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Q&A: July 2

Question: Did the George Lopez show get canceled by ABC?
Art Coronado

Answer: Yes, ABC dropped George Lopez after six seasons. It also initially sacked companion piece According to Jim, but last week unaccountably decided to bring it back sometime next season. So maybe George Lopez has another life left in it, too. Doubtful, though.

Question: Can you pull off another answer to a question I have about a show I have begun to thoroughly enjoy? BET announced they would run The Wire in syndication. I watched and deem the show -- GREATNESS!!! They broadcast the first two seasons and I have thoroughly enjoyed each episode. But then they stopped there. And BET has nothing on their website about future broadcasts.
Michael Buss

Answer: The network contracted for the first two seasons, and so far there are no definite plans for a third. The second-season reprise, which recently ended, was far more severely edited than the first. My recommendation would be to check out amazon.com or other websites for bargain, used editions of Seasons 3 and 4. The fifth and final season of The Wire is due on HBO later this year.

Question: The nightly news is such a joke now. If my wife and I stick around to watch, it is usually to count the number of crime and tragedy stories they lead off with. Then we switch channels. Our over/under is 9, which we definitely will have to raise. Surely there must be a better way to attract viewers. Is this approach prevalent throughout the country? If there are other "hooks" to keep viewers, what are they?
Doug Verheul

Answer: Unfortunately, the re-immersion into the old "Action News" format is gaining ground in this great land of ours. All you have to do is send a reporter to a crime or tragedy site, put a camera on them and roll it. "Packages" require more time, effort and research. As staffs are downsized, so is enterprise reporting on many stations.

In D-FW, however, Belo8 is still offering a pretty stark alternative, and managed to win the May "sweeps" at 10 p.m. as an alternative to the crash-bang approach on NBC5 and now CBS11. Your over/under for Belo8 on most nights would be much closer to three or four. In the end we'll see who prevails.

As for other ways to hook viewers, NBC5 tries to keep ratings up in the second 15 minutes of newscasts with a steady diet of miracle diets, bargain shopping, health alerts and wrinkle removal stories. They're principally aimed at women, who watch newscasts in far great numbers than men. Belo8 is taking a similar tack. But its stories generally are longer and much better balanced regarding the pros and cons of having your face varnished or your stomach deflated. Belo8 also deploys Pete Delkus/Dale Hansen chuckle-talk down the stretch as a way to keep viewers hooked.

Question: I am a dedicated Letterman fan who rarely misses a show. Dave needs his vacations, and I don't begrudge him the time off. But it makes me crazy when they show reruns of shows from just a couple of weeks earlier. With years of great programs in the vault, why don't they reward viewers with classics, like the Warren Zevon farewell show? Or Dave's first post-bypass show or so many others? Or why not put Craig Ferguson on at 10:35 when Dave's fighting bears in Montana so more people will sample him?
Mickey Champione

Answer: This all makes perfect sense, of course. But here's the overall reasoning. No. 1, the stars who come on to promote stuff like to get a double-shot. In many cases, the movies they're touting are still in theaters. So you can make it more attractive to some of the biggies by promising them a twofer.

Also, the networks increasingly are after younger audiences, and "classics" generally skew older. The reasoning is that recent appearances by big names are more powerful audience magnets than Dave's heart attack comeback. And it's very doubtful that a Ferguson repeat or original ever will supplant Dave. Stars are very jealous of their territory these days, so much so that guest hosts no longer are part of the late night mix either. Dave or Jay wouldn't want to read that someone sitting in for them did better or equal Nielsen numbers.