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Luke Russert Is His Father's Son

"Go Bills."

That's how Luke Russert ended a wide-ranging, 30-minute interview Monday in which the NBC News youth correspondent discussed his family, election coverage and his appreciation of the support from Western New Yorkers since the June 13 death of his father, "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert.

Luke's sign-off was just one illustration that he is his father's son. Of course, he has his father's face. But he also has his outgoing attitude, uses his relatives as a political focus groups and loves Buffalo sports teams.

He is coming here Thursday with his mother, Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth, to celebrate Thanksgiving with his grandfather,Tim Sr., "Big Russ," Tim's sister, Kathy Hughes-Russert, and other relatives.

His plans during his visit here include seeing a Buffalo Sabres game on Friday, a Bills game on Sunday and perhaps drinking a beer on Chippewa Street, where he enjoys the cheaper prices in Buffalo bars.

If any WNYers run into him during his visit, they should know he has his late father's philosophy about greeting strangers who want to talk sports or politics.

"My dad always said to me 'it takes the same amount of time to be nice to someone as it does to be mean,'" said Russert. "He said 'it is nice to be important, but it is important to be nice.'"

To read more about Luke Russert, check out today's story in The Buffalo News. And tell me what you think of the 23-year-old son of Buffalo's favorite son.

-- Alan Pergament   

Vinny and the Boys Find Happiness

Happy endings all the way around on "Entourage"? What a concept.

In Sunday's season finale of HBO's series about the ups and downs of life in Hollywood, Vinny (Adrian Grenier) got off the mat and landed the lead in Martin Scorsese's next film to rescue his career.

Vinny then apologized to his buddy and manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly), who set the wheels in motion and initially was blasted and fired by the star for the unorthodox way he went about it.

And then there's Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), who somehow has managed to get Jamie Lynn Sigler of "The Sopranos" to fall for him.

Things are even going well for Vinny's older brother, Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), and his agent, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).

Of course, Hollywood loves happy endings. Who doesn't? Sunday's was enjoyable even if it came a little too quickly for my taste. But, hey, it's a TV show. Besides, the happiness can't last next summer, when the series returns. I'm not sure if Turtle and Jamie Lynn have a better chance of having a successful, long-term relationship than Vinny and Scorsese.

What did you think of the season finale?

-- Alan Pergament 


UB Fans Question Cable Interference

Time Warner Cable sure was resourceful Friday night in delivering the University at Buffalo's thrilling 40-34 victory over Bowling Green in double overtime that assured the Bulls a postseason bowl bid.

It can even be forgiven the fact that the picture on Channel 13 often had some annoying interference that made it difficult at times to see the field.

TWC carried the game off the Buckeye Cable Sports Network, which is based in Ohio. According to one cable source, the satellite feed was fine, but some of the BCSN cameras and equipment weren't high quality.

But, hey, here's the big picture. Buffalo viewers got to see a history-making game so a little interference seemed a small price to pay.

What did you think of the coverage on Time Warner?

-- Alan Pergament 

ESPN Treats Buffalo Well

After many national prime time telecasts involving the Buffalo Bills, fans usually can find something to complain about.

But ESPN's coverage of the Bills' 29-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns Monday night was respectful of the area and its fans and mostly on the money when dealing with game strategy.

Of course, the ESPN announcing trio of Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico is predisposed to embrace Western New York since Jaws is is a Lackawanna native, Kornheiser graduated from Binghamton and Tirico graduated from Syracuse University.

So it wasn't surprising that they all had nice things to say about the area -- with Kornheiser even saying that people in this country root for small cities like Buffalo and Green Bay where "the weather is tough and there is not a lot of money and you need to be resolute and hardy."

Understandably, Jaworski didn't have nice things to say about Bills quarterback Trent Edwards and some questionable coaching decisions. His job is to be opinionated and he was on the money almost the entire night.

What did you think of the ESPN coverage and its announcers?

-- Alan Pergament

FX Plots January Premieres

Two of the questions I hear most often are: When is "Nip/Tuck" coming back to FX? And how about "Damages"?

FX has finally provided the answer. "Nip/"Tuck" returns for another season at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan.6. The guest list this season includes Sharon Gless, Portia de Rossi and Morgan Fairchild. Yes, Morgan Fairchild.

And "Damages," which stars Glenn Close, premieres the next night at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan.7. This season, William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden and Timothy Olyphant ("Deadwood") have joined the cast.

These FX moves undoubtedly will make it more difficult for the broadcast networks to get more viewers to watch their 10 p.m. shows. This season, the ratings for 10 p.m. series on broadcast networks have fallen sharply.

-- Alan Pergament

Dancing Goes Late but Where's Samantha Who?

You are out of luck if you want to see the live coverage of the semifinals of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" tonight.

Channel 7, the ABC affiliate, is the local broadcast station that has a deal to carry ESPN's coverage of the Buffalo Bills game with the Cleveland Browns for those viewers without cable.

As a result, Channel 7 plans to carry "Dancing" on delay at around 1 a.m. So set your DVRs or VCRs, allowing enough time for a possible overtime in the football game.

Channel 7 also is preempting a heavily-promoted episode of the Christina Applegate comedy "Samantha Who?" and the latest episode of "Boston Legal." The ABC programs won't be carried on delay by Channel 7.

According to a Channel 7 spokesperson, viewers can watch them 3-5 hours after they air by going to and clicking ABC Video from the OnDemand section on the front page of the website.

-- Alan Pergament 

Edwards Brings Local Viewers Back to "ER"

The return of Anthony Edwards to NBC's "ER'' as Dr. Mark Greene brought many local viewers back to the series in its 15th and final season.

In the episode, Dr. Greene appeared in flashbacks unsuccessfully treating the sick son of Dr. Cate Banfield (Angela Bassett) years ago after she delayed bringing him to the emergency room. It had a local rating that was about 50 percent higher than "ER" has received recently on Channel 2. The 14.9 rating was even higher than the 13.5 rating that  ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" had an hour earlier on Channel 7.

I called the very sad episode -- in which Dr. Greene discovered that the son of the future emergency room chief was much sicker than she suspected -- moving and hauntingly effective. Dr. Greene died of brain cancer six seasons ago, which is why he appeared in flashbacks in scenes that had applications to a current case involving a child that Dr. Banfield was treating. 

What did you think of the episode? Did it live up to your expectations? And will it bring you back to "ER" for the series' final episodes?

-- Alan Pergament

Gov. Palin Cooks Up New Image

She is everywhere, she is everywhere. We're talking about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who cooked for NBC's Matt Lauer on "Today" this week during a media tour that also included interviews with Fox's Greta Van Susteren, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Larry King and just about any other media member who wanted to talk with her.

Whether it was Lauer eating a salmon dish or Van Susteren taking a snowmobile ride with Gov. Palin's husband, Todd, the media looked very silly being part of this rehabiliation ride.

How silly? About as silly as some of Gov. Palin's answers in interviews while she was Sen. John McCain's running mate. She tried to explain those answers away in the interviews without much success but her new media buddies rarely called her on her unusual, illogical spin.

Naturally, the Palin interviews became fodder for "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart Wednesday night, which showed clips of the media members eating Gov. Palin's spin up like it was salmon casserole.

In an interview this week, Stewart said of the Palin tour: "I think that in general the news media is weak-kneed. It is that passive aggression. They feel as though 'wait a minute, if we reported on her lack of knowledge, don't we have to go back now and pretend that she was unbelievably qualified.' It is their typical self-flagellation cycle."

I'm with Stewart. What is your take on the Palin media tour? Do you think the media looks silly or is being used? Or have you found the interviews important and valuable?

-- Alan Pergament   


Red Light TV Specials from Interest Group

Keep your children out of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and away from the Fox animated shows like "American Dad" and "Family Guy."

That's the word from The Parents Television Council, a watchdog organization that calls itself non-partisan but is viewed by many to be a conservative interest group.

The three prime time programs above were declared as red light shows that are not suitable to children ages 2-17 who watch them. The PTC said it rated the top 20 broadcast TV programs that kids watch based on language, sexual content, violence and overall themes of each program.

The unsuitable six also include Fox's "House," the disgusting Fox reality show "Moment of Truth" and NBC's "Heroes," with "Heroes' presumably making the list because of its level of violence. If you're keeping score, five of the six "unsuitable" shows are on Fox. What a shock!

The PTC's annual ranking of the suitability of the TV shows that kids watch most were put in three categories -- green light for most suitable; yellow light for questionably suitable; and red light for unsuitable.

The most suitable green light group doesn't  include one scripted series. The list consists of five reality shows -- "American Idol," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader," "Don't Forget the Lyrics," "Deal or No Deal" and NBC Sunday Night Football.

The questionably suitable yellow light group includes six reality shows -- "Dancing with the Stars," "So You Think You Can Dance," "America's Got Talent," "Amazing Race," "Survivor" and "American Gladiators." The other two shows on the list are Fox animated series "King of the Hill" and "The Simpsons."

I'm guessing "Dancing with the Stars" makes the yellow list because some of the costumes are skimpy and some of the dances are suggestive.

Noticeably absent from the list of the top 20 prime time series with kids are any comedies starring real-life actors. Some readers might be surprised that several CBS comedies, including the popular "Two and a Half Men," didn't make the unsuitable list. That suggests something that is true locally -- very few young children watch them -- is also true nationally. 

What do you think of the list? And what do you think about the idea of the list?

-- Alan Pergament


Breaking Up Wasn't Hard to Do on "Grey's"

Talk about a quick breakup. The end of this season's lesbian relationship on "Grey's Anatomy" Thursday between Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) was so abrupt that it didn't give the two characters much time to deal with many issues.

In the episode's next-to-last scene, Erica broke up with Callie as they walked out of Seattle Grace Hospital together. Erica was angry that she didn't get Callie's support on an ethical issue involving the heart stolen by Izzie Stevens' (Katherine Heigl) in an unsuccessful attempt to save her beloved heart patient Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who kept popping up in fantasy scenes).

Erica wanted to launch an investigation that would have put Izzie's career and the hospital in jeopardy. She blasted Callie on the ethical issue and coupled it with a shot aimed at Callie's bisexuality.

"There is no gray area here," said Erica of the stolen heart that was originally intended for her patient. "You can't kind of think this is okay. You can't kind of side with Izzie Stevens and you can't kind of be a lesbian."

"Yes, I can," responded Callie.

That led Erica to deliver one of the classic breakup lines used by many: "I don't know you at all."

Callie stood speechless after that line as Erica walked away.

Creator Shonda Rhimes has said the relationship ended because of creative reasons, but it deserved  to be dealt with over a few episodes or at least a few scenes rather than just one argumentative scene.

What did you think of the relationship and how it ended?

-- Alan Pergament   

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |