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Answers Coming on Hockey's TV Plans

My e-mail box often is full of questions from National Hockey League fans wondering about television issues.

Will Verizon FiOS carry Buffalo Sabres home games this season in HD? Will Dish Network carry Sabres games in HD? Will DirecTV make a new deal with Versus, the NHL's cable network? Will Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret take another mid-season vacation?

For answers, read my story in the hockey preview in Thursday's edition of the Buffalo News.

All right, I feel a little guilty about giving you the type of sports tease that local stations give before their late newscasts.

So here are the answers. No, no, maybe, yes.

Disappointed? To get further explanations, pick up Thursday's newspaper.

— Alan Pergament  

CBS Shows Strong Here; Leno Slipping

NBC's "The Jay Leno Show" hit a new low Wednesday in the Buffalo market when it slipped to fourth place at 10 p.m. even though it only has two network competitors.

Leno's show had a 4.1 rating (representing 4.1 percent of area households) Wednesday on Channel 2, which was half of the lead-in it got from the premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" (8.2).

The season premiere of "CSI" on Channel 4 ( the local CBS affiliate) won the hour with a 14.4 rating. The premiere of ABC's "Eastwick" on Channel 7 had a 7.5 rating.

Third place at 10 p.m. went to Channel 4's 10 O'Clock News on sister station WNLO-TV with a 5.7 rating for the first half-hour.

Locally, CBS shows have been dominating the first three nights of the official new season. The Tuesday night premieres of "NCIS" (17.2), its spin-off, NCIS: Los Angeles" (16.1) and "The Good Wife" (14.3) were especially strong here.

ABC's new Wednesday night comedies, "Modern Family" (9.3) and "Cougar Town," (8.1), had strong openers on Channel 7. However, the audience for the second half of the Courteney Cox series "Cougar Town" dropped significantly, suggesting some viewers may have been offended by the risque content.

The best news locally for NBC concerned "Mercy," the series about nurses. The Wednesday premiere had a strong 7.8 rating on Channel 2 and beat the CBS comedies it competed with for second place in the time period behind the results show of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

WUTV didn't have much to sing about concerning "Glee," which Fox already has given a full-season order. Wednesday's episode had a 3.4 rating. However, the two-hour "House" movie had a strong 11.6 rating here on Monday.

Of course, the ratings of all shows can increase once viewership from DVRs and other time-shifting ways is added.

And demographics really tell the full story. They aren't immediately available here.

What did you think of the new shows that premiered this week and will you come back and watch their second episodes? After all, whether viewers come back is just as important -- or even more important -- than the ratings for the premieres.

-- Alan Pergament

   

Emmy Voters Get It Right

You might find it surprising that a critic who only accurately predicted 23 percent of the Emmy Award winners Sunday night was quite pleased with who took home the trophies.

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I had the wins by "Mad Men" (best drama)," "30 Rock" (best comedy) and "Grey Gardens" (best movie). 

But my low percentage rate was because five of the winners were either my second choices or because I had hoped they would win. That list includes Toni Collette ("United States of Tara"), Glenn Close ("Damages"), Cherry Jones ("24"), Jessica Lange ("Grey Gardens") and Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock").

My main disappointments were the failures of Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), John Slattery ("Mad Men") and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") to be honored.

What disappointed you? And what did you think of host Neil Patrick Harris and the Emmy show on CBS?

-- Alan Pergament

Predicting the winners at Sunday's Emmy Awards

It is much harder to predict winners of the Emmy Awards than it is NFL games. I'm usually happy to hit 30 or 40 percent. This year, I see repeat winners and a show that goes mad for AMC's "Mad Men."

So here goes my predictions for the 61st annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS and will be competing for viewers with the big NFL game on NBC in which the Dallas Cowboys show off their new stadium in a game against the New York Giants.

Best Drama: AMC's "Mad Men" is favored, with its main competition coming from the two network shows nominated: Fox's "House" and ABC's "Lost." Go with "Mad Men" to repeat.

Best Comedy: NBC's "30 Rock" has owned this award and is mainly competing against

little-watched cable comedies and NBC's "The Office." A win by CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" would be a surprise. Go with "Rock" again.

Made-for-TV Movie: One of the four HBO nominees will win. I'd vote for the moving "Taking Chance" but expect "Grey Gardens" with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange will win.

Best Dramatic Actor: Bryan Cranston's win for "Breaking Bad" was a nice story last year, but this time around I see either Hugh Laurie of "House" or Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" winning. Go with Laurie, whose character went through a lot last season.

Best Drama Actress: Wouldn't it be something if the least-known actress -- Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men" -- beat an impressive field of vets like Sally Field, Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close, Mariska Hargitay and Holly Hunter. Nice but not likely. My mind says Close, but I'm picking Moss.

Best Dramatic Supporting Actor: William Hurt ("Damages") is the big name who appears likely to get votes just for agreeing to do a TV series. But I'm going with a deserving character actor whose name isn't that familiar, although he's been on several hit shows:  John Slattery of "Mad Men."

Best Dramatic Supporting Actress: Tough call. I'd give it to Cherry Jones, who was exceptional as the first female president on "24." But I suspect one of the women on HBO's little-watched "In Treatment" will win. Go with Hope Davis.

Best Comedic Actor: Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" would be a mild surprise in a field that includes bigger names like Tony Shalhoub, Steve Carell, Alec Baldwin and Charlie Sheen. Go with Parsons. If it isn't him, it will be Baldwin.

Best Comedic Actress: Tina Fey of "30 Rock" should win even if she was funnier as Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live." If not Fey, Toni Collette of Showtime's little-watched "United States of Tara."

Best Supporting Comedic Actor: Neil Patrick Harris for "How I Met Your Mother," though I would much prefer Jack McBrayer ("30 Rock").

Best Supporting Comedic Actress: Amy Poehler of "Saturday Night Live," though a win by multi-talented Kristin Wiig of "Saturday Night Live" would be deserving, too.

Best Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Ian McKellen for the PBS production of "King Lear," though anyone nominated in this category deserves to win.

Best Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Drew Barrymore or Jessica Lange for "Grey Gardens." Go with Barrymore, whose performance was image-shattering.

-- Alan Pergament

Enthusiasm is High for "Seinfeld" Reunion

At first thought, "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David probably would rather go to jail with the Fab Four again than do a reunion show more than a decade after the NBC hit went off the air.

But David found a compelling personal reason for his character in the hilarious HBO show he created and stars in, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," to do an anti-reunion "Seinfeld" reunion. 

I won't reveal the idea. But I will say it isn't to make viewers forget about the slammed 1998 series finale in which Jerry, Elaine (Julia Louis-Drefyus), George (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards) went to jail for a year for "criminal indifference." 

The new "Curb" season actually begins at 10 p.m. Sunday with the first of two very funny episodes in which the criminally indifferent David tries to get rid of the sick girlfiriend (Viveca Fox) and her relatives staying in his house.

"The Reunion" episodes start with the third show on Oct. 4 and the side-splitting opener of the  story arc makes it look like one of the best ideas of the TV season.

Have you been waiting for for a "Seinfeld" reunion or do you think it's still a bad idea?

 For more about the first reunion episode read my column in Friday's Buffalo News.

-- Alan Pergament


    

"Office" Gossip Is a Hoot

Tonight's Best Viewing: "The Office," 9 p.m., WGRZ-TV.

With Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim  (John  Krasinski) getting married in Niagara Falls in a future episode, more local people have become interested in the NBC comedy, "The Office."

If you haven't seen one episode, tonight's season premiere, "Gossip," is a pretty good way to be introduced to the cluelessness and clumsiness of lead character Michael Scott (Steve Carell).

Feeling left out about inconsequential office gossip about summer interns, Michael begins to gossip about things that could hurt many of his full-time workers at the Dunder Mifflin paper company. His cover-up is worse -- and funnier -- than his initial crime. One character -- regular viewers might be able to guess which one -- even begins to question whether a rumor he's heard about himself is true.

Enjoy. Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4

Former Buffalo TV Executive Wins Primary

Remember Steve Kimatian, the lawyer who at different times in the 1980s and 1990s was the general manager of Channel 4 and Channel 7?

On Tuesday night, Kimatian won the Republican nomination for mayor of Syracuse.

It is being called an upset in Syracuse. He needs an even bigger upset in the general election in November because Democrats out-number Republicans in that city by 3-1, according to local newspapers.

If you knew or worked for Kimatian in his Buffalo days, did you see him as having the potential to run a city?

-- Alan Pergament

Leno Debut Is a Mess

If any community needed a big laugh or two from Jay Leno after the Buffalo Bills lost another Monday Night heartbreaker, it was Western New York.

Unfortunately, the premiere of Leno's endlessly promoted new 10 p.m. NBC program Monday was almost as big a mess as the Bills were in the final five minutes of their 25-24 loss to New England.

Leno was almost as rusty as Channel 2's John Beard on his Monday debut. Leno's opening monologue was routine, his chat with first guest Jerry Seinfeld wasn't much better and his sit-down with beleaguered Kanye West was awkward.

Dan Finnerty of Bath, New York provided a musical filmed piece at a car wash that probably sounded funnier than it played out and Leno faked an interview with President Obama. The host asked fake questions and then aired clips of the president answering questions from a real journalist. I've seen ads for beer with NFL coaches that are funnier.

And at the end, Leno aired his moldy "Tonight Show" bit in which he takes silly Headlines and mistakes from newspapers and hopes to get laughs. 

In a way, Seinfeld probably spoke for all viewers when he came out for the interview and told Leno: "I'm trying to grasp what is going on here."

Maybe Leno was too busy making all those promos to have the time to make his debut more entertaining. But things better get better quickly.

What did you think of Leno's opener?

-- Alan Pergament  

ESPN's Monday Night Crew Has Strong Opener

There will be a lot of things to complain about after the Buffalo Bills lost another Monday Night Football heartbreaker, 25-24, to the New England Patriots.

But at least you couldn't complain too much about the ESPN announcing team of play-by-play man Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. They had a strong game analyzing the Bills' surprising strong showing by quarterback Trent Edwards, the inexperienced offensive line and the defense.

If he would cut down on his identification mistakes (like having Randy Moss playing for the Bills), Tirico would be the best play-by-play man in the NFL.

He always puts things in perspective. With about five minutes left and the Bills holding a surprising 24-13 lead, Tirico said: "This is why sports is cool. You don't know what script is going to play out."

Of course, Bills fans have seen this script before. It wasn't long before Tirico noted that the Bills lost a Monday night heartbreaker in 2007 to Dallas by the same score in the last second.

If you want to read more about the announcers performance Monday night, read my review in Tuesday's Buffalo News. What did you think of the announcers and the coverage?

-- Alan Pergament

Beard Is Rusty in Channel 2 Debut

It must have seemed like old times for Channel 2's new morning co-anchor John Beard.

At the start of the 6 a.m hour of "Daybreak," Beard told viewers of the latest poll numbers in the Buffalo mayoral race that are "coming into the Channel 4 news room right now."

I'm sure that Channel 4 officials were laughing. Beard used to work at Channel 4. He works at Channel 2 now after a two-year TV layoff since being let go from a Los Angeles station.

Not surprisingly, the layoff has made him a little rusty. He stumbled while reading a few times, started reading before his microphone was turned on once and in the 5 a.m. hour seemed to be shouting the news as if his goal was to wake viewers up.

He calmed down by 6 a.m. and did a nice feature on how much the local park system has changed since he lived her more than two decades ago.

Of course, it's a marathon and not a sprint and in the long run Beard will be judged by the chemistry he develops with his co-anchor Jodi Johnston and meteorologist Andy Parker (who actually seems to get the most air time). So it is only fair to give Beard some time to adjust to his new surroundings.

But back to the mayoral poll. In discussing the findings, Channel 2 reporter Mary Friona suggested that the expanding poll lead that Mayor Byron Brown now has over challenger Michael "Mickey" Kearns is the result of his winning the debate that was carried on wgrz.com on Friday.

That's a highly questionable claim since it is difficult to know how many people who were polled watched the debate on the website. It is just as likely or more likely that the mayor's lead could be the result of his advertising campaign since he has so much more money to spend than his challenger.

In any event, what did you think of Beard's debut? Will you come back again Tuesday to watch "Daybreak"? And who did you think won Friday's mayoral debate?

-- Alan Pergament

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