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Classic TV Irony

Isn't it ironic that the Retro Television Network, which carries classic television shows, is going to be saved locally by a technological advance?

RTN, which was carried on WNGS until late January, is expected to return shortly on the third digital channel of WGRZ-TV, the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate.

Thanks to digital, stations can have four separate channels. WGRZ-TV already carries a second channel, Weather Plus (which NBC is expected to shutdown shortly). RTN will be its third.

According to RTN officials, the Buffalo market has been the most interested in the return of "The Rockford Files," "Magnum, P.I." and other classic shows.

Does the return of RTN excite you?

-- Alan Pergament   

Forecast Cloudy on Whether Maria Genero Will Do Weather Again

It looks like Maria Genero is a candidate for a weekend weather job at Channel 2. Genero, who used to be a weather anchor at Channel 4 and in Los Angeles and Miami, popped up over the weekend to do weather on WGRZ-TV.

It is unclear if Genero, who left a Saturday morning program, "WNY Living," on Channel 2 to work for the Buffalo Sabres, is a candidate for weekends. The station has had a weather opening since Chesley McNeil left to take a job in Atlanta.

Jim Toellner, Channel 2's general manager, was non-committal when asked about Genero's status.

"Maria filled in while other people were vacationing," said Toellner. "We're always open to possibilities."

There also is a possibility that SallyAnn Mosey, who recently was let go by a New York station, is a candidate for the weather job. 

What do you think about the possibility of Genero or Mosey doing Channel 2 weekend weather reports?

-- Alan Pergament  

May Sweeps Don't Look That Special

Tired of watching reruns and discovering your favorite network shows are on at surprising times?

Those annoyances will end Thursday when the May sweeps officially begin.

It's been awhile since the networks loaded up on specials during the sweeps, when advertising rates for affiliates are traditionally determined.

And after taking a quick look at network schedules, it doesn't look there is going to be much that is truly special this May.

Of course, the crowning of the next "American Idol" on May 20 will be the big event even though Adam Lambert practically has been crowned the champ weekly by the judges. Good heavens, even Simon Cowell was applauding from his seat Tuesday night.

It is hard to get worked up about much at NBC, which is giving "The Biggest Loser: Couples" (May 12) and "Celebrity Apprentice" (May 10) three-hour finales.

NBC also is loading up on the big name guests, including an appearances by Alan Alda on the May 14 season finale of "30 Rock." Amusingly, Geraldo Rivera pops up on "My Name Is Earl" on April 30.

CBS' sweeps schedule is almost totally reliant on its series, which makes sense since it is the network that has had the most success in that category this season.

One of its hottest shows, "The Big Bang Theory," has a May 11 season finale in which Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) "reconsider their feelings for one another."

On the May 19 season finale of "The Mentalist," Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) may be drawn into a trap by serial killer Red John. 

And on May 20, a member of the "CSI: NY" team is murdered and another CSI is threatened.

ABC hasn't released its sweeps schedule yet, but the biggest events are expected to be the May 19 crowning of the "Dancing with the Stars" champion and the season finales of "Lost"  (May 13), Grey's Anatomy"(May 14), and "Desperate Housewives" (May 17)

All the above dates are tentative, since the networks are known to make some last-minute changes.

I just got word that ABC is sending a "Grey's Anatomy" repeat at 8 p.m. Thursday in place of the low-rated comedies "In the Motherhood' and "Samantha Who?"

After the May sweeps end, the networks begin filling time slots with mostly inane reality shows. So if I were you, I'd fill my DVR up throughout May.

What season finales are you looking forward to seeing this May? And have you been encouraged or disappointed by the 2008-09 TV season?

-- Alan Pergament 

Boom Days Are Over: Madden Retires

It's hard to call the decision of 73-year-old announcing legend John Madden to retire a "shocker."

But it's still a surprise because from the day he began calling NFL games in 1980, Madden seemed like an ageless kid who loved his job.

He had a solid final game alongside Al Michaels calling Pittsburgh's 27-23 victory over Arizona in the 2009 Super Bowl on NBC so there were no calls for him to hang up his microphone.

The praise is coming from all directions today and deservedly so. I wasn't always a big fan and thought his act had grown a little stale by the time he joined Monday Night Football in 2002. But the move to prime time seem to re-energize him and he's being called the game's greatest analyst.

I'll be addressing his retirement and his announcing career in Friday's Buffalo News.

What did you think of Madden as an analyst? And what do you think of his decision to retire?

-- Alan Pergament

Let's Make a Deal with The NFL Network

Have no fear, the Buffalo Bills prime time game with the New York Jets in Toronto on Dec. 3 on The NFL Network will get double coverage here on a local network affiliate if it is sold out 72 hours in advance as expected.

At this point, we just don't know which station will get the simulcast. A Bills spokesman confirmed this morning that no local station owns the rights to NFL Network games and it will be open to a bidding process.

Of course, The NFL Network isn't carried on Time Warner Cable. If a deal between The NFL and TWC isn't struck by Dec.3, a local station stands to gain more from a deal with the NFL Network than it would from a deal with ESPN. After all, ESPN already is on cable and shares the audience with the local affiliate simulcasting the game.

According to sources,Channel 7 owns the simulcast rights to the Bills opener with New England on ESPN's Monday Night Football Sept. 14.

As I predicted on March 28, the NFL wasn't about to be persuaded by the signing of Terrell Owens that the Bills would be a big prime time attraction. I said back then that the Bills probably would have gotten one ESPN game if Owens hadn't signed on the basis of their 7-9 record. I thought they'd probably get one additional game either on ESPN or The NFL Network and that's what happened.

Historically, the NFL doesn't rely on one player in determing its prime time games because that player could be hurt by the time a game is played or he might not have as much impact as expected.

In any event, what do you think of the Bills' television schedule?

-- Alan Pergament

Whitner Gets Triple Coverage

Just once I wish the local TV news departments would surprise me after a Buffalo Bill gets in some off-the-field trouble.

It didn't happen Monday when the local newscasts went heavy with reports about safety Donte Whitner being Tasered in front of a Cleveland nightclub and spending much of Saturday in jail after being accused of trying to join a "near riot."

Whitner was released from jail Saturday afternoon and the incident was extensively reported Sunday. There was only a minor update on Monday. It was nothing that deserved the lead of a newscast. After all, it wasn't like he was accused of severely hurting anyone or anything -- except for his own reputation.

Sure, the Bills are this area's major celebrities. It's a story worth reporting and worth discussing on radio talk shows. But a little news perspective was in order. In the scope of things, Whitner's jailing was hardly the most important news of the day.

What did you think about how the story was covered on TV?

-- Alan Pergament 

The Presidency and Life on Mars


I learned today how serious fans of the ABC series "Life on Mars" are about the canceled series.

In my column today about last week's series finale, I said that the series had Michelle Obama being the President in 2035.

I made the assumption that the President Obama referred to near the end of the episode was Michelle because her daughters, Malia and Sasha, would be too young to have been elected in 2032.

However, the dialogue at the end of the show clearly noted that "President Obama and her sister" are going to see their seriously ill father in Chicago.

Michelle's father is deceased and she doesn't have a sister. However, her mother could re-marry, which would result in her having a stepfather she considers a father in 2035. Her brother, Craig, is married so she could have a sister-in-law that she considers a sister in 2035. 

Admittedly, those scenarios are big stretches so the dialogue suggests Malia was probably President. So I apparently was wrong. But so were the writers of "Mars."

Malia, who is the oldest daughter of President Obama and his wife, was born on July 4, 1998. She would be 34 in 2032 when the last presidential election before 2035 would have been held. She also would be 34 in January 2033 when when it was inauguration time. 

The Constitution states that you have to be 35 to be president or vice president. So Malia couldn't be elected President in 2032 and it's a stretch to believe she'd become President when she was old enough in 2035 in any other way. I mean it's hard to imagine a Constitutional amendment passed that would lower the age requirement. 

Gee, after reading this over, I guess I'm taking a throwaway line a little too seriously, too,

-- Alan Pergament

"House" Doctor Heads to White House


I didn't see that one coming. The big surprise on Monday's powerful episode of "House" wasn't that Meat Loaf (credited as Meat Loaf Aday) did such a fine job as a patient on the medical series..

It was that Dr. Lawrence Kutner, played by actor Kal Penn, apparently committed suicide. I say apparently because Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) was skeptical and thought he might have been murdered.

But a Fox release today confirmed it was suicide.

Kutner didn't die before our eyes. His body was discovered in his apartment alongside a gun by two members of the House medical team, who didn't see suicidal tendencies, either. The actor didn't have a role in the episode, which (from next week's preview) may complicate the relationship between Dr. House and Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison).

It is only natural to wonder if Penn left in a contract dispute or because of unhappiness with his role.

But according to Entertainment Weekly, the actor is leaving to work for the Obama Administration. The magazine quotes him as saying he will become the associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison.

What did you think of Kutner's death and Meat Loaf's performance?

-- Alan Pergament

Earth to Engblom


We're used to studio analysts saying things about sports that boggle the mind.

But Brian Engblom's analysis of the Buffalo Sabres play after the first period of their 4-1 loss to Detroit was a real head-scratcher on Versus.

He seemed to think the game was being played in Detroit, rather than in HSBC Arena. 

"The Detroit Red Wings can overwhelm in your own building," said Engblom.

 Oh, well, anyone can make one mistake.

But he also said "going into Detroit (the Sabres) are off to a pretty good start."

Amazingly, Engblom's partners in the studio didn't correct him.

Oh, well, we all know where the Sabres are now after the loss? In deep, deep trouble.

If you watched Monday's game on Versus, what did you think of Engblom and the other so-called "experts."

-- Alan Pergament