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2008 at last gets rid of itself, with assist from WFAA8

It's that most wonderful time of a mostly blunder-filled year.

At last we get to turn our backs on a very gloomy 2008 and face 2009 with chins up. It's gonna get brighter, right?

Making merry again in Victory Park will be WFAA8's madcap quartet of Dale Hansen, Pete Delkus, Cynthia Izaguirre and Gordon Keith. Starting at 11:05 p.m., they'll preside over what's becoming the station's annual Big D NYE celebration.

On last year's sometimes slap-happy presentation, Hansen and Delkus welcomed Izaguirre as the new Daybreak co-anchor. At the time she was partnered with Justin Farmer.

"He's run off about five or six women . . . Get rid of him if you can," Hansen twitted. Consider it done. Farmer and Izaguirre lasted just one day together-- her Jan. 4th debut -- before he became an Atlanta-bound lame duck. WFAA8 held Farmer to the rest of his contract but stopped promoting him until he finally left for WSB-TV after the Friday, Aug. 1st edition of Daybreak.

Farmer's replacement, Brad Hawkins, now is gone, too. He departed WFAA8 on Christmas Eve to take a PR job with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

So as 2009 dawns, maybe Hansen should jokingly tell Izaguirre, "Stop getting rid of 'em, willya?"

We close with the Hansen/Delkus/Izaguirre clip from the 2008 Big D NYE special, and with thanks to all for sticking with good ol' unclebarky.com.

Dying without their boots on: Cowboy-ettes instead wear booties in bumblin', fumblin', Philly flameout

Let 'er rip. Which the locals certainly did on their late night sports specials after a little burnt toast buttering by game commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, followed by a repulsed Jimmy Johnson on Fox's Sunday post-game show.

Take it from the coach who took the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins, "This is a sloppy, sloppy football team. How many times do I have to say it? . . . They have a collection of toys. They have a collection of players, but they are not a team."

Aikman, the winning Cowboys QB on three SB champs, also underscored the obvious: "Talented teams don't always win championships." And from the beginning of the 44-6 massacre, "the Eagles had more fire, more want-to," Aikman added.

Buck was even blunter: "The Dallas Cowboys do not seem to have any desire to make tackles the last couple of weeks." As for the Eagles, "this is a team that knows how to finish the season -- as opposed to the Cowboys."

It got dicier late Sunday on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11, where no one bothered to thank the Cowboys for saving their stations the expense of post-season traveling in tough economic times. Instead one and all called for the head of head coach Wade Phillips despite owner Jerry Jones' post-game assurances that he'd be back for a third season.

NBC5's Newy Scruggs, presiding over a very lively Out of Bounds with ex-Cowboy Drew Pearson and reporter Matt Barrie in Philly, even had Phillips' replacement picked out. The new Cowboys head coach, he said, should be former assistant coach Todd Haley, who's currently the Arizona Cardinals' offensive coordinator. And he should bring fired Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel with him to coach the Cowboys' defense, Scruggs opined.

Pearson played rough, too, after Barrie questioned Romo's mental makeup. The Cowboy's QB reportedly collapsed in the shower after the game after being mauled by the Eagles. And in his post-game interview, Romo said in part, "If this (the season-ending loss) is the worst thing that ever happens to me, then I've lived a pretty good life."

Real Cowboys don't lose that way, said Pearson. "We wanna win. We wanna give it our best effort. And when we do lose, we wanna hurt. We wanna feel bad. We don't just wanna blow it off."

Scruggs said that in fact Romo was hurt -- physically at least. But Pearson piled on: "I think he was afraid someone might sack him in that shower. That's why he fell down."


Fox4's Mike Doocy joined Scruggs in expressing his personal affection for Phillips. But "this season Wade failed in a huge way," he added. "Today no guts, no fire, looks unprepared for this huge game today. And that is on the head coach . . . That all adds up to a coaching change, whether Jerry Jones will admit it or not."

WFAA8's Dale Hansen threw a stiff arm at the opening gun of his Sunday night program, calling the Cowboys' Sunday shutdown "the most disappointing game of the most disappointing season I've ever seen. Any year. Any sport. I don't like the word 'embarrassment' in sports, but it might fit."

Hansen then predicted that Dallas Morning News sports columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor would use the word ridiculous "about eight times" in whatever he wrote. For the record, he only used "ridiculous" once. But he did type in two "gutless" and a "poppycock."

Hansen of course ripped Jones, too, who "continues to bring in the clowns who can't spell team if you spot 'em the 't' and the 'e.' "

On CBS11, in-studio sports anchor Bill Jones cogently asked, "Wow, what the heck was that?" before throwing it to Babe Laufenberg and reporter Steve Dennis in Philly.

"There needs to be a change" in head coaches, said The Babe. "You can't keep having these December collapses. To lose the way they did is embarrassing."

OK, here's my far-fetched but bold initiative for change. Bring back Jimmy Johnson. Yeah, he'll be 66 in July, but still looks vigorous as hell. And Johnson's coaching resume probably isn't quite good enough yet to get him into the NFL Hall of Fame. So there's that incentive, too. Return the Cowboys to a Super Bowl -- there's still ample talent on the roster -- and Johnson would get his enshrinement.

Of course Jerry would have to swallow very hard and probably beg, too. And Jimmy's obviously no yes man. Unlike Phillips, he'd be the unquestioned bossman of next season's Cowboys. Caretaker coaches just don't work for this team, even if Jerry keeps reverting back to the go-along, get-alongs.

Jerry's also got his high-priced palace in Arlington to fill next season. And retaining Phillips won't do that for him. The Cowboys need another whip-cracker. In Johnson, you get both an intimidator and a star player in his own right.

Pearson may have been crude in the shower stall comment he directed at Romo Sunday night on NBC5. But he was dead right when he said, "You need somebody to motivate these guys, somebody to put some fear into them."

Johnson's already been here, done that. How about an encore? Seriously.

Tidings of comfort and joy, and a Merry Christmas to all from unclebarky.com central

Thanks to the many who have read and continue to support unclebarky.com as we head away from an oft-dispiriting year and toward a Christmas and 2009 that hopefully will bring out the best in all of us.

And now for a little dancing music. Enjoy!

High-def within sight on Fox4

Fox4's conversion to high-definition local productions at last has a halfway definite timetable.

"We intend to be providing HD news before or on the 'transition' date,' " vice president and general manager Kathy Saunders said Monday.

The transition she speaks of is Feb. 17th. That's the date when all stations are required to shift from analog to digital pictures. Hence all those converter box ads, teases and tests.

Whatever the actual date, Fox4 will be lagging roughly two years behind WFAA8, which went HD on Feb. 2, 2007 while also opening its new Victory Park studios. NBC5 converted on Sept. 7th of that year and CBS11 began its high-definition newscasts on Sept. 23rd.

Word is that Fox4 will have HD cameras in the field as well, eliminating the need to upconvert its out-of-studio pictures to full widescreen size. But we'll see.

Saunders also addressed rumors that Fox4 will extend its No. 1-rated Good Day program to 10 a.m., making it a daily five-hour program.

"We are always looking at our options to expand in any sort of day-part," she said. "We don't have any plans at this moment."

Absent a flat-out denial, you can bet it's a possibility.

The TV Year in review -- nationally and locally

Unclebarky.com will be taking a brief holiday season hiatus before returning early next week. But we're leaving you with a Top 10 countdown of the year's most momentous national TV events. Also inside: a complete list of the many D-FW television anchors and reporters who left their stations in 2008. Many did so by choice rather than wait for times to worsen.
Ed Bark

Fox4 adds Fiona Gorostiza to weather staff

Fiona Gorostiza will be joining Fox4's weather team, filling the vacancy left in April by Maria Sotolongo.

Gorostiza arrives from KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, CA, where she did the early morning forecasting. It's a big jump in market size, from No. 144 to No. 5 Dallas-Fort Worth. Dan Henry and Evan Andrews respectively will remain the principal early morning and evening weather anchors at Fox4.

Sotolongo, who also did entertainment reporting for Fox4, left the station to spend more time with her baby daughter, Ysabel.

Gorostiza spent two years at KMIR, an NBC affiliate, after arriving from KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, CA. Her picture and biography already have been removed from KMIR's Web site. But there's ample youtube footage of Gorostiza, who knows how to have a good time on the air. Here's footage of her dancing in front of KMIR's seven-day forecast graphic:

Teele departing WFAA8's Good Morning Texas (updated Monday)

Brenda Teele, one of three co-hosts for WFAA8's Good Morning Texas, will be leaving the show at the end of this year.

Teele, who joined WFAA8 in February 2006, said she needs to spend more time with the Dallas-based Jackson Law Firm, headed by her husband, Ray Jackson.

"The company doubled in size earlier this year," Teele said in an email. "And that kind of growth will require even more of our family's collective time and energy to maximize its total growth potential." She still hopes to do some freelance reporting, Teele said.

Her last day with WFAA8 and GMT is Christmas Eve. As previously reported, the station's Daybreak co-anchor, Brad Hawkins, also is departing WFAA8 on that day to take a public relations position with Southwest Airlines.

Teele, a Los Angeles native, has been in the D-FW market since 1995. She started at KTVT-TV (Ch. 11) that year as a weathercaster and co-host of Positively Texas with Jody Dean. Teele remained with the CBS station until 2000 before moving to KXAS-TV (Ch. 5) to become co-anchor of its early morning newscasts. She also has worked at KKDA-FM (K104) radio.

Gary Cogill and Amy Vanderoef remain with GMT, which airs at 9 a.m. weekdays on WFAA8.

Last laugh? Leno to remain at NBC in new Monday-to-Friday prime-time variety hour

NBC will keep Jay Leno after all -- with a new prime-time variety show that also will serve as a weeknight lead-in to 10 p.m. local newscasts.

The New York Times and reporter Bill Carter, author of the acclaimed 1994 book The Late Shift, broke the story late Monday, with NBC expected to make it official on Tuesday.

Leno reportedly will be paid more than $30 million a year to host a Monday-Friday hour at 9 p.m. (central), with most of his Tonight Show trappings intact, including an opening monologue. It would premiere in the fall from the same Burbank studio in which Leno's Tonight Show currently is housed.

Conan O'Brien will replace Leno as Tonight Show host on June 1, 2009 as part of a succession plan announced nearly five years ago. He will relocate from New York to a new Hollywood studio, with Jimmy Fallon stepping in as host of O'Brien's Late Night program. Fallon taped his first in-training "video blog" for the show on Monday night.

Variety hours haven't been successful in prime-time since CBS' The Carol Burnett Show left the air in 1979. On the night before Thanksgiving, NBC tried and miserably failed -- in the ratings at least -- with a Rosie Live variety hour hosted by Rosie O'Donnell.

Leno obviously brings more to the table. But might he also suck the air out of O'Brien's Tonight Show, in terms of both topical humor and big-name guest stars? Be assured that Leno won't be welcoming plate-spinners on a nightly basis.

NBC has been fourth in the prime-time ratings for the past three seasons and seems certain to repeat that feat this season. The network has been bereft of hit 9 p.m. dramas in recent years, with its onetime bellwether, ER, scheduled to bow out with a March 12th series finale.

CBS currently is the only Big Four broadcast network with a potent 9 p.m. drama lineup, regularly winning at that hour with Monday's CSI: Miami, Wednesday's CSI: NY, Thursday's new Eleventh Hour crime drama and Friday's Numb3rs.

Leno had been wooed by rival networks, and seemed certain to leave NBC until the network retained him with an eleventh hour appeal. Meanwhile, O'Brien must be wondering what hit him. The biggest question on critics' minds next season now isn't about how he'll fare, but how Leno will do in an unprecedented venture with both high risks and a possibly big payoff.

Former Ch. 33 anchor Terri Chappell speaks out about her abrupt termination

Terri Chappell didn't expect to be celebrating her 43rd birthday Friday as a former Ch. 33 news anchor. But that's how it played out this week, and she talks to unclebarky.com about it. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings give Barbara Walters another goose. And TNT's new "high-octane" Leverage series presents Timothy Hutton as a combination Hannibal Smith/Danny Ocean/Jim Phelps.
Ed Bark

Veteran anchor Chappell out at "The 33"

Count out veteran anchor Terri Chappell at "The 33."

Her picture was removed from the station's Web site Tuesday, and several sources say this marks the end of her 10-year career at the station.

Chappell was a charter member of Ch. 33's 9 p.m. weekday newscast when it was launched in 1998. She had been anchoring with incumbent Tom Crespo since 2002.

News director David Duitch could not immediately be reached for comment in his office Tuesday evening. Chappell joined Ch. 33 from Austin's CBS station, KEYE-TV, where she anchored the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. Before that she hosted syndicated travel shows, according to her biography.

New whereabouts of "Why guy" is at San Diego station, where an old D-FW hand also resides

Mike Castellucci and Steve Bosh of San Diego's KUSI-TV

You remember the guy on the left. He's former WFAA8 "Why Guy" Mike Castellucci, who left the station in July and now is part of the news team at KUSI-TV of San Diego. This is his new picture.

On the right is another former D-FW newsman who's been with KUSI for the past 15 years as a shoe leather street reporter. He's Steve Bosh, who co-anchored KDFW-TV's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Clarice Tinsley before leaving in 1990 after a six-year stay.

KUSI is one of the last genuine independent stations, with no network affiliation or obligations whatsoever. Maybe that's why both Castellucci and Bosh are smiling so broadly. It must feel good to be unfettered.

Bosh came to Channel 4 from New York's WPIX-TV, which was a big deal back then. He very capably bridged the tenures of the late Chip Moody and John Criswell, who jumped to Channel 4 from WFAA8.

Here's video of Bosh and Tinsley from Inauguration Eve, 1989. He manned the desk back home while she reported live from D.C. back when local anchors actually did that stuff. It's a succinct, solid and entertaining tease to that night's 10 p.m. newscast.