debut album, "Sweet Tooth," was released last year.

"I think a couple of these songs have a chance on radio. I really do," Johnston says hopefully.

His health issues continue to hang over him. A tracheotomy hole is notably visible in his neck, and Johnston has lost most of his toes during surgeries. Episode 2 also details his visit to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for another necessary battery of tests. His leukemia has recurred before, and will always be a threat.

Johnston also finds time to coach a team of high schoolers as part of the Dallas Heroes program. They're invited to the 32-team Desert Duel Memorial Tournament in Phoenix, where several prominent college basketball coaches are on hand in search of prospects.

Road Diaries is nicely produced and never less than upbeat in its recitations of Johnston's travails. He remains buoyantly optimistic through all of them, which his music reflects. Another sample lyric: "A cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul."

This review is being written before the Mavericks play the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their first round playoff series, which is now tied 1-1. A Dallas loss will make a Sunday night win a virtual must. And in fact, Game 4 is scheduled to be in progress when Road Diaries premieres.

If it starts looking grim, a little dose of Ray Johnston's resiliency might be in order. Switching to HDNet for a bit might help to put things in perspective. When you get right down to it, the Mavericks are just playing a basketball game, albeit an important one. Johnston continues to play the game of life -- with lousy hands that he keeps turning into aces.


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., April 21) -- flat numbers for flat, flattened Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks' woeful Game 2 home playoff loss to San Antonio also registered uninspired Nielsen ratings.

Sunday's Game 1 Mavs win ballooned to a grand total of 515,759 D-FW viewers on TXA21 and TNT. Wednesday's 102-88 loss, in which Dallas trailed throughout, deflated to an average of 352,888 viewers on the same two venues. The game ran from 8:47 to 11:10 p.m.

TNT again outdrew the homegrown TXA21 telecast, although the score wasn't nearly as lopsided. A total of 192,803 viewers chose Wednesday's cable presentation while TXA21 had 156,085 viewers. On Sunday night, TNT ran up the score with 318,956 viewers to TXA21's 196,803.

Meanwhile on Fox, the two hour-plus Idol Gives Back averaged 407,178 viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. and fell to 373,266 for the run-over, in which Duncanville's Tim Urban was voted out.

ABC's three-hour festival of comedy repeats -- two apiece of The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town -- put it in fourth place all night among the Big Four broadcast networks.

In local news derby results, CBS11 prospered at 10 p.m. with wins in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. But the competing Mavs-Spurs game sucked some of the ratings life out of all four late night newscasts.

NBC5 won big in both ratings measurements at 6 a.m., with Fox4 drooping to distant third place finishes behind runner-up WFAA8.

CBS11 ran the table at 6 p.m. and the Peacock did likewise at 5 p.m.

Former Dallas TV reporter and current Southwest Airlines media spokesman Brad Hawkins arrested on alleged public lewdness (updated at 9:48 p.m.)

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Brad Hawkins in last WFAA8 photo and in police mugshot.

Stories of this type are never pleasant to report. Let's make that clear at the top.

But television news personalities are public figures, and former WFAA8 anchor/reporter Brad Hawkins has remained in the public eye as the principal media spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

He was arrested Monday night, April 19th, on a charge of public lewdness in a Dallas park after allegedly making sexual advances toward an undercover Dallas police officer. The arrest and charge were confirmed Wednesday by Senior Dallas Police Cpl. Janice Crowther, who serves as the department's media spokesperson, and Dallas County Sheriff's Department director of public information Kim Leach, previously an executive news producer at Fort Worth-based NBC5.

Hawkins, who left WFAA8 in December 2008 after nine years at the station, was released late Tuesday morning after posting $1,000 bond, records show. A message left Wednesday on his cell phone asking for comment has not been returned. Public lewdness is a Class A misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail not to exceed one year, or both.

Hawkins' attorney, Peter Schulte, a former McKinney Police Department officer, called at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday to issue this statement: "We're going to fight the charges and we ask that everyone holds their opinion until all the facts are known. In this country, everyone is innocent until proven guilty."

Schulte also is a former prosecutor for the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney's Office. He went into private practice in 2007.

The police report says that Hawkins, 37, was followed by the undercover officer while carrying his bicycle to the top of the Flagpole Hill area of Olive Shapiro Park.

The two engaged in a short conversation during which Hawkins "spoke of sexual matters" before shaking the undercover officer's hand, according to the report. "During the handshake, Hawkins pulled the officer's hand toward his erect penis and thrust his hips, causing his clothed, erect penis to touch the officer's hand," the report says. (Further, more explicit details of the alleged encounter are being withheld at the writer's discretion.)

Hawkins wasn't arrested immediately because the officer didn't want to compromise his cover. Instead officers in marked and unmarked squad cars followed Hawkins on his bicycle before he was arrested outside his house, the report says.

The report alleges that Hawkins "knowingly engaged in sexual contact in a public place" and that "there were several persons in the park at the time. Hawkins was reckless as to whether another person present would be offended or alarmed by his act of sexual contact."

Hawkins, booked under the name Charles Bradley Hawkins, last worked for WFAA8 as a co-anchor of the station's early morning Daybreak program. He had been a member of the ABC station's news team since January 2000.

"I feel I'm jumping from one of local TV's greatest news dynasties to one of the most emulated and respected companies in the world," Hawkins told unclebarky.com in November 2008 on his decision to join Southwest Airlines. "I didn't see this opportunity coming again any time soon. And I'm at a crossroads in terms of opening myself to new challenges and new skills."

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said on Wednesday he would have no comment on Hawkins.

"He doesn't work here anymore," Devlin said. "Not an employee. If he were, our response would be much different."

Devlin also said that WFAA8 would "probably not" report on Hawkins' arrest and the charges made against him.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., April 20) -- in a remote control universe, size still matters

Today's seminar on the value of lead-in programming to local late night newscasts is brought to you by Uncle Barky's Department of Redundancy Department.

That's because we've said it many times before, but it always bears repeating because some readers remain skeptical. After all, one only has to press a button while embedded on a couch rather than laboriously rise and waddle to the TV set for the purpose of cranking to another channel. So why would anyone be beholden to the station they've been watching if they generally prefer another 10 p.m. newscast?

Well, maybe one of the newscast teases sucks you in during breaks from your 9 p.m. show. Or perhaps inertia is more powerful than a speeding locomotive. Maybe one newscast is pretty much like any other to you, so who cares?

Whatever the case, NBC5 won Tuesday's 10 p.m. newscast competitions with help from its network's 9 p.m. Parenthood, which on the same day was officially picked up for a second season. In the old 'n' dismal Jay Leno Show days, the lead-ins invariably were skimpy each weeknight.

Parenthood drew 217,162 D-FW viewers, easily besting competition from CBS' The Good Wife repeat and Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast (156,085 viewers apiece) while ABC's new episode of V pulled in fourth with 135,726 viewers.

NBC5's late night newscast then held on to enough viewers -- 176,444 -- to beat runners-up WFAA8 and CBS11 (162,871 each) and Fox4 (142,512).

It was the same story with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Parenthood led the way in this key demographic at 9 p.m. before NBC5 triumphed at 10 p.m. For the record, Parenthood also won among 18-to-49-year-olds, the preferred advertiser target audience for entertainment programming. NBC5 did likewise at 10 p.m.

WFAA8 enjoyed the same network largesse on Monday night, riding a 9 p.m. win by ABC's Castle to twin victories at 10 p.m. End of seminar. There'll be a test tomorrow.

Elsewhere in prime-time Tuesday, Fox's American Idol won as always at 7 p.m., this time with 380,033 total viewers. ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show, which at last evicted whiny, weepy, left-footed Kate Gosselin, ran second at that hour with 271,452 viewers.

At 8 p.m. it was all-out war between Fox's Glee and ABC's Lost. Each show had 318,956 viewers in whipping CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles rerun and the second hour of NBC's The Biggest Loser. But Lost nipped Glee among 18-to-49-year-olds, by a score of 189,173 to 185,911.

In other local news derby results, NBC5 returned to the 6 a.m. winner's circle with first place finishes in both total viewers and with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The Peacock also crowed at 6 p.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 tops among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 had the 5 p.m. edge in total viewers, but Fox4 again was golden in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 16-18) -- Mavs men whip Spurs, wallop country music awards


Beginning their playoff run on two channels, the Dallas Mavericks both beat the Spurs and dominated Sunday's prime-time Nielsen numbers.

In an interesting twist, TNT had considerably more viewers than TXA21, which offered the homegrown call from Mark Folowill and Bob Ortegel.

The game began at 7:15 p.m., a bit later than scheduled, and ended at 9:45 p.m. The ratings computed for D-FW reflect those actual start and stop times, with TXA21 averaging 196,803 total viewers and TNT, 318,956.

That's an imposing grand total of 515,759 viewers, easily besting the 264,666 viewers tuned to CBS' competing Academy of Country Music Awards. Mavs-Spurs also routed a new 8 p.m. episode of ABC's Desperate Housewives, which had 291,811 viewers. It was the same story with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

Friday's prime-time Nielsens, dinky in comparison, were topped by NBC's Secrets of the Mountain, which had 156,085 total viewers. But Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast had more 18-to-49-year-olds. The Texas Rangers' loss to the Yankees on TXA21 lured 88,222 total viewers.

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 broke a two-day string of no wins by topping the 10 p.m. ratings in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. But the station fared poorly everywhere else.

NBC5 again reigned at 6 a.m. in both ratings measurements while also winning at 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers. The early evening golds in the 25-to-54 demographic both went to Fox4.

By the way, this used to be the theme song for NBC5 news

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The Good Daze band returned to Fox4's Good Day on the fun 'n' games Friday edition.

Their latest song styling, Michelle Branch's "Everywhere," doubled last summer as the theme song for NBC5's all-encompassing newscasts.

This gives us a unique opportunity to let you compare the two performance videos by first noting that Good Daze includes Fox4 weathercaster Evan Andrews on drums, peripatetic reporter/weathercaster Fiona Gorostiza on lead vocals and traffic guy Chip Waggoner on one of the band's three guitars. Here we go:
Ed Bark

Too delicious: The Onion wrings tears of laughter with scathing Skip Bayless takedown


Still reviled by many veteran sports reporters in this market, former Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times Herald columnist Skip Bayless is brilliantly skewered by the online Onion Sports Network.

"All Sports To Cease So Skip Bayless Has Nothing To Talk About," says an April 16th headline above a glowering Bayless, who now spews for ESPN.

The lead paragraph goes like this: "Expressing regret that joyless, wrongheaded ESPN commentator and attack journalist Skip Bayless could not be dealt with otherwise, commissioners from every major professional sporting league, top officials of amateur athletic associations, and representatives of player unions reached an agreement Wednesday to end the practice of competitive sports in order to forever deprive Bayless of any subject matter."

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is quoted as saying, "Ending baseball is a tragedy, but if our sacrifice means Bayless stops spewing his petty, hateful vitriol, it will all be worth it."

In the view of many, including your friendly content provider, Bayless, 58, has long been a "contrarian" who calculatingly puts himself on the edge of various limbs in order to keep his profile above water. In a web column headlined "How Does Skip Bayless Sleep At Night?," veteran D-FW sports reporter/talk show host Mike Fisher excoriated Bayless for continuing to perpetuate the alleged rumor that former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is gay.

In the second paragraph, Fisher asked delicately, "So why does this self-loathing creep keep regurgitating the rumor he started -- the financially lucrative rumor he started -- regarding Troy Aikman's sexuality?"

The Onion piece predicts that without sports, Bayless eventually will "begin to choke on his own bile and be silenced for good, living the rest of his years silently curled around his bone-deep contempt for all that is pleasurable and good."

Bayless "was not approached for comment," the story ends. By all means read it all.

Hansen unplugged: the sequel

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WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen during his much talked about Tuesday night "Unplugged" commentary and news director Michael Valentine at the 2007 Lone Star Emmy Awards. Photos: Ed Bark

And now the rest of the story on WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen's take-no-prisoners discourse that has become the talk of the town -- at least on talk radio.

Interviewed by telephone Wednesday, Hansen said that news director Michael Valentine both solicited his "Unplugged" commentary and had no interest in reading it beforehand.

What emerged, on the Dallas-based station's Tuesday 10 p.m. newscast, was a veritable verbal assault on station management for deciding to air a secretly recorded Jerry Jones video in which the seemingly well-oiled Dallas Cowboys owner profanely ripped former coach Bill Parcells and the NFL potential of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Jones was holding court in a bar at the time.

Hansen said a late afternoon in-station debate on the newsworthiness of the grainy video left him on the losing side.

"We went round and round and round," he said of the give-and-take between Valentine and the station's assistant news director.

In the end, Hansen refused to do a story on the video. Co-anchor Gloria Campos instead stepped in after earlier emceeing the same day's retirement party for Dallas police chief David Kunkle.

Valentine then asked him if he wanted to do one of his periodic "Unplugged" commentaries, Hansen said.

"I was a little surprised, hell, a lot surprised," Hansen said. "I think he (Valentine) knew my frustrations.

Hansen said he considered not doing anything, but gradually warmed to the idea. He eventually teased the commentary on Tuesday's 6 p.m. newscast, naming Valentine and saying that his boss made a "terrible" mistake in greenlighting the Jones video for air.

In recent months, Hansen also has been doing taped Friday commentaries for WFAA8's ratings troubled Daybreak program. Valentine looks them over beforehand because "it's news content and getting outside the sports area," Hansen said. "He's never flinched on any of them. So I absolutely assumed at the very least he'd want to see this. And he said, 'No, be fair, and take your best shot."

Valentine said earlier in these spaces that "it would be hypocritical for me to ask him to take a stance but not to say anything negative about a decision I make. He has my full support."

Mike Devlin, president and general manager of WFAA8, said Wednesday of Hansen's "Unplugged" commentary, "As usual, he's incorrect." But he laughed after saying this before adding, "He's funny, engaging and he's one of a kind."

Before it aired, Hansen and sports director Sean Hamilton went over the commentary. Hamilton "had some concerns," Hansen said, mainly about the riff in which he lamented the lack of leaders in today's television news rooms. Too many people want to be followers, he said.

But those comments were left in, as were Hansen's remarks that stations love to report embarrassing stories, except when they involve prominent anchors in their own newsrooms.

"Basically, I'm trying to uphold the sanctity of the bar," said Hansen, who's no stranger to them. "Trust me, he (Jones) has done worse thing that in a bar, and I choose not to report them . . . Without question the ambush aspect of it bothered me the most, because I think it was terribly unfair to Jones. It's an invasion of privacy. Then add to it that I honestly don't see any story here.

"What I'm getting tired of," he added, "is a lot of these bloggers throw crap against the wall. And oh my gosh, sometimes it sticks. And then they hold that up as being a bastion of journalism."

Deadspin.com, where the Jones video originated, had its own salute to Hansen Wednesday. "Ehhhh . . . (f-word) off, Dale Hansen," said a headline above his "Unplugged" commentary.

"Well, there ya go," Hansen said, laughing.

Hansen overall is no purist when it comes to the necessities of today's television news. His almost nightly banter with weathercaster Pete Delkus has put some readers of unclebarky.com off their feed. It's oftentimes been ridiculed by your friendly content provider, too.

"Edward R. Murrow is dead," Hansen said. "There unfortunately may have to be room for Hansen and Delkus to do our shtick. If we were to do our newscast by the standards of Murrow (who also, it should be noted, had a celebrity interview program), we wouldn't have an audience. The reality is when it's all said and done, it's a business. I'm just trying to stop the mudslide."

NBC5 and CBS11, as previously reported, did not air the Jones video or report on it. Hansen said he was "shocked" by NBC5's decision. "If I had to pick one station that would have aired it, it would have been them," he said.

CBS11's sports anchor Babe Laufenberg remains on the Cowboys payroll as the team's radio analyst, a job that Hansen did for a number of years while also being paid by both the team and his full-time employer. It's a perception problem that he had and that Laufenberg inherited.

"Channel 11 may have made the right decision for a lot of the right reasons," Hansen said. "But I know that a lot of people think they didn't want to tamper with their relationship with Jerry Jones. But I don't know. People thought that of me, too. It's hard to maintain any autonomy anymore."

Laufenberg, in a phone interview Wednesday, said he "didn't feel comfortable" using the Jones video.

"The big thing to me is what are you going to stand for," he said. "How do you want to present Babe Laufenberg? I didn't see the news value in it, and I certainly had major problems with how they got it. Certainly Jerry is a public figure, but I think people are entitled to some sense of privacy."

CBS11's new news director, Adrienne Roark, was "in total agreement with me," he said. Had he clandestinely recorded video with Jones while drinking with him, "she'd throw me out of the office" if he then proposed airing it, Laufenberg said.

His relationship with the Cowboys will always be saddled with a perception problem, Laufenberg agreed. "But the Cowboys have never called me and said, 'Here, we've got something for you.' "

One more thing. Newsblues.com, one of many TV industry-related sites to pick up on the Hansen commentary, ended its post with "Late yesterday, Hansen tweeted: 'just to kill any rumors - i am going to be gone most of april on vacation . . . so i have not been fired . . . just so you know.' "

Hansen said he doesn't tweet and isn't going anywhere this month, save for a couple of days off to participate in a golf tournament with which he's connected. Otherwise he'll be at his regular post. And as Tuesday night proved for all time, one never knows just what he might say.

"Unplugged" Hansen slugs away at WFAA8 management for airing secretly recorded Jones video


WFAA8's Dale Hansen speaks his piece Tuesday night. Photo: Ed Bark

One can only imagine what it must have been like off-camera at Dallas-based WFAA8 Tuesday.

Hopping mad about the station's decision to air a secretly recorded barroom video of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, veteran sports anchor Dale Hansen blistered WFAA8 management and television news in general during a markedly pointed "Unplugged" commentary on that night's 10 p.m. newscast.

The brief and grainy video, which originated on deadspin.com, includes a sometimes profane Jones trashing both former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. WFAA aired it in its entirety on early evening and late night newscasts with a printed, partially edited transcript. The video had already gone "viral," and you can find it here if you're so inclined or haven't already seen it. It's headlined "Slurring Jerry Jones Bad-Mouths Bill Parcells,Tim Tebow."

Hansen warmed up for his own extended on-air remarks by telling co-anchor Gloria Campos, "I think it's absolutely the wrong thing that we've done here. The news director's daughter doesn't like me all that much, and I'm not sure the news director will now either."

Hansen first plugged his commentary on the 6 p.m. newscast, identifying WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine by name before saying he'd made a "terrible" mistake in going with the Jones video. He refrained from using Valentine's name while letting loose on the 10 p.m. edition.

"Yet another example of the decline of journalism as we once knew it," Hansen told viewers. "Our business now too many times is a fat kid in a t-shirt in his mother's basement eating Cheetos and writing his blogs. And we make it news. Jerry Jones in a bar being Jerry Jones is not news to me. And the fact that some creep slides up to Jones, records the conversation without Jones knowing, then tries to sell that recording and that becomes news is an embarrassment to us all."

Hansen said he had discussed the ethics of airing the Jones video with WFAA8's news director and assistant news director. "I said I wouldn't do the story," he added. "They decided to do it anyway, saying it wasn't an easy choice, but a choice they had to make. Their position was Jones is a public figure and the story is already out there so we had to do it, too. That's the standard now."

Valentine, in an email response before Hansen's live 10 p.m. commentary, said he "encouraged him to go unplugged. It would be hypocritical for me to ask him to take a stance, but not to say anything negative about a decision I make. He has my full support."

Among WFAA8's three major competitors, NBC5 and CBS11 did not air or report on the Jones video during their late night newscasts. Nor is the video available as of this writing on their respective web sites.

Fox4 in contrast led its delayed 9 p.m. newscast (which started at 9:30 p.m. in deference to Glee) with Jones' unguarded remarks.

"Jerry Jones is having a video implosion of sorts," said co-anchor Heather Hays, referring to Sunday morning's demolition of Texas Stadium. Sports anchor Mike Doocy then stepped in to set the stage before telling viewers, "All right, here's the clip from deadspin.com."

Doocy noted that "Jerry clearly thought he was having a private conversation" before co-anchor Steve Eagar said he didn't know whether it was "journalistically" right to either record or air the video.

But Doocy said that public figures such as Jones have to be aware of their surroundings. "You always have to assume that this could go anywhere, as it undoubtedly will," he said before Eagar plugged Fox4's web site as the place to go to watch it again.

CW33's 9 newscast carried a snippet from the video, with news anchor Walt Maciborski contending that deadspin said it showed a "drunk Jerry Jones."

In his starkly pointed commentary, Hansen said the rationale in today's news business is that "public figures are fair game and our game is reduced to following the lead of others. No one wants to lead anymore. Everyone wants to follow. And this public figure argument rings hollow, too. This station and every station in America always uses the argument about public figures when they run some of these ridiculous, embarrassing stories. Unless it is one of their public figures."

Then it got very personal.

Embarrassing stories about "some of the most powerful people in this town -- the stories about the people who come into your home every night at 6 and 10 -- those stories somehow never see the light of day unless one of the other stations decides to -- and sometimes they do," Hansen said. "News anchors who commit suicide 'passed away' during the night. News anchors posing for pictures with drug dealers are chopped out of the shot so a Cowboys player can be shown. It's a slippery slope we're on, and we've been sliding downhill a long time now."

(Note to readers: The suicide death of a WFAA8 anchor happened decades ago and was reported in The Dallas Morning News during the time I was TV critic there. The name won't be repeated out of common decency. I'm not sure about Hansen's other reference, but there no doubt are many untold tales about D-FW anchors and reporters. Others have made it into print on this website. Some are still being covered up in times when a simple question about plans for Fox4's Sunday morning Texas stadium implosion special had to be relayed to corporate headquarters in New York for an answer.)

Hansen's commentary wound up by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson on the value of making your own trail rather than following the paths of others.

"The news management here had that opportunity," he said. "And while better than most on most days, on this day this decision was the wrong decision."

After other sports news, Hansen assured Campos and co-anchor John McCaa that they were not the anchors he referenced in his commentary.

"Ancient history, actually it is," Campos said.

"We know all that," McCaa added. "But we're going to miss your voice in the choir."

Hansen laughed at length about that as his station went to a commercial break.

So is Hansen right or wrong? Well, he made some very strong points about the hypocrisy of TV news organizations and their zeal to pry into others lives while at the same time closing the drawbridge when it comes to firings, hirings and overall conduct at their respective stations.

Hansen also scored with his assertion that following the leader sometimes can mean you either have your head up your ass or are bowing to heightened competitive pressures in times when news travels faster than even a fat guy eating Cheetos can blog it. (Never liked Cheetos that much, am not fat yet, don't live in mother's basement.)

On the other hand, Jones is particularly notorious for partying hard, shooting his mouth off and having protectors around him to guard against what happened at whatever watering hole his comments about Parcells and others spilled out. In many ways it's amazing he hasn't been "caught" a number of times before. Getting a good look at the real Jones is not necessarily a bad thing -- not even for him. Now that he's presumably at least a bit embarrassed, maybe it'll prevent something far worse from happening someday.

Jones and the Cowboys organization had no comment on the video, as Hansen and others noted. But Hansen certainly had an awful lot to say -- even for him.

Whatever you think of WFAA8's news judgment, station management at least deserves credit for letting Hansen lash back in ways that have never been seen or heard in this news market. After he towels off a bit, he might want to realize how very privileged he is in that respect. Be assured that after he's gone, it'll never happen again.

Thanks, you've been a great audience. And as the clock nears 1 a.m. Wednesday here at unclebarky.com central, here is the freshly posted video of Hansen's commentary -- on WFAA8's web site no less.

Last picture show: Local TV stations gang-tackle the crumbling of Texas Stadium


Dust to dust: Texas Stadium breathes its last. Photos: Ed Bark

The money shots came at 7:07 a.m. Sunday, after a series of staccato bursts from within triggered the picturesque but poignant farewell of the house the Cowboys built.

D-FW's four major television news providers all gave viewers a live, you-are-there-look at the carnage while thousands more whooped or sobbed in person.

The TV presentations were recorded in full and then watched individually in their entirety by your faithful chronicler of big doings in local TV.

"I'm uploading some great pictures to Facebook," said Fox4's Heather Hays, who co-anchored from the scene with Steve Eagar. That's the way it works these days. At Texas Stadium's 1971 birth, the closest thing to Facebook would have been a mug shot at an area jail.

Here's our rundown of who did what -- and how well they did it.


Title: Bringin' Down the House
Showtime: -- 6 to 8 a.m.
Personnel -- Tim Ryan at the station's downtown studios with weatherman Evan Andrews. Heather Hays and Steve Eagar anchoring outdoors at the scene. Sports anchor Mike Doocy in the VIP tent. Reporter Brandon Todd in the field.

Eagar and Hays had two rounds of interviews with 11-year-old Casey Rogers, the kid who won the contest to push the implosion button. Whoops, Casey said he'd only been to the stadium once, "with Gloria Campos." Eagar noted she was from another local TV station (namely WFAA8) before quickly moving on.

Hays and Eagar for the most part were chatty and fun, with the rascally Ryan chipping in quips from his usual safe perch out of the elements. Ryan flubbed things at one point, though, telling viewers after the implosion: "Famed director Irwin Winkler could not have done better. The guy who created so many disaster and explosion scenes in his career. It looked like something right out of his Hollywood playbook."

Ryan meant to say Irwin Allen, the late "Master of Disaster" whose efforts included The Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno and Swarm. Producer-director Winkler was not at all known for disaster flicks, unless you count 1967's Double Trouble, starring Elvis Presley.

Meanwhile out in the field, Todd probably wishes he had a do-over. In preparation for a dust cloud that never really materialized at ground level, the intrepid reporter showily encased himself in a head-to-toe, baby blue body suit and goggles that made him look like an extra from Outbreak, which was not directed by either Allen or Winkler.

"I didn't really need this suit, I can tell you that," Todd later told Ryan, who riposted, "Yeah, you look kind of silly, to tell you the truth."

Todd, briefly joined live by a seemingly inebriated young man who said he loved the Smurfs, later recovered to log the morning's most interesting live witness interview -- with two teary-eyed women who had been Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in 1989. The team went 1-15 that year and failed to win a single home game.

(Brief Uncle Barky aside: My son, Sam and I, went to the season-ending Christmas Eve game that year against the Green Bay Packers, which my home state Pack won 20-10. Sam was nearly 6 years old at the time, and we got free candy and stuff from the cheerleaders. But it was freezing cold and most of the restrooms were frozen into submission. A sign of things to come.)

Back to our live coverage, in which Doocy did a nice job interviewing Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former Cowboy John Fitzgerald (one of the very few to show up) in the VIP tent before joining Hays and Eagar outside.

While they were gathered, Ryan noted that Texas Stadium "went from the crown jewel of the NFL to arguably one of the worst stadiums" in its shabby declining years.

Doocy also added a refreshingly candid insight, noting that Jones envisioned a new stadium almost from the day he bought the Cowboys. "It worked to his benefit to not let Texas Stadium look that great," he said.

The Fox4 show ran twice as long as those on WFAA8 and CBS11. It got decidedly redundant down the stretch, with repeated replays of the demolition. But in reality, lots of potential viewers were still waking up, and probably appreciated the extra chances to take a look. It all ended with easily the best Texas Stadium sendoff on any station, a terrific compilation of archival footage of past glories -- and that dismal last game -- accompanied by lump-in-the-throat-inducing bagpipe music.

Grade: B+

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Going to excess: NBC5's Samantha Davies and Fox4's Brandon Todd


Title: None
Showtime: 6 to 7:30 a.m.
Personnel: Scott Friedman and Lindsay Wilcox co-anchoring from the station's Fort Worth studios with weathercaster Samantha Davies. Reporters Grant Stinchfield and Kim Fischer in the field.

NBC5 was the only station without an anchor team on site, and also had no sportscaster in the mix. Maybe it was too early in the morning for Newy Scruggs, but bouncy Matt Barrie might have been up all night anyway. And his energy would have been a nice plus, as long as he didn't say, "Kaboom, that was awesome!!!" or anything.

Stinchfield worked hard, landing on site interviews -- some of them on tape -- with Jones, Rogers, former Cowboy Randy White and fast-talking Irving mayor Herb Gears, who touted the plusses of his city with the zeal of a used car salesman at Leaky Lemon's Tow 'n' Go Auto Emporium.

Fischer likewise was in the field, emanating from the Stadium's Red Lot.

"We're going to get nice and dirty in a little bit," she said hopefully, referring to the giant, choking dust cloud that supposedly would be let loose by the implosion.

Fischer took her cues from weathercaster Davies, who spent a ridiculous amount of time prepping area residents for a dust cloud driven by winds that actually might get up to -- gasp -- 12 mph.

"The direction of the wind is going to be important, because where the wind is coming from it's going to blow that wind away from it," she misspoke at one point.

But those ground-level dust fears never materialized, leaving Fischer to lament, "I have my mask on, but the dust seems to be blowing a little bit away from us."

Other than that, Fischer contributed nothing, noting that her watch post was too far away from anyone to interview. Her fellow reporters didn't have that problem because they were in the midst of onlookers. But NBC5 did strategically place an "Implosion Countdown" clock in the upper right hand corner of home screens.

Near the end, Stinchfield said that security people will guard against "any looky loos" pawing through the remains of Texas Stadiums. Looky Loos? Tarnation, that must be straight from the Gabby Hayes playbook.

GRADE: C-minus


Now you see it . . . WFAA8 anchors Cynthia Izaguirre and Joe Trahan


Title: End of an Era: The Implosion of Texas Stadium
Showtime: 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.
Personnel: Cynthia Izaguirre anchoring outdoors from the scene, with sports anchor/reporter Joe Trahan joining her and also periodically migrating to the VIP tent. Reporter Casey Norton in the field, with Troy Bush contributing observations from HD Chopper 8. Taped reports from Shelly Slater, George Riba, John McCaa and Gloria Campos. Taped commentary from sports anchor Dale Hansen

WFAA8 got off to a rough start when Norton got his mike in range of an elementary school age boy preparing to watch the implosion. He was there to see the action in live "3D," the kid said, adding, "See the helicopter get hit by a (unintelligible)."

Newcomer Norton quickly jerked his mike away before telling viewers, "No, no, no, we're not going to worry about all that."

He fared better after the implosion with a middle-aged woman who said, "I love the Cowboys. They weren't in there. So it was great."

The station thankfully had no ominous dust cloud coverage. In fact, a surprising amount of WFAA8's one-hour special was on tape. Canned reports ranged from a hard-hatted Slater's look at the intricacies of blowing up the stadium to Riba's history lesson (Crosby, Stills and Nash was the first concert performance) to Campos' rather gooey piece on young buck Rogers, whom she escorted into the Cowboys' former home for a last look at the pre-implosion mess.

Oddly, the entire live portion of the coverage had no WFAA8 logo on screen, nor the time of day. For historical purposes, it's better to illustrate the implosion the way CBS11 did in the photo at the top of this piece.

Hansen, who used to be the radio voice of the Cowboys with Brad Sham, said on tape that he'd be in New York City Sunday and "I'm not much of a stadium guy." Instead he'd visit Ground Zero in Manhattan, Hansen said after relaying an anecdote on how he'd seen Roger Staubach's last game as a Cowboy almost by happenstance.

Frankly, Hansen should have found a way to be on site Sunday. He was a key part of the team's broadcast history for many years. And his sportscasts still find a way to lead with Cowboys news whenever possible.

WFAA8's five greatest moments in Texas Stadium history, as recited by McCaa after a viewer survey, were topped by its spectacular demolition. It was ranked No. 1 ahead of Emmitt Smith's setting of the NFL's all-time rushing yardage record in 2002. So Hansen might someday regret not being there. Or maybe not.



Now you don't . . . CBS11 anchors Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta


Title: Texas Stadium: The Final Farewell
Showtime: 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.
Personnel: Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta anchoring outdoors from the scene. Weathercaster Larry Mowry also on the scene, with reporters Jay Gormley and Stephanie Lucero in the field. Sports anchor Babe Laufenberg in the VIP tent. Traffic reporter Teresa Frosini in the station's Fort Worth studios. Reporter Steve Dennis on tape

The coverage had a nicely evocative beginning. Pat Summerall, who did numerous games at Texas Stadium, narrated a taped history with reminiscences from the likes of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Randy White. The latter also joined Laufenberg for a live chat.

Lucero, in the Red Lot, observed that "some of the fans here have been drinking all night."

Dunbar seemed sober when he asked, "Is there going to be a nuclear winter when this thing goes down?" But he laughed before throwing it to Mowry, who didn't make any undue big deal about the dust cloud implications.

CBS11 also had a Top 5 moments in Texas Stadium history, topped by Smith's rushing record, not the implosion. Dennis's companion taped piece on Cowboys lore touched a number of bases, including former linebacker Lee Roy Jordan's vow not to look in the direction of Texas Stadium again during his frequent drives past it. "I do not want to see it imploded," he said emphatically.

Dunbar and Borta spent a little too much time holding up a package of the implosion's macaroni and cheese sponsor. Over in the VIP tent, Laufenberg was the only Big Four station rep not to interview Jones. That's kind of puzzling, considering that he works for the Cowboys as their radio analyst in the same way that Hansen once did. But at least he was there.

Borta veered in the vicinity of weepy -- but appealingly so -- in the minutes after the implosion. Dunbar first observed, "Oh. My. Gosh." Then she added, "I'm shakin' a little bit. Just watching that building come down, it's a lot more emotional than I thought it would be."

Elsewhere, Lucero seemed a bit discombobulated, saying she had rushed her sons to "safety" in the family car and was "wearing a dust mask because the dust is coming our way."

But it wasn't. And she later recovered to talk to a pair of eyewitnesses after Dunbar chipped in with, "This thing looks like a nuclear nightmare behind us." Easy, boy.

Reporter Gormley had the early morning's only genuine scoop. Anchors and reporters at all three rival stations had wondered whether the implosion had come up a bit short by failing to knock down three of the 12 "trusses" used to hold up the roof.

Shortly before CBS11 signed off its live coverage, Gormley said he had learned that the trusses were intentionally left standing as souvenirs. The city might get one and the state might, too, he said. They may be left intact or cut into pieces, he reported. It hasn't been decided yet.

Hmm, I'd expect at least one of them to be carved up and sold for profit to collectors. That's business. And that, at last, is a wrap.


Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 9-11) -- implosion palooza, plus The Masters

A lot of you were interested -- even during pre-dawn's early times. And when the big boom came, the ratings jumped as though they were on a pogo stick.

We're talking about Sunday morning's implosion of Texas Stadium, and its live coverage on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. The shopworn former home of the Dallas Cowboys took its final bow at 7:07 a.m., when its walls and roof came tumbling down in roughly a minute's time. Nielsen Media Research measures in 15-minute increments, so let's look first at the D-FW numbers from 7 to 7:15 a.m.

Fox4 -- 203,589 viewers
CBS11 -- 156,085 viewers
NBC5 -- 128,940 viewers
WFAA8 -- 108,581 viewers

Fox4 had the longest implosion special, from 6 to 8 a.m.. NBC5 began at the same hour and ended at 7:30 a.m. WFAA8 and CBS11 both went from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Let's look the audiences for the complete shows:

Fox4 -- 142,512
NBC5 and CBS11 -- 88,222 apiece
WFAA8 -- 81,436

Fox4's coverage also had the most 25-to-54-year-old viewers, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. NBC5 slid to fourth in this demographic, with CBS11 the runnerup and WFAA8 third.

Plainly put, that's a triumph for Fox4 and a punch in the chops for WFAA8, which had announced its implosion special first and promoted it on all newscasts. Did WFAA8 err in not sending some of its more prominent news personalities to the scene, as Fox4 and CBS11 did? Do viewers care one way or the other -- or did they just want to see the big collapse?

Whatever the case, Fox4 clearly won the battle of the early morning extravaganzas. WFAA8's only upside Sunday was a commanding 10 p.m. newscast performance, in which it dominated with 339,315 total viewers.

Sunday's final round of The Masters on CBS averaged 325,742 viewers, peaking at an American Idol/Dancing With the Stars-sized 481,827 viewers between 4 and 4:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon's third round averaged a comparatively paltry 149,299 viewers.

On Friday night, TXA21's first of 25 weekly regular season Texas Rangers games had 108,581 viewers, good enough to finish third behind first-run entertainment programming on ABC and CBS.

Prime-time's most-watched attraction, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC, had 183,230 viewers in the 8 p.m. hour. The second episode of CBS' Miami Medical won at 9 p.m. with 176,444 viewers. But MM slid to fifth place with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, with the last part of the Rangers game placing a heady first. Who says baseball is mostly for old coots?

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. among both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 did likewise at 6 a.m., where it was strictly a two-station race between the Peacock and Fox4.

WFAA8 took both legs at 6 p.m., but lost by pencil-thin margins to Fox4 at 5 p.m.

Bad karma? Hope not. Made-in-Dallas The Good Guys has a title previously used by a brain-decaying sitcom

As noted in a recent post, Fox's action-comedy cop series, The Good Guys, continues to shoot in the Dallas area while the network readies it for a May 19th premiere.

This title previously was taken by a super-lame late 1960s CBS sitcom starring Bob Denver as cab driver Rufus Butterworth. Fox has started airing promos for its second coming of The Good Guys, but they're not available for embedding or linking yet. So the best we can do is this stupefying open-and-close for the original, which somehow lasted two seasons. Was the worst TV could offer really that bad back then?

Initially titled Code 58, Fox's Good Guys, which co-stars Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks, is from the fertile mind of Burn Notice producer Matt Nix. It can't help but be a gazillion times better than this:

Picturing Megan Henderson -- one last time

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Hotties times two: Megan Henderson with Patrick Dempsey ("Dr. McDreamy" on Grey's Anatomy) and Glee star Matthew Morrison.

Judging from readers' comments, a number of you still aren't over former Good Day co-anchor Megan Henderson, who left the Fox4 morning show in February 2009 to join KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Henderson's name invariably comes up whenever anything is written in these spaces about Good Day. Comments range from "Please come back" to "Get over it."

To which your friendly content provider says, "Get over it." She's not coming back, and why would she? As the above pictures from her Facebook page attest, Henderson is perfectly happy rubbing shoulders and clasping hands with picturesque actors. And the feeling no doubt is mutual.

Being seen with stars in L.A. likely beats mingling with Dallas mayor Tom Leppert while getting cross-eyed in the presence of his ever-present wide-striped suits. Henderson also is closer to home and family. She grew up in nearby Long Beach and San Clemente.

It's now more than a year since she left D-FW. Gone but not forgotten? Sure. But let's give her successor, Lauren Przybyl, a chance to rise and shine on her own merits. She's got a very tough act to follow, and maybe she wasn't the right choice. We'll see. But there isn't going to be any second coming of Megan Henderson. Fox4 was then. Posing with "McDreamy" is now.

Dallas-shot Good Guys series getting first promotional push on Fox

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Bradley Whitford strikes a pose while Colin Hanks give him the ho-hum in new stills from Fox's The Good Guys (formerly Code 58). It's being shot in the Dallas area and premieres on May 19th. Fox photos

Fox is starting to roll out promotional photos and video teases for its new spring-summer cop series The Good Guys, scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, May 19th after American Idol.

We've already had two extensive looks at the show (previously titled Code 58), which is being filmed entirely in the Dallas area with production offices at Fair Park. You can find them here on unclebarky.com and here on my home away from home, locatetv.com.

An early promotional clip for The Good Guys, starring Bradley Whitford (The West Wing and Colin Hanks (Mad Men, Roswell) aired during Tuesday night's American Idol performance show. It's not yet available for embedding or linking, but makes the show look quite promising.

"Meet the new brand of law & disorder," the promo says in big bold print before Whitford's character, a burned out, throwback Dallas cop named Dan Stark, gets the drop on a bad guy.

"That's a toy," he tells Stark.

"It's not a toy. It's an orange gun!" Stark yells back at him.

Hanks plays Stark's younger, under-achieving partner, Jack Bailey. Or as a pitchman puts it, "Whitford. Hanks. Mustache."

Nice. Here are a couple of frame grabs from the TV promo. One is the show's official logo, with "Dallas Police Department" also prominently displayed. The other shows Hanks and Whitford in downtown Dallas surroundings that probably aren't included in the Grayline tour. And yes, there still is one.



More national exposure for "America's premier gentlemen's club in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex"

lodge_night newtsnook

A reporter for ABC's Nightline visited The Lodge Tuesday evening -- on business.

It's the latest example of national coverage -- and un-coverage -- of the upscale Dallas gentlemen's club. Nightline is spotlighting The Lodge for an upcoming look at efforts to repeal the Texas "sin tax," which requires strip clubs to collect a $5 surcharge for each customer visit.

The Lodge was featured on several editions of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last year after its dustup with former House speaker Newt Gingrich, which also received heavy local coverage. It all ended up in The Lodge's establishment of "Newt's Nook," a home for pit bulls.

"Writer in residence" Michael Precker, a former Dallas Morning News reporter who also is an assistant manager at The Lodge, earlier appeared on CNN's now defunct D.L. Hughley Show to talk about his unusual career transition. CNN took its cue from a feature on Precker and The Lodge in The Wall Street Journal. The club also played host for Showtime's recent Paul Mooney: It's the End of the World!, which was filmed by AMS Pictures of Dallas.

Exposure on Nightline arguably is another step up for The Lodge. Maybe Meet the Press someday? All things considered, that's not out of the question.

Ka-boom town: D-FW's picture providers planning big blowouts for Texas Stadium blowup


That famed hole in the roof will be reduced to a big hole in the ground after demolition crews have their way with Irving's historic Texas Stadium early Sunday morning. D-FW's major TV news providers plan to be all over it.

WFAA8 has been touting its special live coverage for the past few weeks. Now CBS11 is promising an even bigger spectacular while Fox4 and NBC5 confirm that they also will give viewers the opportunity to watch the hallowed earth shake.

WFAA8's special will be titled End of An Era: the Implosion of Texas Stadium, with Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre presiding with help from backup sports anchor Joe Trahan. Coverage starts at 6:30 a.m., with the station promising a closeup look "shot from every angle, in the air and on the ground."

Meanwhile, CBS11 will be sending a veritable task force under the direction of new news director Adrienne Roark. Its one-hour Texas Stadium: The Final Farewell, also starting at 6:30 a.m., will be anchored by its featured 10 p.m. weekday team, Doug Dunbar and Karen Borta.

Sports anchor and former Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Babe Laufenberg, will "provide perspective from his personal experience," with Hall of Famer Randy White also in the live mix.

After the dust settles, reporters Jay Gormley and Stephanie Lucero will interview spectators while -- get this -- chief meteorologist Larry Mowry contributes "on-site analysis of the effects of wind and weather on the event, as well as the path of the dust cloud."

Add traffic reporter Teresa Frosini, who will report on -- traffic. According to a publicity release sent Tuesday, the CBS11 coverage will "include 13 camera angles of the implosion, including various locations inside Texas Stadium, multiple vantage points around the perimeter and an airborne camera in Chopper 11."

Fox4 and NBC5 haven't sent out any news releases. But station spokespersons confirm that they'll be very much on the scene.

Fox4's special Sunday edition of Good Day, preempting the usual array of paid programming, will be subtitled Bringing Down the House. Coverage starts at 6 a.m., with weekday Good Day co-anchor Tim Ryan presiding with reports from sports anchor Mike Doocy.

NBC5 also will start at 6 a.m. with a special edition of its usual early morning show. Weekday waker upper anchor Scott Friedman will join weekenders Lindsay Wilcox and Samantha Davies, who will offer implosion-themed weather updates. Reporters Grant Stinchfield and Kim Fischer will be in the field, with Chopper 5 hovering above.

"No special title. Just spectacular coverage," says Brian Hocker, NBC5's vice president of programming.

Compared to this, all Reunion Arena got was a lousy t-shirt. Its recent implosion -- after much of the Dallas Mavericks' former home already had been stripped bare -- got a minute or two of taped coverage on local evening newscasts. WFAA8 ended up settling for grainy, ground level video shot by a Dallas Morning News reporter.

There will be no scrimping this time. Texas Stadium, which officially replaced the Cotton Bowl as the Cowboys' home field on Oct. 24, 1971, will go down for the count with cameras blazing, choppers whirling and anchors emoting. Is it all a manifest example of gross overkill? Perhaps. But all local TV stations live by this basic creed: You can't over-cover the Dallas Cowboys -- no matter how hard you try.

Woods/Rangers start new seasons in tandem



The Texas Rangers and Tiger Woods simultaneously opened their new seasons Monday afternoon. He seemed to be a hit while the Rangers went hitless for the first six innings. Photos: Ed Bark

Tiger Woods wore a white hat with a dark blue "TW" and a Nike polo in honor of the one major sponsor that hasn't dropped him. The Texas Rangers sported bright red jerseys and matching caps with white Ts.

Both had their home openers shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, with Woods holding his first post-scandal press conference after a practice round at The Masters while the Rangers met the Toronto Blue Jays in Arlington.

It was an odd confluence of sports events -- the Rangers on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN News carrying Woods because ESPN and ESPN2 both had major league baseball games scheduled.

Woods, by ESPN's count, took 34 questions in 34 minutes, with 206 media tickets distributed and five cameras capturing the action. The Rangers initially looked helpless at the hands of Toronto starter Shaun Marcum, going hitless through the first six-and-one-third innings and trailing 3-0 before -- BOOM!!! -- Nelson Cruz tied the game with a three-run homer while 50,299 watched.

Woods, sporting a goatee and a wisp of a mustache, smiled fairly frequently while seated next to green-jacketed Craig Heatley, chairman of the Masters Media Committee. The Rangers erupted into a big group smile/grin/laugh after Cruz finally put them on the scoreboard in a big way.

Pledging to be more fan-friendly and less demonstrative on the golf course, Woods again handled his inquisitors on his terms. He hopes that the media now will concentrate on golf and also stop questioning his fellow pros on what it's like to have him back in their midst again on the sport's grandest stage.

"There's a tremendous relief off his shoulders," said ESPN analyst and former pro Curtis Strange after Woods advanced the ball a little more by disclosing he had "a busted up lip and a pretty sore neck" after crashing his motor vehicle on Thanksgiving night. It took five stitches to close the wound, he said, declining to elaborate further.

And oh yeah, his wife, Elin, "is not coming this week, no" he succinctly told a woman with a British accent who likely reminded him of the tabloid media types that had participated in "the constant harassment of my family."

While ESPN News regurgitated Woods throughout the day, the Rangers quickly gave the lead back to Toronto after last year's phenom, Neftali Feliz, was ineffective out of the bullpen. Ancient former Ranger, Darren Oliver, at 39 almost twice as old as Feliz, came in to get a key strikeout to end the eighth.

Woods tees off anew at The Masters on Thursday, with the whole world supposedly prepared to watch him super-inflate the PGA tour's ratings, which had been moribund without him. The Rangers will go to bat in another 161 games this season, with 25 of them to be played weekly on Friday nights as part of a new package on TXA21.

And in the end, what a way to start! The Rangers rallied for two runs in the ninth to beat the Blue Jays 5-4 on a clutch hit by catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia. Ballgame! Happy days are here again.

Another video that keeps on giving -- the night the streaker struck. Former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano still remembers all the details

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Bert Lozano in official WFAA8 photo and at present.

In the annals of WFAA8 live shots gone comically awry, reporter Bert Lozano's close brush with a streaker -- out in the bush -- is in there punching with Valeri Williams' famed frozen-lipped report from near Amarillo on the frigid night of Nov. 24, 1992.

Williams, now an attorney, recalled that day in a June 2008 interview with unclebarky.com. Now it's Lozano's turn before the below video (newly posted on youtube) vividly speaks for itself.

He spent three years at WFAA8 before leaving the station in February, 2007 to take a position in the Dallas offices of Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm where he still works. Of his many adventures in the field, none has stuck with him -- and to him -- more than a hot summer night in 2006, when Lozano and former WFAA8 photographer Timb Hamilton were covering a grass fire near Lake Lewisville in the Colony.

They set up for a live shot on the 10 p.m. news, with another ex-WFAA8 news staffer, Rebecca Rodriguez, anchoring back at the station's Dallas studios.

"From the corner of my eye, I saw a man, completely naked except for his white sneakers," Lozano recalled via email. "I can still see him there, standing by our news truck, almost like he was running in place. I knew exactly why he was there! I had seen this kind of thing before on youtube and other news blooper shows. The funny thing is that I remember thinking to myself, 'Jeez, what would I do if anything like that ever happened to me?' "

"My immediate thought was to walk up to the camera and put my hand over the lens to avoid the 'full Monty' moment. But before I could even turn to the camera, the guy was already sprinting between the camera and me. All I heard was an air horn as he ran past me and tripped on my microphone cord and disappeared into the darkness.

"At that moment, everything seemed to move in slow motion. I remember thinking to myself, 'I have got to explain or apologize or say something.' But all I could do was keep reporting my story. It seemed to me like I was talking very slowly and had that deer-caught-in-the-headlight look. And when I finally tossed to my (videotaped) reporter package, I told myself, 'Well, I guess I'm just not going to say anything about a naked man running past me.' "

Lozano says he initially felt "totally humiliated. I thought that I had really blown it on live television. It was the worst feeling. Then my news director called and actually congratulated me for doing such a good job of saying focused. I really didn't feel like that when I was going through it, but when I had a chance to look at it later in the evening, I was very relieved that I had not made a complete and total fool of myself."

A police report was filed, "but nothing ever came of it," Lozano says. "The guy was gone. I've always wanted the opportunity to chat with him to get the full story, but I guess some things will remain a mystery.

"Still, I almost want to thank him. Since that night, the clip has been run on Extra!, MSNBC, VH1 and various websites. After it happened I got a ton of emails. Viewers were asking if they really saw a naked man on TV or if their eyes had played a trick on them because I never said anything about it in my live shot and the anchors never mentioned it during the newscast. Hilarious!"

People still ask him "whether I got a good look at the guy," Lozano says. "And I always say, 'Yes, and there was more than just dry brush that needed trimming that night.' "

Here's the run-by shooting, captured live on WFAA8 and still tooting its own horn.

Weather right or wrong, they're pretty much all right -- or all wrong

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As noted in these spaces repeatedly, weather is the big dog in local television news.

It doesn't matter where you live. If foul weather looms -- even a semi-serious sprinkle or double-digit temp drop often qualify -- TV's fearless forecasters are all over it. They tease you at the top of newscasts and then hammer home the highs, lows, fronts and blasts.

Some strip down to their shirtsleeves to heighten the urgency. WFAA8's Pete Delkus is the pacesetter in this competition, although CBS11's Larry Mowry also is quick to throw his coat to the winds. Fox4's Dan Henry tends to stay buttoned up, NBC5's David Finfrock seems to be striving for a happy medium and CW33's Rebecca Miller always stays fully dressed.

When you get right down to it, though, it's all about the presentation. Because the forecasts are pretty much the same -- night after night, day after day.

As proof, I've frame-grabbed Wednesday's extended forecast graphics from Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11 and CW33. A lot of viewers of course want to know what Easter Sunday is going to be like. Fox4, NBC5 and CW33 all say we'll reach a high of 80. WFAA8 says it'll hit 81 while CBS11 lowballs it a bit at 78. But really, what's the difference? 81 or 78 -- it'll feel the same.

On the low side, WFAA8, CBS11 and CW33 all say we'll dip to 52 at some point. NBC5 says 51. Unlike his rivals, Fox4's Henry bridges his lows between days. So take or leave his forecast of 62. I'm kind of puzzled by his methods.

There is one other wrinkle. NBC5 offers just a five-day extended forecast while the others go for the full seven-day monty.

Back when he was WFAA8's weather king, Troy Dungan told me that pretty much anything beyond a three-day forecast amounted to pure guesswork. Still, station research showed that viewers liked to look farther into the future. So WFAA8, like the others, accommodated them. But Dungan said that 20 or so years ago, and weather tools and technology no doubt have improved since then.

NBC5's reticence likely dates back to the late, legendary Harold Taft, who didn't like to venture beyond even a one-day extended forecast. Finfrock, a Taft hire and disciple, is keeping the faith as much as possible.

At the outer reaches of their extended 7-day forecasts, Fox4, WFAA8, CBS11 and CW33 respectively say we'll hit Wednesday highs of 75, 76, 77 and 78. Again, what's the dif? Of the three stations that forecast lows, CBS11 has it at 54 while WFAA8 and CW33 go with 55.

Who has the best-looking extended forecast graphic? Well, WFAA8's Delkus has the nicest set of Easter eggs, if you know what I mean. The station also stands out with bolder primary colors while CBS11 could stand to wash some of that blue out. Fox4 is the only one without a station logo in view. That should be remedied. NBC5's is sponsored by Kiwi carpet cleaners. Whatever.

Here are the pictures that pretty much tell the same story, give or take a degree or two. They're presented in numerical order, beginning with Fox4 and ending with CW33. Happy Easter. Looks like a good one.






An even earlier start for Fox4's Good Day


Tim Ryan and Lauren Przybyl on her first day last Sept. Photo: Ed Bark

The early morning shift just got more taxing for Dallas-based Fox4's Good Day crew.

Sources say that beginning Monday, the program will be starting at 4:30 a.m., instead of 5, to get a jump start on rival waker-uppers on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11.

Good Day, which runs until 9 a.m., also will be adding an "Ask Lauren" feature, via her Facebook page, in hopes of pumping up both the personality and visibility of co-anchor Lauren Przybyl. She joined Good Day on Sept. 21, 2009, replacing Megan Henderson, who left Fox4 at the end of that year's February "sweeps" ratings period and now is at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Tim Ryan has been Good Day's longtime co-anchor.

In this year's February sweeps, Good Day was No. 1 in total viewers from 5 to 5:30 a.m., but then yielded first place to NBC5 from 5:30 to 7 a.m. Good Day then bounced back to first place from 7 to 9 a.m. opposite the three network morning shows.

Among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming, Good Day trailed NBC5 for the entire 5 to 7 a.m. local news competition before beating Today, GMA and Early Show.

In this month's ratings, NBC5 has consistently won the 6 a.m. hour, but it's been a closer three-way race from 5 to 6 a.m., where WFAA8's Daybreak also is in the hunt before the program usually loses ground between 6 and 7 a.m.

Early mornings have become the second most important local news battleground in recent years, with only the late night newscasts a bigger priority. At KRIV-TV in Houston, which also is owned by Fox, the weekday morning news show stretches all the way from 4 to 10 a.m.


Messing around. Ryan, substitute anchor and reporter Krystle Gutierrez and Przybyl in a picture from Przybyl's Facebook page.

Also at Good Day, Krystle Gutierrez plans to take an extended four-month maternity leave later this year after having her baby.

Gutierrez was the principal interim Good Day co-anchor during the gap between Henderson's departure and Przybyl's arrival. She also has been a featured in-studio contributor during the program's efforts to boost its relatively flat ratings in recent months.