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Channel 7 Debuts Its Version of the 10 O'Clock News

Well, the headline is a little deceiving. The truth is Channel 7 plans to tape tonight's late newscast at 10:20 p.m. and run it after the first game of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic ends. That could be close to midnight.

It plans to do the same thing throughout the NBA Finals, which could last seven games and end June 18.

In a memo to the staff, John DiSciullo, Channel 7's director of strategic content, news operations and community affairs, wrote "material for news, weather and sports will need to be ready earlier to accommodate this taping schedule."

The reason for the taping isn't in the memo, but staffers can figure it out. The taping avoids paying overtime since the games can end at midnight or later.

The plan does have some potential for embarrassment if any newsworthy event occurs at 11 p.m., when the news normally runs live. But you would hope the station has a contingency plan.

What do you think of the idea of taping the news?

-- Alan Pergament  

I'm a TV Critic, Get Me Out of Here

On the theory that every TV critic should be able to handle 15 minutes of a painful reality series, I checked out NBC's remake of the ABC failure, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," on Monday.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the 15 minutes I chose featured Patti Blagojevich -- the wife of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- telling the other so-called "celebrities" that her husband was railroaded.

The other celebrities seemed convinced by Mrs. Blago's defense, with Spencer Pratt even telling her he would have voted for Blagojevich for President of the United States.

Pratt, who became a celebrity on another reality show, MTV's "The Hills," wasn't kidding. Later, his wife, Heidi, led a prayer for Blagojevich, whose wife landed on the show after a judge refused to allow the governor to travel to Costa Rico to be part of it.

This was the most (unintentionally) funny 15 minutes of TV on NBC all year. Better than anything on "The Office" or even "30 Rock."

But seriously, does NBC think a stupid reality show that features airhead celebrities is the ideal place to try the Blagojevich racketeering case? Can't the prosecutors get equal time on say "America's Got Talent" or "The Biggest Loser"?

If you watched more than 15 minutes, what did you think of the "Celebrity" opener and Mrs. Blago's defense?

-- Alan Pergament


Conan Has Good Start in Marathon

It is a marathon and not a sprint, but Conan O'Brien's fast-paced opening "Tonight Show" got off to a promising start Monday night.

However, since it had so many pre-recorded bits, it may be difficult to keep up the pace.

The clever opening bit featured O'Brien running from his old office in New York City through various landmarks across the country (including Wrigley Field in Chicago) to eventually land at the Universal Studio stage in Los Angeles where his new show is being taped.

It was amusing, though it ran just a little too long. There also were filmed pieces following O'Brien in his 1992 Taurus attracting a bevy of beauties; leading a tour of Universal Studios; and illustrating his celebrity status by sitting in the last row at a Los Angeles Lakers game eating pop corn.

The bits were all pretty amusing, playing off O'Brien's outsider status and California stereotypes.

The opening monologue started off well with O'Brien noting his timing was perfect now that he works for the last place network in a bankrupt state on a show sponsored by General Motors. But clearly, the monologue isn't going to be as important to O'Brien as it was to his predecessor, Jay Leno.

O'Brien smartly acknowledged Leno and did a brief imitation of him after cracking that the former "Tonight Show" host would be back with a new show in two or three days tops.

The first guest, Will Ferrell, is in serious danger of being overexposed. But he has a movie coming out and was there to paint O'Brien as an underdog.

"It's so incredible," said Ferrell. "Because like no one thought you could do it. Like literally no one thought you could do it... And you're here."

Later, Ferrell started singing a song, "Never Can Say Goodbye" to O'Brien before the host cut him off to advise him that it wasn't a goodbye show.

"Don't get me wrong," said Ferrell. "I'm pulling for you man. This whole thing is a crap shoot at best."

It will take weeks or even months to know if O'Brien can pull the move to "Tonight" off. But nothing that happened in Monday's lively show made you think he couldn't appeal to Middle America and succeed.

What did you think of O'Brien's first show?

-- Alan Pergament   

Channel 4's Postles Can't Keep a Secret

Like any good journalist, Channel 4 anchor Don Postles knows you should protect your sources at all costs and occasionally you have to hold a good story to protect them.

But according to a story in Saturday's edition of The New York Times about Friday's wedding of Postles' daughter, Elizabeth, and Richard William Sanderson Jago of England, Postles couldn't keep his future son-in-law's plan to ask his daughter to marry him a secret. 

According to the Times, Richard William Sanderson Jago of England was in he backyard of the Postles' home a year ago and asked for Don Postles' blessing to marry his daughter. His plan was to later propose to Elizabeth.

"When informed of Mr. Jago's intentions," wrote the Times reporter, "Mr. Postles threw his drink on the lawn, started yelling in celebration and hugging his future son-in-law before running into the house and shouting the good news to his wife (Anne)." 

Needless to say, Mr. Jago's plan to propose later was accelerated. They were immediately engaged.

Do you have a better engagement story than that? 

-- Alan Pergament


Leno's Finale Isn't Memorable

The most memorable thing about the last installment of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Friday was how little memorable there was about it.

The "surprise" he promised at the end was sweet. Leno introduced the 17-year-daughter of the band's trombone player, who was born in 1992 a few weeks after Leno took over the show from Johnny Carson. Then Leno talked about all the couples on the staff who had met and married and proclaimed his legacy as being all the children they had.

The curtain revealed 68 children had been born over the 17 years in which Leno presided over the late night show.

Leno controlled his emotions throughout the show, which made the hour practically seem like any other episode in May.

The monologue -- which included an obligatory joke about Jon and Kate -- wasn't anything to write home about.The interview in which Leno's replacement, Conan O'Brien, talked about having "big shoes'  to fill, was routine and ended with O'Brien being cut-off for a commercial as he tried to return the host's praise. 

Even the song, "Sweet Baby James,"  that a Leno favorite , James Taylor, sang for the host didn't seem to move Leno that much.

The Associated Press report on the finale Saturday said that Leno's voice was "thickened" by emotion during his legacy talk at the end. But I didn't see that. In fact, I didn't see much emotion throughout the routine hour.

The finale did pull in hefty numbers locally. The hour averaged an 11.6 rating, which represents 11.6 percent of area households and easily would have been NBC's top prime time show.  The final 15 minutes had a 9.4 rating at 1:15 a.m. which also is impressive.

What did you think of Leno's finale?

-- 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.

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