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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Tues., Feb. 6)

Ball's in Dale Hansen's court after Tracy Rowlett serves him.

It takes two to tangle, so this isn't that. Still, CBS11 anchor Tracy Rowlett threw a crisp jab -- or was it a right cross --- at former Belo8 colleague Dale Hansen Tuesday night.

It came out of nowhere after sports anchor Gina Miller, subbing for Babe Laufenberg, finished a segment that included a piece on the Dallas Mavericks' so-called "Miracle Home" in Carrollton. Star player Dirk Nowitzki was on hand to sink his palms in concrete at the site. Eventually a lucky raffle winner will get both the home and Dirk's imprints.

Miller, who like Rowlett used to work with Hansen at Belo8, noted that someone stepped on her palm prints, requiring her to re-do them.

"Aw, bless your heart," Rowlett rejoined. "Maybe it was Dale Hansen who stepped on 'em."

"You said that, not me!" Miller quickly exclaimed.

Those who know Hansen know that he very seldom attends such functions anymore. On his Tuesday night segment, he instead contentedly reminded viewers of his old feud with former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, who punched him not so playfully on the arm several times during a storied live interview.

Hansen uncommonly had praised Cowboys owner Jerry Jones Monday night for taking his time in finding a new coach. Now he wants him to get his ass in gear.

"I'm so tired of this process," he said of Jones' ninth prospective coach interview Tuesday. "I'm almost ready for Barry Switzer to come back. And then I realized, no, I'm not. But I want somebody! And I want somebody soon."

Maybe he'll now want a piece of Rowlett? Hey, all's fair, unfortunately, in a 10 p.m. ratings battle that began with frontrunning NBC5 exploiting weatherman David Finfrock's persistent cough. So maybe Hansen could say, "I went golfing yesterday and let Rowlett carry my bag. Unfortunately he only lasted two minutes, which come to think of it is par for the course for him in any activity." Ba-boom-ba.

OK, on to the news, with NBC5 and Belo8 seemingly in a fevered race to jam as many stories as possible within their 35-minute telecasts. The Peacock invariably sets the pace, ripping and reading at near-WARP speed. Excluding the weather and sports segments, NBC5 zipped through 31 stories, with the usual heavy emphasis on crime, fires, auto wrecks and silly medical alerts.

Belo8 countered with 23 stories, saving plenty of squeeze room for anchor "happy talk," in which it's lately become the uncontested league leader.

The ABC station had the night's best story, a report by veteran Brett Shipp on a series of questionable and outdated telephone bill charges that state legislators seem to have little interest in repealing. Principal among them is a "Tif" charge (Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund") for a now defunct state initiative. One lobbyist told Shipp that it's the easiest way to raise state revenues "without leaving fingerprints." Roughly $210 million annually is brought in by Tif, with the money now being dumped into the state's general revenue fund.

It takes work to do these kinds of stories. Over at NBC5, little legwork is expended on anything other than rushing to the nearest tragedy. Even the Peacock's featured crime story, on "Bump keys" that can be used to open just about anyone's door, was a rehash of a rival reporter's work. CBS11's Bennett Cunningham had an almost identical piece last Thursday. NBC5's Scott Friedman did give a nice presentation, though.

"Some chilling information, Scott. Thank you," anchor Jane McGarry said in turn. Chilling information is always welcome on NBC5.

Fox4 had an unusually flimsy newscast. After a lead story on NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak's bizarre murder plot, anchor Clarice Tinsley signaled a "Breaking News" segment.

"You are looking live" at a traffic accident on Northwest Hwy., she said with what turned out to be laughable urgency. The station's Chopper 4 correspondent, Scott Wallace, then quickly reported, "It doesn't look like anybody was hurt seriously in this accident . . . Nobody has been transported this evening to any hospitals."

In other words, this really wasn't anything worth reporting in -- all together now -- the nation's sixth-largest TV market.

Later in the newscast, Fox4's usually solid Brandon Todd got stuck on American Idol duty in Krum, where 16-year-old Baylie Brown's parents threw a watch party at their home.

"The country girl from Krum is headed to Hollywood," Todd enthused. And Baylie herself said she'd received 900 messages on myspace.com.

There's also a very polished bayliebrown.com Web site. Or at least there was until unclebarky.com linked to it Tuesday night on the Above the Fold page. It's now been rerouted to "Austin Lane Technologies," apparently in an effort to re-position Baylie as the wide-eyed innocent portrayed on Idol instead of the slickly marketed phenom who "has all the ingredients to emerge as country music's newest superstar."

The suddenly vanished site additionally described 16-year-old Baylie as "already a seasoned professional." It also included a gallery of very professional looking glamour shots and a way to "spice up your computer with one of our exclusive Baylie downloads." She also was "Entertainer of the Year" at Denison's 2004 Main Street Showcase. And her CD, Big Trouble, is touted as a "must for all contemporary and traditional country music fans."

But that was yesterday. American Idol has a way of changing things.

That said, here's the nightly violent crime story count, with the 4-night running totals in parentheses:

NBC5 -- 5 (26)
Belo8 -- 2 (9)
CBS11 -- 2 (11)
Fox4 -- 1 (11)