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Q&A: Dec. 12

Question: What is the reason (or is there a reason) for Brad Davis doing the color with Mark Followill on TV broadcasts and Bob Ortegel switching over to ESPN radio for Dallas Mavericks games? Davis does a good job. I thought Ortegel was condescending when working with Followill last season.
Danny Kunsch

Answer: Big Bob can be condescending, but they did mesh much better as the season wore on. Ortegel is supposed to be splitting his time between radio and TV this season, but Davis so far has done the tube talk. He's OK, but I kind of miss Ortegel. Both Followill and Ortegel signed contract extensions with the Mavs last month, but not so Davis. So look for Followill and Ortegel to ride together again at some point.

Question: Did Jackie Hyland, the early AM gal, just move back home? Or was there pressure because ratings were flat?
Tim Mooney

Answer: Hyland returned to New York to be with her family for personal reasons that I've agreed not to divulge. It's nothing scandalous, though. Ratings for Belo8's Daybreak improved during the pairing of Hyland and Justin Farmer, and the show remains a very competitive second to Fox4's Good Day. So no, I don't think she was pushed out.

Question: Now that NBC5 has fallen into third place in the ratings, do you expect major management or anchor changes?
Donald Bean

Answer: Big changes are possible at some point, but probably not during the ongoing TV season, which still has the February and May "sweeps" ratings periods coming. NBC's prime-time woes haven't helped NBC5's 10 p.m. ratings. Nor has a very clumsy conversion to HD. News director Susan Tully seems like a resilient and relatively benevolent boss who backs her people more than most. At least that's the impression I've gotten during talks with her.

An overhaul will be a certainty, though, if NBC5 doesn't show some signs of life in the next two ratings books. Even during the good days, anchor Mike Snyder's staying power remained the D-FW market's biggest unsolved mystery.

Question: I get the feeling I'm the only fan of Bionic Woman, and it's mainly because I think Michelle Ryan is hot. Any news? I get the feeling it's not coming back.
Derrick Dennis

Answer: Bionic Woman started fast in the ratings but then slowed to a crawl. Its future looks almost as dim as Journeyman's which assuredly is a goner. So far NBC has given full-season orders to its other two new dramas, Life and Chuck. That also tells you something.

Q&A: Dec. 3

Question: It started with a network logo in the lower right hand corner and now we have TV pop up ads which run across the screen during shows. They are promos for other shows, but how long before networks start selling pop ups for extra revenue to get back at viewers who record shows and skip the 20 minutes per hour of commercials?

It seems counter-productive for networks to find new ways to annoy their viewers, but I've learned to never underestimate a network's ability to piss me off. What's the Ed Bark perspective on this clutter?
Jim Stewart

Answer: It's a growing problem that no doubt will continue to get worse. Those pop up ads already are a reality on some networks, although not epidemic yet. And the promos you speak of piss off producers of shows, too. Plugs for upcoming attractions march across the bottoms of screens, compromising the "integrity" of the ongoing program.

Another annoyance: mid-show sum-ups of series such as NBC's Friday Night Lights, ending with "Now you're caught up." How many viewers actually join this show in mid-stream -- one out of 100,000? There's no escaping this stuff, though. Those ongoing "crawls" on cable news networks, inaugurated within a few days of 9-11, were a precursor for a lot of the pop-ups you see now. The uncluttered screen is no longer a viable option. All the better reason to buy DVD collections of your big favorites.

Question: Do you know why they killed off Hector on The Unit? I have to say it was quite a surprise. I figured something like that would happen at the end of the season.
Cody Sheppard

Answer: Medic Hector "Hammerhead" Williams' (Demore Barnes) death by a sniper bullet stunned a lot of the show's fans. The producers say they waited three seasons to do something like this, and to achieve just that effect. It would be unrealistic to think that all of the show's regular characters would remain unscathed in their very dangerous line of work. Killing off regular characters, now a staple of virtually any dramatic series, also is a way to cut costs, of course.