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Clarice Tinsley: Now and way back then

Fox4's Clarice Tinsley has been anchoring at one station longer than any other D-FW news personality. How long? Check out this 1979 Tinsley promo, complete with a vintage, pre-cable era TV set and a bearded Brad Sham sitting next to her at spot's end.
Ed Bark

Goodbye, "Larry"

Calvert DeForest, whose Larry "Bud" Melman regularly and often hilariously popped in on David Letterman's vintage late night shows, has died at the age of 85.

Letterman, whose CBS Late Show is out of production for the rest of this week, issued a fond, farewell statement Wednesday.

"Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself -- a genuine, modest and nice man," Letterman said. "To our staff and our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him."

Letterman tried to tape a show on Tuesday, but fell ill with the stomach flu and belatedly gave way to Adam Sandler, who already had been booked as a guest. Wednesday night's firstrun show was taped on Monday before DeForest's death. Late Show will be preempted Thursday and Friday for NCAA basketball tournament coverage.

Sandler's hosting abilities took a severe lashing in some quarters, with George Dunham of "The Ticket" (1310 AM) leading the charge in D-FW.

"I really suck at this, by the way," Sandler acknowledged at one point.

Still, he had the foresight to interview his bulldog, Matzoball, whose deadpan reactions saved the show to some degree. Here's a rather elongated highlight reel, with Sandler's nervous laughter all too evident in spots. Let's remember, though, that he took this desk job on less than a moment's notice. He'll likely never do it again.

Good to go: Prison Break gets a third season

Fox's Prison Break will be back for a third season, the network announced Wednesday.

It's becoming clearer that the series also will be back in North Texas for most of the filming.

Executive producer Paul T. Scheuring tells tvguide.com, "We'll still be based out of Dallas, with the occasional satellite crew in Florida and Louisiana."

Prison Break publicist Chris Alexander later said in an email, "The production will continue to call Dallas its home. However, we will be doing some shooting over the season in Florida and Louisiana."

In January on the TV Critics Association's midseason "press tour," Fox entertainment president Peter Liguori told unclebarky.com that a third season of PB is "very unlikely to be in Dallas, but we might shoot some stuff in Dallas."

Fox later clarified Liguori's statement, with Dallas-based producer Garry Brown saying, "We don't have any immediate plans to go to a different area for most of Season 3."

The escapist drama, starring Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, has performed well in the national Nielsen ratings, but relatively poorly with D-FW viewers despite originating entirely from North Texas in its second season.

Monday's episode had a 1.9 Nielsen rating with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, finishing fourth from 7 to 8 p.m. in D-FW. Nationally, PB had a 3.4 rating in that audience demo, placing third.

PB's second season finale is on Monday, April 2.

American Idol: Back in a grinding gay gear

American Idol had a major flashpoint Tuesday night, and it wasn't another electrifying performance by Melinda Doolittle.

The crowd favorite innocently ignited the fuse, though, while answering a viewer question on what's the hardest part of the show for her.

The high heels and form-fitting dresses, she said, proclaiming herself a sneakers and sweatpants girl. Then host Ryan Seacrest set himself up for a vicious right hook by the show's designated heel and truth-teller, judge Simon Cowell.

"Simon, any advice on the high heels?" Seacrest asked.

"You should know, Ryan," he replied.

Pause, one-two for studio audience murmuring. Then Seacrest foolishly riposted, "Stay out of my closet."

"Come out," Cowell snapped back.

It wasn't pretty and the crowd seemed more than a little put off by the sudden gut-punching. Seacrest briefly gathered himself before telling Cowell that Idol was about the show's 12 finalists, not Cowell's "desires."

The two of them have sharply parried before, and it's not the first time that Cowell has twitted Seacrest's sexuality on a live Idol telecast. But this went well beyond previous exchanges and boundaries, taking the show down a road that's really nobody's business. It'll give Rosie O'Donnell something new to blab about on The View, though, unless grande dame Barbara Walters finally slams the door shut on her mouth.

The singing competition -- oh yeah, that -- again was dominated by the women. Doolittle, who can do little wrong in this view, is shaping up as perhaps the most appealing and talented performer in Idol history. Performing second, she grand-slammed "Home" from The Wiz, which isn't exactly one of guest mentor Diana Ross's most memorable hits.

"You made a very boring song fantastic," Cowell enthused after Paula Abdul wept.

Several finalists forgot some words, including opening act Brandon Rogers, the former University of North Texas hopeful. His vocal on "You Can't Hurry Love" otherwise was average at best, prompting Cowell to lash him for a lack of star quality or originality.

For some reason I'm still expecting big things from Rogers. And there were worse renditions Tuesday night, with in-over-his-head Sanjaya Malakar again stinkin' it up.

Ross is "gonna freak when she hears that," Cowell said of Malakar's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Judge Randy Jackson called it "almost unlistenable."

Still, I'll pick Phil Stacey to take the gas on Wednesday night's elimination show, even though Rogers, Malakar, Chris Richardson, Chris Sligh and Gina Glocksen all prompted harsher criticisms from the judges.

San Antonio's Haley Scarnato was her own worst critic, telling Seacrest, "I messed up my words (to "Missing You"). I feel like such a schmuck."

But Cowell of all people had some positive words to deposit, telling Scarnato, "You had real presence up there."

Maybe Idol's producers had a real talk with Cowell and Seacrest after the show. Their verbal bout Tuesday night just can't be all part of the act. And if it is, then double shame on them.

Anyone else got anything to say?

Weathering the "Strom"

Was working out at a close-to-home fitness center Tuesday when CBS11's 4 p.m. newscast alerted viewers to a big "Strom Watch."

Hmm, thought he had died back in 2003. But it said "Strom Watch" right there in big, bold print. Maybe CBS11 had decided to subliminally promote its network's Ghost Whisperer series?

Then again, it was getting very overcast outside and soon the rains came. Duh, so that's what they were trying to say! Whew, beats a Strom Watch.

On a related front, CBS11 is presenting a special "Weather School Day" on Monday morning, May 14 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers will play that day at 1:05 p.m.

Area school children with game tickets will be admitted free to the event, which begins at 10:15 a.m. with the arrival of the station's Storm Team in the official CBS11 Storm Chaser Vehicle. Team members scheduled to take the field are Kristine Kahanek, Mike Burger, Julie Bologna, Jeff Jamison and Garry Seith.

Hey kids, you can get game tickets at half-price by calling 817-273-5100, ext. 3. Or email here.
Ed Bark

Scott Gordon's greatest hits, volume 2: NBC5 reporter has another national scoop

At play and at work: NBC5's Scott Gordon rides again.

NBC5's Scott Gordon has been on quite a tear lately. On Valentine's Day, the veteran night ranger led the Peacock's 10 p.m. newscast with a live dispatch on the peanut butter recall by Peter Pan and Great Value. NBC's Today show ran with it the next morning, using footage from Gordon's report. It became a big national story.

Now Gordon's got another biggie -- video confiscated by Watauga police of two-and-five-year-old pot smokers being taught to inhale by their laughing 17-year-old uncle and an 18-year-old friend. NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry called it "sickening" at the top of Friday's 10 p.m. newscast. Today then featured it prominently on Monday's program.

When Gordon asked the since-jailed uncle how he could do such a thing, "he responded with expletives we can't put on TV," Gordon told viewers. He had video of that, too -- expletives deleted.

Via email Monday, Gordon explained how he nailed down another nationwide tongue-wagger.

"I had dealt with the Watauga police chief on previous stories," he said. "And when he told me about the video, I couldn't believe it. When I went to his office to look at it, my mouth dropped. It was one of those videos that is so shocking, I knew right away it would become a national story.

"We first heard about it on Thursday, but the chief wanted to blur the kids' faces before giving the video to us, so it had to wait until Friday. We happened to be at the police station when they brought in the suspect (who cursed him)

"Today I hear from Child Protective Services that the kids are doing well in foster care and that doctors don't expect t hem to have any long-term health damage. Still, it can't be good for kids that age to smoke a cigarette, let alone a marijuana cigar."

In an email exchange last month, Gordon detailed how NBC5 broke the salmonella-laced peanut butter story.

"Through our reporting, we learned directly from ConAgra (makers of the two brands) shortly before news time that they had decided to issue a massive recall," Gordon said. "We reported it well before it hit the wires or, so far as we know, any other news outlet . . .Everyone else in the country followed up on it. In my opinion, this was a valid 'Health Alert,' an important story that directly affected many thousands of our viewers, and could have prevented people from getting very sick. "

Everyone else in the country is following up on this latest Gordon scoop, too. Unclebarky.com has been relentlessly critical of NBC5's flash-and-trash approach to TV news. But in this case, Gordon again has the goods. He must be doing something right. Here's the video of his story:

Sams in the running for vacant CBS11 morning anchor spot

Hoping to jump-start its early morning news program, CBS11 had an audition scheduled Thursday with former Belo8 anchor Scott Sams.

No one at CBS11 would talk on the record, but sources say the station is seriously considering Sams as a replacement for Doug Dunbar, who will begin anchoring the 10 p.m. newscasts on Monday. Later Thursday, a CBS11 spokesperson confirmed that Sams is "one of the candidates" for the morning vacancy.

Sams currently is anchoring at Denison,TX-based KTEN-TV, an NBC affiliate. He joined the station last spring.

There's still bad blood between Sams and Belo8, where he worked for almost 20 years before the station decided to go "in a different direction" in September, 2004. At the time Sams had been anchoring the ABC station's morning show. He later filed a discrimination suit against Belo8, claiming he had been dropped due to his age, religion, gender and race. An arbitrator awarded Sams a partial judgment in January, with both sides claiming victory.

Sams fed the gossip mills during his last days at Belo8 by reportedly calling traffic reporter Alexa Conomos a "Greek bitch" off-camera He otherwise is a self-proclaimed devout Christian who before joining KTEN expressed interest in hosting a Christian radio talk show.

CBS11 badly needs a boost in the early mornings after finishing a distant last in the February sweeps in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the key advertiser target for news programming.