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New blood -- but for now no bloodletting at CBS11 news

CBS11 news head Scott Diener tries to change course. Photo: Ed Bark

The previous regime traumatized CBS11's newsroom. News director Scott Diener hopes to make ratings gains that aren't at the expense of the station's image. Get an up-close look at him on the eve of the February ratings "sweeps."
Ed Bark

So far here's what we've got for you

Two new episodes of Lost arrived this week. What more can I say? See for yourself. Also inside: a fun-lovin' new TV Bulletin Board and the latest D-FW ratings.
Ed Bark

Miami Heat -- Laurie vs. Hori

An imaginative -- or deranged -- fan of South Florida TV news has anchors Laurie Jennings and Shannon Hori throwing down for 6 and 11 p.m. newscast supremacy in the upcoming February "sweeps." Hori formerly worked the early morning shift at CBS11 before leaving last summer to join WFOR-TV in Miami. Here's the tale of the videotape.
Ed Bark

"And I'll tell you when it's time to bring in the pets. C'mon in, Tracy"

Here's our last in a series of old-timey 1979 promos from WFAA's "You Can Count On Us" campaign. This one spotlights a warm and toasty Troy Dungan. Yum.
Ed Bark

Ooh, these are just too retro cool to be missed

Here's WFAA-TV's very melodious "Iola" promo from 1979. That would be trailblazing anchor Iola Johnson, at the height of her powers here.
Ed Bark

New face on CBS11 late night weather

Florida import Larry Mowry signed on as CBS11's 10 p.m. weatherman Monday. Here's a first impression. Also, check out the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings.
Ed Bark

From the vault

Here's a classic "You Can Count On Us" WFAA-TV promo from 1979, starring Tracy Rowlett, Iola Johnson, Verne Lundquist and Troy Dungan. Even back then it looks as though Verne is interviewing Will Ferrell. And check out the sub-vintage, manually operated weather info.
Ed Bark

Say cheese: Last smile/laugh goes to the Giants

Your friendly neighborhood Wisconsinite (and Dallas resident since 1979) isn't too cheery on this suitably overcast Monday morning.

No excuses, though. The incredibly resilient New York Giants deserved to win. And in the end, little bro' Eli Manning proved to be more than a match for fabled Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre.

Whatever side you're on, this was the best prime-time drama of the season. Spine-tingling, bone-chilling. And all gloriously captured by Fox, whose crew also had to battle the elements to bring you a tense gut fight between two storied teams who hadn't met in the post-season since 1962.

Pre-game, halftime and post-game ringmaster Curt Menefee, formerly of KTVT-TV (Channel 11) and "The Ticket" (1310 AM), wisely credited Fox's off-camera troops before signing off Sunday. Imagine the fun of wiring Lambeau Field for sound and pictures in Arctic temps that plunged to minus 1 degree at kickoff with an accompanying 23 below zero wind chill.

"Ice Bowl II," in which only analyst Terry Bradshaw picked New York, ended as an amazingly offensive game with more total points scored than in New York's equally stunning upset of the Cowboys. Down went Dallas, 21-17. Down goes Green Bay, 23-20 in sudden death OT.

For solace and penance, I'll dunk my head in a tub of Leinenkugel beer, re-emerge to imbibe a four-pack of Brats and then choke down a few cheese curds. No blame games, though. It was a helluva season. And in the end, hell froze over at Lambeau Field. The Giants won, and it's over and done.

Lest you forget . . .

Hope to see you there! And remember, it's free and for a very good cause. A $500 donation will be made in guest Tracy Rowlett's name to his designated charity -- the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital.
Ed Bark

Rose keeps blooming

Charlie Rose, who prepped at KXAS-TV (Channel 5) with a locally produced talk show, has been named a 60 Minutes contributor.

Rose, 66, hosted The Charlie Rose Show at the station's Fort Worth studios from 1979-81 before taking the program to Washington, D.C. for a short-lived run in national syndication. He had been a correspondent on the since-canceled 60 Minutes II from 1999 to 2005.

Rose will continue as host of PBS' Charlie Rose interview program, which he launched in 1991.
Ed Bark

Idol from Dallas flattens competition but still down for the count

Wednesday's two-hour American Idol audition show from Dallas drew 30.4 million viewers nationally, a substantial dip from the 36.9 million who witnessed last year's second episode.

Still, Idol again outdrew the combined competing audience (27.3 million) for programming on ABC, CBS, NBC and The CW. And it officially made Fox the No.1 network for the season-to-date among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.
Ed Bark

Idol does Dallas, "cattle call" and all

Wednesday night's two-hour American Idol audition show from Dallas again let America know that we're a buncha big galoots sharing space with longhorn cattle. Snore, what about Victory Park, the performing arts and other signs of character development? Sorry, no sale.
Ed Bark

Here a kook, there a kook . . .

Fox has just released this photo of Tim Rogers, er, Renaldo Lapuz, performing at last year's Dallas tryouts for American Idol. They'll unfold for all to see on Wednesday night's two-hour episode (7 p.m. locally on Fox4).

Just to be clear, though, Lapuz is from Reno, Nev., not here. Clearly he's not all there either.
Ed Bark

Support your local unclebarky.com

It's just three days until the second Uncle Barky Show, featuring CBS11 anchor Tracy Rowlett. It's Saturday, Jan. 19th, 4 p.m. at Stratos Greek restaurant, 2907 W. Northwest Hwy. in Dallas. (See above ad).

As before, a $500 donation will be made by Stratos to the guest's designated charity. Rowlett has chosen the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital of Dallas.

We're looking forward to a lively, in-depth interview followed by your questions. Your attendance will show your support for unclebarky.com, the D-FW market's only source for both local and national TV reporting and criticism. And the Scottish Rite Hospital will thank you, too.

Remember, admission is free, and food and drink specials are plentiful. And if you'd like more background and perspective on Rowlett, go to our Back Channels page for a 1999 story on his transition from Belo8 to CBS11 after a quarter-century at the ABC station.

Hope to see you there!
Ed Bark

Katie raw: Giggles, sniffles and umpteen asides

Comedian Harry Shearer's Web site, My Damn Channel, has an elongated, behind-the-scenes video of Katie Couric prepping for various news sniglets from the New Hampshire presidential primary. It's pretty long but also addictive. And it says a lot in its own way about the care and feeding of a modern-day news anchor, not that Couric comes off as a monster or anything. Take a look here. And thanks to old friend Kevin McCarthy for sending it along.
Ed Bark

Death valley daze: Cowboys no longer hot shots, and some anchors blast away

Tony Romo in happier times and on Doomsday against the Giants.

The impossible nightmare came true Sunday. And as the color drained from Jerry Jones' face, three-time Super Bowl champ Troy Aikman underscored his former boss's dashed dreams at the hands of the New York Giants.

"I know Jerry Jones and the rest of this organization is (sic) absolutely sick," Aikman said just before Fox fittingly began displaying its quick post-game countdown clock to the premiere of the network's new Terminator spinoff.

It afforded former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson just enough time to twist the knife a bit. Noting that Jones earlier had given each player two extra free passes to the NFC championship game, JJ cracked, "Maybe the Cowboys will go to Green Bay now (as spectators), 'cause they've got tickets to the game."

That was mild.

The first caller to "The Ticket's" post-game radio rehash began with, "What an embarrassment." The Dallas-based station's post mortem fittingly was sponsored in part by Jim Beam whiskey, although some pre-taped commercials were already a hangover. "Want a ticket to the NFC championship if the Cowboys win today?" listeners were asked.

Late night D-FW newscasts and sports specials were all over the Cowboys, of course, with Fox4 reporter James Rose the first to say, "I felt like I was at a funeral" as grieving fans filed out of Texas Stadium.

"It feels like somebody just died, dude," said a fan on NBC5.

Fox4 was hit especially hard. Next Sunday's aborted NFC Championship game at Texas Stadium would have been another ratings blockbuster for the station. And the Fox network has the Super Bowl, too, which airs on Feb. 3rd during the early days of that month's annual ratings "sweeps" period.

Sports anchor Mike Doocy remained at Texas Stadium Sunday night with ESPN and former Dallas Morning News reporter Matt Mosley. "The Deuce" had a handy "Choke City" chart ready for Fox4 viewers. It detailed the recent early post-season collapses of the Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars, plus the continued futility of the Texas Rangers.

"I think the Cowboys is the biggest choke of all," Mosley obliged.

Doocy also was moved to sarcasm after playing the night's featured post-game footage of a sobbing Terrell Owens. By now probably everyone's seen the Cowboys' theatrical wide receiver defending QB Tony Romo and his extensively publicized jaunt to Mexico with Jessica Simpson.

"You guys can point the finger at him and talk about the vacation," Owens said before choking up. "And if you do that, it's really unfair. It's my teammate. It's my quarterback."

It's also was Doocy's inalienable right to then add, "One thing is sure. I think he can beat (Barack) Obama in New Hampshire." (That's a cheeky reference to Hillary Clinton's supposedly pivotal teary-eyed "moment" on the eve of last Tuesday's presidential primary.)

Over on NBC5, sports anchor Newy Scruggs outdid Doocy by terming the Cowboys' loss "a big-time choke job."

"NewDawg's" weeknightly sports segment is sliced in half by an elongated commercial break and treated as barely an afterthought by his station. But his Sunday night "Out of Bounds" show gives him an expanded forum to blast away, with able help from football season partner Drew Pearson.

"Oh, this loss is shameful, Drew. Shameful," Scruggs began.

Pearson, recipient of the famed "Hail Mary" pass from Roger Staubach in the 1975 Division Playoff game against the Vikings, said the Cowboys lacked "mental toughness" and "took too much time off (during the bye week). They weren't focused."

Scruggs also ripped receiver Patrick Crayton for dropping a key first down pass -- "He was terrible tonight" -- and faulted himself for buying into (coach) "Wade Phillips' 13-and-3 sunshine."

CBS11 sports anchor Babe Laufenberg, who also does the Cowboys' radio-casts with Brad Sham, took a comparatively genteel approach.

Romo's trip to Mexico is a "non-issue" to him, Laufenberg said, "but it doesn't mean I'm gonna change the minds of the fans out there."

Loquacious sidekick Steve Dennis earlier reported that "many will only think of a beach in Mexico" and a quarterback who now has lost his only two playoff games.

Or, if you please, "It's just like the Mavericks now," Dennis later added. "Nothing is going to matter again until they win a playoff game."

That leaves Belo8's usually rowdy Dale Hansen, who emptied an arsenal of heavy weapons fire at former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells during his four-year tenure. On Sunday night, though, Hansen was notably meek and forgiving.

"Next year looks pretty good," he said at the top of the 10 p.m. newscast before returning in tandem with ex-Cowboys assistant coach and longtime friend Joe Avezzano for their weekly Sunday replay.

Avezzano had the tartest comment, scolding Crayton for refusing to face the media after the game when he had trash-talked the Giants during the week before it.

But Avezzano also commiserated with his old team, telling Hansen, "Nobody feels as bad a those coaches and players do tonight."

Hansen and Avezzano both disagreed with Phillips' decision to change the starting offensive lineup (running back Julius Jones was benched in favor of Marion Barber). Finishing the regular season on a downswing also might have contributed to the loss, Hansen said.

But it was a team loss, Hansen said, and "you'll never convince me a trip to Mexico had anything to do with it."

ADDENDUM -- Faithful readers of unclebarky.com know that its proprietor is a Wisconsin-born true believer in the Green Bay Packers, who now will get to face the Giants at frigid Lambeau Field rather than the Cowboys at Texas Stadium, where QB Brett Favre has never won.

Still, there's sympathy for Romo, and precedent, too. During the Vince Lombardi-led Packer glory years, running back Paul Horning occasionally tested the flinty coach's patience as the NFL's resident "Golden Boy." Wing man Max McGee could be a handful, too.

Hornung's 1965 "candid autobiography," Football and the Single Man, is still among the many Packer artifacts gracing space at unclebarky.com central. It includes a chapter titled "The Subject Is Women," in which Hornung talks about his many-splendored off-field exploits.

He names just one of his "Black Book" entries, though, "a little model, Pat Mowry, who had been Miss New Hampshire."

Imagine how Hornung would be hounded today. He'd be on TMZ.com incessantly, let alone thousands of other gossip-mongering web sites. Envision the feeding frenzy over this passage in his book: "I remember one girl in Hollywood, who was so beautiful. Her figure was out of this world, a Miss Somebody or other from somewhere. And after a while I found she had no sense at all. After two or three dates talking with her, if you asked her who Khrushchev was, she'd be stuck for an answer."

Hmm, that sure sounds like somebody that Romo and the rest of the country know all too well. Hornung also wrote, more than a little condescendingly, "You can get very bored with a dumb beauty . . . I'd rather maybe go out with an ugly girl and have a lot of laughs."

One thing seems certain. Jessica Simpson's true affection for Romo will be put to the test now that he's a two-time playoff loser without all that Jedi Warrior aura anymore. Svengali Daddy Joe Simpson, who also manages his daughters' careers, doesn't much like either of them dating guys whose cachet has started to go thataway. It's just not good for business.

Howard Stern vs. Mean Green: Round 1

Pay radio kingpin Howard Stern regularly belittles made-for-TV shrink Dr. Phil McGraw.

He did so again Thursday on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman, but also added a blast at McGraw's alma mater, the University of North Texas in Denton.

"University of North Texas. You need, I think, a driver's license to get in there," he said.

The Spears family supposedly is irate with McGraw for publicizing his visit with hospitalized Britney Spears. At least that's what Lou Taylor, business manager for parents Lynne and Jamie Spears, told NBC's Today earlier this week. But subsequent reports say the family in fact is not upset with McGraw.

Whatever the truth, Stern can't stand the thought or the sight of Dr. Phil, whose doctoral thesis at UNT was on rheumatoid arthritis, he told Letterman.

"I think we're going to be done with this Dr. Phil once and for all," Stern said. "They're going to lock him up and put him in a straitjacket. I mean, who is this guy?"

For the record, McGraw has a B.A. from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, and an M.A. in experimental psychology and doctorate in clinical psychology from UNT.

Stern has a B.A. from Boston University, where peeing in a cup gets you a four-year scholarship. Anyway, here's the clip:

GE-owned NBC electrifies the Internet with a bright new news site

The spanking new NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams website is ahead of its time --for a few days at least -- in an our constantly changing techno-sphere. The anchor himself is its most visible and valuable asset, talking informally in clear, crisp, state-of-the-art video clips.

"You'll forgive the Blue Man Group look, but it's the lights we're under," Williams says from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where NBC officially launched the site Wednesday.

In another clip, Williams speaks candidly about the media's fouled-up reporting from New Hampshire, where Barack Obama was anointed the winner in polls and by pundits before Hillary Clinton weighed in with a big primary day "upset." Viewer mail also is included, and it's all well worth a look:

Oh shaddup: But Chris Matthews' credibility yap keeps growing

Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, it was heartening to see her have the last hee-haw Tuesday night at the expense of the braying jackass of American politics.

That would be MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who had chided, vilified, ridiculed and all but written off both Clintons while anointing Barack Obama as literally "the Lawrence of Arabia" of campaign 2008.

Then it all crumbled when Hillary at least briefly calcified Matthews with her so-called "upset" win over Obama in the New Hampshire primary.

Countless other pundits and pollsters had it all wrong, too. But no one is more smugly and infuriatingly self-important in his pronouncements of who's hot and who's not. Not that he's on target all that often. But the bellicose clang of his own name-dropping voice keeps pleasing the only person that matters -- him.

Even Matthews feigned being a bit chastened Tuesday night, acknowledging at one point, "If she wins tonight, she's got a leg up on the predictors, the pundits and people like me."

But he then quickly wondered whether Hillary's teary-eyed response at a New Hampshire Q&A on Monday prompted an eleventh hour, gender-influenced pity vote for the lone woman candidate in either party's field.

"At what point does tough combat give way to sympathy?" he mused.

Later Tuesday night, as Hillary remained ahead, MSNBC contributor Rachel Maddow said in all seriousness that some people are "blaming Chris Matthews" for her late-inning rally. And why not? The guy's getting easier to loathe than Bill O'Reilly, who had his own self-publicized dustup in New Hampshire with a tallish Obama aide who seemed to go out of his way to block a Fox News Channel cameraman from videoing the candidate.

Matthews countered-punched with a grandiose campaign trail moment during Hillary's media Q&A in Nashua. He didn't like her answer after he asked for the "essential difference between the two of you (also meaning Obama) in how fast we're gettin' out of Iraq."

"I believe I will get our troops out as quickly and responsibly as is possible," she said.

"And he won't be responsible?" Matthews jabbed back. It deteriorated from there, with Hillary finally telling Matthews, "I don't know what to do with men who are obsessed with me. Honestly, I've never understood it."

The clip was replayed multiple times on MSNBC, of course, with Matthews demanding during one re-airing, "You've gotta show the best part of it."

The "best part" was video of Hillary walking over to him and playfully saying, "Oh Christopher, baby" while he pinched her on the cheek and she semi-embraced him. "It's not obsession," he told her as she quickly pivoted away from her Judas.

Media blowhards -- a k a Matthews -- eat this stuff up because it makes them seem larger than life if not bigger than the campaign itself. Visualize him as a big cartoonish balloon floating high above the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Thankfully there are still voices of reason, even if the semi-retired Tom Brokaw is now only a part-time player during MSNBC's gabby election night marathons.

"You know what we're going to have to do? Wait for the voters to make their choices," he said after yet another discussion of how wrong the polls had been.

"What do we do then?" Matthews wondered.

Stop trying to "stampede the process," Brokaw said, making it a point to include the media at large in this criticism. "Let this process go forward in the way it should."

Yeah, like that's gonna happen. Even Brokaw joined the crowd in making way too much fun of Republican victor John McCain's less than electric victory speech. It won't matter a whit to the electorate, but that's a secondary consideration, of course.

Matthews did make one solemn vow after interviewing Clinton campaign manager Howard Wolfson minutes after Hillary's triumphant address to supporters.

"I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again," he told him.

He'll never stop yapping, though, or calling attention to himself. At 12:09 a.m. (central) Wednesday, Matthews ordered up yet another replay of his pinch-and-hug with Hillary.

She still has ample time to kick him in the nuts during a subsequent higher-stakes primary. He'd love that.

Another TV news vet hits the bricks

CBS11 has dropped veteran anchor/reporter Clif Caldwell, station management confirmed Monday.

Caldwell joined CBS11 in September 2001 from NBC5, where he had been a featured member of that station's three-man nightbeat team, along with Jay Gray and Scott Gordon, who remains with the Peacock.

CBS11 staffers were informed of Caldwell's departure in a brief memo from news director Scott Diener, who did not elaborate. Caldwell, who is looking for other work, said he'd have no immediate comment.

The earth is flat: Golden Globes dinner-drink fest canceled

Facing massive no-shows by nominees, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has canceled its 65th annual Golden Globes awards ceremony, which NBC had planned to televise on Sunday, Jan. 13th.

Instead the winners will be announced at a brief, no-frills press conference to be covered live by NBC News at 8 p.m. (central time) Sunday.

The striking Writers Guild of America had strongly urged a boycott by the TV and movie stars whose attendance, on-stage participation and red carpet struts make the Globes tick. The official HFPA announcement is here.

Two big rival network premieres now will stand a better chance Sunday night. CBS is launching its three-part, six-hour Lonesome Dove prequel, Commanche Moon. Fox will counter with the first episode of its heavily promoted Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Ed Bark

Justin Farmer speaks, Troy Dungan pitches, etc.

Begin the week by snacking on the latest "talking points" in local TV news. For your menu, go here.
Also, the latest local Nielsens are in, with surprisingly robust numbers for NBC's two-hour premiere of a remodeled American Gladiators. And see what CBS has in mind for Showtime's Dexter.
Ed Bark

Just when you think everything's in place . . . Justin Farmer leaving Daybreak

Belo8's Daybreak team is breaking up -- again.

Station management got the unexpected news Friday that co-anchor Justin Farmer will be joining WSB-TV in Atlanta after his contract expires in July.

"We expect he'll be here until July," Belo8 news director Michael Valentine said Friday. He declined further comment.

Earlier Friday, Farmer had welcomed Daybreak co-anchor Cynthia Izaguirre to her first day on the job. She's replacing Jackie Hyland, who left Belo8 at the end of the November "sweeps" and now is reporting for WCBS-TV in New York.

Farmer has ties to Atlanta. He previously was a sportscaster for CNN, whose world headquarters are in the city. And his father is Don Farmer, one of CNN's early anchors when the cable news network launched in 1980.

That didn't take long

Reporting for WCBS-TV: former Daybreak co-anchor Jackie Hyland.

Jackie Hyland, who left Belo8's Daybreak at the end of the November "sweeps," already has a reporting job at WCBS-TV in New York.

Hyland made her on-air debut Wednesday on the CBS-owned station's 5 p.m. newscast. She joined Belo8 in August 2005 and co-anchored the ABC station's Daybreak with Justin Farmer before signing off tearfully on Nov. 28th.

"I am going back home to be with my family," said Hyland, a native New Yorker.

Her replacement, Cynthia Izaguirre from KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., tentatively will join Farmer on Friday's Daybreak.

Izaguirre is still coming soon

Initially set for Wednesday, Jan. 2nd, Cynthia Izaguirre's debut as Daybreak's new co-anchor likely will be on Friday instead.

She may make an earlier appearance Thursday, though, on Belo8's noon newscast, president and general manager Mike Devlin said in an email.

Later Wednesday, via telephone, Devlin said that Izaguirre possibly won't make her first Daybreak appearance until Monday (Jan. 7th) if she needs more time to get comfortable in her new surroundings.

"I can't understand the fascination with this," he said.

Her informal Belo8 debut came Monday night during the station's locally produced New Year's Eve special, which drew an impressive 216,768 homes in D-FW. Sports anchor Dale Hansen and weathercaster Pete Delkus welcomed Izaguirre as only they can before Delkus said in closing, "We'll look forward to seeing you Wednesday morning."

Izaguirre herself told them that she'd be joining Daybreak on Wednesday, but "these things aren't set in stone," Devlin later noted. So anyone expecting to see her on Wednesday instead saw incumbent Justin Farmer soloing.

Izaguirre, a University of North Texas graduate, had spent the last eight years at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M. before Belo8 hired her to replace Jackie Hyland, who returned to New York to be with her family. Daybreak currently is running second in the early mornings to Fox4's Good Day.

In other developments, see how the New Year's Day Bowl ratings stacked up in D-FW. Also inside: a review of the new, four-part PBS series Pioneers of Television.