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WFAA8 anchor/reporter Shon Gables facing escalating legal difficulties


Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price's legal problems appear to be deepening by the day, with WFAA8 and numerous other news outlets on the scent for more damaging evidence after Monday's FBI raids on his home and office. That's part of their job.

Inside Dallas-based WFAA8, anchor/reporter Shon Gables is still immersed in her own legal quagmire. And it's getting stickier, judging from recent court documents. Both Price and Gables are public figures, although you'll understandably see no reporting on her difficulties from WFAA8. You do have a right to know, though. Because if a prominent local athlete or other area celebrity were in a mess like this, WFAA8 -- and other news outlets -- would certainly see it as news.

As previously posted in March on unclebarky.com, a bench warrant was issued for Gables' arrest after a Detroit judge cited her for contempt of court in connection with a successful $35,000 slander judgment against her. The plaintiff in the case, Richard Klamka, is the brother of Gables' second and now ex-husband, Peter Klamka.

Detroit judge Jeanne Stempien issued the warrant after Gables failed to appear in court on Feb. 4th and March 4th to "testify under oath regarding her assets" in connection with the slander judgment. Stempien also said in a court document that "it is furthered ordered that the bench warrant issued for the Defendant's arrest shall be released when the Defendant pays to the court the sum of $2,000." It would not affect the $35,000 sum that Gables already has been ordered to pay Richard Klamka.

The bond on Gables' arrest warrant since has been increased to $25,000 by Judge Stempien after Gables and her attorneys unsuccessfully filed three motions asking that she be allowed to testify from afar -- including via telephone and video/Skype -- in order to avoid returning to Detroit and facing arrest plus additional travel expenses. All three motions, filed earlier this month, were quickly denied. Judge Stempien then ordered that her bond be upped to $25,000 in a court document dated June 24th.

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine, has said in response to unclebarky.com that he is in "constant communication with Shon and she has kept me up to date on the issue." He has declined to comment further.

Gables joined WFAA8 in January 2010. Her duties include anchoring the station's early morning weekend news program and reporting on three weekdays. In August, Gables had her third child by her third husband, Anthony Robinson.

In the June 7th "Motion to Permit Telephone Testimony" by Gables, her attorneys said that should she appear in Michigan to testify at an evidentiary hearing, "it is almost a certainty that either Plaintiff or his brother, or both of them, will take all steps to assure that Defendant is arrested and incarcerated."

The motion also stated that "significant custody proceedings" in both the states of Texas and New York have caused Gables to incur "substantial additional attorney fees with attorneys in both cases. This makes it important for her to conserve her financial resources as much as possible to be able to pay the fees and costs incurred in those proceedings and, accordingly, she does not want to incur the airfare and hotel charges that would be incurred to testify at this Evidentiary Hearing."

But Judge Stempien rejected those arguments. She also noted that a subsequent third "Emergency Motion" filed by Gables' attorneys was denied by a Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge who said they were asking that court to "undermine one of the major tools of enforcement of judicial authority in this state."

The upshot: Gables remains in "contempt for failure to appear," with the price tag now approaching the $35,000 slander judgment already rendered against her.

CBS11 anchor Karen Borta throws a few jabs, makes it through The Talk


CBS11 anchor Karen Borta reacts after getting off a good one -- on disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner -- during Tuesday's edition of The Talk, where she was a guest host. Photo: Ed Bark

CBS11 anchor Karen Borta survived a ribald edition of her network's The Talk Tuesday, where the topics ranged from disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner to "commando or not?"

A girl can get in trouble when those chips are in play. Particularly if she's otherwise a reasonably strait-laced news anchor in the country's 5th largest TV market -- a k a Dallas-Fort Worth.

Guest host Borta managed to get in sync, though, particularly when another Weiner roast got rolling during the gab among regular hosts Leah Remini, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne and Sara Gilbert. Tongues loosened after viewers were shown two pictures of the "sexting" Weiner and his wife strolling in downtown Manhattan. One shot, from the rear, showed him holding her purse.

"His balls are in there," cracked Remini.

"And just the body language there," Borta added. "If he had a tail it would be tucked between his legs."

This prompted "All right, Borta!" and "You go, Borta!" from some of the hosts while the audience laughed and clapped in approval. Borta had arrived, even if her somewhat bloated looking red, white and black dress seemed like the equivalent of an ill-considered Seinfeld-ian "puffy shirt." Not a particularly good look for her. Then again, I'm not Mr. Blackwell.

Borta earlier stepped into the fray during a disapproving discussion of comedian and 30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan's second foot-in-mouth standup appearance. He earlier apologized for incendiary jokes about gays. But Morgan followed that up by using "retarded" and "chimp" in a subsequent routine. That set the entire Talk panel against him, with Borta the last to lash him.

"You can be an equal opportunity offender," she said. "But I agree you have to be funny. You have to know how to make fun of yourself as well."

But some of Morgan's jokes "were just plain mean," Borta added. "There's just nothing funny about it. And I have to wonder, 'Is there anything he can do at this point to redeem himself?' Because even another apology -- does it just become white noise?"

The first half of the one-hour Talk, which airs at 1 p.m. weekdays in D-FW, is devoted to taking target practice. Celebrity guests then arrive to round out the show. On Tuesday, Alfre Woodard and Mekhi Phifer respectively promoted TNT's ongoing Memphis Beat and Starz's upcoming Torchwood: Miracle Day. So the real fun is in the slice 'n' dice first half, where Borta also hung in there during the wearing panties vs. going commando discourse.

"I always heard that anchors are like naked from here (waist) down. Is that true?" Peete asked her.

"See, now you're taking all the mystery out of everything," Borta replied. What a kidder.

But seriously, most anchors now are required to get up and out from their desks during newscasts, she said. Some never sit down at all anymore.

Peete later persisted after some pretty gamey talk, led by Osbourne, on the stuff that can emerge from the feminine mystiques if you're not wearing panties. "Karen, commando or not?" she demanded.

"Let's just say I'm a big believer in Spanx" undergarments, Borta said to applause from Osbourne. The discussion then deteriorated again, with Remini noting with disgust that some brands of Spanx "have an opening." Borta wisely laid out before a commercial break came to the rescue.

The chats with Woodard and Phifer were tame in comparison. Borta's last contribution was a question to Phifer about his family's poker games.

Viewers of Tuesday's CBS11 newscasts no doubt will be getting highlights of Borta's Talk appearance. As a reasonably manly man, I had barely seen the show until she showed up on it as one of five rotating local CBS station anchors sitting in this week for the vacationing Julie Chen.

It turns out that this is a much more sharply opinionated and sometimes amusing show than I had thought. Borta doesn't have a serrated tongue in league with Remini or Osbourne. But she hung in and pretty much held her own while also classing the place up. Now all she has to fear is her playful CBS11 co-anchor, Doug Dunbar. To whom she might retort if necessary, "Boxers or briefs?"

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., June 24-26) -- ratings g-o-o-o-o-ld for U.S.-Mexico Gold Cup soccer final

Spanish language Univision23 easily led all networks over the weekend with its prime-time Saturday telecast of the U.S.-Mexico Gold Cup soccer finale.

Mexico's comeback 4-2 victory, after trailing 2-0, averaged 484,799 D-FW viewers, more than twice the crowd for the most-watched game in the Texas-Rangers-New York Mets series (221,522 viewers for TXA21's Friday night telecast).

On Sunday night, the Season 2 premiere of Jerry Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref on NBC had 117,737 viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. That put it third behind CBS' CSI: Miami repeat (159,291 viewers) and Fox4's competing local newscast (124,663 viewers). But Marriage Ref won where it counts the most in TV land, topping all 9 p.m. attractions among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

On HBO Sunday, the 8 p.m. Season 4 premiere of True Blood drew 83,108 total viewers compared to CBS' frontrunning Undercover Boss rerun (131,588 viewers). But 62,521 of TB's viewers were in the 18-to-49 age range, an impressive figure topped only by the second hour of NBC's competing America's Got Talent (75,684).

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. with wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 continued its solid June run at 6 a.m. with first place finishes in both ratings measurements. The Peacock added a 5 p.m. win in total viewers.

CBS11 had the total viewers edge at 6 p.m. while Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds at both 5 and 6 p.m.

Hey Mavericks, the Badgers' Jon Leuer is going to be available (Take him!)

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With the 26th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Dallas Mavericks select University of Wisconsin forward Jon Leuer.

Apparently that's not going to happen. And as a University of Wisconsin grad, maybe I'm wearing my Barky Bucky Badger blinders here. Still, I can't believe that the 6 foot 10 inch, 228-pound Leuer is barely a part of the first round draft pick conversation. Some prognosticators have the Chicago Bulls taking him with the 30th and final pick in Round 1. That's as high as he gets, meaning the Mavs really could get a steal here.

OK, Leuer's a white guy, and he's not European. But he can jump, averaging 7.2 rebounds and 18.3 points in his senior year in the rugged Big Ten conference. Both were good enough to rank him in the Top 5. And he was on the all Big Ten first team.

Not only that. Leuer shot 84 percent from the foul line and 37 percent from three-point range. His jump shot is feathery and lethal from the 12-to-15 ft. range. Plus, he has an accomplished post-up move, good ballhandling skills and knows how to drive to the basket. Remind you of any big tall German guy currently playing for the Mavs?

Wisconsin players have done all right for Dallas. In fact there's something of a tradition. Michael Finley was a star at the UW and so was Devin Harris. And Caron Butler, who hopefully will get a chance to really shine next season, is a native of your friendly content provider's hometown of Racine, WI.

Finley had many productive years here. Harris got traded early in his career, but at least the Mavericks got Jason Kidd in return. Butler was Batman Dirk Nowitzki's Robin before that nasty knee injury ended his season.

Leuer should have more allure, and I'm mystified as to why he doesn't. But I guarantee you he's going to be a solid pro, with the potential to average 12 points and 8 rebounds a game if not more. He'd make a terrific addition to the Mavericks, and I really hope owner Mark Cuban, GM Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle at least have Leuer on their collective radar.

Maybe Leuer in part is paying the price of having a terrible final game in the NCAA tournament against eventual finalist Butler. He shot one for 12 from the field and had just 3 points and 5 rebounds in a 61-54 loss that ended Wisconsin's 2010-'11 season.

But that was one game. And Leuer had come up big against quality teams all season. So c'mon, Dallas, pick Leuer and then watch him have a far better NBA career than fave rave Jimmer Fredette, who almost certainly will go somewhere in the Top 20 Thursday night.

If I'm eventually proven wrong, I'll say so. But Jon Leuer is going to make a lot of NBA teams wish they had taken him. I just hope the Mavericks aren't one of them. Unfortunately, though, that looks like a long shot.

Here's a two-minute highlight video of Leuer in action:

UT grad Shama Kabani is new CW33 "Tech Zen"


Dallas-based CW33 continues to hang in there, with a never dormant revolving door still putting new spins on things.

The latest addition is Shama Kabani, whose weekly "Tech Zen with Shama" segments air on the station's 9 p.m. Monday newscasts. The 26-year-old, Dallas-based CEO of The Marketing Zen Group says on CW33's website that she "chose" her new employer "because they are the youngest skewing newscast in the market, and leader in social media coverage."

Kabani, a University of Texas at Austin graduate "will make an immediate digital connection with 33 News fans," news director David Duitch says in a publicity release.

As previously posted, new sports guy Chase Williams also is now with CW33, replacing longtime anchor/reporter David Crome. The latter is still named and pictured as part of the station's "News Staff" despite having left the station in late April and quickly re-booted with a media relations job at Texas Motor Speedway. Oh well, these things apparently take time. Williams isn't yet shown as a CW33 "News Staff" member, although he's been on the air for a few weeks now.

Not since Bing and Bowie . . .

I've been meaning to post this, not because it's gratingly bad or exceptionally good, but because it happened at all.

Rob Schneider singing "My Funny Valentine" while accompanied on piano by Marvin Hamlisch is the sort of mondo bizarro kitsch that WFAA8's Good Morning Texas should be specializing in. Even better: hosts Chris Flanagan and Amy Vanderoef almost act as though they're watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.

The star of Deuce Bigalow: American Gigolo and its sequel turns out to have pretty decent pipes. And Hamlisch then hams it up at the end. The reference in the headline is to the Bing Crosby/David Bowie "Little Drummer Boy" duet on the crooner's last Christmas special in 1977. Schneider/Hamlisch can't match the timeless pop culture ripple from that one. But GMT at least had something you don't see every day. Enjoy (?)

NBC5 (KXAS-TV) will be no-show for this year's notably shortened MDA telethon (updated)


Host Jerry Lewis with final totals from 2010 telethon. MDA photo

Times are changing -- both nationally and locally -- for the annual Labor Day weekend Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon. In fact this September's dramatically shortened event won't be on Labor Day at all this year.

Nor will it be hosted by Jerry Lewis or carried in D-FW by NBC5 (KXAS-TV), which has been instrumental in local fundraising efforts for decades.

NBC5 vice president of programming Brian Hocker confirmed the dropout Monday, saying that "it's been 38 years by my count" that his station has been the local face of the MDA telethon. KXAS personalities such as Mike Snyder, Bobbie Wygant, Scott Murray and the late Harold Taft had long been associated with the fundraiser.

Another D-FW station is close to an agreement to step in for NBC5, but the deal isn't final yet. Let's just say that the new North Texas telethon carrier will not be one of the four major broadcast stations. Until a deal officially is made, an off-the-record agreement ethically prohibits me from saying more.

(Note: In a June 24th post on its website, cbslocal.com, it was announced that sister station TXA21 will be the new D-FW station for this September's abbreviated MDA telethon. But CBS11 news personalities such as Karen Borta and Larry Mowry will be doing the hosting.)

The 85-year-old Lewis, who has hosted the telethon since 1966, announced in mid-May that he'd be retiring from those duties save for a brief appearance to sing his signature walk-off song, "You'll Never Walk Alone." The new hosts are Nigel Lythgoe (executive producer of American Idol and the head judge on So You Think You Can Dance), Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O'Dell, Allison Sweeney of The Biggest Loser and veteran entertainment reporter/producer Jann Carl.

The telethon also is cutting back to a six-hour telecast that MDA officials say will air from 6 p.m. to midnight in all time zones on Sunday, Sept. 4th. That's a substantial decrease from the 21.5 hour format that MDA had used for 45 years.

In making the announcement, the organization said it hoped that a drastically shortened telethon "could well attract more television stations into MDA's 'Love Network'. " That may end up being the case. But NBC5 is owned and operated by its network, which apparently is reluctant to relinquish six hours of prime Sunday night real estate near the start of the 2011-12 TV season. Previously on KXAS, substantial portions of the telethon had been preempted by commitments to NBC entertainment and sports programming.

The MDA says that "more than 160 stations" so far have committed to carrying the new streamlined Sunday night telethon.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed.-Thurs., June 15-16) -- Fox4 trounces rivals with Mavs parade coverage

Fox4 marched well ahead of the pack Thursday morning with its sights and sounds from the Dallas Mavericks victory parade through downtown Dallas.

Let's look at how they fared from 10 to 11:30 a.m., when all four major TV news providers were in full-blown parade mode.

Fox4 -- 221,622 viewers
WFAA8 -- 145,440 viewers
NBC5/CBS11 -- 76,183 viewers each

Fox4 also easily topped the Nielsens among 25-to-54-year-olds and 18-to-49-year-olds. The post-parade festivities at the American Airlines Center, which began at 12:48 p.m. and ended shortly after 2 p.m., also were shown on all four stations. Fox4 and WFAA8 tied for the most total viewers with 138,515 while NBC5 and CBS11 ran well behind.

Thursday's prime-time ratings were topped wall-to-wall in total viewers by CBS' comedy and crime reruns.

On Wednesday night, Fox's two-hour 7 to 9 p.m. serving of So You Think You Can Dance won that slot in total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds. At 9 p.m., the final hour of NBC's Stanley Cup Game 7 (Boston closed out a rioting Vancouver) ran second to CBS' Blue Bloods reprise in total viewers but comfortably took the hour with 18-to-49-year-olds.

Here are the four-way local news derby results for Wednesday and Thursday.

CBS11 won at 10 p.m. Wednesday in total viewers but NBC5 and WFAA8 shared the top spot among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran first at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 winning in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 ran the table at 5 p.m. and also had the 6 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 won at the later hour in total viewers.

On Thursday, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. and also swept the 5 p.m. competitions.

Fox4 logged twin wins at 6 a.m. while the 6 p.m. spoils were split between CBS11 in total viewers and WFAA8 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

The long and winding road of Thursday's Mavericks parade coverage


NBC5's cheerleading coverage added an exclamation. Photos: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' championship season finally stood at parade rest shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, with all four of D-FW's major TV news providers offering start-to-stop coverage of both the downtown victory procession and the after-party at the American Airlines Center.

Subtlety is seldom if ever an option under such circumstances. So the typical June weather in Dallas became an ever-present health threat throughout the morning while anchors and reporters dutifully spilled hyperbole all over the Mavs and their fans.

To be fair, though, parades are a pain to cover. In fact, it's next to impossible to look or sound good while doing one of these things on live television. But despite the usual array of audio and video problems, the stations persevered in bringing the festivities into local living rooms, even if most of them likely were vacant. Some people have to work and others were watching the parade in person. Your friendly content provider opted to remain at unclebarky.com world headquarters in a brain-draining effort to watch as much of the coverage as possible on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. So let's try to sort all of this out.

In the early going, both Fox4 and CBS11 doted on a kid or two who had "succumbed to the heat" and gotten sick and faint before the parade had started. It was no big deal, really, but viewers basically were given the early impression -- on all four stations -- that parade-goers were engaged in a war of attrition with death rays from a searing sun. CBS11 meteorologist Larry Mowry urgently told viewers that his station had poured water on one weak-in-the-knees kid while also calling paramedics.

NBC5 co-anchor Deborah Ferguson seemed obsessed with protective lotion. Mavericks cheerleaders were wearing two-piece outfits, she noted. For their own safety, Ferguson hoped they were "slathered in sun screen."

She later worried that Mavs center Tyson Chandler might not be wearing any protection. For his sake, she sure hoped he was.

Over on Fox4, street reporter Adrian Arambulo spoke of the "difficult conditions out here" while WFAA8's Shon Gables popped in briefly from inside the AAC to cheerily note that "we're all going to watch the parade live in air-conditioning."

WFAA8 also revved up its heat index warnings, courtesy of weathercaster Pete Delkus. Later, though, co-anchor John McCaa sounded a note of calm while stationed in a director's chair along the parade route with early morning personalities Cynthia Izaguirre and Ron Corning. In his view, it in fact was a beautiful day in downtown Dallas. "The weather has decided that it's going to be a Mavericks fan as well," he rhapsodized. Maybe McCaa had heat stroke by then?

CBS11 sports anchor/reporter Gina Miller works the parade route.

Parade day's hustle award goes to CBS11 sportster Gina Miller, who at one point could be seen chasing down a car carrying team president/CEO Terdema Ussery and actor/singer Jamie Foxx, who had hitched a ride after proclaiming himself a giant Mavs during his childhood in North Texas.

In a flurry of activity, Miller also ran down original Mavs owner Donald Carter, road game TV analyst Brad Davis and former TV analyst Bob Ortegel, all of whom also were riding in the parade. She probably got a little carried away, though, in pointing out the team's equipment manager and PR director.

Fox4's Arambulo also was a gamer. He got to Carter first before peeling away and letting Miller step in.

WFAA8 had a total of six commentators in play, with Delkus, anchor/reporter Shelly Slater and sports anchor Dale Hansen pulling duty outside the station's Victory Park studios adjacent to the AAC. But the station was notably shy of parade route foot reporters. Slater noted that sports anchor/reporter Joe Trahan had been sentenced to follow the entire two-mile procession on foot. But Trahan communicated only by phone, and later encouraged viewers to check out his pictures on WFAA8's website. Hey, this is TV, not radio.

Veteran NBC5 reporter Ken Kalthoff, who's probably a little too old for this slap-happy parade stuff, seemed at sea during the moments before the victory march officially began. Fox4 and WFAA8 reporters interviewed Mavs players inside at City Hall before they got on their floats. Kalthoff told NBC5 anchors Ferguson and Scott Friedman that "I didn't actually speak to any of them" before he headed outside. In fact, Kalthoff didn't even seem to know if any players had arrived yet. But he said they were entitled to be a "little late" if they liked.

Ferguson noted that some of the players had been "up late" Wednesday doing a Top 10 List for CBS' Late Show with David Letterman. After all these years in the business, doesn't she know that Letterman always has taped his Manhattan-based show in the early evening? Also, none of the players left Dallas.

All concerned of course were all in for the Mavs, with Fox4 anchor Steve Eagar gushing at one point, "I really do like the fact that we can sit here and look at these guys and say, 'They are good dudes.' "

Eagar earlier fretted about being "too much of a 'homer' " while his parade site partner, Heather Hays, confessed, "I know I sound corny sometimes."

WFAA8's Izaguirre switched her Mavericks guard crush from J.J. Barea to Jason Terry. "I think he's my favorite. I really love seeing him do his little airplane thing," she said of "The Jet."

Hansen found something to like, too -- the Budweiser Clydesdales. He just couldn't say enough about these "magnificent animals." But Hansen eventually reverted to being something of a horse's ass. More on that later.

NBC5 sports anchors Newy Scruggs and Matt Barrie spent their entire time within the cool confines of the AAC, waiting for the post-parade celebration while occasionally beating on the team Dallas had beaten for the title.

"They got redemption against the hated Miami Heat," Barrie enthused.

"LeBron James is now looked at as a choker," Scruggs happily added.

NBC5's Kim Fischer (left) and her ad hoc holla girls.

Back out in the elements, NBC5 parade reporter Kim Fischer struggled to make sense.

"Look at all these fans," she said as the parade wound down. "They're trying to start to dissipate in the parking lot."

Fischer also apparently thought she was delivering something of a scoop on Terry's NBA trophy tattoo, telling the station's anchors, "I don't know if a lot of people know about this." Well, there have only been about two million stories on Terry's decision to boldly tat himself long before the Mavs took home the trophy. But who's counting?

During a subsequent interview with the women pictured above, Fischer asked the fan in the pink Mavericks shirt what she was waiting for the most during Thursday's parade.

"I was waitin' to get on TV," the woman answered.

This prompted Fischer to jump to the forefront and go a little nuts on camera about the candor she'd just provoked. But it was a fun moment.

Back on Fox4, longtime reporter Shaun Rabb called on his drama gene and went into post-parade overdrive in an assessment for anchors Eagar and Hays.

"Man, I cannot tell you just how exciting it was," he said. "The excitement pierced the air. And the heat no longer mattered as people lost themselves in the celebration."

Rabb then got hot when a fan waved a sign in front of his live shot. "C'mon man," he said, turning fierce as he shoved the sign away. Quickly shifting gears, he then asked some adjoining fans to demonstrate their excitement. Which they did with his approval.

Dirk leads off-key "We Are the Champions" from AAC balcony.

Before players and coaches got ready for the celebration inside the AAC, they appeared on the building's balcony to thanks fans and sing "We Are the Champions" to the Victory Plaza celebrants. Dirk Nowitzki took the lead, crooning with off-key exuberance while CBS11 stole the show on WFAA8's home court.

CBS11 had close-up shots of the group-sing along with clear audio. But on WFAA8, the pictures were distant and the audio murky at best.

"It is kind of hard to hear what they're saying. The acoustics aren't that great," anchor Slater said from her Victory Park perch before Nowitzki began singing. The audio got a bit better, but was no match for CBS11's. Not that it mattered. Slater, Hansen and Ortegel all pretty much drowned out Nowitzki with their cackling. But who's laughing now? CBS11 is. The station basically punk'd its arch rival with its telecast of a grand finale that WFAA8 never got a grip on.

Delkus and Slater strike familiar poses while Hansen keeps talking.

WFAA8 easily had the gabbiest coverage Thursday.

That tends to happen when you have non-stop Hansen in play along with five other parade anchor mouths also in need of feeding.

Even the loquacious Hansen might agree, though, that there was just too much Hansen. Well, maybe not.

Rival stations also gave viewers more than enough anchor chatter. But WFAA8's sextet, with the aforementioned Ortegel also on hand after the parade, just didn't seem to know when to stop. Hansen as always talked everyone under the table, before eventually raining on the post-parade event for Mavericks season ticket-holders inside the AAC.

Slater first noted that there seemed to be plenty of empty seats inside. Hansen, who had criticized the team's decision to invite only season ticket-holders, was quick to see an opening and tell his colleagues, "I think this is a mistake."

WFAA8's Janet St. James then reported that a dwindling crowd of fans outside the AAC were going to be allowed in to fill some of the vacancies. Hansen questioned whether this would work, terming it the "first little hiccup" of a day that otherwise had gone very well.

Then he got churlish, noting that the ceremony already was running late.

"This thing isn't going to start for an hour," he carped at 12:45 p.m. while extra fans were slowly being let in.

The ceremony in fact started all of three minutes later, at 12:48 p.m., with WFAA8, Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 all carrying it live without any commercial interruptions.

All of the Mavericks players got a chance to address the crowd, as did coach Rick Carlisle and, climactically, owner Mark Cuban. The show ran until shortly after 2 p.m., with Hansen then telling Slater that he's immediately going on vacation.

He wasn't kidding -- and he needs one. But we'll cap this elongated writing exercise with a palate-cleansing picture from the AAC that needs no further explanation. Let's do it again next year.

Mavs do Dave

Ranging from No. 10 (Shawn Marion) to No. 1 (Dirk Nowitzki), the Dallas Mavericks gamely presented the "Top 10 Good Things About Winning the NBA Championship" on Wednesday's Late Show with David Letterman.

Without further ado -- save to note that point guard Jason Kidd was missing in action -- here's the video of how it went down from the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.
Ed Bark

Commercial-free Kunkle vs. ad-supported Rawlings: a closing look

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Images from the candidate websites of David Kunkle, Mike Rawlings.

Imagine running for mayor of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles without running a single television commercial.

Let alone winning that election.

With just a half-week remaining until the Saturday, June 18th judgment day, former Dallas police chief David Kunkle still hasn't run any TV ads and has no plans to do so.

Opponent Mike Rawlings isn't buying that strategy. Instead he bought a blitz of campaign commercials before the May 14h run-off election, in which he topped the field with 41 percent of the vote to Kunkle's 32 percent. And in the period since then, it's hard to miss an omnipresent Rawlings spot in which he combines endorsements from The Dallas Morning News and sainted former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who urges viewers to vote for "my friend."

So shouldn't Kunkle at least fly the flag? This question was first posed in a May 5th post. At the time, both Rawlings and eventual third-place run-off finisher Ron Natinsky were running TV ads while the former Dallas police chief continued to campaign on the strength of yard signs, mayoral forums and name recognition.

In a recent telephone interview, Kunkle and his wife, former CBS11 reporter Sarah Dodd, said that their strategy so far had worked, even though Rawlings won the first skirmish by a fairly comfy margin.

"I didn't think their TV stuff was, frankly, very good. That was part of the issue," Kunkle said of his opponents' commercials. If he could have "knocked one out of the park" with a television commercial, he might have used some of his limited campaign funds to do so, Kunkle said.

Dodd noted that her husband "was on the 6 and 10 o'clock news every night for six years. People were already familiar with his work as police chief. So for him it wasn't as necessary to go on TV with commercials."

Kunkle raised $180,000 for the run-off election, a pittance compared to the campaign war chest of Rawlings, a former Pizza Hut CEO whose name recognition was next to nil when he announced his mayoral candidacy. So Rawlings piled it on with a series of TV ads aimed at making him at least something of a household name with the electorate.

Did both strategies work? For the most part, yes. Rawlings spent big money on his getting-to-know-me TV campaign. Kunkle already had name recognition in the bank, so he stayed away from the TV ad game. Not that he could afford to play much of a hand. Both candidates survived the May 14th run-off as anticipated.

The month since hasn't exactly been spine-tingling in the realm of big-city mayoral elections. Turnout is likely to be minimal at best this Saturday, with Rawlings and Kunkle primarily hoping to grab the lion's share of the 25 percent of the vote that Dallas City Councilman Natinsky tallied. For what it's worth, Natinsky has endorsed Rawlings.

D-FW's major TV stations of course would have welcomed Kunkle's money. Instead they're getting nothing from him, but ample TV ad dough from Irving mayor Herbert Gears, who's been running virtually nothing but attack ads in his re-election campaign. His general election opponent, ex-councilwoman Beth Van Duyne, has responded with her own TV ad defense, branding Gears a shady back-door dealer.

It does seem odd. The battle to become mayor of comparatively dinky Irving is being fought in large part with TV commercials while the Dallas race has just one paying customer.

Should Kunkle pull this off, though, he'd be winning the old-school "retail" way, via yard signs, personal appearances and a trust factor established during his six years as police chief. People still carp about well-heeled candidates trying to "buy" elections with paid TV blitzes. Well, Kunkle certainly isn't doing that.

This doesn't mean that Rawlings is doing it the wrong way. TV ads were virtually the only way for him to build significant name recognition. He's got most of the big Dallas moneybags behind him, plus The Dallas Morning News. But without all those commercials, he'd still be Mike Whatsisname. Not that most Dallas residents of voting age seem to care one way or the other who their next mayor is.

Your friendly content provider lives in adjacent Garland. So there's no vote coming from these quarters. As a longtime TV writer, though, I'm interested in whether a candidate can prevail in a modern-day big-city race without spending a penny on TV ads. If Kunkle wins, his campaign easily could be turned into a college course on the value of paid media vs. built-in name recognition.

Should he lose by a close margin, though, Kunkle might end up asking himself why he didn't re-introduce himself to voters down the homestretch. The best way to do that would be with a short burst of TV ads that essentially say, "Hi, I'm David Kunkle." And so on.

Barring a very unlikely eleventh hour shift in strategy, that's just not going to happen. May the best candidate win -- before any recriminations begin.

Mavericks victory parade will start early -- on Late Show


Celebrate good times -- the sequels are coming. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks will get an early liftoff for Thursday morning's parade with a Top 10 List presentation on Wednesday's Late Show with David Letterman.

CBS is touting it as the team's "first talk show appearance" after eliminating the Miami Viceroys and winning their inaugural NBA title Sunday night.

Coach Rick Carlisle, owner Mark Cuban, Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and seven other Mavericks players will participate via satellite from the downtown Dallas American Airlines Center. The network says that Thursday's Late Show also will include Jim Carrey promoting his new film, Mr. Popper's Penguins.

CBS hasn't announced the Top 10 List topic, but perhaps it could be "Top 10 Reasons Why the Mavs' Win is Dallas' All-Time Feel Good Sports Story." Some suggestions:

No. 8. Because Dale Hansen says it isn't.
No. 5. Nowitzki spelled backwards is "Ikztiwon."
No. 3. The entire Dallas team will have rings (and/or a lovely parting gift from Cuban) while all LeBron gets is a "Participant" t-shirt.
No. 1. Free passes for all North Texans to Cleveland's Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

***Thursday's scheduled 10 a.m. parade through downtown Dallas will be televised by Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8, CBS11 and Fox Sports Southwest. So that's the alternative for those who want to celebrate beating the Heat by beating the heat.

Hansen twits hamster-powered unclebarky.com on "feel-good" caliber of Mavericks' NBA title


Dale Hansen again "Unplugged" himself on Monday's 10 p.m. news. Photo: Ed Bark

WFAA8's 10 p.m. Monday newscast turned out to be D-FW's most-watched program with 249,325 viewers.

That beat anything in prime-time -- or anything else throughout the day. So it turned out to be a good time for WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen to fly the unclebarky.com freak flag during his latest "Unplugged" commentary.

Hansen warmed up by ridiculing the idea of all pro sports, except soccer, using the term "world champion" in reference to their last team standing. Only soccer's World Cup "has it right," he said. "Except for the fact that they play soccer, of course."

He then modestly took credit for the Mavericks belated decision to show Game 6 on the American Airlines Center's big outdoor screen and also the city's now officially announced plans to have the parade for the team this Thursday instead of sometime next week. Hansen had lobbied for both of these eventualities. "If they'd only check with me first, they could save so much time," he said.

That's vintage Dale, and he wasn't being entirely serious. But then the dean of D-FW sports anchors suddenly shifted gears, re-set his jaw and said, "Ed Bark, the TV critic who writes on the Internet at unclebarky.com, says the Mavs' win is the feel-good D-FW sports event of all time. Which is why he's a TV critic on the Internet. It's not. It's just not. If it was, why are they having a parade end at the American Airlines Center? The Cowboys had a quarter of a million people at their Super Bowl parade. A quarter of a million won't fit there. I think they should have checked with me about that, too."

I'm not sure why a quarter of a million people couldn't just as easily line the streets of Dallas for a Mavericks parade. Hansen should have checked with me on that. Also, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys victory parade, marking the team's first Super Bowl win in the Jerry Jones era, was marred by violence, arrests and massive school truancy. A lot of people didn't feel too good about that. By the way, it ended at City Hall Plaza, not the old Cowboys stadium. So I'm still not sure what Hansen was getting at with the AAC reference.

Neither Hansen or your friendly content provider were living in Dallas when the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl in 1972 after years of frustration. Given that this is a football mecca, it certainly ranked and still ranks way up there on the "feel good" scale. You could make a strong case for it being No. 1. I ranked it No. 2. Then again, I wasn't here. Neither was Dale.

The Mavericks' win over the imperial Miami Viceroys, climaxing a seemingly impossible journey to the NBA championship, had much of the rest of the country feeling good, too. That's never really been the case with "America's Team." The Cowboys long have been the NFL's ultimate love-hate franchise. Even during the Landry years, they were seen by many around the country as a cold, calculating, computer-like team headed by an emotionless coach.

The team's image certainly hasn't improved under Jones' ownership. Most of D-FW loves to see the Cowboys win. A lot of the rest of the country doesn't. But against the Heat, the Mavs clearly were America's Good Guys. They also were the first Dallas pro team to be embraced by the country at large. Felt pretty good, didn't it?

Anyway, that's my argument. Even if it's suspect in Hansen's view because it's coming from a lowly "TV critic on the Internet" rather than a real reporter working for a newspaper or a TV station.

Hansen is, however, an avid reader of unclebarky.com. He's said so many times, but still enjoys disparaging the Internet as part of his shtick. No problem. He pronounced the name right, got the website right and then stated his opinion. So we'll continue to disagree about what in fact is D-FW's all-time "feel good" sports story.

Otherwise Hansen's a gamer who's ever ready to speak his mind. I'd like to think we have that in common.

Here's the video of Monday's "Hansen Unplugged."

There's no "King" in team (nor "humility" in Jean-Jacques Taylor): Mavericks exude grit, class in winning first NBA title


Mavs owner Mark Cuban finally wins the NBA's grand prize game. Photos: Ed Bark

The Texas Rangers' surprise ride to their first World Series felt pretty damned good, particular when they used the New York Yankees as a steppingstone to get there.

And before my time here in Dallas (which dates to 1979), the Dallas Cowboys first-ever Super Bowl win in 1972 surely was seen as the city's landmark sports event. Particularly after all those "can't win the big one" setbacks under legendary Coach Tom Landry.

The Dallas Mavericks' championship win Sunday night beats any and all contenders, though, for the feel-good D-FW sports event of all time. Or at least it seems that way to me, particularly after the team's first ever title came at the expense of the sense-of-entitlement Miami Viceroys and their incessantly analyzed superstar triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The LeBron Broadcasting Network (ABC) perhaps still hasn't gotten around to the idea that the Mavericks actually won. The Viceroys-centric coverage, with analyst Jeff Van Gundy particularly grating, reportedly prompted tons of dissenting viewer comments from around the country. And rightly so. Yes, the fall of a would-be empire is a good story. But not to the comparative exclusion of all those aging Dallas Knights intent on claiming the NBA throne before AARP beckoned.

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovich, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood and Brian Cardinal all had spent 10 or more years in the NBA (including this season) without having a championship ring on their finger. For this entire group to get one at once coulda shoulda been of constant interest to ABC, which instead never managed to satiate itself when it came to James/Wade angles.

In the end, though, the real hero here is owner Mark Cuban. He stifled himself during the entire playoff run, which likely was the equivalent to him of a dog going vegan. He hired coach Rick Carlisle to wide yawns from many commentators. And he kept this aging Mavericks team together despite running into brick walls of resistance from all the experts out there.

Re-signing Nowitzki -- and convincing him that the Mavericks would prevail someday -- was Cuban's masterstroke. Adding the oft-injured Chandler to the team ended up being a calculated risk that paid huge dividends. Cuban can be hard to take at times. But he had a plan and the fortitude to carry it out. So the team that had no chance became the heart and soul of the NBA and the country at large in its steep uphill fight to successively eliminate the Trail Blazers, the Lakers, the Thunder and finally, the Viceroys. Fairytales are taken more seriously than the Mavs' chances were at the start of this gantlet. But now the bandwagon is well beyond its seating capacity.

The post-game scene outside the AAC, as captured on WFAA8.

And now for a mea culpa from me and a jab at a Dallas Morning News sports columnist who's seemingly incapable of ever sucking it up and admitting he was wrong.

In an April 3rd post on unclebarky.com, I had this to say after the Los Angeles Lakers had humiliated the Mavericks by a score of 110-82 just over two weeks before post-season play started.

"Lakers coach Phil Jackson will always be Mavs owner Mark Cuban's daddy. Always," your friendly content provider wrote. Not quite. Dallas shocked the defending champs in a four-game sweep that climaxed with an incredible 122-86 blow on the Mavericks' home court. Jackson limped away to alleged retirement. Not only wasn't he Cuban's daddy anymore. He wasn't worthy of being Cuban's ineffectual brother, Fredo.

So yes, I was about as wrong as one could be. And it doesn't matter if a lot of other people felt the same way. I put my name to those words, and they were flat wrong. Period.

Now let's spend a little time on Morning News' sports columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor. Here's some of what he wrote on May 4, 2007 after the Mavericks were embarrassed in the first round of the post-season by the No. 8 seeded Golden State Warriors.

"The Mavs will never win a championship as long as Dirk Nowitzki is their best player," Taylor wrote in his lead paragraph. "Can you say total embarrassment? Blame it on Nowitzki. Avery Johnson and Mark Cuban disagree. Too bad. It's the truth. You know it is. Like spanking your kids. It hurts."

Taylor reloaded this past April after the Mavericks infamously blew an 18-point 4th quarter lead at Portland in Game 4 of the first round playoff series. After branding the team "gutless," he wrote, "They showed, one more time, why they're labeled soft. And chokers. They've earned every one of those monikers." Taylor concluded that the Mavericks "lack coconuts . . . These are the Mavs. they collapse in the playoffs. It's what they do."

Taylor since has chosen not to revisit any of those comments. Instead he's become Nowitzki's latter day caddy, writing earlier during this playoff run that the know-nothing "talking heads" suddenly are saying that that Dirk is "unguardable." According to Taylor, "most of us in Dallas-Fort Worth have known that for years, despite the incessant complaining about a few of the flaws in Dirk's game."

The short-on-guts Taylor also has chosen to forget that he ever called the Mavericks "gutless." Instead he blithely watched them run off seven straight playoff wins while writing a series of love letters to the team. His sports columnist colleagues at the DMN have the courage of their convictions and the willingness to come clean when they're egregiously wrong. Not Taylor. He's instead the kind of writer who cops to the lame plea of telling others they were mistaken without ever taking personal responsibility for his own scribblings. Who does he think he is -- Newt Gingrich?

Take it from Jean-Jacques, though, "The Mavs will never win a championship as long as Dirk Nowitzki is their best player." And he'll never be a championship sports columnist until he learns how to man up and stop being so "soft."

Let's end on a higher plane by noting that Cuban's gesture to original Mavericks owner Donald Carter was nothing short of magnificent Sunday night. He called on the cowboy-hatted old galoot to accept the Mavs' first NBA trophy while the team whooped it up on a national TV stage. It was a heartfelt cap to a season that just couldn't have gone any better.

Take it from Macy's and The Miami Herald: the Viceroys, not the Mavs, won the NBA title


The idiocracy involved here is stupendous. And delicious. Monday's Miami Herald duly reported Sunday night's Dallas Mavericks manhandling of the Miami Viceroys. But one of the stories ran right next to a big "Congratulations Miami!" Macy's ad encouraging fans to "celebrate" their team's latest championship by buying official t-shirts and hats.

A writer for the Miami New Times said it best: "Thanks, Miami Herald. You are the fourth-quarter LeBron James of local sports coverage."

In real life, the Mavs beat the Viceroys 105-95 to win the team's first NBA championship by a 4-2 margin in the NBA Finals. The Herald's brain trust supposedly is "investigating" how the newspaper could have been stupid enough to run the Macy's victory ad. Whatever the determination, Macy's shouldn't expect any refunds.

The only surprise here is how the LeBron Broadcasting Company, a k a ABC, could have missed out on this great chance to posthumously crown Miami as the new NBA champion after worshipping at the team's superstar altar for the entire series. There's still time, though. Perhaps after what could have been a climactic Game 7 Tuesday night, addle-headed LBBC analyst Jeff Van Gundy can take out a full-page Herald ad offering to do "King James' " laundry for the entire off-season.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., June 10-12) -- top o' the world for Mavs and their viewers


Happy together: Mavs hoist one after vanquishing Miami Viceroys. Photos: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' Sunday night expulsion of the Miami Heat, giving the team its first ever NBA title, eclipsed both the Texas Rangers' biggest World Series haul and the Dallas Cowboys 2010 season high.

The 105-95 win, televised on the LeBron Broadcasting Company (ABC), averaged 1,869,939 D-FW viewers from its 7:07 p.m. start to its 9:44 p.m. finish. That easily surpassed the previous high of 1,426,694 viewers for Thursday night's Game 5.

The Game 6 Mavs victory party also had more viewers than the concluding Game 5 of the Rangers-San Francisco Giants World Series (the most-watched with 1,433,620 viewers) and the biggest crowd last season for the Cowboys (1,627,540 for a Dec. 10 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

However, Game 6 of Mavs-Heat fell just a bit short of the 1,940,882 D-FW viewers for the Cowboys' first round Jan. 2010 post-season thrashing of the Eagles. But the Cowboys' second playoff game of that year -- a thorough beat-down from the Minnesota Vikings -- came up shy of the Mavs' championship win. It fell to 1,696,575 viewers.

So yes, as WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen keeps noting in these spaces, the Dallas Cowboys remain an overall bigger deal in D-FW than the Dallas Mavericks when both regular season and playoff games are factored in. But give Cowboys owner Jerry Jones more time to further screw things up, and then check back with us in a few years.

Sunday's Mavs-Heat game peaked at an extraordinary 2,430,921 viewers in its final 15-minute increment. The D-FW market has 6,925,725 potential TV viewers according to this year's estimates from Nielsen Media Research. So that's quite a chunk of North Texas, and doesn't include the fans who packed the American Airlines Center to watch the game. Nor is it a reliable measurement of the thousands upon thousands more who jammed area sports bars.

Mavs-Heat also had a huge haul of advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 954,274 for the entire game and peaking at 1,240,556 for the closing 15 minutes.

"Izzy" revs up the Victory Park crowd by waving NBA title t-shirt.

Extended post-game coverage on ABC and affiliate WFAA8 then dominated the ratings late into the night. WFAA8's local coverage, with Hansen and Bob Ortegel live in Miami and early morning anchors Cynthia "Izzy" Izaguirre and Ron Corning presiding from a crazed Victory Park, was still pulling in 408,616 total viewers before the station signed off a few minutes before midnight.

Meanwhile on CBS, the annual prime-time Tony Awards never had a chance, averaging a sub-piddling 69,257 viewers from 7 to 10 p.m. Still, that was the most-watched Sunday night English language program opposite Mavs-Heat. On Univision23, though, a Mexico-Costa Rica Gold Cup soccer match drew a nice-sized 297,805 viewers in prime-time hours opposite the Mavs.

Saturday's biggest sports draw, the early evening running of the Belmont Stakes on NBC, lured 159,291 viewers during the 15-minute increment in which the race was actually run.

On Friday night, NBC's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals between Vancouver and Boston had 69,257 viewers opposite TXA21's Rangers-Twins game (166,217 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby results, WFAA8 ran the table at 10 p.m. with wins in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. The ABC station also swept the 5 p.m. races while notching a 6 p.m. gold in the 25-to-54 demographic.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers; the 6 a.m. spoils were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., June 9) -- higher and higher for Mavs' Game 5 win against Heat


It's Project Runway for "Jet" Terry after huge 4th quarter 3-pointer. Photo: Ed Bark

Game 5 of the NBA Finals drew the biggest D-FW crowd to date, with 1,426,694 viewers watching the Dallas Mavericks beat the Heat 112-103 on the LeBron Broadcasting Company, er, ABC. That beat Game 4's total of 1,308,957.

The Mavs, now within one win of their first NBA crown, also hit a new high among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 753,547 for a game that ran from 8:07 to 10:45 p.m.

The peak audiences as usual came in the final 15-minute increment, when 1,869,939 total viewers and 993,761 in the 18-to-49 age range tuned in. Many stayed around to bask in the first 15 minutes of the ABC/WFAA8 post-game coverage, with 10:45 to 11 p.m. scores of 1,419,769 total viewers and 786,453 of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

The Game 5 Mavs-Heat total viewer figure came within a hair of the biggest audience for last fall's Texas Rangers-San Francisco Giants World Series. The Giants' clinching Game 5 win on the Rangers' home field averaged 1,433,620 total viewers. Sunday night's Game 6 of Mavs-Heat is a virtual cinch to top that, unless the Mavs are being thoroughly blown out.

The Mavericks also are well within range of beating the Dallas Cowboys most-watched game of last season. A Dec. 10th matchup against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, with Dallas still nominally in contention for a post -season spot, drew 1,627,540 total viewers on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Only one other Cowboys game, the season opener against Washington, drew a bigger crowd than the Mavs' Game 5. It had 1,574,422 viewers.

The Cowboys' worst-drawing game of last season was a Halloween afternoon home loss to Jacksonville. It averaged 907,276 viewers as the warmup act for that night's Game 4 of the World Series at neighboring Rangers Ballpark (1,288,180 viewers).

In Thursday's local news derby, NBC5 racked up another pair of wins at 10 p.m. in a downsized three-way field. The Peacock drew just 90,034 total viewers opposite Mavs-Heat, though. That may be a new low for a first place finish. NBC5 also took the gold with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The 6 a.m. spoils were split between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 ran the table at 6 p.m. and also notched a 5 p.m. win in total viewers. NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first place in the earlier hour among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Mavs-Heat Finals spark an Uncle Barky shoot-around

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ABC's game faces heighten the drama of NBA Finals. Photos: Ed Bark

Girding for Game 5 while throwing out a few talking points:

***It would be a capital crime, under NBA jurisdiction at least, if stone-handed former Dallas Maverick Erick Dampier got a championship ring while sitting on the Miami Heat bench at the expense of Dirk Nowitzki coming away empty again. Life isn't fair, but c'mon, give us a break.

***If Dallas survives the Heat and wins its first NBA crown, it would be the No. 1 Dallas sports story ever. At least it would be from this perspective, given the evil empire implications and the last-ditch chances for all of these veteran Mavs. Also, virtually no one on the planet picked the Mavs to make it to the NBA Finals. Here are my No. 2 through No. 5 runner-ups.

2. The Dallas Cowboys win their first Super Bowl under coach Tom Landry.
3. The Texas Rangers beat their longtime post-season nemesis, the New York Yankees, to advance to their first World Series.
4. The Cowboys stun the San Francisco 49ers on their home field and then win their first Super Bowl in the Jerry Jones era.
5. (tie) The Cowboys lose on the last play of the game after Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr sneaks into the end zone in the epic "Ice Bowl" game. The Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings in a 1975 playoff game on Roger Staubach's "Hail Mary" pass to Drew Pearson.

***Even Rodney Beaubois likely would have fared better than Jason Kidd did in Game 4. Kidd had perhaps his worst post-season game ever, with 0 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 4 turnovers in 39 minutes of action. His only plus-side stat was 3 steals. Kidd is due for a 15-point, 10-assist explosion, and Game 5 would be the perfect time for it. With backup center Brendan Haywood likely out and Shawn Marion limping, the Mavs need a superhuman effort from the oldest starting point guard in the history of The Finals. Do you really want that ring, JKidd? Then go for it.

***I still fear the Sleeping Giant. LeBron James remains a beast despite his ineffectual Game 4. He's hit bottom, and the Mavericks will have to be ready for a big bounce-back in Game 5. That's OK, if it's at the expense of Dwyane Wade's points. But if the two of them get rolling big-time in tandem, it'll take 40 by Dirk to keep the Mavs in the game.

***Has there ever been a more drama-laden NBA Finals, at least through the first four games? Not that I can recall. ABC is reaping the ratings rewards, which include a huge percentage of the audience in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age range. And the lion's share of those viewers are young males, the most elusive audience in all of television. ABC's only complaint: Why isn't this a best of 17 series?

***Finally, is Game 5 a must-win for the Mavericks? Of course it is. This team has confounded the experts all season, but it would be a true Herculean feat for Dallas to win the last two games on Miami's home court after going down 3-2. So let's not kid or Kidd ourselves. The Mavs have to come away winners Thursday night. Does anyone think otherwise -- or have any other talking points to add?

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., June 7) -- Mavs draw biggest crowd to date with pulse-pounding, beat the Heat Game 4


Sports anchor Dale Hansen and analyst Bob Ortegel, bounced from Mavs telecasts by owner Mark Cuban, are putting lots of pep in the step of WFAA8's pre- and post-game coverage. Photo: Ed Bark

Another crazily intense game in the NBA Finals pushed the Dallas Mavericks to new local ratings highs in their 86-83 win over the Miami Heat.

Game 4 on ABC edged Game 1 by a score of 1,308,957 to 1,302,032 in D-FW's total viewer Nielsens. The crowd cried out for more in the final 15 minutes, when the audience swelled to a peak of 1,717,574.

The latest gut-grinder also soared to the top of the leader board with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 743,676 viewers in this age range. That easily beat the previous Game 1 high of 697,607.

The 18-to-49 haul for Game 4 also peaked in the closing 15 minutes -- 10:30 to 10:45 p.m. -- with an amazing 1,003,633 viewers.

Tuesday's first 15 minutes of ABC/WFAA8's post-game coverage kept a lion's share of the viewers in both audience measurements. From 10:45 to 11 p.m., it drew 1,412,843 total viewers, with 835,812 in the 18-to-49 demographic. WFAA8's post mortem again was very ably manned by sports anchor Dale Hansen and old-line analyst Bob Ortegel.

To reiterate what's been said several times in these spaces, Mavs owner Mark Cuban erred in dumping Ortegel during the season and replacing him with two former Dallas players, Derek Harper for home games and Brad Davis on the road. Ortegel understands basketball better than Hansen knows his way around prime rib. So simply bring him back next season as a grown-up foil for play-by-play dude Mark Followill, who would love to be reunited with Ortegel but of course can't say so publicly.

Game 4 was marked by another clutch Dirk Nowitzki performance down the stretch despite being drained by a 101-degree temperature and sinus problems. Unlike Game 3, though, he had ample help throughout from Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stephenson and Shawn Marion. All four members of the supporting cast scored in double figures, with Nowitzki topping the charts with 21 points. Chandler also added 16 rebounds.

Now knotted 2-2, one of the most thrillingly competitive NBA Finals in history resumes on Thursday night in Dallas, with the Mavericks pretty much in another must-win situation to have a realistic chance of becoming champs for the first time ever. The Miami Viceroys remain super-imposing, though, with a slumbering LeBron James either ready to explode or become America's chump if the Mavs win it all while his talents moulder during a long off-season in South Beach.

Also on Tuesday night, NBC's America's Got Talent and CBS' NCIS rerun both aired out of harm's way at 7 p.m. before Mavs-Heat tipped off at 8:07 p.m. NCIS won the hour in total viewers while Talent ran third behind a WFAA8/ABC combo of pre-game shows. WFAA8/ABC topped the field among 18-to-49-year-olds, though, while NCIS slid to fourth.

From 8 to 10 p.m., NBC's new hit, The Voice, made a respectable showing opposite the Mavs with 235,474 total viewers and 125,043 in the 18-to-49 demographic. On most hot weather nights that's enough to win your time slot.

In local news derby results, Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 fought for audience scraps at 10 p.m. opposite the NBA Finals. The Peacock prevailed in total viewers with just 152,365 of 'em while also winning among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

The golds were split at 6 a.m., with NBC5 tops in total viewers and Fox4 in first with 25-to-54-year-olds. Fox4 also nabbed the 5 and 6 p.m. trophies in the 25-to-54 demographic.

WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for first place in total viewers at 6 p.m., with WFAA8 winning outright in that measurement at 5 p.m.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., June 3-5) -- Mavs numbers are up, but still short of Game 1, for Game 3 downer

Dirk Nowitzki and his little Mavericks pals fought valiantly in Game 3 of The Finals, but the Miami Heat's Big 3 gang-shot their way to an 88-86 win Sunday night in Dallas.

Although he missed a final game-tying two-pointer, Nowitzki emerged as the top overall scorer with 34 points while 1,170,443 D-FW viewers watched the action on ABC. That was up from Game 2's 1,031,929 viewers but still no match for the Game 1 crowd of 1,302,032.

It was the same story among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, with Game 3 drawing 615,342 to split the difference between Game 1's 697,607 and Game 2's 559,402.

It seemed likely that Game 3 would burst past the 1.5 million total viewers mark after the Mavs' miraculous Game 2 comeback. But the first of three faceoffs in downtown Dallas didn't quite measure up.

Nor did Nowitzki's supporting cast. Jason Terry again under-achieved, shooting just five of 13 from the field and missing two of his six free throws. His 15 points fell short of all three Heat stars, with Dwyane Wade scoring 29, Chris Bosh adding 18 (including the game-winner) and LeBron James chipping in with 17. The only other Maverick in double figures was Shawn Marion with 10. So Nowitzki had more than double the points of the next biggest Mavs contributor. He's been Gulliver while the rest of his veteran teammates remain Lilliputians.

Terry is an accommodating guy with reporters and a big contributor to charities as well. All well and good. But he isn't getting it done on the NBA's biggest stage. If he doesn't heat up, the Heat will prevail. The Mavs' other Jason --- Kidd -- also needs to ramp it up. And his backup, J.J. Barea, has mostly been stinko throughout the series. Peja Stojakovich? Two points in three games. His three-point shot has been MIA. And all that's needed from him, really, is a couple of long-range swishes per game.

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers are red hot even if they're still toiling in relative obscurity while the Mavs play on. Friday night's win at Cleveland averaged 207,771 total viewers on TXA21, which was good enough to win its time slot. The Saturday and Sunday Ranger wins, both on Fox Sports Southwest, respectively drew 159,291 and 124,663 viewers.

In Friday's local news derby, NBC5 and CBS11 shared first place at 10 p.m. while the Peacock flew solo with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 also won at 6 a.m. in total viewers, but fell to second with 25-to-54-year-olds behind Fox4.

At 6 p.m., NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for first in total viewers, with WFAA8 alone on top in the 25-to-54 demographic.

NBC5 topped the 5 p.m. Nielsens in total viewers while Fox4 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., June 2) -- Mavs beat Heat and mash all competition but fall short of Game 1 crowd

The same thing happened with the Western Conference championship series against Oklahoma City. In D-FW the audience for Game 1 was bigger than that for Game 2.

Thursday night's stunning Dallas Mavericks comeback win against the Miami Heat averaged 1,031,929 viewers on ABC, a pretty significant drop from the 1,302,032 who watched Tuesday's opener of the NBA Finals. The number of advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds also fell hard, from Game 1's 697,607 to 559,402. Man, the novelty wears off quick around here.

Ratings peaked in both measurements for the final 15 minutes of Game 2, in which Dallas came all the way back from a 15-point deficit midway through the 4th quarter to stun-gun Miami 95-93. From 10:30 to 10:45 p.m., the game had 1,315,883 total viewers, with 746,966 in the 18-to-49 age range.

Almost everyone stuck around for the 10:45 to 11 p.m. afterglow. Those 15 post-game minutes drew 1,253,552 total viewers, including 730,513 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

The premiere of NBC's Love Bites series, originally announced for the fall and unavailable for review, had a measly 90,034 total viewers at 9 p.m. A decent percentage -- 52,650 -- were 18-to-49-year-olds.

In local news derby results, the 10 p.m. editions on Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 ran into the teeth of the Mavs game. So the ratings were deflated overall, with CBS11 leading the total viewers pack with 159,291 while also drawing the most 25-to-54-year-olds, main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 ran first in total viewers at 6 a.m., with Fox4 atop the 25-to-54 heap. The Peacock ran the table at 5 p.m.

The 6 p.m. firsts were split between WFAA8 in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Another miraculous Mavs win is good for the soul


Dirk takes it to the cup for the clincher. Photo: Ed Bark

OK, let's begin by reloading Jack Buck, Al Michaels and Jesus.

"I don't believe what I just saw!"

"Do you believe in miracles?"

"O ye of little faith."

The lead sentence here was going to be, "They'll get the rings and we've got The Finger," namely Dirk Nowitzki's much-referenced impaired left hand middle digit.

But a second Mavericks miracle finish in their remarkable post-season saved them from almost certain doom in the NBA Finals while putting a big hop in the steps of Dallas, Cleveland and perhaps the nation at large. The Mavs again shoveled themselves out of a grave just when it seemed time to rediscover the first-place Texas Rangers. Game 3 against Miami, on Sunday night in Dallas, will be a magical, maniacal happening, with Sir Galahad and his fellow knights returning to the homeland to hopefully slay the Heat and its three-headed hydra.

ESPN analyst Magic Johnson had it right at halftime when he said, "Dirk has to score at least 15 to 20 points in the second half for Dallas to win." He scored 15, including the last nine.

Magic also admitted, post-game, that he had completely written Dallas off after Miami built a dunk-juiced 15-point lead with just 6 minutes, 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Shades of Game 4 in Oklahoma City, Dallas then went on a seemingly impossible 22-5 run capped by Nowitzki's driving layup past former Dallas high school star Chris Bosh. From 88-73 to a 95-93 final, with help from Jason Terry, who had slumbered for most of the game, and Shawn Marion, who again had excelled.

Magic of course wasn't the only one who had given Dallas up for dead. My impulsive tweets during the game included this gem: "Now they're toyin' with us. Dream done for Mavs. Sad. Only hope would be to sweep Heat all 3 games in Dallas. Ain't gonna happen."

That eventually led to "OMG to the infinite power" as Dallas came all the way back, took the lead, endured a Terry brain freeze on defense, took the lead again and survived a last-second off-balance desperation three-point attempt by Dwyane Wade, who had torched the Mavs for 36 points. What more was there to tweet other than "I will not be a non-believer again."

Once again Dallas had provided the ultimate reality TV drama, a truly unscripted morality play in which the nation's adopted good guys somehow outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the unholy alliance of Wade, Bosh and LeBron James.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likely will never wear the white hat in the nation's consciousness. But now more than ever, the Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban are viewed as noble Lords of the Ring that each yearns to wear after long years in a post-season moat.

Whatever the outcome, wins like these are priceless keepsakes. Three more and the Mavericks at last will claim the NBA throne. It now seems possible, with Game 3 looming as the next ultimate challenge. Meanwhile, where have you gone, Peja Stojakovich? Mavs nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

REGARDING THE WHEREABOUTS OF DALE HANSEN -- Several readers have asked where he was during Thursday's pre- and post-game Mavericks coverage on WFAA8. Those who stayed up late Tuesday night heard Hansen inform viewers that he'd be heading to a 45-year reunion in Iowa and would miss Game 2. But he's scheduled to be back for Sunday's Game 3.

News anchor Gloria Campos instead joined sports anchor/reporter Joe Trahan in Miami. She's a Mav fan, but charitably put, Campos is not a sports reporter. And it showed, although not to the point of being a total turn-off. Still, WFAA8 should have put sports reporter Ted Madden alongside Trahan for the late nighter. He also was in Miami as part of the station's mini-task force, but didn't get enough to do.

The comedy stylings of The Ticket's Gordon Keith also were on display during WFAA8's pre-game show. And Gordo invariably delivers the goods, particularly when in the company of a mondo bizarro Miami dude who wore a Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders outfit while Keith provided deadpan reactions to his ramblings.

Up and comer: WFAA8's Colleen Coyle has national stage this week on ABC's GMA


WFAA8 meteorologist Colleen Coyle has been subbing on GMA this week for regular temperature taker Sam Champion. On Thursday's show, she said it's going to be another sizzler in Dallas. Photo: Ed Bark

Colleen Coyle has yet to complete her first year at Dallas-based WFAA8 after joining the station last July as a weekend morning weathercaster.

Somebody up there in New York City already likes her, though. Coyle is smoothly subbing for Sam Champion this week during Good Morning America's weather segments. On Thursday's show, she seemed completely at home while also noting that it will be another scorcher for "all my friends in Dallas."

Coyle joined WFAA8 from KPSP Local 2 in Palm Springs, CA and earlier was a weather producer at WSB-TV in Atlanta. WFAA8 lately has been giving her a higher profile. Coyle reported from the station's helicopter during the recent heavy storms in North Texas and also was a key player in the 10 p.m. tornado special that replaced WFAA8's regular 10 p.m. newscast on the last night of the May "sweeps" ratings period.

The Georgia Tech graduate could not be reached on Wednesday and Thursday to talk about her New York City experiences. But in an earlier video chat with WFAA8's Daybreak anchors, Coyle said it was her first visit to the Big Apple and that she's spent a good part of her off-time walking around Manhattan.

"It has been going fabulous so far," she said, although GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos has been gumming things up a bit by rooting for the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. But deskmate Robin Roberts is a Dallas Mavericks fan, Coyle added. So she has an ally.

Meanwhile, new Daybreak co-anchor Ron Corning wondered why Roberts hadn't tweeted him back yet. And Cynthia Izaguirre expressed a little wardrobe envy by telling Coyle, "I love the new outfits you're wearing, by the way."

Coyle wraps up her GMA adventure on Friday before coming back down to earth at WFAA8. Look for her to be getting lots more to do in the coming months.


Video of Coyle's Daybreak drop-in from GMA studios is below. But first a few words about Chris Salcedo and LP Phillips.

Phillips has left Dallas-based CW33's newsroom, where he was a general assignments editor and reporter, and returned to full-time duty at KRLD-AM (1080) radio. So the carousel keeps revolving at a station that always seems to be subtracting and adding.

Salcedo, formerly an anchor-reporter at CBS11/TXA21, has landed at America's Radio News Network, where he's co-anchoring the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (central) news bloc. ARNN is based in Washington, D.C. One of his colleagues is former KRLD radio morning drive co-anchor Ernie Brown, who also recently joined ARNN. As previously posted, ex-CBS11 early morning anchor Scott Sams has replaced Brown at KRLD.

Scott Sams and former CBS11 early morning colleagues make nice with sugar and spice

"Good luck to you, Scott. We miss you, too."

Yeah, sure they do. Bounced out of CBS11's early morning picture when his contract wasn't renewed last March, Scott Sams is now co-anchoring the 5 to 10 a.m. morning drive program on KRLD-AM radio (1080).

Both the TV and the radio station are part of the CBS corporate cluster. So it was OK for holdover waker-upper anchor Lisa Pineiro to throw a bouquet Sams' way while he amiably played the part of an old friend during a live shot Wednesday from his in-studio perch.

CBS11 still hasn't announced Sams' replacement, with staffer Keith Garvin currently filling in while Garry Seith does the weather and Teresa Frosini offers traffic updates when not riffing cougar-style with Pineiro.

Here's the video of Sams' brief on-air reunion with the station that dumped him. Pineiro noted that many viewers had asked what happened to him, and now they can be told. You can't make this stuff up. And really, why would you even try?

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., May 31) -- Mavs blow well past 1 million mark in opening game loss to Heat


There was a bit too much of this Tuesday night. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' opening game 102-94 loss to Miami Tuesday night in the NBA Finals sent the season premiere of NBC's America's Got Talent and a new episode of The Voice into semi-eclipse.

ABC's Game 1 telecast, which ran from 8:08 to 10:45 p.m., averaged a mega-sized 1,302,032 D-FW viewers. That's not far from the top audience for last fall's Texas Rangers-San Francisco Giants World Series. Its concluding Game 5 drew 1,433,620 viewers.

Mavs-Heat peaked at 1,461,322 viewers between 9:45 and 10 p.m. Among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, the game averaged 697,607 viewers overall, with a high of 822,650 in the closing 15 minutes. Those are to-die-for demographics that far exceed those of the Oscars, American Idol and just about everything except the Super Bowl. Which makes the NBA pretty much the greatest show on earth for advertisers looking to target "impressionable" younger viewers.

One more noteworthy Nielsen measurement: Game 1 averaged 214,232 viewers in the most elusive demographic of all -- 18-to-34-year-old males. In contrast, America's Got Talent had 26,340 of 'em for its two-hour Season 6 opener from 7 to 9 p.m. Then The Voice dropped off to 13,170 male viewers in this age range while CBS' competing 9 p.m. rerun of The Good Wife registered "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) and Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast managed to lure 1,756.

America's Got Talent ranked as Tuesday's second most-watched program with 332,434 total viewers. That put it almost one million viewers behind Mavs-Heat, but who's counting?

In local news derby results, NBC5 and CBS11 tied for first place at 10 p.m. in a downsized three-way field. Each averaged just 117,737 total viewers, with CBS11 alone atop the 25-to-54-year-old heap (favored advertiser target audience for news programming).

Fox4 and NBC5 split the 6 a.m. golds, with the Peacock winning in total viewers and Fox4 with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 ran first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, but WFAA8 claimed the rest of the early evening spoils with a 25-to-54 win at 6 p.m. and a sweep of the 5 p.m. Nielsens.

Miami dominates Mavs late in Game 1 while ABC's commentators turn up the Heat throughout


WFAA8's Dale Hansen and Joe Trahan with new fill-in sports anchor Slappy Clownface Jr. during Tuesday's post-game show from Miami. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks shot out to a 51-43 lead at the start of the third quarter, but a blood-draining three-pointer by LeBron James at the buzzer made it 65-61 in favor of Miami going into the 4th.

This would be the pattern for much of the night, with either James or running mate Dwyane Wade making big baskets or defensive plays at money time while Dirk Nowitzki withstood a hammering and put up 27 points without enough help from his rotating supporting cast. He probably could have gone to the foul line another half-dozen times, but made 12 of 12 while the referees at times watched him get slapped around.

Still, Nowitzki needed a Robin and instead got mostly Elmer Fudds. Jason Terry was worthless with a scoreless second half after a 12-point total in the first two quarters. He also committed a stupid foul after Dallas had closed to within six points with 1:36 still left in the game.

Meanwhile, Peja Stojakovic missed a trio of open three-pointers and did not score in the almost 15 minutes he was on the floor. Only Shawn Marion was of much help, leading the Mavs with 10 rebounds while also scoring 16 points.

But the Heat always had an equalizer in either James or Wade. And even on an off-night, Miami's third cog in its superstar wheel, Chris Bosh, outscored Marion and helped the Heat to dominate the boards all night.

The final 92-84 score was artificially close, with Dallas averting a double-digit loss when Jason Kidd hit a meaningless three-pointer with a few seconds left and Miami on cruise control.

The Heat, with its season-long notoriety, also dominated the verbiage unleashed by ABC's trio of play-by-play man Mike Breen and sparring analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.

"Getting back to the struggles of the Heat," Jackson said during the second half when the talk briefly turned to actual game action. Later on, Van Gundy continued to defend James' move from Cleveland to Miami while Nowitzki made a strong move to the basket and scored amid three Heat defenders. After a while, it gets more than a little tiresome.

Breen, who interjected whenever he could, perhaps got a little rusty from inactivity during some of the late fourth quarter action. He first wrongly said that James had fouled Nowitzki, the Mavericks' far and away best shooter from the line. Then he corrected himself to say that Tyson Chandler, an average foul shooter, would be getting the free throws. Then he told viewers that "Marion misses" the first of two shots -- taken by Chandler. He finally got it right when Chandler made his second free throw.

Led by James and Wade, the Heat have become lethal game-closers during their playoff run. Even more so than the Mavericks, who on Tuesday night just couldn't stop Miami's two marquee stars when it mattered the most.

Nowitzki had a decent but not great game, even though his 27 points led all scorers. Others will have to answer the bell, though, or Dallas is doomed. All those Mavericks veterans without rings are going to fall short again unless they start delivering big-time in the clutch. That's exactly what the Heat's fearsome threesome did Tuesday night, with James, Wade and Bosh combining for 65 points and 28 rebounds.

A good number of those points came when the game was on the line. The Mavericks' mission: improbable is nowhere near mission: impossible yet. But these Miami SOBs are going to be damned tough to bring down.