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CW's "90210" Kept From Critics

The CW has decided to keep Tuesday's premiere of the heavily-hyped new series, "90210," a spinoff of the popular 1990s Fox series, out of the hands and sharpened pencils of television critics.

The network has announced that it won't send out a screener of the series, which has a two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WNLO-TV.

In a release, the CW and its studio partner, CBS Paramount Network Television, said it was a "strategic" marketing decision to not screen the pilot for any media.

"We're not hiding anything," the release stated, "simply keeping a lid on '90210' until 9:02 (Tuesday), riding the curiosity and anticipation into premiere night and letting all our constituents see it at the same time."

Color me skeptical. Movie companies typically avoid screening films that they know will be lambasted by critics. Since most television critics are far removed from the young demographic that "90210" is seeking, you can understand why the CW might be reluctant to send them preview screeners.

-- Alan Pergament

 

ESPNU HD Arrives on Time Warner

Here's some news that college football fans with high definition television sets will be cheering. Time Warner Cable announced today that it will carry ESPNU HD just in time for the college football season.

It will be carried on Channel 725 in time for Thursday's 7:30 p.m. game between Vanderbilt and Miami of Ohio. ESPNU's schedule of Thursday and Saturday games will be carried in HD throughout the season.

Of course, ESPNU has an extensive schedule of college sports, which will be available in HD as well.

Now if TWC's parent company would just find a way to get The NFL Network back on local cable in time for the NFL season. Dream on.

-- Alan Pergament

The Doctors to the Rescue at Channel 7

Here's some potentially good news for the health of 7 News. Channel 7 apparently is ending the run of the afternoon audience killer, "PM/Buffalo."

The station hasn't exactly announced the end of the 4 p.m. program, but it has begun running billboards that promote a new syndicated program, "The Doctors," that will air at 4 p.m.

The new program will serve as the lead-in for 7 News at 5 p.m., a newscast that has had to create its own audience because the lead-in from "PM/Buffalo" has been so anemic.

"The Doctors" -- in which four doctors discuss the day's medical issues -- is no threat to Oprah Winfrey on Channel 4 or Ellen DeGeneres on Channel 2, which are the 4 p.m. competition. But presumably  the new Channel 7 show can't have ratings that are more unhealthy for the 5 p.m. news than "PM/Buffalo" has provided for years. But you never know. 

In other news, sources say that Channel 7 isn't planning to run newscasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays during the college football season. The move makes sense since ABC's popular college games often make it difficult for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news programs to run at reasonable times anyway.

The same sources say the station is expected to resume the Saturday newscasts after the college season ends.

-- Alan Pergament

Edwards and His Horrible Decision-Making

You really have to wonder about the decision-making abilities of disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

I'm not just talking about the affair that he has admitted to having with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.

I'm talking about his choice of meeting places with Hunter. According to tabloid reports, Edwards met with July 21 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. and left the next morning.

That was the same morning that I left the Hilton after spending 12 days there during the Television Critics Association summer meetings. Many of the 150-200 journalists at the meetings remained at the hotel for another day.

When I told a friend from New Orleans about that, he cracked: "What a smart place to hold a secret meeting. At a hotel where 150 journalists are staying."

-- Alan Pergament

 

 

American Gymnasts Keep WNYers Awake

There should be a lot of bleary eyes among workers in Western New York this morning. The surprising bronze medal performance of the injury-depleted United States men's gymnastic team Monday night at the Beijing Olympics pulled a 17.0 rating on Channel 2 at 12:15 a.m.. That means 17 percent of the area's households were tuned in shortly before  Alexander Artemev's exceptional performance on the pommel horse saved his team's medal hopes.

The U.S. team finished behind gold medal winner China and silver medalist Japan.

Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, continues to get higher ratings than the national average during the Olympics. Monday's coverage of gymnastics and the performance of the U.S. swimming team, including Michael Phelps' third gold medal, averaged a 20.4 rating from 8 p.m. to midnight. At 12:30 a.m. -- about the time the gymnastic team competition ended -- the rating was an exceptionally strong 16.4. 

-- Alan Pergament

Beijing Games a Hit in Western New York

How big an attraction are the Beijing Olympics to Western New Yorkers?

Would you believe, Channel 2's prime time coverage out-rated the Buffalo Bills preseason opener Saturday against Washington on Channel 7?

The Games averaged a 16.2 rating on Channel 2, while the Bills game averaged a 14.7 rating on Channel 7.

Naturally, the 16.2 rating was the lowest-rated of the first three prime time nights. Despite competing against the Bills, Channel 2 was getting Olympic ratings higher than the national average of 16.2 for the first two nights.

The opening ceremonies averaged a 20.1 rating on Channel 2 on Friday and Sunday's taped women's gymnastics coverage and live coverage of the United States' incredible comeback victory over France in the 4X100 men's freestyle race led to a 20.9 rating.Channel 2 also is drawing incredible daytime audiences.

For a review of NBC's coverage of the first three nights of the Games, read Tuesday's Buffalo News.

-- Alan Pergament   

What a Finishing Kick at the Beijing Games

Wow. What a finish of the four-hour opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games.

It almost defies description. Li Ning, the Chinese gymnast who won three gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, was chosen to light the Olympic torch during a high-wire act.

He circled the stadium holding a torch while running against a red print background while attached to wires. As he completed his 360 degree run, a huge white Olympic torch wrapped in red became visible and he lit it with his torch as chilling music played. That was followed by an incredible fireworks display.

NBC carries the ceremonies starting at 7:30 tonight. As interesting as the Parade of Nations can be, they do tend to get a bit long and the obligatory speeches at the end don't help. But if you're tempted to go to bed at 11 p.m., think again. Ning's run and the entire ending can't be missed.

-- Alan Pergament

Color Me Impressed by Beijing Ceremonies

Well, I've just finished watching this morning's performance part of the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics on CBC and it was as visually spectacular as promised by NBC's Bob Costas.

I imagine the spectacular colors in the one-hour presentation directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou will be even more incredible in high definition when NBC carries it at 7:30 tonight. CBC's coverage isn't carried in high definition on local cable.

Speaking of NBC, it was practicing some unnecessary censorship this morning on "Today," pretending that the opening ceremonies weren't happening this morning.

"This one promises to be perhaps the most memorable of all the opening ceremonies I've witnessed," said Costas shortly before they began.

While CBC's Peter Mansbridge and Ron MacLean were discussing the four Chinese inventions -- gunpowder, paper, printing and the compass -- that would be celebrated in the opening ceremonies on CBC, Costas and "Today" host Matt Lauer were giving a preview of the ceremonies.

Of course, most of America can't get Canadian coverage and didn't know what it was missing.

If you watched this morning, what did you think of the ceremonies? Or do you plan on waiting for NBC's coverage tonight?

-- Alan Pergament

Former Channel 7 Personality Lands Game Show

Mark Thompson, the former Channel 7 weather forecaster who has become a Los Angeles television personality, has landed a new network television job.

He and Brooke Burns will co-host "Hole in the Wall," which Fox describes as "body-bending, mind-twisting, global game show phenomenon from the producers of 'American Idol.'"

The show, which features teams of players contorting their bodies individually or in unison to fit through a wall, premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 on WUTV.

Speaking of mind-twisting, how many of you remember Thompson from his Channel 7 days?

-- Alan Pergament

 

 

Olympic Cheer for Time Warner

Basketball and soccer fans who have the digital cable tier will be cheering the loudest today for Time Warner Cable's plans to cover the Beijing Olympic Games.

The cable provider will carry NBC's Olympics Soccer Channel and its Olympic Basketball Channel, which will cover all the men's and women's games in the two sports 12 hours a day. The soccer channel will be carried on Channel 788 and the basketball channel will be carried on Channel 789.

In addition, TWC will allow digital subscribers to get 379 hours of Universal HD's coverage even if they don't subscribe to the extra HD package.

For more on TV's coverage of the Games, read Thursday's edition of The Buffalo News.

-- Alan Pergament

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