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"The Office" Wedding Will Be Private

Since I reported several days ago that Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) of "The Office" will be getting married shortly in Niagara Falls, I've gotten several emails from local residents who want to watch the filming.

Sorry folks, a NBC spokesperson told me Thursday that the wedding will be on "a closed set," which means it is off-limits to the public and the media.

-- Alan Pergament

T.O Show Distorts Reality

If you caught Monday's disappointing fourth episode of VH1's "The T.O. Show," you saw Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens romance a 22-year-old babe who didn't exactly get the seal of approval from publicist/friend Monique Jackson.

T.O. listened to Monique's motherly advice and decided to take his date to the ESPY Awards anyway.

That was amazing since anyone who watched the 2009 ESPYs recently undoubtedly saw T.O. sitting next to Kita Williams, the other publicist/friend who co-stars on his show.

That suggests T.O. took the 22-year-old to the 2008 ESPYs, when the show's original pilot was shot.

By the end of the episode, T.O. and the date broke up. However, she is in the previews for next week's show.

We just don't know when it was shot. Of course, anyone who thinks that reality shows are spontaneous and based on reality hasn't been paying attention.

What did you think of the fourth episode, which I thought was the weakest of the season?

-- Alan Pergament

Kane Case Highlights Media Change

I turned on WGR radio Monday afternoon and was surprised to hear co-host Mike Schopp say the station wasn't going to use the name of the city cab driver who has accused National Hockey League star Patrick Kane and his cousin of robbing him and attacking him early Sunday morning.

Schopp explained that he was following the example of sister station, WBEN, which specializes in news coverage and opinion. He said the idea was to protect the victim.

How caring. How naive.

In today's media world, names are going to get out quickly in high-profile cases involving professional athletes like the Kane case.

A few hours after Schopp made his comments, the cabbie's own lawyer, Andrew LoTempio, was using 62-year-old Jan Radecki's name on a Chicago radio station.

Of course, there are some good reasons to protect the names of victims in the news. They usually involve rape and sex cases or cases involving people who would be susceptible to crimes -- like the elderly -- if their names and addresses are used.

But these days, even women who accuse men of rape don't always have their names protected.

When Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was recently accused of rape in a civil case filed by a Nevada casino worker, he used her name in a press conference in which he denied the accusations.

In the Kane case, there was no apparent reason to keep Radecki's name a secret. And you could make a more compelling argument that his name should have been used in the media to see if there were any skeletons in his closet.

With the cabbie's name out there, it would be easier to determine if there was anyone who could speak to his reputation and possibly help determine who actually was the victim.

On Monday night, Channel 2 was the only local station not to use Radecki's name. Channel 7 and Channel 4 both played portions of the conversation that LoTempio had with a Chicago radio station host in which the lawyer used his client's name. That made it acceptable for the stations to use his name.

On another matter in the case, some elements of the news media are treating the accusations against the Kanes as facts. This morning, I heard a WGR staffer say the dispute came in a disagreement over 20 cents. Actually, Radecki told police that the dispute was over the fare and it should be presented that way in media reports and not reported as fact.

Of course, in today's media world, accusations sadly are also routinely treated as fact without attribution.

Do you still think the media should have kept the cabbie's name a secret? Or do you understand why the media eventually decided to use his name?

-- Alan Pergament

    

Shaq Rooting for T.O.

PASADENA, Calif. -- The biggest star at an ABC party that closed the television critics tour Saturday night was the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal.

O'Neal was there to promote his Aug. 18 reality series "Shaq Vs." in which he gets a handicap before taking on Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in football; Wimbledon champ Serena Williams in tennis; Oscar De La Hoya in boxing, St. Louis star Albert Pujols in baseball; Olympic champs Misty May-Treanor and Keri Walsh in volleyball; and Olympic star Michael Phelps in swimming.

For instance, he might have to swim one lap in a race while Phelps has to swim two laps.

Naturally, I looked for Shaq at the party, which was attended by such ABC stars as Courteney Cox and Dana Delany.

Amazingly, I couldn't immediately find him. Then someone advised me to look up for the tallest person in the room. In five seconds, I found him in the corner of the ballroom where the party was held.

Eventually, I got to ask him a few questions, including whether he was a NFL fan. "I'm a T.O. fan," said Shaq of the Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens. "Because I know him, he's a phenomenal athlete. I feel like if he knew how to be promotional and market things like me, he'd be better for it. However, he doesn't really care. He just wants to win, he works really hard."

Well, actually T.O. seems to care this summer. He's got his own reality show, which ONeal said he hasn't seen. And Owens also was in ABC's "Superstars."

Asked how he thinks Owens will do in Buffalo this season, O'Neal came up with one of his quotable  expressions. "If you feed a wild dog, he won't bark. If you feed him and keep him happy, he won't say nothing. If you allow him running around and they're not throwing him the ball and they start losing, he'll go, 'hey, I'm here, I'm the greatest wide receiver, why don't you throw (me) the ball?'"

Of course, Shaq and Owens have something in common this year. They are aging stars -- O'Neal is 37, Owens 35 -- who have moved to Rust Belt teams. O'Neal is now a Cleveland Cavalier.

Will you watch Shaq's show? And what do you think of his take on T.O.?

-- Alan Pergament

ABC Reveals Modern Family Secret

PASADENA, Calif. -- The new comedy that is getting the best critical buzz this fall is ABC's "Modern Family," a very funny mockumentary in which cameras follow around one traditional family and two non-traditional families.

ABC originally asked critics to avoid giving out the show's big secret in their reviews of the pilot, which stars Ed O'Neill, Julie Bowen and several other actors with less recognizable names.

To be honest, I didn't see the secret coming and executive producer Steve Levitan said that even his cynical writing friends didn't guess it.

"We wanted to preserve the surprise," said Levitan. But he added that ABC changed its mind about keeping the secret after it did audience testing.  

If you don't want to know the secret and haven't seen any promos that have revealed it, stop reading now. I will say not knowing probably would help your enjoyment of the pilot but not later episodes.

So here it is -- all three of the families are related.

Levitan said ABC changed its mind about keeping that secret because one of the things that test audiences liked about the show "is the fact that they are all one family."

-- Alan Pergament  

The Return of The Rockford Files

PASADENA, Calif. -- David Shore, the creator of the popular Fox series "House," is going back to the future for his next project.

Shore is developing a new version of "The Rockford Files," the detective series starring Jim Garner that ran on NBC from 1974 through 1980 and still is popular on the RTV Network. It also returned with a series of movies in the mid to late 1990s.

"Am I an idiot?" asked Shore at a Fox party here. "It was a great show and a great character. It can be a great show again I think. It was one of those shows I watched and loved and sort of influenced me. It was one of the first shows that combined the humor and the action. It is as simple as that."

He said he is very early in the development process for the series, which would air on NBC.

"I haven't even started writing," said Shore.

He said he was talking with another writer-producer about what he wanted to do next when the idea first came up.

"I said I really don't want to re-make something, I really didn't want to adapt something," said Shore. "And then I said, the one exception would be 'The Rockford Files.' And literally, the next day (someone from) NBC Universal asked me if I would be interested in doing 'The Rockford Files.' I can't say no. It really is that one show."

Asked how much would change, Shore said "not that much probably. Probably little things here and there. I don't think you need to change it for the sake of changing. It was a fundamentally sound show and it's just a matter of doing it my way and figuring out who the right new star is."

And just what kind of actor would he be looking for to play Rockford?

"Hugh Laurie, if I could get him off of 'House,'" cracked Shore. "He's got the humor, he can do the drama and he can take a punch."

Of course, Shore wasn't serious about taking Laurie off of "House" because there would be no show without him.

"Your speculation is about as good as mine at this point," said Shore about who could play Rockford. 

What do you think about the idea of doing a new version of "Rockford"? Would you watch it? And who do you think should play Rockford?

-- Alan Pergament

Help Me Wanda

Sykes 

PASADENA, Calif. — Wanda Sykes is a multi-talented and very funny woman, which made expectations high for her appearance before the nation's television critics to discuss her new late night Saturday talk show on Fox.

But since the show doesn't premiere until Nov. 7 and Sykes and the show's producers didn't have many specifics ready about the show, her performance was pretty flat. The show will focus on Sykes' take on current events and include a panel discussion on topical events.

Sykes' best line came after a critic asked her how she would have time to do the late-night show since she already is co-starring in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" on CBS and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO.

"Lots of alcohol," cracked Sykes.

When the executive producer of the show, Eddie Feldmann, indicated the show initially wouldn't have musical guests, Sykes cracked: "If Dick Cheney puts out a hip-hop album, we're booking him."

Clearly, Sykes was saving her A-list material. I'm sure she'll be funnier in November. She better be.

Are you looking forward to her show, which will air in the time slot of the canceled "Mad TV"?

-- Alan Pergament   

T.O.'s Show Up Nationally, Down Locally

PASADENA, Calif. -- The emotional third episode of "The T.O. Show" on VH1 hit the series' highest national rating of the season on Monday. And that's a great sign for a reality show.

According to VH1, the 30-minute episode featuring Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens scored a season high of 1.8 million viewers and averaged a 1.1 rating in the key age 18 through 49 demographic that advertisers love.

For comparison sake, VH1 had reported the opening episode averaged 1.2 million viewers and said the second episode averaged a .8 in the 18 through 49 demographic..

Locally, Monday's episode had a 2.7 rating, which was about 20 percent lower than the second episode. However, the decline probably was inevitable because the second episode was bound to attract more viewers here because it focused heavily on Owens in Buffalo.

In the third episode, Owens returned home to Alexander City, Alabama to visit his family and give a pep talk to the football team at the high school where he played. The emotional highlights included a poignant one-on-one-meeting Owens had with his estranged father and a conversation with the grandmother who raised him and now suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

It was a very revealing episode that painted Owens in a sympathetic way that was far removed from his outlandish NFL persona. 

If you watched the episode, what did you think of it?

-- Alan Pergament

Goodbye Paula

PASADENA, Calif. -- Paula, Paula, Paula.

Not surprisingly, the decision of "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul to dance away from the popular show after a contract dispute was the main topic of a press conference today with Fox executives.

Only about 30 minutes after former "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe said he wasn't sure if Abdul really was leaving "Idol" because there is "always opportunity for re-negotiation," Fox executives Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly remained firm.

Rice, the chairman of Fox entertainment, said she's history as far as Fox is concerned. He added Fox hoped she was coming back but had preliminary discussions about potential replacements about two weeks ago when her new agent suggested she might not return.

Some critics still are more accepting of Lythgoe's re-negotiation scenario than the Fox executives' stand that the fat lady had sang and it was over.

Rice said the tentative plan is to fill in with guest judges for the audition episodes, which begin shortly. Rice confirmed that Victoria Beckham and Katy Perry already are on board and he added several other pop singers were being sought to temporarily fill the fourth seat alongside Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi.

"Between now and January we will come up with a permanent solution," said Rice. "Obviously there is going to be a different dynamic... There also is something exciting about that and we're be looking to bring a different element and a different energy to this season."

He added there was a "possibility" the show would go with only three judges once the live shows begin in January but he didn't believe it was a "probability."

The Fox executives also denied reports that host Ryan Seacrest will be making $15 million this year on "Idol" after signing a new contract. They said Seacrest signed a new contract with the show's production company to do many things. But they added he is being paid for "Idol" under the same terms of a continuing contract and is not getting $15 million to host "Idol."

Meanwhile, Lythgoe,who is now executive producer of "So You Think You Can Dance," seems ready to give Abdul a part-time landing spot. He said he'd love to have her as a guest judge on that show.

"I've been trying to get her since season one," said Lythgoe.

I think If the "Idol" producers can get more big name guest judges like Beckham and Perry and they actually contribute some insight, Abdul's departure may end up being addition by subtraction. However, some other critics here think she'll be back by the live January shows, giving the show a promotional boost.

What do you think?

-- Alan Pergament 

Fontana Developing Show for USA Network

PASADENA, Calif. -- Buffalo writer-producer Tom Fontana is heading to the hot USA Network to develop his next series for 2010, "Hotel Dix."

According to a release from the basic cable network, Fontana is the executive producer and writer of the series about "an old school hotel detective who is brought back to work at a modern hotel."

Adam Bernstein, whose credits include "30 Rock" and "Worst Week,"  is also an executive producer and director on the series.

USA Network, which is owned by the same company than owns NBC, has been on a roll this summer with drama series such as "Burn Notice," "Royal Pains" and "In Plain Sight."

Its cable series often out-rate summer series on NBC, such as Fontana's "The Philanthropist," which has had some excellent episodes lately. After a press conference here, Angela Bromstad, who is the president of NBC's prime time programming, said "The Philanthropist" will finish its eight-episode run.

"Right now, that's it," she said.

Are you disappointed as I am that it looks like "The Philanthropist" won't continue?

-- Alan Pergament   

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