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Badu ado is picture perfect for D-FW newscasts (but one of 'em bungles it anyway)


NBC5 anchor Mike Snyder almost does a spit take Monday when Jane McGarry tells him that a "couple of" her Facebook fans wanted to know if he was the local celebrity who had appeared nude at Dealey Plaza. But it turns out she was skirting the truth. Photos: Ed Bark

However you looked at it -- or her -- Dallas-based singer Erykah Badu's bare-all music video from Dealey Plaza provided D-FW television stations with a consummate, easily hyped picture story Monday.

It also afforded one station the opportunity to screw just about everything up during the day's early evening newscasts. We'll get to NBC5 in due time.


Fox4 anchor Steve Eagar gets down to business at 5:30 p.m.

In brief, Badu purportedly sought to make an artistic statement with "Window Seat," in which she brazenly "liberated" herself by stripping to a completely nude state before collapsing to the ground at the site where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Tourists, some of them with young children, watched the video being filmed "guerilla style" on the sunny Saturday afternoon of March 13th. It was released over the weekend, triggering Monday's pixilated peep shows. Badu could have been arrested and charged on a number of counts had anyone complained. But reportedly no one did. And the police presence apparently was non-existent in the heart of downtown Dallas.

Fox4 had the best early evening coverage, courtesy of the well-seasoned Richard Ray. He was the only local TV reporter to reach Badu by telephone, although he didn't have any audio of her voice.

"She told us she was frankly kind of surprised that nobody made any kind of formal complaint at the time," Ray said.

Most eyewitnesses perhaps "were in shock," Ray said Badu also told him. "No permit, no plan, she said. We just did it."

Veteran assassination site hanger-on Mike Brownlow told Ray on camera that he witnessed the making of the video. It happened fast, he said. "A white van was on the street and waiting for the getaway."


Reporter David Schechter was WFAA8's man on the scene.

WFAA8 went live to David Schechter in Dealey Plaza. He at times seemed intent on having the singer arrested.

"Badu will likely avoid any criminal charges, despite what appears to be obvious evidence," Schechter told viewers before Dallas police department spokeswoman Janice Crowther said that "people can do lots of things with videos. That would be up to the DA's office to determine if the video is enough to prosecute her."

The now viral video shows that a good number of people crossed Badu's path. Still, Schechter said it "seems there are few witnesses to what now may be the second most famous event in Dealey Plaza."

Maybe that's because he couldn't immediately find any. Instead Schechter resorted to interviewing a man who said he did not see Badu naked, "but I wish I had."

Schechter ended his report by encouraging viewers to watch WFAA8's 10 p.m. newscast, where "we'll hear in her (Badu's) own words why she did it."

But the scratchy audio on Monday's late nighter was courtesy of WFAA8's content partner, The Dallas Morning News, whose Hudson Hauk throughly questioned Badu. The interview can be read in its entirety here.


CBS11 spiked its poll with a tar-and-feather exclamation point.

CBS11 sent reporter Arezow Doost to Dealey Plaza, where she also found Mike Brownlow. He had played ball with Fox4's Ray, but Doost pretty much struck out with him. "I'm not sayin' it wasn't her (Badu), I'm not sayin' it is," he told CBS11.

Doost did find one eyewitness, though. A woman named Rebecca Lewis dutifully said she was "very offended" by what she saw of Badu. Efforts to reach the singer directly were spurned by her management, said Doost, who instead was told "Just go to her Twitter page."

One of Badu's tweets, used by all four stations, read, "There were children there. I prayed they wouldn't B traumatized."

Then there was NBC5, which had comparatively brief coverage of the Badu ado.

"The video was filmed on St. Patrick's Day," anchor Jane McGarry erroneously told viewers near the end of the station's 5 p.m. newscast Monday.

NBC5's phone calls to Badu "have not been returned," co-anchor Mike Snyder noted before McGarry again chimed in.

"Now, on the lighter side, a couple of people on my Facebook page wanted to know if it was you," she told Snyder. "And I said I was positive it wasn't because I know that you were at your girl's soccer game."

Snyder rejoined, "That's right. Look at my Facebook, and you'll be able to see where I was."

Snyder and the increasingly frisky McGarry have been tit-for-tat Facebook posting ever since she launched her "FanPage" earlier this month, spurring him to play catch-up. In this case, though, McGarry put a false face on the Snyder queries, which basically were non-existent.

She first teased fans with, "Who's the local celebrity in trouble with the law for stripping nude in downtown Dallas? The story -- at 5."

Her first Facebook commenter said, "I'm assuming it isn't you, or else you wouldn't be drawing attention to the story."

Another commenter asked "You?" She then amended that to, "Oh . . . somebody already guessed that . . . Mike?"

McGarry then rejoined, "How did you guess?"

That was the extent of it, but Snyder absorbed her on-air sucker punch anyway. Never let the facts get in the way of promoting your Facebook FanPage. But seriously, McGarry's been getting way too giddy with her new toy. Maybe someone at least could tell her to stop playing with it on newscasts.

NBC5's Wilcox gets weekend early morning anchor spot while station also adds a new reporter (updated)

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NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox promoted; Julie Tam coming soon.

NBC5 has named Lindsay Wilcox as its weekend morning news anchor after Scott Friedman moved to the weekday waker-upper shift, replacing the departed Brendan Higgins.

Wilcox, a graduate of Irving High School, joined the Fort Worth-based station in August 2007. She had previously been a reporter for KLTV7 in Tyler, and has a bachelor's degree in broadcast news from the University of North Texas.

NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry initially posted Wilcox's promotion on her Facebook Fanpage, exclaiming "Way to go Lindsay!" Wilcox later replied, "Thanks, Jane!"

NBC5 spokesman Brian Hocker confirmed Wilcox's promotion Thursday and also said the station has hired a new reporter, Julie Tam, who will join the station on April 19th.

"Tam is being hired as a general assignments reporter and not specifically for the mornings (as Wilcox's replacement). So she may show up anywhere," he said.

Tam comes from Fox affiliate WDRB-TV in Louisville, KY, where she had been an anchor/reporter since September 2005. She previously worked at KLTV-TV in Tyler and lists herself as president of The Application Masters, which she founded in May of last year. As described by Tam, it's designed to "help high school students and adults get into the college of their choice by presenting them at their best by editing their applications, which include creative, compelling essays without spelling or grammar errors."

Tam also has her own picture-heavy website, plus a Facebook FanPage. She's clearly not shy about getting the word out on her latest activities and past accomplishments.

Faces of WFAA8 sports: Verne, Dale ride again

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They've spanned generations at Dallas-based WFAA8, Verne Lundquist from 1967 to '83 and Dale Hansen from '83 to the present.

That's 43 years of one or the other being the station's lead sports anchor. It's doubtful that can be duplicated in any or many other TV markets.

Frankly, there used to be a bit of bad blood between the two. But Hansen rose to the occasion when Lundquist was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in Spring, 2007.

Lundquist is "one of those special guys who is incredibly comfortable behind an anchor desk or in a booth at a football game," he told unclebarky.com back then. "And his call of the Tiger Woods chip in at The Masters will be replayed long after we're all gone. He is that good. And anybody who can go from Bowling for Dollars to The Masters should be in the Hall of Fame."

Hansen and Lundquist chummily reunited during a recent edition of WFAA8's Good Morning Texas. Their chat included clips ranging from the station's old bowling show, hosted by Lundquist, to his sharing a courtside perch with President Obama during a CBS telecast of a Duke-Georgetown basketball game. Lundquist's calls of two historic shots -- by Woods and earlier, Jack Nicklaus -- were also replayed.

Lundquist, who will resume doing NCAA basketball tournament games on Thursday of this week, has been a consummate jack of all sports trades during his long tenure with CBS Sports. And the always opinionated Hansen has put his own signature stamp on WFAA8 sportscasts since arriving from crosstown KDFW-TV (Channel 4). Here's the video of their entertaining, reminiscing chat:

Go directly to Saturday Night Live; do not change a thing!

CW's fourth edition of The RC Project, this one on waxing, featured a plus-sized, barebacked man lying mute on a rubdown table and co-host Candice Crawford revealing, "I come from a family with bushy eyebrows."

Roni Proter is the other collaborator on these weeknightly SNL-ready segments, which close out CW33's fledgling 5 p.m. local newscasts. RC Project appears to be operating on a lower budget than the Dime Box, TX philharmonic. But hey, it's so bad it's riotously good. And if that's what they're going for in the country's No. 5 TV market, then all concerned have hit a bullseye.
Ed Bark


Pete's winter wonderland


Greetings from WFAA8's Sunday morning snow man. Photo: Ed Bark

Tweeting like a mad man and as usual stripped to his shirtsleeves, WFAA8 weathercaster Pete Delkus again made his presence felt as spring snow fell fast and flurry-ous under Sunday's dark.

Delkus hit the air bright and early, making him the only marquee forecaster to do so Sunday. NBC5 deployed backup Samantha Davies while leading man David Finfrock hibernated. Fox4 and CBS11 don't have local waker uppers on Sundays, leaving their respective main meteorologists, Dan Henry and Larry Mowry, out of the picture.

"There's nothing like waking up Sunday to several inches of snow," Delkus declared. WFAA8 no doubt smells a fresh promotional opportunity. And Big Pete won't try to talk 'em out of it. Whatever you think of him, he loves this stuff.

CBS11's Burger survives 40 years of highs/lows

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Four decades in broadcasting, principally as a weatherman, are nothing to sneeze at -- even when the pollen count is high.

So congratulations to CBS11/TXA21 forecaster Mike Burger, who recently reached this milestone while at the same time signing a new two-year contract with the stations.

"These are still the two best stations I've ever had the good fortune to be with," Burger said in an email.

He was Dallas-based Fox4's principal weathercaster from 1989 to 1996 before returning to his old Orlando, FL station to be an early morning news anchor. After four years, Burger returned to D-FW and has been here ever since. He began his broadcasting career at an Orlando radio station, working in the news department before agreeing to fill in at WDBO-TV (now WKMG) as a weekend forecaster. He grew up as an Iowa farm boy.

Burger was saluted on the air during CBS11's Sunday, March 7th late night newscast. Here's the video:

Idol: Two from North Texas on tepid Top 12 sing-off

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Tim Urban and Casey James perform Tuesday night. Fox photos

It was Bing Crosby night on American Idol Tuesday.

Actually, the Top 12 finalists all had to do Rolling Stones songs, but few put any rock or sock in 'em.

Duncanville's Tim Urban, one of two remaining North Texans, made the preposterous choice of singing "Under My Thumb" to a reggae beat. Thumbs down.

Here's our weekly judges' blow-by-blow, with excerpts from the night's comments preceding Uncle Barky's play-offs.

Song: "It's All Over Now"

Randy Jackson -- "You're back to the Casey that I love. I loved it! You are back for me."
Ellen DeGeneres -- "Most women, their hearts are gonna start racing just lookin' at ya. But then for people like me -- blondes -- I thought it was fantastic."
Kara DioGuardi -- "Tonight you were a rock star. This shows your soul and the fact that you can riff and go off, and the best parts of your voice."
Simon Cowell -- "For me that was like an audition performance. When you watch this back, it's got to be more. Just be a star."

Uncle Barky -- "You at least brought some electricity -- along with your electric guitar. Most of the other performers seemed to think they were singing stuff from The Carpenters. Your rendition had both an edge and a big finish. And you went against type by not going country with 'Wild Horses.' It looks more and more like you're destined for the Final Four."

Song: "Under My Thumb"

Randy -- "I didn't get that, dude. It was very bizarre."
Ellen -- "I felt like I was at a resort and drinking a pina colada . . . There was nothing wrong with it. It just didn't wow me."
Kara -- "I totally get what the guys are saying. The other side is I gotta applaud you for doing something so incredibly different with the song."
Simon -- "I have to applaud you for doing something different . . . Having said that, it didn't work. And actually a lot of people who are Rolling Stones fans would be turning their television sets off at that point. So I think it was a crazy decision."

Uncle Barky -- "Going reggae with 'Under My Thumb' was like doing 'Back in the USSR' to a calypso beat. Very bad move, and this time your pretty boy Zac Efron looks might not be enough to again save the day. I still think you might surprise people and get to the Top 10. But this could be your knockout punch. And if so, you left yourself wide open for it."

Also of note: Amarillo's resilient, likable preacher's daughter, 24-year-old Lacey Brown, did a decent job with "Ruby Tuesday," even if it was typical of the night's inclination to mush up the Stones' playlist. She might go a bit farther than initially anticipated, but still won't get anywhere near the promised land.

CW33's The RC Project proudly puts the vacu- in vacuous

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RC Project duo Candice Crawford and Roni Proter of CW33

Resembling a public access TV pilot from Poughkeepsie -- only infinitely worse -- CW33's The RC Project somehow premiered Monday in the nation's fifth-largest TV market.

"We're kinda like the dessert at the end of the meal -- the best part," bragged the C of the duo -- former Miss Missouri USA 2008 Candice Crawford.

RC Project, co-starring the station's Roni Proter, arrived at the close of CW33's new 5 p.m. local newscast, a companion to the existing 5:30 p.m. edition. The new half-hour was decidedly low on nutrients and production values but high on rip 'n' read content and the usual constant, hackneyed use of theme music.

Still, it looked like Avatar compared to the climactic daily segment presented by Crawford and Proter. Their guest, Victoria Torres, bubbled about "The Big Bag" phenomenon supposedly sweeping women's purses. She brought a few with her, but they were partially obscured behind a pot of flowers on a decidedly pedestrian-looking coffee table. No one apparently was bright enough to tell her, "Pick it up and let people see the damned thing."

"My favorite one. R-i-i-i-i-i-cola," Crawford cooed at one point, acting as though she'd just been given a free pass to see Hot Tub Time Machine.

While they talked -- mostly gibberish -- an intrusive hip-hop/pop background track threatened to drown out everything they were saying. Unfortunately it wasn't quite up to the task.

The multi-faceted Proter also helms CW33's weekly "Up All Night" feature and reported on spring bras and avoiding "smooshed boobs" during Monday's 9 p.m. newscast. For the purposes of The RC Project, she showed what I thought was a wrist bracelet but turned out to be a designer "cuff" made by Maggie Felicetti. A second cuff, which resembled a dead feather duster, would go great with a "boyfriend blazer," Proter added.

Look, these segments obviously aren't for old goats like your friendly content provider -- or perhaps even for anyone of sound mind and body. But the overall presentation here was dreadfully amateurish and self-important. And the content was of no import whatsoever. Color bars would have been more educational.

Viewers perhaps could watch RC Project for comic relief. Actually, though, it's depressing to see a hunk of local newscast time wasted on such a vacuous pursuit. Is there really a market -- in the fifth largest market -- for this kind of piffle?

Take a look for yourself and see if you can find any redeeming values. I've come up empty.


Idol seems out of step this season, says former producer and current mainstay of So You Think You Can Dance


Executive producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe at last week's So You Think You Can Dance auditions on the SMU campus in Dallas. Photo: Ed Bark

Opinions run rampant about American Idol, particularly during a season in which Ellen DeGeneres has supplanted Paula Abdul while Simon Cowell is halfway through his departure flight.

Nigel Lythgoe's critique carries more weight than most. He was Idol's co-executive producer for the Fox blockbuster's first seven seasons before leaving in August 2008 to become fully engaged with the network's So You Think You Can Dance as both a producer and judge.

Season 9 of Idol so far is leaving him a bit cold, though, Lythgoe tells unclebarky.com during a break from last week's Dallas auditions for Dance. He still thinks four judges are one too many. And in his view, Cowell seems disengaged while DeGeneres needs a confidence boost as the show begins single eliminations of its final 12 contestants this week.

"I'm sort of watching it not work now," he says of the four-judge format, which was instituted after he left. "At this moment in time, I think Simon looks very bored. I don't think he's there. I think he's off and running and doing The X-Factor (which Cowell will bring to Fox as both a host and judge in fall 2011)."

Lythgoe has no problems, however, with adding DeGeneres as a judge. So he mounts a spirited defense of her, and thinks Cowell should be more supportive, too.

"I hope we'll see Ellen get more confidence and start to enjoy herself with it, because I love her to death," he says. "I think she's great.

"I don't know that Ellen needs to apologize for her opinions. As far as I'm concerned, Ellen is a really good spokesperson for the public. She knows what the public likes, she knows what she likes. That is what she's there for. The public are the ones who make the Idol and the public are the ones who buy the records. So she's in a perfect position to be their voice.

"She need not apologize for her lack of knowledge in music or anything else. She has more knowledge probably than the other three (judges) because she is a member of the public. She's got to get more confidence in herself and relax a lot more. It seems to me that Simon turns his back every time she talks. So it's frustrating to see some mistakes being made. I've never liked four judges, though. There's no time for it."

Lythgoe looks back fondly on the triumvirate of Cowell, Abdul and Randy Jackson.

"The judges are part of the show. They are not the show," he says. "The show is those talented kids. And when they don't work, then the judges come into play. And what was always there was the chemistry between Simon and Ryan (host Ryan Seacrest), or Simon and Paula, with Randy being the flux between the three of them. And that sort of chemistry has been lost now. And I'm very sad about that."

Part of the problem is this year's crop of talent, which has underwhelmed many Idol observers despite the show's annual pronouncement that it's the best group ever. Last week's eliminations of change-it-up stylists Lilly Scott and Todrick Hall didn't help matters.

"This year it's been tough," Lythgoe says, "because their voices were exposed a great deal at the beginning. The sound mix wasn't good, so the voices were out in the front and the band was in the back. And they're so nervous at this stage that they are not necessarily going to sing as well as they will in the future. And it taints your opinion of the talent the show's got. I think we'll see it grow in the future."

Lythgoe obviously will be keeping an eye on his old show during the ongoing nationwide auditions for So You Think You Can Dance. lt launches Season 7 on May 27th, just a few days after Idol ends its ninth.

"Obviously this is far more satisfying to the soul for me," says Lythgoe, a former dancer and choreographer. "I'm really, really happy, as I was for seven years on American Idol."

Fun with Mike & Jane (hmm, maybe this should be a recurring feature!?)

NBC5 anchor Jane McGarry, newly infatuated with her fledgling Facebook FanPage, has been posting tidbits and pictures like a maniac since opening shop this week.

Her longtime colleague, Mike Snyder, had his Facebook page up earlier, but now seems newly dedicated to the task of perhaps out-doing her.

Yeah, I know. I regularly found fault with them during their long run as NBC5's featured 10 p.m. anchor team. But absentia makes the heart grow a bit fonder perhaps. Snyder and McGarry have been shuttled aside to the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts to while away their days at lower rates of pay. It's the way of the TV news world, and it makes these old warhorses seem kinda poignant in their put-out-to-pasture years.

In turn, they either love to hate me or hate to love me. But oddly enough, we're all "friends" on Facebook now. Even more astonishingly, they did the invites.

What I'm trying to say is that almost everything is forgiven in time. Hell, even the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard yucked it up with their old antagonists a few years back while promoting a reunion movie amid a roomful of TV critics. Man, you really ripped on us. Yeah, we did. A good time was had by all.

The "Fun with Mike & Jane" angle here has to do with some of the wacky stuff they sometimes put on their respective Facebook pages. Mike just posted a picture of himself and his two daughters with Charo during one of his preparation stints in Los Angeles on behalf of Jerry's Kids. And Jane's "Texas Journalist" album finds her proudly posing with another Republican. Here's what we're talkin' about:



That's longtime GOP power player James A. Baker III with Jane. And Mike sure looks sun-kissed in that shot with the indomitable "cuchi-cuchi" girl, his kiddoes and an unidentified blonde (who turns out to be his wife, Lyn, readers tell me).

The fun-o-meter advantage here goes to Mike because, well, I never envisioned him in a picture with Charo but I did envision Jane with another Republican.

Jane fights back with this recent prose post: "Going to work and it feels like spring so I think I'll try a new orange jacket -- plus the ankle bracelet -- gotta have the ankle bracelet :)"

Mike can't match her of late. The best he has to offer is: "The weather is schizophrenic in North Texas today. First clouds, then sun so bright I had to haul out the shades to drive. Now, it is back to gray. Must be spring on the way." In other words, advantage, Jane.

Remember, now, "Fun with Mike & Jane" in fact is all in good fun. They're relatively harmless now, and seemingly happy together on the less visible 5 and 6 p.m. shows. So the least we can do is mess around with 'em a bit and perhaps drive a little traffic to their new homes away from home.

NBC5, with the usual strong-armed assist from NBC Corporate, likely will cut them loose soon enough. For now, though, they're still the "longest running anchor pair in Texas history," according to Mike's Facebook page. And you never know what either of them will show or tell.

Footloose with Fox4's Fiona Gorostiza


Fox4's Fiona Gorostiza strikes her "Cheerleader Pop" pose during Dallas auditions for So You Think You Can Dance. Photos: Ed Bark

Fox4's fun-seeking Fiona Gorostiza thinks she can dance -- and can.

Gorostiza's latest Good Day mini-adventure took her to Thursday's Dallas auditions for Fox's summertime shakedown, where she emerged relatively unscathed after showcasing her brand of "Cheerleader Pop."

"I'll be quite frank. I was expecting a lot worse than that," pronounced Nigel Lythgoe, head judge and co-executive producer of So You Think You Can Dance. Still, it had some typically "cheesy steps," he added.

Gorostiza, contestant 56789, took the stage at SMU's McFarlin Auditorium as part of a pre-planned bit for Good Day. But two CD malfunctions -- of Madonna's "Express Yourself" -- kept her bouncing and flouncing onstage far longer than expected. The venue was a bit overwhelming, too.

"I thought it was going to be a small room, Idol-esque, with the judges," she said. "And then I walk in there, and omigosh, there's an audience -- of actual dancers. And there's a stage. It looks very Broadway. Lights and everything. So I got really nervous before I went on. And then the CD skipped."

Lythgoe tacked on another layer by summoning two hip-hoppers from the audience to join Gorostiza in a three-way interpretation of The Black-Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling." Not bad, if he says so himself: "You looked really good doing that, sweetheart. Very sexy."


Gorostiza, who also does weathercasts for Fox4, said her immediate reaction afterward was, "I need water. I need a shower. I need a nap. Then I said, 'Whoa, whoa, no, no.' Water. Long, hot bath. Nap."

It presumably beat barefoot walking on hot coals, which Gorostiza, 31, did around this time last year during a Good Day segment from Fair Park conducted by the Firewalking Institute of Research and Education. She later was treated for second degree burns.

Her So You Think You Can Dance "tryout" taught her that "apparently under pressure I can pop and rock," Gorostiza said, laughing.

She otherwise does her dancing without cameras rolling.

"I've been known, every now and then, to cut the rug on the occasional disco ball dance floor," Gorostiza said. "Especially being from Vegas."

Gorostiza's So You Think You Can Dance segments will be saved until later this spring. The show will return for Season 7 on May 27th.

WFAA8 anchor Shelly Slater soon will be delivering more than the news (updated)


Several vigilant readers have asked whether WFAA8 anchor Shelly Slater is an expectant first-time mother.

"Yes, I am pregnant!" she replied via email to unclebarky.com. "Let me guess . . . the open suit jackets and the teenage acne are dead give aways?"

Slater, who joined Dallas-based WFAA8 in September 2006, said she is due in early August and "we find out the sex of the baby on St. Patrick's Day!" (It will be a boy, she announced on the appointed day's 5 p.m. newscast.)

"I haven't announced anything on-air about the baby," she added, "but my husband and I are thrilled, nervous and anxious all at the same time."

Congratulations to both of them. Slater currently is co-anchoring WFAA8's 5 p.m. weekday newscasts while continuing to report as well. She also regularly substitute anchors on the station's 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Idol voters slit show's throat (and not just by axing two North Texans)

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Finalists Casey James of Fort Worth; Tim Urban of Duncanville

American Idol's 12 finalists emerged Thursday night after viewers evicted two distinctive song stylists while also trimming the North Texas 4 in half.

The night's biggest surprise -- and one of the dumbest voting decisions ever -- was the elimination of 20-year-old Lilly Scott, who was born in Houston and raised in Colorado.

Scott and the equally much-praised Crystal Bowersox of Ohio had seemed like solid bets to make the Fox juggernaut's Final 4.

"A lot of incredible talent is going home tonight," a stunned Scott said after in-over-her-head Katie Stevens, 17, got the night's final Top 12 spot. "I don't know what America wants to hear. I don't." She has a point.

Toddrick Hall, 24, of Arlington, likewise took the gas. Like Scott, he brought something original to every performance. But judges more often than not deemed him too original, and he finally paid the price Thursday. That's a shame. He'll go a lot farther than most of these finalists.

Fellow North Texan Alex Lambert, 19, of North Richland Hills, also was voted off. "I wish I could've just broken out of my shell," he said in reference to judges' persistent criticisms that his voice was strong but his stage presence shaky. Katelyn Epperly of Iowa took the other knockout punch.

There's still ample North Texas flavor. Fort Worth's Casey James, the oldest contestant at 27, is in the Top 12. So is Tim Urban, 20, of Duncanville, who was re-inserted into the Top 24 after Chris Golightly of California belatedly was declared ineligible. Urban's the teen/tween-pleasing Zac Efron of the field; James is the last country boy, with "Cougar" Kara DioGuardi still judging him good enough to eat.

The six remaining women also include two with Texas ties. Lacey Brown, 24, is a native of Amarillo who still lives there. Paige Miles, 24, who was born in Florida, is now a Houstonian who auditioned for the show in Dallas.

As singers, the dozen remaining contestants are mostly a case of the bland leading the bland. Exceptions are Bowersox and plus-sized Michael Lynche of New York, who has a build reminiscent of Season 2 champ Ruben Studdard and seemingly a voice to match.

They'll all sing Rolling Stones songs next week, and it would have been intriguing to see how Hall and Scott changed them up. There's no satisfaction in knowing they'll never get the chance.

CBS11 names Miami's Adrienne Roark as news director (updated with official station confirmation)

CBS11 has a new news director, with Adrienne Roark of WFOR-TV in Miami getting the nod Wednesday afternoon.

Her scheduled start date is March 23rd, president and general manager Gary Schneider told staffers. The Fort Worth-based station hasn't officially announced her hiring yet, but it's a done deal. Roark also will oversee the newscasts on sister station TXA21.

Roark had joined Miami's CBS-owned station in January 2007 as assistant news director before being promoted to news director in June, 2008. She was identified as the front-runner for the CBS11 position in a Feb. 1st post on unclebarky.com.

Roark is an Ohio State graduate whose previous stops include WESH-TV in Orlando, WTVJ-TV in Miami and WKYC-TV in Cleveland. She also was a Poynter Ethics Fellow for the Class of 2008. Roark and her husband are the parents of two sons.

She replaces Scott Diener, who left CBS11 earlier this year to join his old CBS11 boss, Steve Mauldin, at KCBS/KCAL-TV in Los Angeles.

In a resultant news release confirming Roark's hiring, Schneider termed her "a natural fit for our news operation and stations . . . Adrienne also is a forward-thinking leader who is passionate about embracing new ideas and technologies."

Roark said in a statement, "I am honored to be given the opportunity to be a part of such a distinguished news team, and I have great respect for what KTVT and KTXA mean to the Dallas-Fort Worth community."

While still at WFOR, Roark also had this to say about how very seriously she says she takes her profession.

Reliable sources say that news director Kurt Davis of KENS-TV in San Antonio also was a finalist for the news director position. But that station is owned by Belo Corp., which also is the parent company of CBS11's arch rival, Dallas-based WFAA8.

Ultimately, a decision was made to hire from within the CBS corporate chain rather than go "outside," according to sources.

Friedman tabbed to co-anchor NBC5's waker-upper


It's official, and it's as expected.

NBC5 has named Scott Friedman as the co-anchor of its local early morning newscasts, teaming him with incumbent Deborah Ferguson.

The station parted ways with Brendan Higgins in January after his contract expired. NBC5 has remained No. 1 in the two months since, with Friedman, Kevin Cokely and others sitting in.

Friedman joined NBC5 in May 2006 after a decade with WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. He's a Notre Dame graduate. Jane McGarry, co-anchor of NBC5's 5 and 6 p.m. newscast, earlier revealed Friedman's new assignment on her Facebook FanPage, where she also writes, "I'm in the attic looking for old work photos. Ed Bark is complaining that I'm only with Republicans. I can't FIND the other ones. And if you saw my attic you'd know why :)"

Actually, I think it was a reader who complained in the Comments section. But thanks for the mention anyway.

White vs. Perry: a view through the looker glass

Bill_White_2006_cropped portrait_rp
American_Gothic marlboro man1
What we have here, from a strictly visual standpoint, is a case of the farmer from American Gothic versus the Marlboro Man.

Or to put it another way, can a bald, decidedly plain-faced mayor from Houston confound the looks-are-everything television age and dethrone an almost criminally handsome incumbent topped with hair thicker than lasagna noodles?

The race for Texas governor, now settling in between Democrat Bill White and Republican Rick Perry, also will be a battle of have- and have-nots in the tele-genetic scheme of things.

On the surface it's a big edge for Perry, who certainly looks the part of the state's leading man. White simply wasn't blessed with such attributes. It's not his fault, but it may be ours for repeatedly electing people who "look" gubernatorial -- or presidential.

Television has been a national and local player for roughly 60 years now. In that time only one baldy has been elected president. But Dwight D. Eisenhower was a fabled war hero when he became the Republican presidential nominee in 1952. And his opponent, in both that year and 1956, was fellow chrome domer Adlai Stevenson, widely caricatured as an "egghead."

In the years since we've had one hair-challenged president, Gerald R. Ford. But he was never elected. Ford, who stepped in for Richard Nixon in 1974, lost to the abundantly coiffed Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter then was beaten by one of the most abundantly haired presidents of all time, Ronald Reagan. And so on.

Bald, homely Texas senator Phil Gramm once upon a time thought he could be president. But five days before he even announced his candidacy in February 1995, Gramm sat down with Mike Wallace for a 60 Minutes piece that focused on his lack of good looks. Even Gramm termed himself "ugly" while the much older Wallace flaunted his comparative good looks and fetching full head of hair. Gramm's campaign was soon shoveling dirt on itself.

Texas governors mostly have been blessed with full plate pates -- at least in the television age. There's one notable exception, though. Democrat Preston Smith, who was pretty thin on top, served from 1969 to 1973 before the comparatively heavy-haired Dolph Briscoe succeeded him. It's been an unbroken string since then, with the late Ann Richards sporting the highest hair of all during her 1991-'95 tour of duty.

In the looks and hair department, Perry is the latter day equivalent of Texas governor John Connally (1963-'69), who rivaled even John F. Kennedy in those key areas. White seems to have the Paul Giamatti gene, which is good for playing mostly second bananas, albeit in some quality movies.

Down the homestretch of his demolishment of Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry looked sturdier and studlier than than ever in an ad where strapped on his rust-colored Texas Rangers coat and preached Texas values before a Texas flag.

White lately has an ad in which he stands in light purple shirtsleeves before a mostly blank backdrop and pledges to give voters their "money's worth" if elected.

The challenger faces an uphill climb at best in his fight to unseat Perry. It'd probably help if he looked a lot more like a vintage James Garner than The Love Boat's Gavin MacLeod.

You never know, though. Maybe voters can find a way to disregard looks entirely and elect a man who otherwise might be mistaken as a botanist. For now, though, Perry is a veritable Yellow Rose of Texas while White more closely resembles a dandelion. May the best man win.

Here are those two aforementioned campaign ads:

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., March 5-7) -- despite no surprises, Oscars soar above last year's total


Oscar hosts Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin at show's end with Best Director winner Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. Photo: Ed Bark

In the end, predictability didn't matter.

Despite no surprise winners and the usual sluggish pace, Sunday night's Academy Awards on ABC virtually eclipsed last year's in the D-FW Nielsen ratings.

Airing from 7:30 to 11:07 p.m. (when the final closing credit appeared), the Oscars averaged 1,024,731 viewers, way up from last year's total of 677,586. A little ratings inflation is involved, with each point equaling 1,433 more viewers than at this time last year. But that's nonetheless a remarkable surge.

This year's Oscars also drew 443,578 advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds, substantially up from the 291,176 who watched the 2009 ceremony. So who says conventional TV viewing is dead? The 2010 Super Bowl and Grammy telecasts also went well beyond last year's totals both locally and nationally.

Barbara Walters' final Oscar pre-show had 285,025 viewers to easily win the 6 p.m. hour before ABC's incredibly lame half-hour red carpet preview vaulted up to 644,698 viewers. Has anybody started more fixedly at a TelePrompTer (or cue cards) than co-host Kathy Ireland?

Nothing else really mattered Sunday night. But for the record, CBS11's 10 p.m. newscast had the biggest audience opposite the Oscars in D-FW, drawing 196,803 total viewers.

In Friday's numbers, NBC's premiere of the celebrity-driven genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? drew 115,367 viewers to finish second at 7 p.m. behind CBS' venerable Ghost Whisperer (162,871 viewers). It was the same order of finish with 18-to-49-year-olds. Next Friday's subject on Think You Are? will be former Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith.

Meanwhile, the piping hot, short-handed Dallas Mavericks extended their winning streak to 11 games with Friday and Saturday night victories over Sacramento and Chicago. The games, both on Fox Sports Southwest, respectively drew 142,512 and 149,299 total viewers.

Jay Leno's NBC Tonight Show again easily bested David Letterman's CBS Late Show Friday, giving him a clean sweep for the week in both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds.

Friday's local news derby numbers yielded golds for each of the four major TV news providers.

WFAA8 nipped NBC5 and CBS11 to win in total viewers at 10 p.m. But the Peacock took first place among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 won at 6 a.m. in total viewers while sharing first place with Fox4 among 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 had an uncommonly big day in the early evening news numbers, running the table at 6 p.m. and also winning at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic. WFAA8 was tops at 5 p.m. in total viewers, just slightly ahead of CBS11.

Remarkable run: half of Idol's remaining eight guys are North Texans


Idol's North Texas 4 will take the stage again next week. Pictured are Tim Urban (front row left); Casey James (front row center); Alex Lambert (back row center); Todrick Hall (back row right). Fox photo

Todrick Hall survived another undue burst of bullets from judges while Casey James remained in play despite a clawing from The Cougar.

They join fellow North Texans Alex Lambert and Tim Urban among the final eight males on Fox's American Idol, which in Season 9 is still prime-time's most-watched weekly series.

That's an amazing show of force for a region, let alone a state. It's also a local angle gold mine for Dallas-based Fox4, which may end up having to send its entire late night reporting team to Idol "watch parties" next week.

Hall, 24, is from Arlington, while James, 27, calls Fort Worth home. Lambert, the youngest of the quartet at 19, is from North Richland Hills. Urban, 20, is from Duncanville.

Hall's improvisational song stylings took another lashing on Tuesday night's performance edition while James was found wanting by judge Kara DioGuardi, who had been swooning in his presence. But Thursday night's viewer votes said otherwise. Lambert and Urban, virtually condemned to death by judges in the previous week, received much kinder assessments from an unlikely source -- Simon Cowell.

Two women with Texas ties also are still among Idol's living. Lacey Brown, 24, is from Amarillo and Florida-born Paige Miles, 24, currently lives in Houston.

Voted off Thursday night were John Park, Haeley Vaughn, Jermaine Sellers and Michelle Delamor.

Olympics-skewed Feb. sweeps yield asterisk-emblazoned golds for WFAA8, NBC5, Fox4

WFAA8 won the biggest local newscast prizes of the February "sweeps" with closely contested first place finishes at 10 p.m. in the two major audience categories.

But advertisers and stations, including WFAA8, generally are disregarding those results because of Olympics overruns that affected 11 of the 20 weeknight newscasts. On those nights, the Winter Games drew the lion's share of viewers while Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11 fought a down-sized three-way battle.

It should be noted that on most Olympics nights, NBC5's late-starting late nighter generally had more viewers than the most-watched, regularly scheduled 10 p.m. newscast. But on the nine nights when all four major TV news providers went head-to-head, NBC5 could only claim the bronze.

The 6 a.m. newscast competitions, which were the least-affected by the Olympics, ended with narrow wins by NBC5 in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Three of the four early evening news matchups resulted in first-place ties, with NBC5 benefiting somewhat from being sandwiched between afternoon and prime-time Olympics coverage.

Here are the results, without year-to-year comparisons because they don't carry that much weight this time out. The true test for all four stations will be the unfettered May "sweeps."

10 P.M.

Total viewers
WFAA8 -- 217,162
CBS11 -- 203,589
Fox4 -- 122,153

WFAA8 -- 101,277
CBS11 -- 85,932
Fox4 -- 58,311

6 A.M.

Total viewers
NBC5 -- 142,512
Fox4 -- 122,153
WFAA8 -- 101,795
CBS11 -- 67,863

NBC5 -- 79,794
Fox4 -- 70,587
WFAA8 -- 58,311
CBS11 -- 42,966

5 P.M.

Total viewers
NBC5/WFAA8 -- 128,940 apiece
Fox4 -- 115,367
CBS11 -- 88,222

WFAA8 -- 52,173
Fox4 -- 49,104
NBC5 -- 46,035
CBS11 -- 30,690

6 P.M.

Total viewers
NBC5/WFAA8 - 162,871 apiece
CBS11 -- 142,512
Fox4 -- 115,367

Fox4/NBC5/WFAA8 -- 58,311 apiece
CBS11 -- 49,104

Schack shucks WFAA8 to take top meteorologist job in old Kentucky home


Jennifer Schack, weekend meteorologist at Dallas-based WFAA8, will be leaving the station after her last shift on March 7th to become the head forecaster at ABC station WTVQ-TV in Lexington, KY.

She sent news of her move via an email Wednesday to unclebarky.com.

"I know viewers always get frustrated when TV talent move on and they are not informed," Schack said. "So I wanted to quickly update you."

Schack, who joined WFAA8 in October, 2008, grew up in California, KY and graduated with a degree in Independent Studies: Meteorology from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, KY. She came to WFAA8 after working four-plus years at 6 News, an independent TV station in Lawrence, Kansas.

"It has been an honor and a pleasure serving North Texas," Schack said. "I feel immensely blessed for my time here."