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R.I.P. Bert Lozano: May 14, 1969 to Aug. 31, 2011 (updated)

Former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano died Wednesday at Methodist Medical Center after suffering a heart attack Sunday.

He was 42.

Lozano, a native of Mission, TX, worked at Dalllas-based WFAA8 from 2004 to 2007 before leaving to take a position in the Dallas office of the Weber Shandwick public relations firm.

His Facebook page immediately began filling up with goodbye messages from his friends.

From Randy Wegner: "My heart is full of sorrow and hard to understand why a great man was taken from us!!!! Your smile, zest for life, and heart are always with me! Until we meet again."

From Amanda Salinas de Cunningham: "Words can't express the sadness this day has brought to my heart. Bert, you are a kind and generous soul. Your smile and your spirit joins the Angels in heaven. Que en paz descanses.

From Eloina Juarez: "Such an untimely death. You will be missed, Bert!"

From Allan Koenig: "Man, this is tough. I had the pleasure of working with Bert at both WFAA-TV and Weber Shandwick and will always remember his great sense of humor, easy-going style and kindness. I was really happy when he made the tough decision to leave TV news, and proud of his work at Weber. My best to his family."

From Norma Pena Lopez: "My heart hurts. I will miss you and will always remember growing up together. I just can't believe it, I'm just numb."

From John McGill: "A very sad day for all whose paths you crossed. An amazing man."

From Marquette Clay: "A month ago today, when Iost my two nephews, you were one of my first friends to contact me with words of comfort and love. On this day my heart is shattered again. Thank you for your friendship. I loved you yesterday, today and until we meet again."

There are many more such messages -- and doubtless many more to come.

Early Wednesday evening, a statement from Lozano's family said that Bert never regained consciousness after suffering cardiac arrest on Sunday. His parents, Humberto and Margarita Lozano, said: "Our hearts are so heavy at losing our Bert, but we cannot begin to express the thanks for all the love and support and prayers by Bert's family of friends and colleagues here in Dallas."

Mr. and Mrs. Lozano encouraged those who are mourning their son's death to "celebrate Bert's life and remember all the things he did that made them laugh and smile. This is the way Bert would want to be remembered."

I didn't know Bert personally. But I appreciated his humor and willingness to recount what became his celebrated 2006 close encounter with a horn-tooting streaker while reporting live from a grass fire near Lake Lewisville in the Colony.

He said in part: "I've always wanted the opportunity to chat with him to get the full story, but I guess some things will remain a mystery. Still, I almost want to thank him. Since that night, the clip has been run on Extra!, MSNBC, VH1 and various websites. After it happened I got tons of emails. Viewers were asking if they really saw a naked man on TV or if their eyes had played a trick on them because I never said anything about it in my live shot and the anchors never mentioned it during the newscast. Hilarious!"

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Bert's family and close friends. Funeral and memorial services are pending.

CW33 hires new meteorologist, ramps up for early morning show on two levels

New CW33 staffer Laura Thomas

Dallas-based, Tribune-owned CW33 has imported another new staffer from Lubbock's Fox34 (KJTV-TV) while also learning that its studios will be the hub for a revamped early morning show that's transferring its entire production from Chicago.

The newcomer is Laura Thomas, a Texas Tech University grad who spent five years at the station as its chief meteorologist.

"I'm excited. Bittersweet, though," Thomas tweeted Tuesday. "Lubbock has been home to me since 2000!"

Earlier this year, CW33 hired Chase Williams from KJTV. He's now the station's lead sports anchor.

Thomas' initial primary duties at CW33 will be weather cut-ins on the station's new early morning initiative, news director David Duitch said Wednesday. The station learned Tuesday that it also will be the site of a Tribune-produced early morning show tentatively scheduled to launch on Oct. 31st.

Titled Eye Opener, the program had been produced out of Tribune's Chicago studios. But the entire show now will originate from Dallas, with CW33 and Tribune-owned stations in Philadelphia, Miami, Houston and Portland, Oregon carrying it as well as providing their own localized three-minute segments.

On CW33, two other recent hires, Toni Duclottni and Tommy Noel, respectively will be doing the traffic and news cut-ins during three-minute segments on Eye Opener, Duitch said.

The show raised some eyebrows when it initially was launched on Houston's KIAH-TV in May of this year. The entire program was produced out of Chicago, with KIAH vice president and general manager Roger Bare describing Eye Opener as "provocative and unpredictable" in an official announcement. "We want viewers tuning in to get a quick dose of the news they need, and to come back because they saw something new that they didn't expect," he said.

The show's regular contributors included a well-muscled handyman dubbed "Wrench," former Blind Date host Roger Lodge and a pair of women providing parenting tips in the "Mommy Minute." Eye Opener also offered viewers a segment on celebrity tweets from a character called Monsignor Jebediah O'Flaherty.

Duitch said he's confident that some of these contributors won't be a part of the new Eye Opener. But he emphasized that "I don't know what talent that's on the show is going to be moving here . . . This is really a work in progress. It just happened yesterday."

Incumbent CW33 staffers are pumped. "They are moving everything here -- people, equipment, you name it. We are very excited," chief meteorologist Rebecca Miller said.

Based on the personnel pictured on CW33's website, the hiring of Thomas bumps the number of on-camera "News Team" members up to 20. All but two of them are full-time staffers, Duitch said. "Tech Zen" Shama Kabani is a freelancer and Ashley Roberts works part-time as the host of the station's DFW Close Up, he said.

The total of 20 on-camera staffers is starting to compare pretty favorably to D-FW's four major TV news providers. Based on their website news team pages, NBC5 has 24 anchors and reporters, three of whom are listed as "video journalists" who also edit and shoot their stories.

Fox4 pictures 30 staffers on its website, CBS11 has 31 and WFAA8 has 32.

The NBC5 total does not include reporter Kim Fischer, whose last day is Friday. And the WFAA8 total does not include Gary Reaves, who left the station in July, and Walt Zwirko, who is the station's longtime senior website editor but does not appear on camera during newscasts. Both are still pictured as part of the news team.

Next 24 hours will be key for stricken former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano

The family of former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano offered an update on his condition Monday night.

After suffering an apparent heart attack Sunday morning, he remains "heavily sedated under constant care," according to a family statement sent by Chris Heinbaugh, who worked with Lozano at WFAA8 before leaving the station to become former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert's chief of staff. "There are many positive signs, but the next 24 hours will prove critical to determining his condition and his path to recovery."

The Lozano family also expressed gratitude "for the outpouring of love and prayerful support from his many friends here in Texas, his home, and across the country. Thank you from the bottom of our heart. We ask now that everyone please respect our family's privacy. We will keep you posted on Bert's progress."

Lozano, who left WFAA8 in February 2007 after a three-year stay, works in the Dallas office of the Weber Shandwick public relations firm.

Former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano hospitalized after heart attack

Former WFAA8 reporter Bert Lozano, 42, suffered a heart attack over the weekend and is in "stable but critical condition," the station reported on its website Monday.

Several WFAA8 staffers also tweeted the news, with reporter Steve Stoler saying that Lozano is "on life support." Reporters Jason Whitely and David Schechter both termed the heart attack "major."

"The family of Bert Lozano thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers," said a statement on wfaa.com. "The family will provide updates as they learn more about his condition."

Lozano left WFAA8 in February 2007 after three years at the station. He then immediately joined the global Weber Shandwick public relations firm, and has continued to work out of the company's Dallas office. Before joining WFAA8, Lozano spent five years as a reporter at KSAT-TV in San Antonio.

While at WFAA8, Lozano's live 2006 report on a grass fire near Lake Lewisville in The Colony was compromised by a streaker who ran past him while tooting an air horn. In recounting the incident to unclebarky.com, Lozano said that he at first at first felt "totally humiliated," but later was able to joke about a clip that eventually received heavy national play.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Bert as he goes about the very serious business of hopefully making a full recovery.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 26-28) -- even a smallish Cowboys crowd sacks Rangers for big loss

This could qualify as one of those simple dimple opening Who Wants to be a Millionaire questions -- except with just two answers to choose from.

A largely meaningless Dallas Cowboys pre-season game aired directly opposite a very meaningful Texas Rangers game Saturday night. Which team had the bigger audience?

While WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen chortles, we'll give you the no-brainer answer. The Cowboys' 23-17 road win at Minnesota, in which starters played the entire first half, had more than five times as many viewers as the first-place Rangers' 8-4 loss to the close-behind second place Angels.

Cowboys-Vikings, which started shortly after 7 p.m. and ended at 10:07 p.m. on CBS11, averaged 664,867 D-FW viewers, with a peak audience of 789,530 between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. Rangers-Angels, which also started shortly after 7 p.m. and ended a bit later at 10:12 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest, averaged 131,588 viewers, with a peak crowd of 228,548 between 9 and 9:15 p.m.

Although imposing, the Cowboys' overall viewership easily was the smallest of the team's three pre-season games. An opening last-second win over Denver drew 789,370 viewers on CBS11 while the Cowboys' loss to San Diego on NBC's Sunday Night Football fell just short of the one million mark with 969,598 viewers.

The Rangers fared better with their weekly Friday night game on TXA21, beating the Angels to the tune of 186,994 viewers while outdrawing CBS' competing Packers-Colts pre-season game (138,514 viewers). That made the North Texas Nine Friday's biggest prime-time draw. Sunday night's Rangers win against the Angels, carried nationally by ESPN, was the most- watched of the three games, averaging 242,400 viewers locally.

On Sunday afternoon, ABC's telecast of the Little League World Series championship game had 55,406 viewers. NBC led all prime-time programming Sunday with its Saints-Raiders pre-season game (228,548 viewers).

In Friday's local news derby results, Fox4 and NBC5 took turns in the winner's circle.

The Peacock won at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but Fox4 had a slight edge among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

The two stations shared first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 again alone atop the 25-to-54 measurement.

Fox4 swept the 5 p.m. competitions and added a 6 p.m. gold in total viewers. NBC5 ran first at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds.

NBC5 reporter Kim Fischer leaving to pursue other possibilities

Kim Fischer, a general assignment reporter who lately has worked the early morning shift at NBC5, will be leaving the Fort Worth-based station after a two-year tenure.

NBC5 management said that it's her decision, and that Fischer's contract with the station had not run out.

Fischer's last day at NBC5 will be on Sept. 2nd. In a memo to staffers, news director Susan Tully said that Fischer wanted her to pass along the reason for her decision. Here's Fischer's parting quote: "I was at a point in my contract where I could look for work as an anchor, an entertainment reporter or a number of other choices. I have several interesting opportunities in the works and the timing was right. I decided to take the leap and see what is next as I grow my career."

Fischer, who had previously interned at NBC5, rejoined the station on Sept. 1, 2009 from WOAI-TV in San Antonio. "The money's better and the market's bigger," she told San Antonio Express-News TV writer Jeanne Jakle.

She's also been a host/producer for Hot on Homes infomercials and was the Scrappy the Eagle mascot during her time as a student at the University of North Texas.

During her time at NBC5, some of Fischer's "social media" activities and musings seemed questionable at best. They included posing for some Facebook pictures (that later were deleted from her page) as well as posting an ill-considered tweet.

We all live and learn.

IN OTHER NBC5 NEWS . . . The station will be launching a half-hour 11 a.m. local newscast, beginning on Sept. 5th. Its anchors are yet to be announced.

The newscast will be followed by two half-hour editions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (currently airing on CW33) and the new syndicated We the People, hosted by attorney Gloria Allred.

NBC5 will be dropping its current 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. lineup of The Nate Burkus Show and Real Housewives.

Former Fox4 reporter Sara Sidner now dodging bullets in Libya

Some of the most vivid on-the-scene reporting from liberated Libya is coming from CNN's Sara Sidner, who's been deftly walking a fine line between putting herself in too much danger and giving viewers a decidedly vivid look at the rebels' taking of dictator Moammar Gadhafi's compound.

Sidner worked as a reporter for three years at Dallas-based Fox4 before joining Oakland's KTVU-TV in January 2004. She eventually made her way to CNN, which has been showcasing her first-hand reporting this week. While at Fox4, Sidner covered the Feb. 1, 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster while also working as a consumer reporter and occasional anchor.

"I just got hit a little bit with one of the shells," she noted during one of her live dispatches this week. But it turned out to be a glancing blow from a shell casing.

Sidner's overall reporting has been risky but hardly breathless. She's shown impressive composure under fire while wearing the requisite helmet and flak jacket. And Sidner, 39, also has demonstrated that she knows full well when to get out of harm's way.

Below is video of one of Sidner's more memorable reports, with anchors from afar urging her to take cover as the fire intensifies.

Losing Cowboys still rise to top of Sunday Night Football pecking order

Al Michaels alongside Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli. NBC photo

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, hailing from your friendly content provider's native state, rightfully will get their full complement of three games this season on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

But so will the 6-10 Dallas Cowboys, while the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no scheduled appearances on the NFL's primary national showcase.

In fact, only one other losing team from last season, the Minnesota Vikings, has even one game on SNF. The Vikes will play the Chicago Bears on Oct. 16th. Dallas, on the other hand, gets a Sept. 11th road game against the New York Jets, an Oct. 30th face-off at Philadelphia and a Dec. 11th home game with the New York Giants.

How bad then must "America's Team" get before NBC cuts them off -- or at least reduces their exposure on SNF to just one or two games? What if they went 1 and 15?

"The answer's yes, we would still put them on," analyst Cris Collinsworth said without hesitation during NBC's recent session for both SNF and Super Bowl XLVI, which the Cowboys won't be playing in no matter how many wet dreams owner Jerry Jones has.

NBC knows what it's doing, though, as does the NFL. Sunday's 20-7 Cowboys loss to San Diego drew 10.7 million viewers nationally, making it the third highest-rated pre-season game in the last five years on SNF. The most-watched was last summer's Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and Cincinnati, which had 11.4 million viewers.

Collinsworth elaborated, recalling the Cowboys' constant winning ways under coach Tom Landry when "a lot of us were kids. And there is a carryover to that."

But his SNF partner, the peerless Al Michaels, got to the nub of why any and all networks just can't get enough of the Cowboys.

"There are only two teams in all of sports that I can think of that engender love and hate to that extreme," he said. Namely the Cowboys and the New York Yankees.

"What I find interesting," he added, "is the Yankees were in existence for about 60 years before the Cowboys were even born . . . But something happened in Dallas, and I don't know what it was, when they started to get good. And all of a sudden you loved them or you hated them. And that's a great combination for television, because you want to have some sort of an emotional response to the team that's on the air. And they (the Cowboys) have been number one for us for a lot of years in that regard."

It's relatively easy to understand the "hate." Dallas was the city where President Kennedy was assassinated. When that stigma began to fade, the Cowboys' were grandly dubbed "America's Team" in the late 1970s by NFL Films and then in a CBS game telecast. The Cowboys also had a love-to-hate corporate image under the stoic Landry and love-to-ogle eye candy in the forms of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

But your friendly content provider had one more followup question. Are the Cowboys the Howard Cosell of Sunday Night Football? No sportscaster before or since has triggered more love/hate than the late Monday Night Football mainstay.

"Are they the Howard Cosells? Give him a little. C'mon, give him one," Collinsworth urged Michaels. And so he did.

Summoning his best Cosell impression, Michaels intoned, "You're exactly right. The Dallas Cowboys are the Howard Cosell of Sunday Night Football."

Ah, victory is sweet.

Predictions: The Packers will go 13-3 and return to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys will go 8-8 -- and will not.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., Aug. 15 to Tuesday, Aug. 23) -- catchup round featuring numbers for Cowboys-Chargers and Most Eligible Dallas

How big a bomb is Bravo's Most Eligible Dallas?

So big that the Cowboys' lackluster pre-season loss to San Diego had more viewers locally than the second episode of MED had nationally.

Showcased on NBC's Sunday Night Football, the Chargers' 20-7 win over Dallas in Jerry's Palace fell just short of the one million mark with 969,598 D-FW viewers. That's up from the 789,370 viewers who watched the Cowboys edge Denver in the Thurs., Aug. 11th pre-season opener on CBS11.

Nationally the Cowboys-Chargers game had 10.7 million viewers, making it the third most-watched NFL pre-season matchup in the last five years, according to NBC. Cowboys-Chargers also was the most-watched network prime-time attraction of the past week in the national Nielsens.

In stark contrast, Monday's second episode of Most Eligible Dallas had a sub-meager 860,000 viewers nationally in the 9 p.m. (central) hour, making it the least-watched basic cable "reality" series of the night. Even truTV's Lizard Lick Towing was a behemoth in comparison, with 2.25 million viewers for its 8:30 p.m. episode. And History Channel's Pawn Stars had 3.46 million viewers in direct competition with Most Eligible Dallas.

Bravo came up even emptier with its Mon., Aug. 15th launch of MED, which had 784,000 viewers nationally. So the overall acute embarrassment of watching six self-absorbed posers prance around Big D will almost certainly be put to an end after Season One stumbles to a close. KLUV-FM morning drive personality Jody Dean also should be relieved that hardly anyone saw him on his Episode 2 bowling date with one of the show's aggressively vacuous stars, blonde Tara Harper.

(Note: Bravo is not included in the available D-FW Nielsen data, so local ratings for Most Eligible Dallas will have to be anyone's guess for the time being. But with national ratings like these, the show basically is DOA anyway.)

OK, here's a quick chronological recap of other D-FW ratings highlights during the time I very happily participated in my daughter's wedding in Florida:

MON., AUG. 15th
Fox cooked with its 7 to 9 p.m. combo of Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef, which dominated in both total viewers and advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds. Hell's led all prime-time programming with 263,177 viewers. NBC's competing Bachelor Pad, featuring Dallas flyboy Jake Pavelka and his estranged former fiancee, Vienna Girardi, finished second from 7 to 9 p.m. on both Nielsen scorecards. CBS' repeat of Hawaii Five-0 had the 9 p.m. wins.

In local news derby results, Fox4 came within an eyelash of a very rare double grand slam. It swept the 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. competitions in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Fox4 also took the 10 p.m. gold among 25-to-54-year-olds, but ran in a third place tie at that hour in total viewers, with WFAA8 finishing first.

TUES., AUG. 16th
Fox continued to burn brightly with two hours of Masterchef, both of which swept the 7 to 9 p.m. slot in total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds. NBC's closing hour of America's Got Talent then dominated the 9 p.m. hour.

The news derby numbers were all over the place. WFAA8 won at 10 p.m. in total viewers while NBC5 had the edge with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Golds were split at 6 a.m. between NBC5 in total viewers and Fox4 in the 25-to-54 demographic. Fox4 again won at both 5 and 6 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for the total viewers lead at 6 p.m. while the 5 p.m. firsts in that measurement were shared by NBC5 and CBS11.

WED., AUG. 17th
Fox cooled way down without its kitchenettes, bombing with Mobbed and a House repeat on a night when prime-time's biggest overall draw was CBS' 7 p.m. hour of Big Brother 13 (186,994 total viewers as well as Wednesday's best showing with 18-to-49-year-olds).

NBC5 dominated the news derby results with doubleheader wins at 10 p.m., 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Fox4 broke through with twin wins at 6 p.m.

THURS., AUG. 18th
Fox returned to the prime-time winner's circle by claiming the whole night with its Eagles-Steelers pre-season matchup. The game averaged 290,879 total viewers while likewise romping with 18-to-49-year-olds.

WFAA8 took both 10 p.m. news derby golds while NBC5 did likewise at 5 p.m. The Peacock also notched a 6 a.m. win in total viewers, but lost by less than an eyelash to Fox4 in the 25-to-54 Nielsens. The 6 p.m. spoils were split between CBS11 in total viewers and Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

FRI., AUG. 19th
TXA21 averaged 180,068 viewers for its Texas Rangers-Chicago White Sox game, winning the last two hours of prime-time (8 to 10 p.m.) in total viewers as the audience built to a high of 297,805 viewers between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. CBS' new episode of Flashpoint controlled the 7 p.m. hour with 193,920 viewers while Fox's night-long Falcons-Jaguars pre-season yawner managed 138,514 viewers.

In news derby returns, WFAA8 scored a 10 p.m. win in total viewers but NBC5 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds. The Peacock also swept the 6 a.m. Nielsens. Fox4 and CBS11 tied for first at 6 p.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 alone in first with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers, while Fox4 took the 25-to-54 gold.

SAT., AUG. 20th
Fox Sports Southwest's prime-time Rangers-White Sox game and CBS' 9 p.m. episode of 48 Hours Mystery averaged the biggest overall crowds with 200,845 viewers apiece. But the Rangers had a higher peak audience of 283,954 in the game's closing 15-minute segment.

MON., AUG. 22nd
Post-Cowboys, Fox returned to the top of the prime-time heap with a pair of Hell's Kitchen hours. Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast then made it a prime-time sweep in the broadcast network universe. In cable terrain, FSS's opening game of the Rangers-Red Sox series came up big with an average of 249,325 total viewers. But its first hour fell just short of Hell's Kitchen.

WFAA8 ran the table in the four-way 10 p.m. local news competition while NBC5 did likewise at 6 p.m. The Peacock added total viewers wins at both 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Fox4 claimed the other spoils with firsts at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic.

TUES., AUG. 23rd
The Rangers-Red Sox game averaged a solid 207,771 total viewers but CBS' 7 p.m. rerun of NCIS was tops in that league with 221,622 viewers.

In local news derby results, the Peacock crowed loudest by running the table at 10 p.m. and at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. WFAA8 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 took first place with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Former NBC5 reporter Grant Stinchfield aspires to be Republican congressman (updated with interview)

Ex-NBC5 reporter Grant Stinchfield and Rep. Kenny Marchant.

Grant Stinchfield is nothing if not unpredictable.

Formerly a reporter for Fort Worth-based NBC5, he left the station in April after seven years to take ownership of a Kwik Kar Auto Lube and Repair business in Irving. Now Stinchfield is revving up for a run for Congress as a Republican who has "the courage to stand up to powerbrokers," according to a new video touting his candidacy.

Stinchfield, in a letter and followup email to prospective donors, says he has a goal of raising $150,000 by Labor Day in "order to be taken seriously as a candidate" and to compete against what he calls an "entrenched opponent."

He doesn't name his adversary. Stinchfield and his wife, Amy Vanderoef (a co-host of WFAA8's Good Morning Texas), currently live at a Dallas address in Republican Pete Sessions' 32nd congressional district. He's represented that district since being elected in 2002. But in a telephone interview Monday evening, Stinchfield said he definitely is not running against Sessions.

The website politics1.com lists Stinchfield as running against District 24 Republican Kenny Marchant, who was elected in 2004. Stinchfield declined to comment on that possibility, saying that "we're not ready to make any decisions until we explore all possibilities."

Stinchfield said he first was approached about running for Congress almost two years ago while he was still reporting for NBC5. "So this has been in the back of my mind for a long time," he said.

He has never run for public office before, but "when the economy started to tank, and after the birth of my son, and when the country started to go downhill in a direction I just couldn't support, it became more and more clear to me that I had to do something to get us back to the ideals of freedom, liberty and the free enterprise system that this country was built on."

Another wakeup call, he said, has been his post-newsroom experience as head of his own private business.

"I've learned first hand the way government gets its grip around small business owners and squeezes the life out of them," he said.

Still, he'll keep the oil changes coming at his Kwik Kar franchise, Stinchfield said. "Knock on wood, business is going great, and I love what I do. I'm literally feeling liberated."

Stinchfield says in his email pitch to donors that he so far has "received contributions from dozens of people ranging from corporate CEOs and small business owners to professional athletes and everyday citizens. But time is running out to reach my goal."

Still, Stinchfield says in the email solicitation that he'll officially announce his candidacy sometime in September in hopes of helping to "put our country back on a path to prosperity . . . With a humble heart, I ask for your help. Sadly, campaigns have become more about money than message, but I promise your contributions will go to good use." He has a new campaign website up and running, although Stinchfield said Monday that it's being remodeled and will be relaunched shortly.

Stinchfield with wife Amy Vanderoef and their 2-yr.-old son, Wyatt

In the video touting his planned candidacy, Stinchfield bills himself as an Emmy-winning investigative reporter. And "as a congressman, I'll continue my investigate reports and expose the rampant cronyism and idiocracy that has taken over Washington."

Stinchfield's pledge is preceded by Fox News Channel video in which various anchors and reporters decry government waste.

"You put me on the inside," Stinchfield says in closing, "and Washington's love affair with spending comes to an end."

Here's the video:

Packaging former UT backup QB Matt Nordgren for Bravo's Most Eligible Dallas

Matt Nordgren at meet 'n' greet for Most Eligible Dallas. Photo: Ed Bark

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- It's a small world after all.

Matt Nordgren, principal stud of Bravo's upcoming Most Eligible Dallas (Mondays at 9 p.m. central, starting Aug. 15), went to grade school in Dallas with my daughter.

He also went to high school with my son. And he played football at Bishop Lynch High School with Rob Hopkins, who's now married to my wife's daughter.

Your friendly content provider dropped all three of these little nuggets before interviewing Nordgren at a recent lunchtime event during the Television Critics Association "press tour." Nordgren, who turns 29 in late September, seemed intrigued by the trifecta but focused on his objective. Namely to join the Hollywood shuffle after passing on several other "reality" series offers.

"I just never did 'em because I didn't think they were going to portray me in the light that I wanted," he says. "When they presented this to me, I liked that it was open for me to do whatever I wanted to do. There wasn't any competition and it wasn't a dating show. You didn't have to end up with somebody. What really sold it for me was when they said, 'Look, it's called Most Eligible. We can't make you look like an idiot. We have to make you look 'Most Eligible.' "

Nordgren was Lynch's starting quarterback but didn't get to play much at the University of Texas as a backup for All-American Vince Young. But now he's a playa with a signature boast that's been featured in promos for Most Eligible Dallas. "I consider myself the total package," he says. "I genuinely love women."

He says the show highlighted that line while editing out his preamble.

"That whole particular segment was like a five-minute spiel by me," Nordgren says. "I also said I've got a great faith and family and I worked my butt off at school to get an education and two degrees. I'm a good Christian man, you know what I mean? I've never been to jail. I've got a lot of things that I think make me eligible. But that's what gets taken. They can't show everything."

His father, George Nordgren, is a former University of Houston running back who was drafted by the 1968 Dallas Cowboys as the 454th pick in the 17th round. But he didn't make the team. Matt got a shot with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted 2006 free agent, but likewise was released.

The senior Nordgren now runs Dallas-based Nordo, Inc., an energy company that employs his son as an executive. Matt says he also works on his own in "various private equities for sports and entertainment deals." He's lately been splitting his time in three main venues -- Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.

The Hollywood scene seems to be going swimmingly for him, although he's not treated as a star quite yet. Before introducing the cast of Most Eligible Dallas to TV writers, a Bravo executive had Nordgren hold his iced tea for him. In a clip from the show, he tells friend Neill Skylar that he's entitled to bring a different girl to dinner every night if he wants.

"I'm single. I can do these things," says Nordgren, for whom Skylar is the show's designated "gatekeeper" as well as the single "hot mama" of a one-year-old son. And hey, they just might still have a thing for one another, according to publicity materials.

In our interview, Nordgren says he still trusts the producers of Most Eligible Dallas to make him look good. On the other hand, though, "it's not always going to be the way you want it to be. But that's life. I believe that God puts things in your life and takes 'em away for a reason. And it's not up to us to be able to decide that. This show was an opportunity that I thought about for a long time and took it. Life isn't always perfect, and TV shows aren't always going to be perfect. You take the good with the bad and live with that. So no regrets at all. It is what it is."

Nordgren says he "definitely would like to keep pursuing entertainment" among other interests. "But at the end of the day, whatever God wants to happen, it will. If it doesn't work out, there's a reason for it. I take it day by day and enjoy it."

The Man Upstairs perhaps wouldn't entirely approve of an opening line from one of Most Eligible Dallas' three featured women. "My tits are about to pop out of this bra," she declares."

But that's show biz. As Matt Nordgren will learn soon enough.

Shipp says he won't file assault charges against Price

WFAA8 investigative reporter Brett Shipp and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price had a verbal and physical altercation Wednesday outside the embattled public official's office. WFAA8 photo

WFAA8's continued investigation into questionable use of public money by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price boiled over Wednesday when the embattled public official could be seen shoving reporter Brett Shipp while cameras rolled.

The Dallas-based station's coverage of the incident, by Shipp's investigative colleague, Byron Harris, also used subtitles to accompany audio in which Price allegedly later told Shipp, "I will split your neck. Back up."

Shipp then retorted, "Commissioner, are you gonna split my neck? You gonna split my neck, commissioner?" There was no response from Price.

Reached by phone Thursday, Shipp said, "I don't plan on filing (assault) charges. That's all I can really say. I have no intentions of filing charges."

Shipp, who has won numerous prestigious national awards for his reporting during a long career at WFAA8, said he continues to be "focused on this entire investigation, and I can't get off too much on what happened yesterday. I'm just trying to figure out where all the tentacles lead."

WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said Thursday, "I have no comment on the incident."

Shipp and CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett both reported Wednesday on Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey's efforts to locate unaccounted for satellite equipment purchased with county funds. Price, who is under investigation by the FBI after a raid on his offices earlier this year, reportedly was involved in what lately has become a mysterious 2005 purchase of the gear. The search led to Price's E. Langdon office, where Dickey was allowed in but the reporters weren't. Both Shipp and Gillett told Price that his office was a public place, not a private residence.

CBS11's website account of the altercation said that Price "pushed the door onto" Gillett, "swinging and slamming it several times to prevent him from accompanying Dickey inside."

But Shipp was the only reporter to receive hands-on treatment from Price. In the WFAA8 story reported by Harris, he said, "I've never seen him (Price) lose his cool. And clearly he lost his cool. And I was shocked that he did."

As previously noted in these spaces, Shipp sometimes can walk a fine line between grandstanding and doing what often can be a very tough job. Alleged wrongdoers generally don't like cameras in their faces. In a report last September on alleged illegal recruiting of a talented quarterback for Southlake Carroll's high-powered football program, Shipp could be seen ducking an ice bag thrown at him by the QB's angry father.

Shipp also had a companion story on alleged practice violations by defending 5A football champion Euless Trinity. But before the report aired, Shipp gloated on his Facebook page, "Tonight at 10 on News 8: Forget the QB. Southlake's coaches are in hot water. What's more, see what happens when they invite Number 1 ranked Trinity into the hot tub with them. Sniff, sniff!!!! Is that the smell of two cooked seasons?"

That post was removed after unclebarky.com wrote about it. And Shipp ended up going 1 for 2, with the Southlake Carroll quarterback ruled ineligible for last season while Euless Trinity was absolved of any wrongdoing.

Shipp declined to comment when asked asked Thursday about the contrasting perceptions of his work. Some see him as a self-important show-boater at times while others cite his dogged, award-winning investigative work as proof of his mettle. Throughout his career, he has never been afraid to confront the subjects of his investigations.

Asked where the Price altercation ranked in his long career of pushing for information, Shipp said, "I just probably shouldn't say anything. It's part of doing the job. I've got to stay focused on the investigation."

Here is the Byron Harris story on the Price-Shipp incident:

Sh*t happens -- twice on WFAA8

What are the odds?

Or to put it another way, here's the latest poop on WFAA8. While your friendly content provider was out West on the Television Critics Association "press tour," WFAA8 anchors Gloria Campos and Cynthia Izaguirre both managed to mangle the word "city" and turn it into an S-bomb instead. Elocution just isn't what it used to be at the Dallas-based ABC affiliate, where earlier this year traffic reporter/anchor Alexa Conomos managed to turn Mayfest into "Mayfart."

Here are the Campos/Izaguirre bloopers:

Back in D-FW for a catchup round highlighted by the big news of Maria Barrs heading West after leaving as Fox4's news director

Dallas rain? Unfortunately not. Dallas Raines? Unfortunately yes. Photo: Ed Bark

The two-week Television Critics Association "press tour" is over, with your friendly content provider now safely back in blazing D-FW after snapping the above evocative advertisement at the little Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Whatever you think of WFAA8's Pete Delkus, he's at least no Dallas Raines, who presents "Live Megadoppler" weather with the body language of a game show host. His venue is Los Angeles' ABC station. And he's also the last image most passengers see before boarding their flights from Burbank. Dallas Raines. It's impossible to make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, the big news during my time out West was Maria Barrs' surprise decision to resign as KDFW-TV/Fox4's news director after 13 years in that position and 17 years total at the D-FW station. She's going to be the new president and general manager at KXTV-TV, the Gannett-owned ABC station in Sacramento.

In a telephone interview Wednesday with unclebarky.com, Barrs, 55, said her first day on the job will be August 22nd. She and husband Jon Kemp plan to leave Dallas on Friday and "do a slow drive" to the West Coast, Barrs said.

Barrs was born in San Francisco and earlier worked as a news desk assistant at Sacramento's KCRA-TV.

"My kids (Patrick and Christina) both live on the West Coast, and my husband and I would like to see more of them," Barrs said. "Being in the same time zone definitely will help."

Announcing Barrs' hiring at KXTV, Gannett executive vice president Lynn Beall said in a statement, "She is an innovative manager, having built ratings growth during an era of challenging times. We are thrilled to have someone of her caliber at KXTV."

Barrs, the oldest daughter in a family of 13 children, said she has "never been a general manager before, so there's a certain amount of risk. But I'm really confident I can do the job . . . It's going to be very interesting not being in a newsroom all the time. I mean, that's in my blood. But I'm excited about it."

She became Fox4's news director in 1998, three years after the former CBS affiliate officially became one of a raft of new Fox owned-and-operated stations across the country as part of a power play by News Corporation mogul Rupert Murdoch. Barrs noted that her tenure had spanned both the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Dallas Mavericks' first NBA championship earlier this year.

"You really do develop bonds with people," she said. "I am leaving what I consider the best news director job in the country. I don't do that lightly. KDFW has some of the nicest, friendliest and professional people I could ever hope to work with."

The job also had its pitfalls, with rampant "downsizing" in the TV industry prompting both layoffs and decisions by some of the station's most seasoned reporters to leave Fox4 and start careers in other professions. There also was December's courtroom clash with former Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar, who sued the station on the grounds she had been wrongly terminated because of her lobbying for more minority hires at the station.

Aguilar lost the suit after an oft-acrimonious six-day trial in which both sides swung freely at one another. Both Barrs and Aguilar testified at length. After the jury verdict in Fox4's favor, Aguilar said she had no regrets and Barrs told unclebarky.com outside the courtroom, "I'm really sad that this came to this. But I'm glad it's over. And the station and the newsroom are going to move on."

Barrs said Wednesday that she hadn't actively been looking for a new position, but was open to change. "A lot of things came together all at the same time," she said. "And in fairly short order, this (the KXTV opportunity) came up. And it seemed too good too pass up."

It came up because Barrs' predecessor at KXTV, Anita Helt, spent just eight months as the station's president and general manager before opting to return to the TV market she had left. She's now the vice president and general manager of KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

Fox4 hasn't yet named a successor to Barrs, who noted that the news director position is in high demand with no shortage of candidates both internally and externally.

"It's not that I'm leaving a bad station," Barrs said. "It's that I'm going to a really good situation."

For an extended profile of Barrs, written in the inaugural year of unclebarky.com, go here.

Maria Barrs as Fox4 news director in a 2006 photo