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Ducas delivers again, at least for a month

NewsBlues reports that former CBS11 news director Regent Ducas, ousted in early September after a stormy five-month tenure, will be pitching in at WLNE-TV in Providence, R.I. during the November "sweeps" ratings period. There's no agreement beyond that.

The ABC affiliate has retained Ducas to "help oversee the news operation" next month, the subscription-required Web site reports. WLNE was bought earlier this month by Delaware-based Global Broadcasting LLC, and currently is without a full-time news director.

For Ducas it's a drop from the No. 5 to No. 52 TV market, according to Nielsen Media Research's latest statistics. He was hired by former Meredith exec Kevin O'Brien, who previously had put Ducas in charge of the newsroom at KCTV-TV in Kansas City. He led a ratings resurgence at that CBS station, but Ducas' "run 'n' gun" news approach and combustible temperament didn't translate to D-FW. His replacement at CBS11, Scott Diener, had been the station's assistant news director under Ducas.
Ed Bark

"Good gosh almighty, Joe Friday" -- the sequel

The San Antonio-based Trinity Tigers used all means necessary to defeat the Millsaps Majors of Jackson, Miss. on the final play of their Division III college football game. Final score: 28-24. The way it got that way -- priceless.
Ed Bark

Lone Star Emmys: 113 reasons to say thanks in a big hurry

Photo: Ed Bark
NBC5 anchor Kevin Cokely, president of the Lone Star Emmy Chapter, prepares to present the final award for "Overall Station Excellence" at Saturday night's marathon ceremony in Dallas. And the winner is . . .
Ed Bark

Fox4 reportedly suspends three more

Reliable sources say that Fox4 has suspended three off-camera staffers in connection with the exhaustively debated Rebecca Aguilar interview that still has the veteran reporter on indefinite suspension.

The station has suspended a managing editor, editor and the story's photographer, reportedly for two days each. Aguilar was suspended on Oct. 16th in connected with her controversial parking lot interview of 70-year-old property defender James Walton, who had just bought a new shotgun after killing two would-be burglars in three weeks time at his West Dallas salvage business.

A call to Fox4 general manager Kathy Saunders' office was not immediately returned Friday afternoon. Saunders was said to be having a meeting in her office. This dispatch wasn't posted until an hour after the call was placed.
Ed Bark

That's my girl

Liz Ladach-Bark as herself and beside herself as the "Snack Witch."

Ain't too proud to brag.

My darling daughter Liz, back from China and now in Chicago, is taking the city by storm -- or something like that -- in the stage production of Ghost Stories: Crucible the Musible.

It includes trapeze artists, witch hunts, fun tunes, apple cider and cookies. So if you're in the area between now and Halloween, here's some detailed performance and ticket information. Daddy's proud.
Ed Bark

Clearing the air: Rebecca Aguilar gives her side

Rebecca Aguilar still wants Fox4 in her future. Photo: Ed Bark

Embattled Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar talks for the first time about the interview that led to her suspension. She wants her good name back. And on Back Channels, revel in the last extended interview with the late Joey Bishop. Also, read about Mark Cuban's last tango -- actually it was a samba -- on Dancing with the Stars.
Ed Bark

You're darn tootin', still better than Wayne Newton

Twistin' the night away? No, it's the jive on Monday's Dancing.

So which big-time Dallas sports dude had the worst first half Monday night?

On ABC's Dancing with the Stars, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban again scored higher than only geriatric Wayne Newton. That's like Shaq saying he dunked on Pee-wee Herman.

Against the lowly Buffalo Bills on ESPN's Monday Night Football, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw four interceptions that led to two touchdowns. His impersonation of Chad Hutchison wasn't funny.

Still, Cuban gets to play in his second half Tuesday. Can he dodge another eviction bullet? And Romo rode kicker Nick Folk's deft onside kick and climactic 53-yard field goal to a near-miraculous one-point win over the Bills. Maybe he did a celebratory polka in the locker room.

Cuban's jive sorely tested his surgically replaced left hip. His pre-game blog lowered his bar, with Cuban telling the faithful, "The mind was strong, but the body was weak. There were steps, or more precisely, techniques of steps that I was just not able to do . . . I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but I guess I am. But hey, if I'm going to blog, I might as well talk about it all."

That's the spirit. On the show he danced third, following a 27 score by "Cheetah Girl" Sabrina Bryan and a 23 from soap star Cameron Mathison. Fan voting had kept Cuban out of Dancing's dreaded Bottom Two the previous week, and he felt giddy, oh so giddy.

"It feels great to escape the curse of the Bottom Two," he said in a pre-dance taped segment. "I spit on you, Curse!"

But Cuban hit the floor during rehearsal, grasping his leg in pain. Beauteous, gorgeous, magnificent pro partner Kym Johnson fretted on cue. "Your surgeon will be fuh-reakin' out this week."

Her Galahad licked his wounds and pledged to carry on: "I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I knew exactly what I was getting into."

(Celebrity male favorite Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indy 500 champ, later tweaked his ankle in retaliation during rehearsals. And in his live jive, he ripped a hole in the knee of his dress pants before limping over to the judges' stand. The guy knows how to milk it.)

Cuban's jive, danced to Paolo Nutini's "New Shoes," got a grudging 20 score from the judges, four points lower than Castroneves' rendition.

Excitable Bruno Tonioli pronounced him "more in control," but urged him to "try to be a bit lighter on your feet."

Carrie Ann Inaba said he sometimes seemed to be imitating someone else dancing. "I gotta call what I see . . . You're still a little awkward."

Old school Len Goodman divined some "development" over last week. "As always, Mark, you come out and you entertain," he said. "And that's one of the keys to the jive."

Later came Newton, who looked like a dink in a fake mustache and ponytail. Audience response to his tango was tepid at best. And no one booed when Goodman opined, "You spent so much time on the character, the dance somehow disappeared."

Newton's score of 18 again set him up for a fall Tuesday night. A male is almost certain to go, it seems. None of the five remaining female celebs scored lower than 26. None of the men scored higher than 24.

Cuban could be hurt by the competing Cowboys game, meaning that many Dallasites were otherwise occupied. Then again, he got to dance during the pre-game show. And with Dancing's oddball rules, viewers can vote at any time during the show without having to see anyone hit the floor first. That's not the way American Idol does it, and Dancing should change its stripes accordingly.

Cuban knows the score. His blog urged viewers to "take a break from the game" to vote, "or for that matter, just call while you are watching the game."

Damn, Romo just threw another interception. But who's counting. All's well that ends well.

Look out, Belo

Two former Belo Corp. employees now will be helming CBS11's newscasts and battling Belo-owned Ch. 8.

Newly named news director Scott Diener, who previously had that post with Belo's Phoenix TV station, is being joined by Sarah Garza, an executive newscast producer at Belo8 for the past five years.

Garza will be stepping up to assistant news director at CBS11 and TXA21. She's a University of Texas at San Antonio graduate who's won two Lone Star Emmy awards and will be up for another one at the Oct. 27th ceremony in Dallas.

Cuban to judges: You don't count anymore

Mark Cuban and Kym Johnson survive a vote-off while evicted Albert Reed looks blue in Dancing with the Stars' red light district. ABC photos

Too tired to even blog about his exploits, Mark Cuban sent this wee hours email after viewer voting kept him on his feet during Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars on ABC.

"It was a lesson that the fans are who make the show and votes are what count," the Dallas Mavericks owner said after judges had given his mambo a piddling 18 score Monday night. "There are all kinds of ballroom rules that we try to stick to, that we were told would cost us points with the judges. Unfortunately, only a few of us seemed to pay attention to them.

"So now we are all about working hard for the fans first and last. We are going to work hard as a thank you to those who supported us and gave us this opportunity."

Cuban has been soliciting votes on his blog, but he's hardly alone among the show's celebrity competitors. Check out Marie Osmond. Or Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves. Or Jane Seymour. Etc., etc.

He went back to rehearsal after Tuesday's reprieve.

"I'm tired, and need to get my sleep before getting up at 3:30 a.m. to get my work done so we can rehearse again," Cuban said in the email, sent at 11:44 p.m. Los Angeles time.

He plans to be back in Dallas Friday for a Mavericks practice, the Dallas Stars home opener, his daughter's 4th birthday party and "more rehearsal."

Cuban remains on his feet

Mark Cuban's still vertical on Dancing with the Stars after an anticipated knockout punch instead hit pretty boy model Albert Reed in the schnozz Tuesday night. Read all about his great escape.
Ed Bark

Eliminator? Cuban's mambo leaves him staggered

Bottom two-ing it last week, a grimacing Mark Cuban likely will be assuming that same position on Tuesday night's vote-off.

Stripping his face bare in hopes of shaving off a few of those 49 years, Mark Cuban drove himself hard through Monday night's mambo.

The Dancing with the Stars judges then damned him with faint praise and borderline ridicule, leaving Cuban on a respirator with a next-to-last 18 score, three points lower than last week's fox trot.

Only bulbous Wayne Newton's plodding quick step was judged inferior among the night's 11 performances. But his 15 points may not be low enough to spare Cuban.

Mr. Las Vegas has a far and wide fan base in sync with Dancing's heavier appeal among older viewers. Mr. Lost Wages perhaps isn't as well known as thought despite his headline-making rep for drawing heavy fines. And his devotees tend to be younger males who'd rather tattoo "I love the Captain & Tenille" on their forearms than watch this show on a weekly basis.

Still, Cuban got robbed. He merited at least another "Blackjack, Baby" 21, which would have put him in a six-way tie for fifth place rather than second to last after a Bottom Two dance with death the previous week.

The Dallas Mavericks owner even donned a sleeveless black shirt to further youthify himself while pro partner Kym Johnson again wore less with more panache than any of her peers. Maybe her popularity somehow can save Cuban. But Newton's got two-time Dancing champ Cheryl Burke dragging him along the hardwoods. Aw hell, what's the use.

Cuban got praise for working hard, which no doubt he's doing. The guy clearly meant it when he said in a pre-taped segment, "I just want to stay in this competition. I'll do whatever it takes . . . I am not ready to be eliminated." Maybe he wants it too much.

Second to dance, he and Johnson gyrated vigorously to Nelly's "Ride Wit Me." Imagine Jerry Jones actually trying that rather than having a Gumby dance faked for him during that Papa John's spot.

"You certainly made me laugh," began judge Carrie Ann Inaba, a tip-off that maybe this wouldn't be going particularly well. "You've got so much exuberance when you dance. And your face was dancing twice as hard."

"If there was a prize for hard work, dedication and will to win, you would be handed that prize," said judge Len Goodman, meaning a "but" was enroute.

"It was hot at the top. It was a little bit wooden down below," Goodman added before nutty Bruno Tonioli said, "It's like watching a bulldog chasing a squirrel."

It's all left Cuban clinging, dangling and desperate for a sympathy vote he's not likely to get. He did, however, leave it all on the floor while two actors in costume from ABC's new Geico-inspired Cavemen series took it all in.

If it's so easy, then why don't they do it?

OK, it's time to shuck the grape green Oleg Cassini smoking jacket, undo the Michael Corleone brand ascot and polka off to dreamland.

Measuring Uncle Barky's "net" worth

Little unclebarky.com, which recently marked its first anniversary, has been named "Best Blog" by Dallas Observer editors in the alternative newspaper's annual "Best of Dallas" compendium.

You can find the citation on page 34 of the Observer's 178-page chronicle. Readers, by the way, went with D Magazine's Frontburner blog. One step at a time.

Other Observer honorees in local TV land include CBS11's Tracy Rowlett as best news anchor (readers chose Fox4's Heather Hays); Belo8's Dale Hansen as best sports anchor (readers agreed) and Belo8's 10 p.m. program as best newscast (readers chose Fox4's Good Day).
Ed Bark