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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's 10 p.m. newscasts (Wed., Feb. 7)

Ups and downs on Belo8: Sinister escalators, chortling over the Kennedy assassination, etc. on Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscast.

Belo8 put on quite a show Wednesday night from its new Victory Park studios.

Evil D-FW airport escalators seemed intent on maiming innocent travelers in a lengthy expose by reporter David Schechter.

Weatherman Pete Delkus sought help in curbing the enthusiasm of boisterous Dallas Mavericks fans.

The whole news team chortled over sports anchor Dale Hansen's Kennedy assassination riff.

A low, but audible in-studio whistle could be heard as anchor Gloria Campos detailed new information on a deceased Catholic priest's history of child abuse.

And new reporter Craig Civale continued to play a veritable Phantom of the Opera.

Good times.

Campos' presented viewers with a sweeps-flavored worst case scenario before Schechter stepped in. "A surprising risk before you even get on the plane," she said. "The escalators at the airport are hurting people. A lot of them."

The story focused on an unfortunate mishap involving a five-year-old girl who tripped on an escalator and suffered serious tendon damage to her hand. Another woman, who's filing a lawsuit of course, fell on the back of her head and has been dizzy for quite a while, Schechter reported.

"A passenger is injured here nearly every two or three days," he said. But most don't require medical attention, Schechter added. That in itself is the real story. Millions upon millions of travelers use the escalators in a year's time. So the airport rightly touted its overall safety record in a statement issued to Belo8.

That didn't stop cameras from capturing repeated chilling closeup shots of escalator stairs, which looked ripe for co-starring roles in any new sequels to The Mangler. At least the station didn't use any accompanying horror film music. That's better left to NBC5.

Weathercaster Delkus soon found himself competing with noisy fans emerging from the adjacent American Airlines Center after the Mavs slaughtered the Memphis Grizzlies. Belo8 has touted the immediacy and excitement tied to its new seeing eye showplace, but be careful what you wish for. Eh, Pete?

"Dale, will you calm those folks out there -- your fans," he ad libbed midway through his weather report. Hansen demurred, but never stays quiet for long. He decided to weigh in a bit later after a brief story about the ongoing ebay sale of the Texas School book Depository window that Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired through on Nov. 22, 1963.

"It never ceases to amaze me what you can find on ebay," Gloria said in seguing to Hansen's sports segment.

"Yeah, but it's bogus," he retorted. "Because he didn't shoot through that window . . . They shot from behind the grassy knoll. Don't buy the window. It's bogus."

Campos, Delkus and anchor John McCaa all laughed heartily at Hansen's riposte. Yes, the assassination happened more than a generation ago. Still, it's no laughing matter and never will be. Period.

Earlier, Campos read a brief update on former Fort Worth Catholic pastor James Reilly, who died in 1999. "Now we've learned there are five new allegations (of child molestation) against Reilly," she said. A low whistle, seemingly expressing amazement, could be heard off-camera. And it clearly came from the studio, not from outside Victory Park. It likely was one of those involuntary reactions that have escaped most of us from time to time. Clearly, though, it has no place in a newscast.

As earlier reported on D magazine's Frontburner blog, new reporter Civale recently had his eyes burned by HMI camera lights (Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide) while doing a live shot. It hasn't stopped him from working, but he's still obviously not camera-ready. On Wednesday, Civale again was heard but not seen during a story on escalated school closings caused by a flu outbreak. Hopefully his face time is coming soon, although Civale might consider wearing a "Spirit of Texas" face mask in the interim.

CBS11 reporters Ginger Allen, Bud Gillett and Tiani Jones

Belo8 and CBS11 both led Wednesday's 10 p.m. newscasts with stories on a "voodoo"-type shrine found in the vicinity of two dead bodies that were dumped near the Dowdy Ferry Bridge over the Trinity River.

Both Belo8's Gary Reaves and CBS11's J.D. Miles said that police hadn't linked the shrine to the murders of young couple Linoshka Torres and Luis Campos. But Miles had the more calming report, noting that "the area is a frequent dumping ground for murder victims." He also told viewers that the human skull found at the shrine likely was stolen from a grave, according to police.

Reaves chose to raise more suspicions, ending his story by saying that police "are telling us they have found about five bodies in this general area in the last year." His report led viewers to believe that the human skull could be tied to one of those murders.

CBS11's newscast again had several worthwhile reports that couldn't be found anywhere else.

Bud Gillett caught mayor pro tem and mayoral candidate Don Hicks in the act of filming a campaign commercial while he sat in for Dallas mayor Laura Miller at a City Council meeting.

Tiani Jones had a story on the amazing recovery of 13-year-old bullrider Dalton Blazek, who was almost killed in the ring. And Ginger Allen went one-on-one with a seemingly crooked Irving businessman who had been branded "Hollywood's Biggest Con" eight years ago before moving to these parts.

Over at NBC5, weatherman David Finfrock coughed live for the first time since the February sweeps began last Thursday. NBC5 had started the tri-annual sweeps warfare with an exploitative story on Finfrock's overall health after he had hacked his way through a number of wintertime forecasts. So for the record, it's four newscasts without a cough and now one with coughus interruptus.

Earlier, anchor Mike Snyder treated viewers to news of a high-heeled shoe "attack" at a Dallas car wash.

"The shoe, by the way, is being held for evidence," he intoned. Thanks for that, Mike.

On Fox4, reporter Brandon Todd found that flogging American Idol isn't as easy as it might seem, even on a Fox-owned station. Todd had hoped to get more time with Waxahachie's Jimmy McNeal, who's going to Hollywood next week after a successful audition in San Antonio. Sorry, that train's already left the station.

"We wanted to show you more of Jimmy McNeal," Todd told viewers at story's end. "But Fox publicity put a stop to any and all interviews and any and all media availability to any and all contestants of American idol."

Also of note: Fox4's Mike Doocy was the only sports anchor to even hint that Wade Phillips had re-emerged as a serious contender for the Dallas Cowboys head coaching job. Phillips is "creeping back into the conversation," he said before playing a sound bite from him.

Here's Wednesday's violent crime story count, with the five-night running totals in parentheses. (Caution: what you see may shock you. NBC5 for the first time didn't top the field.)

CBS11 -- 4 (15)
NBC5 -- 3 (29)
Belo8 -- 3 (12)
Fox4 -- 1 (12)