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High Anxiety at Channel 7

The report that the company that owns Channel 7 in Buffalo has dropped most of its news operations at its Syracuse station, WTVH-TV, and is eliminating at least 40 jobs there has added to the anxiety level at WKBW-TV.

The moves resulted from an agreement that WTVH-TV made to combine business operations with a competitor, WSTM-TV, in Syracuse.

WKBW-TV staffers are wondering if a similar arrangement can happen to the Granite Broadcasting station here located in a bigger market.

The general managers of Channel 4 and Channel 2 here said Monday they are unaware of any discussions between their owners and Granite about making a similar arrangement here.

And one knowledgeable industry source told me today that Granite's Buffalo station is in much better shape than its Syracuse station and "it is a much different situation." The source added that the Buffalo market also has a benefit that is missing in Syracuse -- Canadian advertising.

The source concluded that Granite is unlikely to try a similar plan here in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, the threat of it happening surely could influence the contentious contract talks  between Channel 7's management and its union workers.

What do you make of the Syracuse situation and its possible impact here?

-- Alan Pergament

Justin Saves Fallon in Unimpressive Debut


Jimmy Fallon owes Justin Timberlake big time. Timberlake's singing impressions of John Mayer and Michael McDonald were the highlight of Monday's premiere of NBC's "Late Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Indeed, Justin was so relaxed and so entertaining that he looked like a better choice to replace Conan O'Brien than Fallon.

The one bit featuring the likable Fallon that worked well was his "slow jamming" a news item in his monologue about the stimulus package with Tariq of the house band The Roots. And Tariq actually is the one who best made it work.

An opening bit in which Conan was packing in the dressing room to make way for Fallon had one good line. When Fallon asked Conan if he would be getting Jay Leno's dressing room when he takes over "The Tonight Show" in California, O'Brien replied sadly: "Jay isn't leaving." Of course, Leno will have a prime time show in the fall.

But the much-publicized first interview with Robert DeNiro went off as awkwardly as expected. The legendary film star wasn't quite as distant and reluctant to talk as Joaquin Phoenix, but his brief answers to Fallon's questions put him in the neighborhood.

All the pre-show talk about the high-tech ways that Fallon's show would seek to attract younger viewers weren't immediately visible. There wasn't anything on the show that spoke to young viewers, unless you count a laughless, sophomoric bit in which members of the studio audience were asked to lick a lawnmower, a copier and a fish bowl for a $10 bill.

Fallon is living in a fish bowl bowl and his every move will be judged. It isn't fair to judge him off one awkward, nervous episode, but he didn't exactly make a strong first impression.

What did you think of his first show? Would you stay up to watch his show on a regular basis?

-- Alan Pergament

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