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May The Force be with Dirkzilla

Creativity abounds as the heroic Dallas Mavericks prepare for their opening battle Tuesday night with the despoilers of the NBA realm.

My son, Sam, who co-owns a t-shirt and poster design shop in Austin (it's called Under Pressure) made the above image for a fan who wanted to look ready for combat while attending the Mavs-OKC Western Conference finals. If you'd like to order one or more, email him at sam@handsonscreenshop.com for more details.

There's also the below short video, which is appealingly primitive from open to close, by eclectic Erik Clapp of Fort Worth-based Immotion Studios. Thrill to the sights and sounds of Dirkzilla vanquishing a rampaging three-headed flying predator bearing the mugs of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Game 1 is at 8 p.m. on ABC, with the North Texas TV audience almost certain to exceed one million viewers. The Heat will be extremely tough to beat. But if it happens, the city of Dallas at last will wear a white hat in the nation's eyes after years and years of the Ewings and their real-life equivalent, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Dirkzilla from immotionstudios on Vimeo.

Fox4 paces May "sweeps" local newscast ratings, with WFAA8 also scoring points (with some sleight-of-hand trickery at 10 p.m.)

WFAA8 regained its 10 p.m. newscast bragging rights, although in a rather underhanded way, while Fox4 won three of the four major local races among advertiser-courted 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 also was the only D-FW news operation to show year-to-year across-the-board gains in the four-week May ratings "sweeps," which ended Wednesday. Its comfortable margins of victory at 6 a.m. were especially impressive, with Fox4 rebounding from second place finishes a year ago (behind NBC5) while also significantly increasing its audience. The Peacock, WFAA8 and CBS11 all lost early morning viewers from May 2010.

The 10 p.m. race again was exceedingly tight. CBS11, which won in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds a year ago for the first time in station history, ran second in both measurements by almost infinitesimal margins. But did WFAA8 really "win?"

Here's what happened. Tuesday night's storm coverage inflated the 10 p.m. newscast audiences on all four stations, with WFAA8 routing its three opponents in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds despite being criticized in some quarters for mixing its prime-time severe weather updates with the season finale of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

WFAA8's runaway wins over CBS11, which finished third in both ratings measurements, put the two stations in virtual ties after 19 days of the 20-day sweeps. Then came the chicanery. Anticipating a less than stellar lead-in audience from a new 9:30 p.m. episode of ABC's new Happy Endings sitcom, WFAA8 "threw out" Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscast by re-titling it as a tornado special. That meant it would not be counted by Nielsen Media Research in the final sweeps averages. CBS11 didn't exactly have a blockbuster lead-in either. Its network furnished it with a new episode of the recently canceled Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.

CBS11, Fox4 and NBC5 all counted their Wednesday 10 p.m. newscasts in the final "sweeps" average. Or to put it more bluntly, they continued to play ball while WFAA8 wimpily went on the disabled list with a hangnail.

End result: CBS11 won in total viewers Wednesday night with 180,068 while tying Fox4 for first place with 25-to-54-year-olds (80,774 apiece). WFAA8 ran second in total viewers (145,440) and limped in a distant fourth with 25-to-54-year-olds (just 37,280). But remember, those last-night WFAA8 ratings didn't count. So the station's overall sweeps averages weren't lowered, but CBS11's were.

Nielsen numbers crunching shows that CBS11 would have won both 10 p.m. competitions by a hair had WFAA8 included its Wednesday newscast numbers instead of running away from a climactic fight. All four stations also knew that the ongoing Dallas Mavericks-Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game likely would siphon away some potential 10 p.m. newscast watchers.

The final and official 10 p.m. totals are below. Those are what count, and WFAA8 can go ahead and re-promote itself as the most-watched station for late night news. But Nielsen numbers-crunching shows that had the station's Wednesday 10 p.m. news ratings been averaged in, CBS11 would have won by scores of 206,920 to 205,110 in total viewers and 80,681 to 79,190 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Most readers may not care one way or the other. And basically both 10 p.m. races were statistically close enough to call them ties. But we try to give you the real story behind the story here at unclebarky.com. And when you get right down to it, WFAA8 didn't exactly cover itself in glory with its machinations on Wednesday night.

On the overall plus side at 10 p.m., all four stations showed year-to-year increases in total viewers while only NBC5 was down (but just a smidge) among 25-to-54-year-olds. Tuesday's weather burst helped, but the stations also were up against potent Mavericks playoff games on several night.

Fox4 easily has the most to celebrate. Besides its clear-cut wins at 6 a.m., it likewise dominated the 5 and 6 p.m. Nielsens in the key 25-to-54 demographic. And at 10 p.m., it increased its year-to-year 25-to-54 viewership an average of 17,866 per newscast. That put the station within striking distance of first place while NBC5 also was in the hunt.

WFAA8 won at both 5 and 6 p.m. in total viewers, with some help from the final days of the 4 p.m. Oprah Winfrey Show. But it lost ground at 6 a.m., falling deeper into third place than it was a year ago. NBC5 also suffered some serious erosion at wake-up time, particularly with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Both the Peacock and CBS11 came away with no wins at all this time out, although the 10 p.m. results merit an asterisk next to victorious WFAA8. Still, CBS11 again had an overall 9:45 to 10 p.m. lead-in advantage from its network's entertainment programming, although not so much in the 25-to-54 measurement, where ABC's attractions came close to reaching parity.

One more observation about WFAA8. No station's management deems the three annual ratings "sweeps" periods more inconsequential. It's a year-around "marathon" -- or at least what they preach for public consumption. But WFAA8's actions on Wednesday night obviously indicate otherwise. They're in it to win it as much as everyone else is. And by just about any means necessary.

Here are the complete Nielsen results for the 10 p.m. 6 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. local newscasts, with May-to-May gains and losses in parentheses:

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 208,325 (plus 17,360)
CBS11 -- 206,871 (plus 11,629)
NBC5 -- 156,867 (plus 5,940
Fox4 -- 141,769 (plus 35,350)

WFAA8 -- 81,116 (plus 6,969)
CBS11 -- 80,680 (plus 1,438)
Fox4 -- 77,885 (plus 17,866)
NBC5 -- 75,990 (minus 91)

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 117,945 (plus 26,534)
NBC5 -- 96,683 (minus 8,980)
WFAA8 -- 49,588 (minus 15,425)
CBS11 -- 41,069 (minus 6,232)

Fox4 -- 74,685 (plus 12,292)
NBC5 -- 47,501 (minus 16,150)
WFAA8 -- 35,976 (minus 3,768)
CBS11 -- 18,889 (minus 4,773)

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 160,884 (plus 36,559)
CBS11 -- 157,767 (plus 33,510)
Fox4 -- 144,124 (plus 41,854)
NBC5 -- 110,118 (plus 1,605)

Fox4 -- 71,733 (plus 12,655)
WFAA8 -- 62,196 (plus 16,713)
CBS11 -- 35,695 (minus 4,724)
NBC5 -- 34,826 (plus 5,118)

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 144,539 (plus 31,004)
CBS11 -- 119,191 (plus 48,613)
Fox4 -- 118,845 (plus 34,220)
NBC5 -- 115,936 (plus 13,937)

Fox4 -- 63,936 (plus 19,313)
WFAA8 -- 48,247 (plus 10,478)
NBC5 -- 41,133 (plus 14,433)
CBS11 -- 35,292 (plus 9,236)

SOURCE: Nielsen Media Research

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., May 25) -- boffo day for big events, with Mavs clincher leading the charge

Crowning glories for Mavs man Dirk, Idol's Scotty. Photos: Ed Bark

The final night -- and day -- of the May "sweeps" went out with three big bangs on the TV "event" front.

Oprah Winfrey signed off, teen country crooner Scotty McCreery won the 10th season of American Idol and -- oh yesssssssssss! -- the resilient old dog Dallas Mavericks closed out the very frisky pups from Oklahoma City in Game 5 of their Western Conference championship series.

Mavs-Thunder, which ran from 8:07 to 10:45 p.m. on ESPN, set a new 2011 post-season high with an average of 865,713 D-FW viewers. A record peak crowd of 1,253,552 watched the closing 15 minutes, in which Dallas again staged a white-knuckling 4th quarter comeback to win 100-96.

Advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds again turned out in huge numbers, with an overall average of 460,684 and a high point of 723,932 for the final 15 minutes.

Over on Fox, American Idol's for the most part highly entertaining 7 to 9 p.m. finale averaged 768,753 total viewers, with 355,385 in the 18-to-49 age range. During head-to-head competition from 8 to 9 p.m., Idol soundly beat the Mavs in total viewers by a score of 817,233 to 602,536. The Fox juggernaut also prevailed with 18-to-49-year-olds during that hour, luring 375,128 to the Mavs-Thunder's 309,316.

Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast, which refreshingly focused on post-tornado coverage instead of a prolonged and embarrassing Idol rehash, dominated its time period among non-Mavs alternatives with 429,393 total viewers. The newscast had just one Idol story, with a hyperkinetic Fiona Gorostiza reporting from the L.A. scene while ecstatically clutching a $10 bill she found on the way out of the Nokia Theater. Ugh.

Earlier Wednesday, the at long last finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show had a modest haul of 283,954 viewers from 4 to 5 p.m. on WFAA8. That was a slight drop-off from the 290,879 viewers who succumbed to the previous day's star-drenched Part 2 of Oprah's Farewell Surprise Spectacular. Still, she easily won her time slot Wednesday.

In Wednesday's local news derby results -- the last faceoffs of the 20-weekday May "sweeps" -- WFAA8 ran away from a final late night fight with CBS11. Instead it turned its 10 p.m. newscast into a tornado special, which enabled it to drop Wednesday's edition from the final sweeps averages.

CBS11 won a downsized 10 p.m. competition in total viewers with a deflated sum of 180,068 while WFAA8 ran second with 145,440. Potential audiences for both stations were deflated by the ongoing Mavs-Thunder game. So WFAA8 decided to take a knee to protect its overall "sweeps" average in a down-to-the-wire first place battle with CBS11, which took the field and played ball along with Fox4 and NBC5.

Was this a chicken-(bleep) move on WFAA8's part? Yeah, it pretty much was, especially from a station whose management repeatedly says that the "sweeps" don't matter anymore. Except, of course, when you win.

Fox4 and CBS11 tied for first place at 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 again cleaned up at 6 a.m. with twin wins while WFAA8 used the Oprah finale's leverage to run the table at both 5 and 6 p.m.

A sermonizing but becalmed Oprah bids her faithful a fond farewell

Oprah says goodbye to her flock, beatifically of course. Photos: Ed Bark

The Church of Oprah at last shuttered its daytime chapel Wednesday, with its world famous preacher of self-worth repeatedly telling her in-studio and at-home parishioners to keep her faith.

A vision in pink after absorbing two previous days of A-list adulation on Oprah's Farewell Surprise Spectacular, Winfrey billed her final one-woman show as "my love letter to you." There was no pulpit, but it wouldn't have been entirely out of place.

Her closing words, delivered firmly if a bit tearily, cast her hardscrabble journey to a quarter century of TV super stardom as "this yellow brick road of blessings."

"I thank you for being as much of a sweet inspiration for me as I've tried to be for you," she said. "I won't say goodbye. I'll just say, 'Until we meet again.' To God be the glory."

Steadman gets a little sugar from his longtime gal pal.

She then strode into the studio audience to give her longtime beau-in-residence, Steadman Graham, a grateful hug and kiss on the cheek. Some added final images had Winfrey appearing almost Christ-like before the faithful, outstretching her arms before ascending to . . . er, leaving the stage.

Winfrey's voice caught just once, when she recalled her very humble origins as a rural Mississippi kid while a vintage black-and-white photo appeared on-screen. She often felt unloved during her childhood, but "you and this show have been the great love of my life."

By her count, she hosted 4,561 editions of The Oprah Winfrey Show, never missing a single one of them "because you were here." Many of those shows -- 217, she said -- addressed the sexual abuse of children. Winfrey eventually went public with her own story of sexual abuse as a child, as did one of the handful of celebrities in Wednesday's audience, actor/producer/director Tyler Perry. He briefly acknowledged her praise for his efforts on behalf of other men who unashamedly "stood up" to tell their own stories of child molestation.

Winfrey also briefly saluted her fourth grade teacher, "Mrs. Duncan," as "my first true liberator" who "made me feel that I mattered." She had asked to be there for Winfrey's final show. And it was a nice moment when her former troubled student turned the camera on kindly old Mrs. Duncan.

The finale had a smattering of clips from previous shows. But mostly it was Winfrey preaching her gospel and repeatedly thanking those who devotedly stayed the course "in this classroom called The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The Supreme Being got a good deal of credit, too. "Nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me," Winfrey said. "I have felt the presence of God my whole life. God is love. And God is life."

In D-FW, ABC station WFAA8 and The Oprah Winfrey Show have been life partners from the very start. Save for the first year or so, Oprah has been a fixture at 4 p.m. weekdays. And for years she also was a powerhouse ratings magnet, lifting both the audience and the profits of WFAA8's 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts.

One of Winfrey's proteges, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is scheduled to inherit her 4 p.m. slot in D-FW next fall after airing at 3 p.m. for the past year. WFAA8 also has a one-year deal with Anderson Cooper and his new talk show, which likely will replace Dr. Oz at 3 p.m.

The Oprah Winfrey Show otherwise lives on in reruns this summer while its namesake tries to lift the so far lackluster ratings for her fledgling OWN cable network.

OWN's her new baby, but "You and this show have been the great love of my life," she testified on Wednesday's finale.

OK, enough said. (But just in case you want more, my summer of 1986 interview with Winfrey -- a month before her show went national -- can be found on our Back Channels page. And your friendly content provider's new cnn.com opinion piece on Oprah's impact is right here.)

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., May 24) -- special storm edition

The storms hit the fans -- and fans of high voltage network programming -- with a mish-mash of weather coverage and pre-emptions Tuesday night.

We have a detailed account here of who did what, when and where. But ratings-wise, the night's two overall top performers were Fox4 and WFAA8.

Fox4 led off by airing the season's final performance edition of American Idol, with some weather updates included. It was the night's most-watched program, with a whopping 678,719 D-FW viewers. CBS11, which preempted most of CBS' NCIS repeat with storm coverage, ran third from 7 to 8 p.m. with 242,400 viewers, whipping NBC5's combo of the Biggest Loser: Couples finale and weather updates (186,994 viewers) while trailing WFAA8's mix of a Dancing with the Stars warmup hour and weather alerts (304,731 viewers).

Among 18-to-49-year-olds, whose safety and well-being is of prime importance to advertisers, Idol easily had the most viewers, followed in order by Dancing, Biggest Loser and CBS11's weather coverage.

NBC5 had the most total viewers from 8 to 9 p.m., primarily because of a big spike in its audience level in the final 15 minutes. The Peacock averaged 588,685 viewers for weather coverage that knocked out the last hour of Biggest Loser. WFAA8 ran second, drawing 498,650 viewers for its mix of the first hour of ABC's Dancing with the Stars finale and weathercaster Pete Delkus' appearances during commercial breaks and sometimes during the show itself. Fox4, which preempted almost all of Glee for continuous weather coverage, ran a close third with 484,799 viewers. CBS11's weather coverage trailed the field with 367,062 viewers.

NBC5 also paced the 8 to 9 p.m. slot with 18-to-49-year-olds, followed by Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11.

The 9 to 10 p.m. hour went to WFAA8, which continued with its mix of Delkus and Dancing. It had 616,387 total viewers, with Fox4's local newscast second (512,502 viewers). NBC5 went to NBC's The Voice, which ran third with 457,096 viewers ahead of CBS11's third hour of weather coverage (401,691 viewers). CW33's 9 p.m. local newscast had one of its biggest audiences in recent memory. But that still only amounted to 69,257 viewers. The order of finish with 18-to-to-49-year-olds was Fox4, WFAA8, NBC5, CBS11 and CW33.

All four of the 10 p.m. local newscasts had inflated storm-fueled ratings, even against the closing half-hour of an overtime Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls playoff game that drew a very nice-sized 408,616 total viewers on TNT. WFAA8 led with 526,353 viewers, easily its biggest late night news audience in recent months. Fox4 was second in the newscast competition with 394,764 viewers, followed by CBS11 (297,805) and NBC5 (235,474).

WFAA8 also ran away with the 10 p.m. race for 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. It had 288,923 viewers in this age range, trailed by Fox4 (214,362); CBS11 (164,655) and NBC5 (118,055).

Earlier Tuesday, Part 2 of Oprah's Farewell Surprise Spectacular controlled the 4 to 5 p.m. slot with 290,879 total viewers. That propelled WFAA8's 5 p.m. local newscast to wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 also swept the 6 p.m. Nielsens.

Fox4 as usual was master of the 6 a.m. domain, scoring twin wins to further pad its May "sweeps" lead over NBC5. The four-week ratings period, last of the 2010-'11 TV season, ends Wednesday.

Whether they're right -- or (weather) they're wrong . . .

WFAA8's Pete Delkus repeatedly shared screen time with Dancing host Tom Bergeron during Tuesday night's severe weather situation. Photo: Ed Bark


Where was the weather coverage? Why was it virtually non-stop on CBS11 but on-and-off on rival stations during Tuesday's prime-time hours?

Fans of Fox's Glee and NBC's Biggest Loser: Couples likely are firing away, too, at D-FW's respective local carriers. The season finales of both shows were preempted in favor of storm updates.

Some viewers might also be upset at WFAA8's treatment of ABC's Dancing with the Stars finale, which at times was reduced to a silent movie at the bottom right hand corner of home screens while weathercaster Pete Delkus delivered live reports on the night's dangerous North Texas mix of funnel cloud sightings, hail and heavy rain.

In the end, no serious injuries were reported as of late Tuesday night. And the sun made a return appearance Wednesday morning.

Still, unclebarky.com has been peppered with emails from readers who are outraged that some stations didn't go wall-to-wall with weather. We'll keep their names confidential, but here are some samples:

"I realize it's the season finale, but Dancing with the Stars virtually uninterrupted during the storm? Really? I plan to make it my personal mission that Channel 8's license is revoked. They were hardly 'acting in the public interest as a public trustee.' "

Another reader contended that "every other station went all weather EXCEPT Channel 8 . . . I have lived here all my life and have been partial to Channel 8. I found it shocking that poor Pete was squeezed in during commercials or -- even worse in my mind -- was made to go split-screen with the show. Would Channel 8 ever go all weather? Well, we know the answer is no. Incredible."

A third emailer came close to canonizing CBS11 meteorologist Larry Mowry while being "flabbergasted" by the coverage on rival stations. "Now I know why CBS11 and Larry Mowry are the go-to's for severe weather. Larry has been on it all night. CBS programming be damned . . . Mowry really showed his weather prowess. Delkus looked clueless and where was (NBC5 meteorologist David) Finfrock? While often a critic of TV's over-blown weather coverage, it is during these times that the weather stars shine. And I'm glad D-FW has people like Larry and the staff at CBS11."

OK, let's add some perspective.

Mowry and his team did a fine job Tuesday night. But CBS11 also had the luxury of being able to bail out on an all-rerun network lineup of NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS again. So that's a pretty easy call compared with what rival stations faced. Would CBS11 have completely preempted a two-hour Dancing with the Stars finale in favor of storm coverage? That's a hypothetical question, but the answer almost assuredly is an emphatic no. Even on Tuesday night, smidgens of those NCIS reruns occasionally and briefly knocked Mowry off the air.

Fox4 stuck with the 7 p.m. season finale of American Idol while occasionally shrinking it to a smaller size to make room for weather graphics. Meteorologist Dan Henry mostly popped in during commercial breaks before Fox4 decided to preempt the season finale of Glee in its entirety (save for a few minutes). That's a gutsy, tough call. And the station no doubt got hammered for it. Fox4's regular 9 p.m. local newscast then aired as scheduled, and of course was dominated by weather coverage.

NBC5 aired portions of the live two-hour season finale of Biggest Loser: Couples before eventually deciding to bail out on it in favor of continuous weather coverage. It then opted to show almost all of NBC's hottest new show, The Voice, saving weather updates for commercial breaks. A reader wondered where Finfrock was. He was there all along, and as usual keeping his jacket on. Fellow weathercaster Grant Johnston also helped out -- in shirtsleeves.

WFAA8 likewise was caught in a programming dilemma. Its network's most-watched show, Dancing with the Stars, had its two-hour season finale from 8 to 10 p.m. Preempt that in its entirety and you're going to take a savage beating from thousands of area viewers. So Delkus brought full weather updates during commercial breaks and also popped in regularly during the show itself, which (as pictured above) shrunk to a non-audio presentation in the bottom right hand corner of screens.

Was that enough? Yeah, I think it was. Had a tornado actually touched down in a densely populated area, WFAA8 and its rivals obviously would have cut the cords with their respective high-powered network programs. Does anyone really doubt that?

CBS11 should be commended for what it did. But it also had by far the easiest path to travel while Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8 had to deal with the most popular shows on their networks. There's no perfect solution. But let's get real about this stuff instead of putting a halo on CBS11 for its decision to make weather a priority over a batch of reruns.

Scott Sams lands anew -- at Dallas-based KRLD radio

Former CBS11 early morning co-anchor Scott Sams will be keeping roughly the same hours with his new job at Dallas-based KRLD-AM (1080) radio.

Sams will be joining incumbent anchors Mike Rogers and Alice Rios on weekdays from 5 to 10 a.m., beginning June 1st. A station memo says that Sams "brings a wealth of news experience to morning drive as we continue building and refining our 'All News, All Day brand.' "

Sams worked the early morning shift at CBS11 for four years until the station decided not to renew his contract in March. He earlier spent nearly 20 years at rival station WFAA8, and joined CBS11 from KTEN-TV in Sherman, TX. CBS11 hasn't yet named a replacement for Sams. Both KRLD and CBS11 are part of the CBS corporate cluster, so Sams hasn't strayed all that far from the mothership.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., May 23) -- miracle Mavs win has big finishing kick in numbers, too

A self-effacing Dirk at post-midnight press session. Photo: Ed Bark

A big surge in the last half-hour, both by the Dallas Mavericks and in the Nielsen ratings, made Monday night's Game 4 the biggest audience grabber to date in the Western Conference championship series.

Emerging from six feet under, Dallas dealt a grave blow to the young gun Oklahoma City Thunder by overcoming a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter before winning 112-105 in overtime. D-FW viewers flocked to their home screens for the big late night finish of a game that ran from 8:07 to 11:08 p.m. on ESPN. It averaged 824,158 D-FW viewers, surpassing the Game 1 high of 803,381. A peak audience of 1,073,484 viewers for the final minutes also beat Game 1's high point of 1,018,078 viewers.

Advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds made up well over half the audience. An average of 477,137 viewers in that age range watched the entire game, with a peak crowd of 654,829. In an industry built on "demographic" pulling power, those are absolutely killer numbers for both ESPN and the NBA.

Monday night's other erstwhile big attraction, the season's final Dancing with the Stars performance show, drew a comparatively paltry 491,725 viewers from 7 to 8 p.m. Well less than half the audience -- 141,496 viewers -- was of the 18-to-49 persuasion.

Meanwhile at 4 p.m., the three-part start of Oprah Winfrey's last big push for herself -- Oprah's Farewell Surprise Spectacular -- commanded the time slot with 228,548 total viewers and 65,812 in the 18-to-49 demographic.

ABC's two-hour season premiere of The Bachelorette, which will slog on through the summer, fell off in its 9 p.m. hour to run third in total viewers behind Fox4's front-running local newscast and the CBS special Clash of the Commercials: USA vs. the World. But Bachelorette swept its two hours with 18-to-49-year-olds.

In local news derby results, competition from the Mavs-Thunder game again depleted the crowds for 10 p.m. local newscasts. WFAA8 won in total viewers with just 180,068 while tying CBS11 for first place among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

Fox4 had yet another big day at 6 a.m., breezing to twin wins over arch rival NBC5.

Buoyed by the Oprah lead-in, WFAA8's 5 p.m. edition uncommonly had the station's biggest overall newscast audience of the day with 263,177 viewers. But it had to settle for a first-place tie with Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 also won at 6 p.m. in total viewers while Fox4 nabbed the 25-to-54 gold.

Invasion of the game snatchers, with the Mavs returning from six feet under

Dirk sinks one of his unstoppables in showdown at the OKC corral. Photo: Ed Bark

Holy buckin' bronco balls -- and other thoughts on the Dallas Mavericks' incredible from-beyond-the-grave win at Oklahoma City Monday night.

***First off, let's recall the Jack Buck call after the Los Angeles Dodgers' limping Kirk Gibson hit a two-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Oakland A's and unhittable closer Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. "I don't believe what I just saw!" he exclaimed. Likewise.

***The Thunder led by 15 points on their home floor with just under 5 minutes to play. Dallas had been beaten to the ball all night long by the Thunder kids. Just about everyone on the planet would have to admit they'd buried the Mavs in a pine box and made this series even at 2-2. And then came the most miraculous, improbable comeback in the team's star-crossed history. But to the great credit of the Thunder fans, they were still chanting "OKC!" during the overtime period after Dallas had sealed a believe-it-or-not 112-105 victory.

***Substitute point guard J.J. Barea obviously can be a spark plug capable of offensive explosions, as he showed in Game 1. But he's still guilty at times of trying to do too much, going shot-happy when he's got Secretariat -- a k a Dirk Nowitzki -- looking for the ball. That's what happened Monday night, with Barea all but ignoring Nowitzki until coach Rick Carlisle finally pulled him for good and deployed Jason Kidd. Here's a guy who knows how to find Dirk -- and vice-versa. That was the difference-maker in the 4th quarter, with Nowitzki sending ESPN's play-by-play trio into spasms of superlatives as he made one clutch shot after another. And then in OT, a double-teamed Dirk improvisationally found Kidd in the corner for a 3-pointer that sealed the deal. On this night at least, Barea was a liability who helped put Dallas in a deep hole. Kidd and Nowitzki then combined to shovel them out.

***Still, Nowitzki had to make two free throws with about 6 seconds left just to tie the game. After he made the first, OKC tried to freeze him by sending a couple of kids out to mop up alleged sweat on the floor near the Thunder bench. Amazingly, the referees allowed this to go on for a seeming eternity while your friendly content provider cried foul. It shouldn't have been allowed to happen. And if there's a next time on either team's part, a technical foul should be called. Nowitzki calmly made the second shot anyway under immense pressure. But had he missed, we'd all be mopping the floor with today's post mortems.

***ESPN/ABC head play-by-play guy Mike Breen is at the top of his game. Even his "Puts it in!" calls are starting to rival Marv Albert's "From downtown!" He's also a very knowledgeable voice of sanity whenever Jeff Van Gundy or Mark Jackson go bonkers.

***Courtside reporter Doris Burke has a tough job. The coaches really don't want to be bothered between quarters, but the NBA mandates it. And most of the players would rather be in their celebratory locker rooms instead of in her company for the obligatory star-of-the-game interview. So Burke in fact is better than some, although her blunt, staccato style of questioning is increasingly ripe for parody.

It goes something like this: "Our Jeff Van Gundy said you were the best German import since the potato pancake. How do you respond?"

Or: "Your team just gave up 113 points in the first quarter. Why?"

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Dallas. It's going to be bedlam.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., May 20-22) -- Mavs re-take command against OKC, but numbers droop anew

The Matrix led the Mavs' Saturday night victory parade. Photo: Ed Bark

Measurements of sports bar audiences are highly imprecise at best, which might account for some of the shortfall for the Dallas Mavericks' Saturday night playoff win at Oklahoma City.

Still, you'd think that in-home viewing also would tick upward for Game 3 of the Western Conference championship series. But it didn't. The Mavs' defensive minded win on ESPN (8:07 to 10:45 p.m.) averaged 727,199 D-FW viewers, down from 741,050 for Game 2 and 803,381 for Game 1.

Game 3 of Mavs-OKC, in which Dallas took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, also fell off with motherlode 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 417,906 in this advertiser-coveted age range. Game 2 averaged 434,359 and Game 1 had 450,812.

The game was still easily the weekend's most-watched TV attraction while also achieving a moral victory. Its peak overall audience of 983,449 for the final 15-minute increment topped Game 2's 941,895. Monday night's Game 4, with a scheduled 8 p.m. start time, will face off against ABC's two-hour season premiere of The Bachelorette. That could siphon off some potential viewers (but not many males) before the 10 p.m. local newscasts again take a hit from the Mavs' late night finish.

Also on Saturday, NBC's season finale of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Justin Timberlake with heavy involvement from Lady Gaga, scored a nice-sized 228,548 total viewers to outdraw all prime-time programming other than Mavs-Thunder. But the early Saturday evening running of the Preakness on NBC galloped to an even bigger audience of 318,582. That's a surprisingly big crowd after just 207,771 viewers watched NBC's Kentucky Derby telecast two weeks earlier.

The struggling Texas Rangers' 2-0 loss at Philadelphia to former ace Cliff Lee attracted 152,365 viewers in prime-time Saturday on Fox.

Sunday's prime-time Nielsens were paced by the CBS movie Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost, which had an imposing 394,765 total viewers to outdraw both the Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls playoff game on TNT (332,434 viewers) and ABC's three-hour dollop of the Billboard Music Awards (283,954). But the Tom Selleck franchise expectedly came up mostly empty with 18-to-49-year-olds, where it trailed both Heat-Bulls and the competing attractions on ABC, NBC and Fox/Fox4.

Friday marked the end of Mary Hart's 29-year-reign as co-host of the syndicated Entertainment Tonight. Few cared. ET had just 110,811 total viewers locally on WFAA8, barely half the crowd for CBS11's competing Wheel of Fortune (214,697 viewers). Hart's farewell, which she handled classily without getting too overwrought, also ran behind the competing rag mag Access Hollywood (124,663 viewers) on Fox4. ET likewise placed third with 18-to-49-year-olds, with Access Hollywood edging Wheel in that demographic.

In Friday's local news derby results, NBC5 edged both WFAA8 and CBS11 for first place in the 10 p.m. total viewers measurement. But Fox4 was tops with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

Fox4 cruised once again with twin wins at 6 a.m. while WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. competitions. At 5 p.m., NBC5 and WFAA8 tied for the lead in total viewers, with the Peacock running first outright with 25-to-54-year-olds.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., May 19) -- Mavs fall a bit short in ratings, on court

Game 2 of the Dallas Mavericks-Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals towered over all other Thursday night attractions while suffering some Nielsen seepage from Tuesday's opener.

The Thunder's 106-100 victory averaged 741,050 D-FW viewers on ESPN, with a peak crowd of 941,895 between 10 and 10:15 p.m., when competing late night local newscasts took another May "sweeps" beating. Game 1 drew 803,381 viewers, peaking at 1,018,078.

Game 2 also fell a little shy with advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging 434,359 viewers in this key demographic compared to Game 1's 450,812.

Those are still humongous numbers, with Fox's American Idol results show (it'll be an all-teen Final 2 of Scott McCreery/Lauren Alaina) running a pretty distant second-best with 616,387 total viewers and 218,253 in the 18-to-49 age range. Luckily for Idol, it was over before the Mavs game began at 8:07 p.m. and ended at 10:44 p.m.

NBC's guest star-studded season finale of The Office drew 159,291 total viewers to finish fourth in that measurement in the 8 p.m. hour. But it improved to second place among 18-to-49-year-olds, trailing only ABC's Grey's Anatomy season-ender in the broadcast network universe.

CBS' two-hour season finale of The Mentalist had the most total viewers (other than the Mavs) from 8 to 10 p.m., drawing 346,285.

Early on CBS, Katie Couric's little-heralded sign-off after five years of anchoring the CBS Evening News tied ABC's World News for second at 5:30 p.m. with 131,588 total viewers. Both of them were edged by Fox4's local newscast, which had 138,514 viewers. But Couric bombed with 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming), running sixth behind Fox4's news, World News, CW33's Family Guy repeat, the NBC Nightly News and MY27's rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond

In Thursday's four-way local news derby races, CBS11 took the top spots at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

Fox4 again did likewise at 6 a.m. while also winning at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds and tying for first in total viewers with WFAA8 and CBS11.

At 5 p.m. CBS11 won outright in total viewers; the 25-to-54 golds were shared by Fox4 and WFAA8.

Bell tolls on further filming in Dallas of ABC's Good Christian Belles

There'll be a cross to bear -- and maybe hell to pay -- when Good Christian Belles makes its midseason prime-time debut. ABC photo

Co-star Kristin Chenoweth first said it during a Monday morning interview on Fox News Channel. And on Wednesday, Dallas Film Commission head Janis Burklund made it official at this end.

"I have been told the Good Christian Belles series will shoot in Los Angeles," she told unclebarky.com via email. "We always knew this one would be more difficult to keep here given its large cast and that it will be heavily shot on interior sets."

Actually, that advances the ball a bit. Chenoweth told Fox & Friends that the series would continue filming in either Los Angeles or New York after its pilot episode was shot earlier this spring in Dallas. Adapted from the novel Good Christian Bitches, the melodrama was officially picked up Tuesday by ABC, which also announced that it likely wouldn't premiere until sometime in spring 2012.

Chenoweth, Leslie Bibb and Annie Potts are among the stars in a serial soaper about a former high school "mean girl" whose scandal-rocked divorce sends her packing to her hometown of Dallas. Her former high school classmates are now church-going bitches, er, belles, some with festering scores to settle and further gossip to spread.

Burklund said there's a chance that Good Christian Belles might occasionally return to Dallas for brief exterior filming. But that's "likely very dependent on their budget," she said. "It's unfortunate. We'd like to have had them. The show and ABC Studio executives all said they had a great experience here, the crew was great, the dailies looked great and there was nothing we could do to change the outcome. I was told it was simply about key individuals (in the cast) that wanted to stay at home and in some cases have children."

The Dallas Film Commission remains determined, though, to not let the big fish get away. That would be the possible TNT remake of Dallas, which hasn't been officially green-lighted as a series yet but just completed location shooting in North Texas on a pilot that included Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy reprising their old characters of J.R., Sue Ellen and Bobby Ewing.

TNT's "upfront" announcement to advertisers Wednesday of new and returning programming for the 2011-'12 TV season made no mention at all of Dallas.

Burklund said she's gotten questions about that omission, but noted that the Dallas pilot was shot with an eye toward the 2012-'13 season, "so I wouldn't have expected it to have been mentioned. I believe we'll know before too long about a series pickup, though. I can assure you Dallas isn't out of it (for further location filming) and we are still working hard to ensure it stays here."

In the meantime, here's ABC's trailer for Good Christian Belles, which includes a scene in which Bibb's incoming Amanda Vaughn tells Potts' in-the-know Gigi Stopper, "I can't believe all the hostility. Was I that bad back then?"

"Oh darlin', you were a bitch with teeth," Gigi assures her. Emmys aren't likely, but ABC entertainment president Paul Lee assured TV writers Tuesday that Good Christian Belles is "gloriously funny."

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., May 17) -- massive Mavs numbers for opening Western Conf. finals win

An alternate universe version of Mavs Man made the pre-game festivities more festive before Mavs-Thunder rolled. Photo: Ed Bark

ESPN pretty much had the only game in town Tuesday night -- namely the Dallas Mavericks' opening game Western Conference Finals home win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Led by Dirk Nowitzki's 48 points and record-setting 24-out-of-24 free throws, Mavs-Thunder soared past the three-quarter million mark in averaging 803,381 D-FW viewers.

A peak crowd of 1,018,078 watched the final 15-minute increment of the game, which stretched to 10:53 p.m. thanks to referee Joey Crawford's penchant for whistle-blowing and in a sense, tooting his own horn. But it's hard to complain when Nowitzki goes to the foul line more often than Lady Gaga changes her look.

Mavs-Thunder also harvested a bumper crop of advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds, with an overall average of 450,812 viewers in this key age range. Over on Fox Sports Southwest, the struggling, injury-riddled Texas Rangers barely came up for air during their road loss to the White Sox, averaging just 76,183 total viewers with 32,906 within the 18-to-49 motherlode.

The broadcast arena still did some good business Tuesday night, with CBS' NCIS getting its episode safely out of the way before the Mavericks tipped off at 8:09 p.m. NCIS drew Tuesday's biggest non-sports audience, averaging 415,542 total viewers. CBS also rode to time slot wins -- against ABC, Fox and NBC programming -- with NCIS: Los Angeles (353,211 viewers) and the season finale of The Good Wife (283,954 viewers).

ABC's Dancing with the Stars results show slumped to second place at 8 p.m., coming up short of NCIS: L.A. with 325,508 viewers.

NBC's 9 p.m. hour of its late season hot commodity, The Voice, likewise stumbled a bit by running third in total viewers behind both Good Wife and ABC's Body of Proof. But Voice again won its time slot among 18-to-49-year-olds, even though many of them by that time had abdicated to the Mavs-Thunder game. Dancing took the 8 p.m. hour in the 18-to-49 demographic, narrowly outdrawing the second hour of NBC's The Biggest Loser.

The 10 p.m. local newscast ratings were depressed -- and station managers might have been, too -- by competition from the closing stages of the Mavs game. It's the heart of the May "sweeps" after all, and you'd like viewers to sit up and take a little more notice of all those extra-special reports.

Nevertheless, WFAA had narrow wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. With six weekdays to go in the sweeps, both 10 p.m. races are still way too close to call.

Fox4 has no such worries at 6 a.m. It again rang up twin wins and is now cruising toward comfy sweeps victories in both measurements, particularly among 25-to-54-year-olds.

WFAA8 and CBS11 tied for first place in total viewers at 6 p.m., with WFAA8 alone atop the 5 p.m. Nielsens. But Fox4 again logged big wins at both early evening hours in the 25-to-54 demographic. It has those sweeps wins locked up, too, making Fox4 the market's demographic darlin' everywhere except at 10 p.m.

Mavs-Thunder showcases the post-season's ultimate generational divide

Jason Terry exults after Game 4 blowout of Lakers. Photo: Ed Bark

It's going to be a battle of the ages.

The young guns from Oklahoma City vs. the Winchester bolt action rifles of Dallas.

Justin Bieber against Tony Bennett.

Megan Fox taking on Betty White.

The Dougie pitted against the Polka.

The trio from The Hangover battling to out-joke The Three Stooges.

Anyway you look at it, the Dallas Mavericks are old school father figures to the Oklahoma City Thunder's off-to-college texters.

The Thunder's two big scorers are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, both 22. The Mavericks counter with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, respectively 32 and 33.

Only two of OKC's players are 30 years of age or older, topped by team Methuselah Nazr Mohammed, 33.

The Mavericks have eight players with 30th birthdays in their pasts, topped by Jason (hardly a kid) Kidd, 38.

That's a 16-year-disparity in point guards, with Kidd easily old enough to have babysat Westbrook. And changed his diapers.

So are all these young pups going to wear out the old pops? Don't count on it. Experience can be a great equalizer while youth is often wasted on the young. And these are prime times for second, third and fourth acts, with Betty White, Regis Philbin, Clint Eastwood and Steven Tyler all embracing renewed high times instead of misty water-colored memories. Hell, Fox is even bringing back The Flintstones as a new weekly series.

Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry, Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovich and Tyson Chandler are among the Mavericks who realize that if they don't get a championship ring now, it may never happen for them. The OKC kids have lots more time to get theirs.

Who among us in Dallas doesn't especially want to see Dirk with a big, broad grin on his face after years of being maligned as a star player with too many deficiencies? Now he's got a tiger in his tank and a blaze in his eyes. He wants it, and we need for him to have that one shining moment atop the NBA heap.

The old Mavericks may have to shake off a little lumbago from those nine days on the beach while the young Thunder battled the Memphis Grizzlies for a full seven games before taking them out Sunday afternoon. But they otherwise should be good to go Tuesday night before a home crowd that needs to be wild 'n' crazy.

So I think the still spry Mavs will have just enough to give Dirk and Jet Terry their second trip to the NBA Finals with a new and savvier supporting cast surrounding them. But they'll need each and every cog for the duration of this series. Any injuries to the core rotation of nine players could mean too many compensatory minutes on-court for one or more of the able-bodied survivors. That's when fatigue becomes a factor, and age can be an enemy.

Otherwise the old folks at home should be able to use that extra game in friendly American Airlines Center to their advantage. Let's show these kids a few things -- and then send them home with a good spanking.

ABC's Good Christian Bitches gets new name -- and apparently a new out-of-Dallas venue

Kristin Chenoweth in earlier guest shot on Glee. Fox photo

ABC has picked up Good Christian Belles for next season after dropping the previous B-word (Bitches) from its working title during filming of the pilot episode in Dallas.

But co-star Kristin Chenoweth said on Monday morning's edition of Fox & Friends that the show will go on elsewhere. "We shot the pilot in Dallas. We'll shoot it (the series) in New York or L.A.," she said on one of her favorite TV venues.

ABC officially announces its new 2011-12 plans on Tuesday morning, when a night and time for Good Christian Belles will be disclosed.

As previously posted, the melodrama is adapted from the book by Kim Gatlin, with Leslie Bibb and Annie Potts also in the cast assembled by ABC.

Bibb plays central character Amanda Vaughn, a scandal-rocked divorced mother of two who returns to her Dallas hometown and becomes the target of nasty back-biting by former Christian schoolmates. Gatlin's official GCB website puts it this way: "In the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud, Amanda turns to those who love her and the faith she's always known. Will the Good Christian Bitches get the best of her, or will everyone see that these GCBs are as counterfeit as their travel jewelry?"

Dallas Film Commission head Janis Burklund could not immediately be reached for comment on Chenoweth's revelation that GCB won't be making Dallas its home base. The city still hopes to land TNT's re-do of Dallas on a permanent basis if the network commits to a series. The pilot was filmed in North Texas this month, with original cast members Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy back in harness along with a younger generation of actors playing their various offspring.

Last year at this time, Dallas was flush with the news that NBC's Chase and Fox's The Good Guys and Lone Star all would be filming in the Dallas area after making their networks' fall lineups. But they were canceled in fairly short order, as was ABC's new Austin-made drama series, My Generation.

Double feature on WFAA8

WFAA8 reporters Janet St. James and David Schechter

Really fine feature stories can be few and far between on D-FW's local newscasts.

So it was heartening to find two of them at once, within a few minutes of each other, on Thursday's 10 p.m. WFAA8 newscast.

Reporters Janet St. James and David Schechter respectively traveled to Houston and Galveston for their pieces.

St. James got back in touch with a 43-year-old mother who suffered the amputation of all four limbs after delivering her third child at Parkland hospital in February of last year. A rare flesh-eating strep infection made those surgeries necessary. Katy Hayes, her husband and their three children now live in the Houston area. Her gumption and her struggles were both inspiring and heartbreaking.

Schechter traveled to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where "guinea pigs" in a NASA experiment simulate life aboard a spacecraft by spending as many as 60 days in a horizontal position, most of the time in bed. He may have gone a bit over the top near the top of the story by exclaiming, "What! The space program! You'd think he'd care more about the right fluff -- of his pillow." But this also proved to be a fascinating story.

The proof is in the viewing, though. Below are videos of both stories. See if you agree that they were well worth your time.

CW33 takes sports department back up to 1 by adding former "Ticket" radio dude Chase Williams

After shaving its sports department down to zero, Dallas-based CW33 will begin rebuilding it from scratch with the addition of Grand Prairie native Chase Williams.

CW33 news director David Duitch on Wednesday confirmed the hiring of Williams, who has been doing sports at Fox 34 in Lubbock (KJTV-TV) since August of 2009 and worked at D-FW's KTCK "The Ticket" (1310 AM) from 2007-'09 before heading to Red Raider land. He's a class of 2001 graduate of South Grand Prairie High School who went on to major in journalism and mass communication at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

On his twitter page, where he dubs himself "Sports Donkey," Williams describes himself as "just a guy who loves sports and likes to talk about it." He also cites his current occupation as a sports anchor at Fox 34, but adds that he's "moving to the big time this summer."

His tweets can be sharp. As in: "Suck it LA...and everyone there I used to be associated with."

And: "This showing by the Lakers and Bynum is almost as bad as the story I just heard from my Hooters waitress."

And: "Rangers suck Mavs are awesome."

Williams' Fox 34 bio says he became hooked on sports broadcasting after spending some time with longtime Fox4 sports anchor Mike Doocy for a 7th grade career research project. While in college he lettered for four years in men's soccer and was sports editor for the Mary Hardin-Baylor newspaper, The Bells.

New wheels for former CW33 sports anchor-reporter Dave Crome

Dave Crome in latest Facebook photo

Dave Crome has quickly re-started his engine.

The former longtime CW33 sports anchor-reporter, dropped by the Dallas-based station last month, says on his Facebook page that he'll be wheeling over to the Texas Motor Speedway on Monday of next week to "start my new position in the media relations department."

His Facebook well-wishers quickly piled up, with former CW33 on-air colleagues Rebecca Miller, Bob Goosmann, Dawn Tongish, Tom Crespo and Walt Maciborski among those offering congratulations.

Maciborski, currently CW33's primary news anchor along with Amanda Salinas, enthused, "AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. We are celebrating the news. That is the power of prayer my brotha."

Crome worked at CW33 from 1998 until late April of this year. He was the Tribune-owned station's last full- or part-time sports anchor-reporter.

Veteran investigator Kimberly King joining NBC5

NBC5, without a full-time investigative reporter for at least the past decade, will soon have one.

The Fort Worth-based station has hired Kimberly King, a Southern Methodist University graduate who's currently on the staff of Fox 59 (WXIN-TV) in Indianapolis.

The station describes her as "unflappable and dogged when it comes to stories that matter." King will be a consumer/investigative reporter when she joins NBC5 on June 27th, the station says.

She has won a Murrow Award among others during her time at Fox 59, which dates at least as far back as the 2000 firing of Bobby Knight as Indiana University basketball coach, which King covered.

King also has filled in at times as a weekend meteorologist at Fox 59, and is accredited by the National Weather Association and American Meteorological Society.

NBC5 currently has five meteorologists on its staff, so King likely won't be needed in that capacity.

ALSO OF NOTE: Persistent rumors are floating that NBC5 is considering relocating from the only home it has had since signing on in 1948 as WBAP-TV. Its main building has always been in Fort Worth, in a tucked away location at 3900 Barnett St.

Some sources contend that NBC Universal-owned NBC5, whose modern-day call letters are KXAS, is considering a move to a location near American Airlines corporate headquarters in Fort Worth (4333 Amon Carter Blvd.) Others have said there even could be a move out of Cowtown to somewhere in Dallas, although that would be a surprising seismic shift as well as a severe jolt to the station's longstanding image as Fort Worth's only major homegrown TV station. NBC5 currently maintains a small satellite office in Dallas.

NBC5 has declined to comment, other than to note that the station periodically evaluates its options in terms of whether a move of its main offices would be advisable. One of those periods is currently in progress, according to numerous sources.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., May 6-8) -- Lakers number is up, Mavs' numbers are w-a-a-a-y up

Stripped bare: The Lakers' Andrew Bynum, escorted by fellow punk Ron Artest, loses his shirt after being ejected for cheap shot, late-game foul against a defenseless, airborne J.J. Barea. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' weekend twin killing of the Los Angeles Lakers ran up the D-FW ratings score, first on ESPN and then on ABC.

The closely contested 98-92 Friday night home win, which ran from 8:41 to 11:13 p.m. on ESPN, averaged 644,090 viewers with a peak crowd of 824,158 for the final 15 minutes.

Sunday afternoon's 122-86 blowout on ABC, which completed a shocking 4-game Mavs' sweep of the defending NBA champs, averaged 699,496 viewers. It drew a peak audience of close to one million -- 962,672 viewers -- for the celebratory closing quarter-hour.

ABC devoted a clear majority of its play-by-play commentary to the Lakers' demise and coach Phil Jackson's final game rather than the Dallas post-season rebirth. That's understandable to a point, but it probably didn't bear repeating time and time again. Could've been worse, though. Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown did this game after the increasingly aggravating trio of Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy handled Friday's Game 3.

The sparring between Jackson and Van Gundy isn't holding up nearly as well as the jawing between TNT's Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. But I would like to have heard the Jackson/Van Gundy take on Lakers forward Andrew Bynum after he very purposefully aimed an elbow at an airborne J.J. Barea as the Mavericks' guard drove to the basket in the fourth quarter. Bynum was immediately ejected, and Jackson/Van Gundy would have been merciless in shredding him. Tirico/Brown were very pointed, too, but Jackson/Van Gundy would have administered a savory, double-strength Simon Cowell-like lashing. Otherwise they weren't missed.

Meanwhile, on what was supposed to be another big sports front, the Texas Rangers-New York Yankees series in Arlington never stood a chance. Nor did it help that the slumping, injury-ridden Rangers lost both the Friday and Sunday matchups while competing directly against Mavs-Lakers for portions of those games.

Friday night's defeat on TXA21 drew just 138,514 viewers. The Sunday Rangers loss on Fox Sports Southwest averaged 180,068 viewers.

On another sports front, Saturday's running of the Kentucky Derby on NBC -- preceded by a 25-hour buildup (well, not quite) -- drew a rather smallish 207,771 viewers for the actual race between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m.

Let's segue back to Sunday, where 60 Minutes' latest exclusive interview with President Obama led all prime-time programming in total viewers with 290,879. But Fox's new 8 p.m. episode of Family Guy had the night's biggest haul of advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-old viewers.

In Friday's local news derby results, CBS11 swept the 10 p.m. competitions with wins in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. Its latenight newscast featured a profile of Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes, the longtime former WFAA8 children's show host.

The bosses at WFAA8 are chapped about CBS11 using their former stars as ratings "sweeps" lures, which also was the case in February when ex-WFAA8 mainstays Tracy Rowlett and Troy Dungan reunited on CBS11 while the ratings meter nodded approvingly.

Still, there was nothing to stop WFAA8 from welcoming all three of them back. Except that Rowlett has been relegated to non-person status at WFAA8 since 1999, when he joined the CBS11 news department as its lead anchor. Plus, Dungan and WFAA8 had a falling out -- or maybe just a misunderstanding -- over his continued appearances on the Santa's Helpers Christmas drive after he retired as the station's longtime weathercaster. Dungan then probably severed his ties with WFAA8 irreparably after saying during February's profile that CBS11's Larry Mowry is now his favorite temperature taker. That pointedly excluded the man he helped to groom as his successor, WFAA8's Pete Delkus.

CBS11 could go to the WFAA8 well again if it chooses by hooking up with trailblazing former WFAA8 anchor Iola Johnson, who also went on to work briefly at CBS11. Verne Lundquist of CBS Sports, who was Dale Hansen's predecessor at WFAA8 as the station's lead sports anchor, likewise would make for a nice stroll down memory lane. Although Hansen got to him first a while back with a sit-down that included the obligatory reference to Lundquist's old Bowling for Dollars show on WFAA8. Hey, it never gets old.

Let's see, who else. John Criswell, maybe? He became famous for Wednesday's Child at WFAA8 before journeying over to Fox4, which was then a CBS affiliate. And if other rival stations are fair game, former longtime NBC5 sports anchor Scott Murray is ever-available and with a ready-made storyline, too. He's been talking about overcoming cancer in a commercial for a North Texas hospital. There's indomitable Bobbie Wygant, too. She's always always willing to spin a few yarns about all the show biz biggies she's interviewed during a career that dates to the dawning of time at KXAS-TV.

OK, let's wind this up with the other news derby results.

Fox4 again ran the table at 6 a.m. while also scoring in the early evening. It tied for first in total viewers at 5 p.m. with CBS11 and won outright at that hour in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 also tied WFAA8 for the top spot at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds while CBS11 had the gold to itself in total viewers.

NBC5 adding Amanda Guerra to reporting staff

Fort Worth-based NBC5 is adding Dallas-raised Amanda Guerra as a reporter. She'll be arriving from Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV after nearly three-and-a-half years at that station as a general assignments reporter.

Guerra, a former student at Dallas' Ursuline Academy and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, also has interned for CBS' longstanding Sunday Morning program. She arrived at ABC affiliate KOCO after anchoring, reporting and producing for the student newscast OU Nightly.

According to her Twitter page, Guerra was in Dallas Sunday afternoon to watch the Dallas Mavericks sweep the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center. On her Facebook page, she exuberantly announced her new job at NBC5 and added, "So Central Market, Cafe Brazil and Texas Rangers . . . Watch out! 'Cause I'm coming back!"

She's scheduled to start at NBC5 on June 13th.

Here's video of Guerra doing an OU Nightly news brief in November 2006.

Sweet? Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes will be the latest former WFAA8 star to be profiled on CBS11

CBS11 is going to the WFAA8 vault again for another ratings "sweeps" feature on one of its arch rival's former stars.

Friday's 10 p.m. (May 6th) newscast on the D-FW station will include an interview with Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes, WFAA8's longtime children's show maestro. During the February "sweeps," CBS11 offered a two-part reunion/reprise of anchor Tracy Rowlett and weathercaster Troy Dungan, both of whom earlier had generation-spanning careers at WFAA8.

Dungan said that his new favorite TV weatherman is CBS11's Larry Mowry. That rubbed a number of people raw at WFAA8, but no one will comment on the record.

Lori Conrad, the station's director of communications, confirmed that Haynes, now 83, will be part of the CBS11 family for one night at least.

"Very nice interview -- in full Mr. Peppermint regalia I might add," she said via email. "Complete suit, hat and cane. Viewers will find out where he got the idea for his signature suit and where his career took him after Peppermint Place. And on a very different note, hear what he did after he heard the shots that killed President Kennedy. He was downtown that day."

As readily available clips on youtube show, Haynes rushed to WFAA8 studios to report live in tandem with the station's program director at that time, Jay Watson.

Haynes also had a gainful career as an actor during his years as Mr. Peppermint. He played a wide variety of small parts in both feature films and made-for-TV movies, with credits ranging from a minister role in TV's Peyton Place: The Next Generation to the part of Deputy Jack Driscoll in Places In the Heart, which won Sally Field her second best actress Oscar.

Haynes played Mr. Peppermint from 1961-'69 and then again from 1975-'96. He's still hanging in there, with a 2009 credit as "Stringerman" in the movie Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach, which co-starred Seann William Scott (Steve Stifler in the American Pie movies) and Randy Quaid.

There's only one way to say Mayfest -- and this isn't one of 'em

Please allow me to be the latest to post this already classic Alexa Conomos blooper tied to Fort Worth's annual Mayfest. WFAA8's early morning Daybreak traffic reporter turned out to be a gas, gas, gas earlier this week. New co-anchor Ron Corning then added an apt postscript.
Ed Bark

Kunkle goes au naturel in a mayoral campaign stripped of any TV ads by the former Dallas police chief

Mayoral candidates Ron Natinsky, Mike Rawlings, David Kunkle.

This is the fifth-largest media market in the country. So can you get elected mayor of Dallas without airing a single television commercial?

Former Dallas police chief David Kunkle hasn't yet spent a nickel on TV ads and has no plans to do so before the May 14th election, his campaign confirms.

In contrast, opponent Mike Rawlings is all over the air waves. His latest TV spot is an endorsement from canonized former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who says at the end, "He's a great leader we can trust."

Even Ron Natinsky, the longshot of the three principal candidates, has ponied up some TV money in hopes of upping his name recognition . "I started my first business selling eight-track tapes," he said, brandishing a couple of them in a commercial that began running last month. The kicker: "I'm not about to raise taxes. That's just bad for business."

Kunkle is betting that his name recognition already is off the charts after six years of constant TV exposure as Dallas' top cop. He has no shortage of yard signs throughout the city, which some might see as something of a refreshing throwback to the way candidates used to run before TV stations began collecting big-time money from campaign image-makers.

Still, this seems like a very risky game plan on Kunkle's part. Prospective voters are used to seeing spots run. And without any at all, Kunkle might be perceived as throwing in the towel while Rawlings in particular is running harder than a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred.

This isn't about the quality of any candidates' ads. It's more about the necessities required to survive in the electronic age. Rawlings clearly needed to build up his name recognition in this race. And he definitely appears to have done so while Kunkle basically is saying, "Hey, you already know me and love me."

Flying the flag is important, too, though. Shouldn't Kunkle at least be reminding TV viewers that he stood tall and received mostly very favorable reviews for his performance as Dallas police chief? As the commercials for Rawlings pile up, might the stock be dropping for Kunkle, who hasn't been the city's main man in blue for just over a year now? Is a candidate running a "real" campaign if he or she isn't fronting a TV commercial or two?

There will be a run-off after the May 14th election if none of the candidates gets at least 50 percent of the vote. And if Kunkle survives as one of the two finalists, he might want to re-evaluate his current tack of, in a sense, being above any need to advertise himself on television.

Whatever their strategies, all of the candidates are dreaming if they think that local TV news coverage of their campaigns will be enough to put them further on the map. The best any of them can realistically hope for is perhaps a five-to-10-second "sound bite" from a candidate forum and maybe one "in-depth" two-minute look at their campaigns in general.

In that sense, the electronic age is of no use to Kunkle, Rawlings or Natinsky, because local TV stations mostly consider their activities to be boring. This is particularly true in a May ratings "sweeps" period where CBS11's late night newscast recently spotlighted the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders' exercise regimen while WFAA8 led its 10 p.m. edition with a story on "end-of-the-world" billboards cropping up in D-FW and elsewhere.

For the record, we're all supposedly going to die on May 21st, a week after the mayoral run-off election. So at least Kunkle will get a chance to see whether his total lack of commercial appeals dealt a death blow to his candidacy. On the other hand, maybe Rawlings is just throwing good money after bad. There's a story in there somewhere.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Wed., May 4) -- Mavs soar past half mil mark in outpointing everything (including Idol)

Little big man: J.J. Barea gets some post-midnight love on TNT. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' late-night spanking of the Lakers Wednesday on TNT easily amassed the biggest D-FW audience of their eight playoff games to date.

Running from 9:47 p.m. to 12:06 a.m, the 93-81 win averaged a whopping 637,164 viewers with a peak crowd of 706,421 between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m.

That bested Fox's American Idol performance show, which averaged 560,982 viewers in the 7 to 8:30 p.m. slot.

Mavs-Lakers ruled by a bigger margin with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, averaging a super-imposing 378,419 viewers in this key demographic compared to runner-up Idol's 263,248. That's a rout, with the Mavs' TV audience likely to swell past the 750,000 total viewer mark and perhaps even approach 1 million for Friday's earlier-starting Game 3 against the Lakers on ESPN.

That's not great news for the 10 p.m. local newscasts, whose ratings are being shrink-wrapped by competing Mavericks' playoff games in the heart of a May "sweeps" ratings race.

Among non-sports attractions, CBS' twin killing of Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior won the 8 to 10 p.m. slot in total viewers. Not so with 18-to-49-year-olds, though, where NBC's Law & Order: SVU won the 9 p.m. hour while Fox4's local newscast placed second. From 8 to 9 p.m., Idol and ABC's Modern Family ran one-two with 18-to-49-year-olds in the first half-hour before the second part of Criminal Minds held off ABC's second-place Cougar Town.

Fox4 had a big day demographically in Wednesday's local news derby, winning at 6 a.m. and at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations.

CBS11 claimed most of the total viewer spoils with first-place finishes at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Fox4 took the gold at 6 a.m., with WFAA8's recently re-cast Daybreak falling to fourth place in both of the early morning measurements.

New "DFW Nonstop" digital channel spreads the NBC5 brand with array of lifestyles/news programming and a signature 6:30 p.m. newscast anchored by Jane McGarry

NBC5's morning team and anchor Jane McGarry will be featured players on the new, 24-hour DFW Nonstop, a digital channel also available on major area cable systems. Photos from nbcdfw.com

NBC5 hopes to use its 5.2 digital channel in a big way with the launch of DFW Nonstop, a 24-hour local news and lifestyle network whose centerpiece will be a half-hour 6:30 p.m. Nonstop Nightly newscast helmed by veteran anchor Jane McGarry.

Details were released Thursday by NBC5 after the bugs were worked out during a quiet Wednesday, May 4th launch. The NBC5 initiative is also being replicated by Peacock stations in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. It's all part of a major effort by NBC Universal to spread the wings of its owned-and-operated stations.

McGarry, who will continue to co-anchor NBC5's 5 p.m. weekday newscasts, describes Nonstop Nightly as "smart, innovative journalism at a time when the way in which viewers collect news and information is changing . . . How often are you given the tools and people to help develop an entirely new half-hour of television news?" Her newscast will be competing with syndicated entertainment magazine shows on Fox4, NBC5 and WFAA8, and Wheel of Fortune on CBS11.

In the same publicity release, NBC5 vice president and news director Susan Tully says that "North Texas is full of important stories and colorful characters. DFW Nonstop is a great place to take a look into the issues and people who make this part of Texas unique."

NBC5 president and general manager Tom Ehlmann says the station is "committed to producing even more local programming," with DFW Nonstop being a "first for the marketplace."

The channel will be available to over-the-air viewers on existing digital channel 5.2, but also will have a wide cable presence. Among the systems carrying it are Charter (Ch. 105); Time Warner (Ch. 365); Verizon Fios (Ch. 460) and Grande Communications (Ch. 280).

Other locally produced programs on DFW Nonstop include:

***DFW Today, which will air from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The program offers highlights from that day's NBC5 early morning program, plus live weather and traffic updates. The primary anchors are the existing morning team of Deborah Ferguson, Scott Friedman, Jennifer Lopez, Tammy Dombeck and Samantha Davies.

***The Rundown (1 to 1:30 p.m. weekdays and repeated from 3 to 3:30 p.m.) is billed as a "non-traditional look at the news of the day," including "commentary with an engaging and creative edge." Ferguson and Friedman host, with an assist from "many other NBC5 reporters."

***Scene DFW (Mondays from 7:30 to 8 p.m.) intends to "keep viewers in the know from fashion trends to the best places to play." No hosts are named.

***Foodies DFW (7 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays) zooms in on "the heart and flavor of DFW." No hosts are named.

A variety of other non-locally produced lifestyle programs also will be on the menu, including Open House, Talk Stoop, 1st Look, Thread NY and 1st Look.

Dallas-based CW33 adds five on-air News Team reporters (for the most part without further elaboration)

Top row from left: Tommy Noel and Charles Bassett. Bottom row from left: Daniel Novick, LP Phillips and Doug Magditch. CW33 photos

Details are sketchy to say the least on all but one of the newcomers. But the "News Team" page on Dallas-based CW33's website has five on-air additions.

Here they are in alphabetical order, with the station's "Read more" information on them followed by our fleshed-out bios based on google searches.

Charles Bassett -- "Charles Bassett is a reporter for The 33 News." He joined Oklahoma City's CBS affiliate station, KWTV-TV ("News 9"), in March of 2005 as a weekend reporter and later became a weekend anchor as well. He worked at KWTV as recently as July of last year.

Doug Magditch -- "Doug Magditch is a backpack reporter for The 33 News, covering the lives and stories of Fort Worth." He worked for KSPR-TV, the ABC station in Springfield, Missouri, as recently as February of this year.

Tommy Noel -- The station has a War and Peace bio on him in comparison to the others. It says he's a native of Richardson and the station's "resident early riser" who "starts his day at 3 a.m. and is on-air providing news updates throughout the morning." His "first big TV break" was at KIDK-TV in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he toiled as the station's morning anchor, weathercaster, assignment editor and reporter.

Noel also has "made stops" in northern Spain, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alabama and New Mexico, where he worked with current CW33 co-anchor Amanda Salinas Albuquerque's KOAT-TV. He's a graduate of the University of New Mexico.

Daniel Novick -- "Daniel Novick is a backpack reporter for The 33 News." He also has been a general assignment reporter at KFOX-TV in El Paso and was an on-air intern at Austin's KTBC-TV while studying broadcast journalism at the University of Texas-Austin.

LP Phillips -- "LP Phillips is an assignments editor and a reporter for The 33 News." He previously was the "chief investigative reporter" at Dallas-based KRLD-AM radio (1080).

And now you know some of the rest of their stories.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., May 2) -- Mavs light up late night numbers with pulse-pounding win over Lakers

Whew. Kobe's last-second 3-pointer failed to fall. Photo: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' down-to-the-wire win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their playoff series made the late-night ratings sizzle for TNT.

Starting at 9:53 p.m. Monday and ending at 12:16 a.m. Tuesday, the comeback 96-94 victory averaged a big-time 450,171 D-FW viewers.

Only ABC's 7 to 9 p.m. performance edition of Dancing with the Stars lured a bigger crowd with 484,799 viewers. But Mavs-Lakers reigned with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, drawing 243,504 viewers in this age range compared to Dancing's 187,564.

ABC's Castle continued to flex at 9 p.m., handily beating CBS' Hawaii Five-0 in both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds, where the picturesque CBS cop drama fell to third place behind Fox4's competing local newscast.

The big lead-in audience from Castle helped WFAA8 to record its first 10 p.m. newscast wins on Day 3 of the May "sweeps." The station placed first in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming), with arch rival CBS11 second in both measurements.

Fox4 likewise ran the table at 6 a.m. golds, with WFAA8 vaulting to second place among 25-to-54-year-olds ahead of NBC5.

The 6 p.m. local news numbers basically were inoperative due to expanded 5:30 p.m. network newscast editions tied to the killing of Osama bin Laden. At 5 p.m., WFAA8 had the most total viewers while Fox4 won among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 puts a little frosting on the cake of otherwise secret Romo-Crawford wedding (updated)

Candace Crawford and Tony Romo were last seen on TV together singing carols on a CW33 Christmas special shortly before she resigned from the Dallas-based, Tribune-owned station. Photo: Ed Bark

Where, when and how they'll be married remains a closely guarded secret.

But the marriage of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and former CW33 sports reporter Candice Crawford is likely to be a pretty pricey affair. Take it from their wedding planner, Todd Fiscus, who recently spilled a little dish to CBS11.

The station cannily tied the story to last week's royal wedding of William and Kate, although interviewer Teresa Frosini (who also does traffic reports for CBS11) may have spread the frosting a little thick with her description of Romo and Crawford as "a North Texas prince and princess."

Fiscus has charged some princely sums in the past, though, telling Frosini that he's arranged "multiple events" that cost more than $2 million and one that topped out at $7.5 million. He's also no stranger to star quarterback nuptials after putting together the post-wedding party for New York Giants signal-caller Eli Manning.

The Romo-Crawford celebration will have "an almost effervescent feel to it," Fiscus said. "It's going to be very active and fun."

Because of the big 'n' brawny guest list, with many of Romo's teammates expected to attend, there will be plentiful "man food" plus "just incredible music," Fiscus said. He described Romo as "The Music Man" who's selected all of the tunes.

That's all he would say, at least during Frosini's on-camera piece. "What a fun job. I think I want to be an intern," she cooed before co-anchor Doug Dunbar added a "Way to go, 'Fro,' " postscript.

(TMZ reported Wednesday (May 4th) that the Romo-Crawford wedding will be on May 28th at Dallas' Arlington Hall in Lee Park. And The Dallas Observer subsequently displayed a wedding invitation from the parents of Antonio Ramiro Romo and Candice Loren Crawford. In an appearance on WFAA's Good Morning Texas Wednesday, Crawford declined to talk specifics.)

My heart's not too atwitter over the initial CBS11 report, but it's the sort of story that can get people talking. So no harm, no foul and so far no invite for unclebarky.com. Here's the video:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., April 29-May 1 -- Mayday for bin Laden means late night ratings boom

ABC, NBC and many others brought the startling news. Photos: Ed Bark

It's always risky to assume too much. But it seems relatively safe to assume that the great majority of American television viewers didn't mind the last portions of their Sunday night entertainment programs giving way to news that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed in his Pakistan lair by U.S. forces.

In D-FW, the ratings began ballooning at 9:45 p.m., when ABC, CBS and NBC respectively bailed out of new May "sweeps" episodes of Brothers & Sisters, CSI: Miami and The Celebrity Apprentice. Fox4, three-quarters of the way through its regular 9 p.m. newscast, began simulcasting the breaking news coverage from Fox News Channel.

Let's start with the total viewer numbers from 9:45 to 10 p.m. on those four stations plus CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

CBS11 -- 353,211
NBC5 -- 332,496
WFAA8 -- 304,731
Fox4 -- 263,177
FNC -- 186,994
CNN -- 117,737
MSNBC -- 48,480

President Obama sounded the official death knell for bin Laden with a 9-minute address to the nation that ran from 10:35 to 10:44 p.m. Since Nielsen Media Research measures in 15-minute increments, here are the D-FW total viewer numbers from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m.

NBC5 -- 436,319
WFAA8 -- 346,285
Fox4 -- 242,400
CBS11 -- 235,474
CNN -- 180,068
FNC -- 166,217
MSNBC -- 83,108

Fox4 then made the questionable decision to end its bin Laden coverage immediately following the president's speech. The station instead aired anchor Mike Doocy's regular Sports Sunday program, followed by the reliably sleazy TMZ. The NBC and CBS networks continued their bin Laden coverage until 11 p.m. before yielding to local newscasts. ABC went all the way to midnight, and WFAA8 continued with the network coverage for that entire hour before going to its local newscast.

Here are the D-FW total viewer numbers from 10:45 to 11 p.m., when only Fox4 was without bin Laden coverage.

NBC5 -- 401,691
WFAA8 -- 311,657
CBS11 -- 193,920
CNN -- 159,291
FNC -- 152,365
Fox4 -- 110,811
MSNBC -- 83,108

The bin Laden coverage from 11 p.m. to midnight on ABC/WFAA8 comfortably won its time period against local news/sports/entertainment offerings on Fox4,NBC5 and CBS11. The continuing coverage, anchored very capably by George Stephanopoulos, averaged 200,845 viewers in that hour; CNN led the cable news network brigade with 131,588 viewers. Stephanopoulos briefly chuckled, rather than snarled, when the mother of a firefighter who died in the 9-11 attacks told him she first heard the news of bin Laden's death from Geraldo Rivera on Fox News Channel. Oh well.

Earlier Sunday, ABC's big Round 2 NBA playoff matchup between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics drew a nice-sized 249,325 viewers to easily lead all daytime programming.

Moving to Friday's early morning hours, there was a little thing called the Royal Wedding that all of the broadcast and cable networks also gang-covered. We've already posted the available national ratings on the Network News & Reviews page. In D-FW, NBC's Today coverage had the most viewers, peaking at 214,697 between 6:45 and 7 a.m. ABC's Good Morning America ran second, with a peak viewership of 159,291 between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. CBS' The Early Show as usual finished a distant third, hobbling along with a peak crowd of 90,034 viewers between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m.

In Friday's prime-time ratings, however, CBS' 7 p.m. Royal wedding recap drew the most viewers with 159,291. From 8 to 10 p.m., NBC and ABC dueled with two hour William & Kate specials, with the Peacock winning by a nose -- 103,886 viewers to 96,960. The most-watched prime-time attraction, a new 9 p.m. episode of CBS' Blue Bloods, had 242,400 viewers.

Friday also marked Day 2 of the May "sweeps" ratings period, with the 6 a.m. local news competitions washed out by the Royal wedding.

At 10 p.m., CBS11 ran first in total viewers but NBC5 won among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. The Peacock is showing increased strength in this key demographic despite being saddled with ratings-starved NBC lead-in programming on most nights.

Fox4 flexed in the early evening, running the table at 6 p.m. while also notching a 5 p.m. win with 25-to-54-year-olds. WFAA8 ran first at 5 p.m. in total viewers.

A soon to be post-Oprah WFAA8 has no current plans to join the 4 p.m. local news game

Anderson Cooper and Oprah Winfrey protege Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Dallas-based WFAA8 and The Oprah Winfrey Show have been joined at the late afternoon hip since the second term of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Yes, it's been that long.

Now the end of days is nigh, with Winfrey ending her quarter-century in daytime television on May 25th before reruns linger through the summer.

So what should WFAA8 do with the freedom to make its own bed from 4 to 5 p.m? From this perspective, the ABC affiliate should join the late afternoon local news game and battle NBC5 and CBS11. But unless WFAA8 belatedly reverses course, that's not going to happen in the near future.

The station's president and general manager, Mike Devlin, says that the station's current plan is to start September with the Dr. Oz show at 4 p.m. and Anderson Cooper's new talk show preceding it at 3 p.m. WFAA8 has a one-year deal with Cooper and a multi-year pact with Dr. Oz, who like Dr. Phil got his start as one of Winfrey's recurring featured players.

Dr. Oz (whose full name is Mehmet Oz) currently is preceding Oprah at 3 p.m. weekdays on WFAA8. His show didn't exactly light up the February "sweeps" ratings, running fourth in that time slot behind CBS11's Dr. Phil, NBC5's Ellen and Fox4's double dose of Judge Joe Brown. And Dr. Oz had a lead-in advantage going into the hour from ABC's preceding General Hospital.

Devlin told unclebarky.com that the 4 p.m. local news field already is crowded enough. And that the station thinks it's wiser for now to counter-program NBC5 and CBS11 rather than try to establish another local news presence at that hour.

During the peak of Winfrey's powers, WFAA8's early evening newscasts greatly profited from the huge lead-in advantage she gave them from 4 to 5 p.m. But in the past few seasons, her numbers have decayed and her reruns have multiplied. During the February sweeps, a month's worth of new Oprah episodes won the time period, with NBC5's newscasts a competitive second. But repeats of Oprah often finish an out-of-the-money fourth while NBC5 and CBS11 offer a fresh product every day.

Neither station has increased its on-camera staff to accommodate the 4 p.m. newscasts. And unlike WFAA8, both collect all of the commercial revenues from those locally produced programs.

The local newscasts on NBC5 and CBS11 also free those stations from the tyranny and uncertainty of syndicated programming. What's going to work? And if it does work, how much more is it going to cost to keep a hit program in place? Via a series of long-term deals, WFAA8 basically has been stuck with Oprah in good times and bad. Is it wise to keep going that route with a syndicated replacement -- and from the Oprah family no less?

Let's take a quick look at how Fox4 has prospered by expanding its number of local newscast hours after Fox took ownership of the former CBS affiliate in 1995.

None of the general managers at WFAA8, NBC5 or CBS11 can openly admit that their stations would be far better off in Fox4's shoes from 7 to 9 a.m., when the last two hours of its locally produced Good Day easily outdraws Today, Good Morning America and the long-languishing CBS Early Show. In fact, for the February sweeps, Good Day had more 25-to-54-year-old viewers (the main advertiser target audience for news programming) than those three network shows combined. That's a big mega-mooing cash cow.

Fox4 also has local news at 5:30 p.m., where in February it ranked No. 1 with 25-to-54-year-olds ahead of the network evening newscasts on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. And Fox4's 9 p.m. local newscast regularly outdraws one or more of the network entertainment shows at that hour. In the February sweeps, it ran second behind only CBS' array of potent crime dramas.

So in this view it makes sense to make your own bed whenever possible in times when the ratings for both network and syndicated programming continue to shrink. Does the market really need another local newscast at 4 p.m.? No, probably not. But does WFAA8 need to make that move at some point? In this view, yes.

For at least the near future, though, the station is planning to hitch its 4 p.m. hopes to Dr. Oz, which supposedly will get more production money because of its higher visibility and time period upgrades in a post-Oprah world. Still, there's no time like the present to control your own destiny.

WFAA8 has a storied news legacy and a latter day willingness to send its reporters around the country in pursuit of stories with local angles. But it's not yet ready to go the extra mile with a 4 p.m. newscast. Or as Oprah would say, that "Aha Moment" hasn't yet arrived.