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Channel 2 Wins in the Morning

Hopefully by now you have read my Sunday Spotlight piece that rated the morning news programs on the three local broadcast stations.

I gave the creative victory to Channel 2's "Daybreak," which has the most personality and the most personnel and is the most fun.

Channel 2 also took over first place in the morning from Channel 4' s "Wake Up" in the local Nielsen ratings for the just-concluded November sweeps period.

I also concluded that "Wake Up" is the dullest of the three programs.

Of course, I've gotten some Monday morning quarterbacks questioning my conclusions. Do you care to add to the dialogue?

-- Alan Pergament


"Curb" Doesn't Do "Seinfeld" Any Favors

The season finale of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" that ended the "Seinfeld Reunion" story line had its funny moments Sunday.

Having said that, I was a little disappointed in the 40-minute episode.

If you watched the episode, one of the repetitive jokes in the finale was how often people say "having said that" to argue against a previous opinion.

Spoiler alert. If you don't want to know more about the "Curb" finale, stop reading now.

In the episode, "Curb" writer-producer-star Larry David dealt with his usual share of annoyances. He got in an argument with a guy who runs a coffee stand about the meaning of a favor. He was upset when he was falsely accused by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) of putting a drink stain on a piece of antique furniture.

And he got extremely jealous of the developing relationship between his ex-wife on the show, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), and Jason Alexander (George). Cheryl was playing George's ex-wife in the "Seinfeld Reunion" story line that David created in an attempt to get back with his wife.

David got so annoyed that he re-wrote the script, prompting Alexander to quit and David to get a tryout playing the iconic character George. Since George was based on the annoying David in real life, you might have thought he could pull it off.

David badly overacted, was criticized by the cast and quit. But surprise, surprise, Cheryl quit, too. She decided she belonged with Larry, which suggested the second "Seinfeld" finale might have a happy ending.

But Larry being Larry, he quickly stained his romantic reunion with Cheryl after learning she was responsible for the furniture stain.

It all was very clever. But having said that, I just wish I laughed more often and that Jerry, Elaine and Kramer (Michael Richards) had more to do.

-- Alan Pergament  

ABC's "Lost" to Be Found on New Night

One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is when is "Lost" coming back?

It is usually followed by "will the writers answer any questions this season?"

Well, ABC has announced the sixth and final season of "Lost" will have a two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Feb. 2. It will follow a one-hour recap for an entire "Lost" evening.

The show will settle into its regular new time slot at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Feb.9. It appears it will go head-to-head with the most popular new show of the season -- CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles."

And since this is the final season, the writers are expected to answer most, if not all, of the big questions about the series and the characters who landed on a mysterious island after surviving a plane crash.

-- Alan Pergament

Oprah Plan May Change Local News Battle

The announcement that Oprah Winfrey plans to retire her talk show in September of 2011 probably will have repercussions on local news throughout the country.

In Buffalo, Winfrey's 4 p.m. show has provided a strong lead-in for years to Channel 4, the local news leader.

In fact, one of the issues cited in the demise of Channel 7's news department was the station's decision to let Winfrey's expensive show go and allow it to move to Channel 4.

Winfrey's show isn't as dominant at 4 p.m. as it once was but it still wins its time slot here opposite "Ellen" on Channel 2 and "The Doctors" on Channel 7. Channel 4 has two years to find a syndicated replacement for Winfrey. Whoever or whatever the replacement is, it is unlikely to be as powerful as Oprah's show.

But there is a bit of good news for Channel 4, too. Her syndicated show is very expensive for stations to buy. That expense will undoubtedly drop substantially. The question is what will be the cost to News 4 at 5 and the rest of the 90-minute early evening news block?

-- Alan Pergament  

Rocketship 7's Dave Roberts Is Retiring

Word out of Philadelphia is that Dave Roberts, the host of the popular children's show "Rocketship 7" on WKBW in the 1960s and 1970s, is retiring.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Dec. 11 will be his last day as a weatherman at WPVI-TV, the ABC affiliate in that city.

Roberts, 73, who was known as Dave Thomas when he hosted "Rocketship 7," left Channel 7 in 1978 to join WPVI in Philadelphia.

He also has a famous son -- David Boreanaz, the co-star of the Fox hit "Bones."

-- Alan Pergament

The Leno Effect Sweeping Channel 2 at 11

More than half the way through the November sweeps, there is a very tight news race for second place at 11 p.m. between Channel 2 and Channel 7.

And there is no question why it is happening -- the lead-in that Jay Leno's talk show is giving Channel 2 is killing the station that a year ago was closer to first place Channel 4 than to third-place Channel 7 at 11 p.m.

After the first 12 days of the sweeps, Channel 4 is No. 1 with a 9.5 rating, down 10 percent from a year ago. Channel 2 is No. 2 with a 6.4 rating, down 28 percent from the 8.9 it had a year ago when NBC mostly ran dramas at 10 p.m. Channel 7 has the same 6.3 rating it had a year ago, which means it is only a tenth of a point behind Channel 2.

The so-called Leno Effect is hurting NBC affiliates across the country, which undoubtedly will lead to calls to end the 10 p.m. experiment after one year. But the damage at 11 p.m. to affiliates could take months or even years to repair unless Leno's show is replaced in the fall of 2010 by some higher-rated NBC programs.

-- Alan Pergament    

Oprah Endorses Palin Book

At the end of her hour interview Monday with Sarah Palin, syndicated talk show host Oprah Winfrey called the former Republican vice presidential candidate's book a "fascinating read."

Still, I doubt that "Going Rogue: An American Life" will become a Winfrey Book Club Selection.

What was truly fascinating was watching Winfrey try to appeal to the conservative crowd by being so gentle with Palin.

Winfrey did call Palin on demeaning CBS anchor Katie Couric by referring to her as "the perky one" without naming her. Winfrey also questioned Palin's ability to take care of five children (including one with special needs) if she had become vice president.

But Winfrey never followed up on some questionable statements by the former candidate. For instance, Palin said she has an equal partnership with her husband Todd that includes parental responsibility. Sounds good. But she also said she doesn't see Todd for months at a time because his job requires him to be away from home, which presumably would make it hard to be an equal  parent to the children.

Winfrey also didn't point out that the reason the media didn't feel that the pregnancy of her unwed teen-age daughter Bristol should be off-limits was because it ran counter to some conservative views about the need for sex education.

But Winfrey clearly wasn't playing journalist Monday as much as she was playing Palin's new best friend. And the strategy worked. Both women came off looking extremely likable and likely were able to win over some fans who previously wouldn't have given them the time of day. 

While Palin's book is already on best seller lists, the real test of its value and her viability as a 2012 presidential candidate won't come until the inevitable books written by people involved in the campaign of her running mate, Sen. John McCain.

In other words, Palin got the first word in. But subsequent books by McCain staffers that will undoubtedly speak to her credibility and the assessments of her honesty, her family life and her intelligence really should be "fascinating reads." 

-- Alan Pergament  

Gruden Staying with ESPN

You can cross out Jon Gruden from any conversation about the Buffalo Bills coaching job.

ESPN and the Monday Night Football analyst announced today that the former Super Bowl winning coach has signed a multi-year extension that extends his assignments beyond Monday Night Football.

He will work the NFL Draft, Super Bowl week and be the radio analyst alongside Mike Tirico on ESPN's coverage of the college title game and the 2010 Rose Bowl.

In an ESPN release, Gruden was quoted as saying he has "had the most fun I have had in years."

He certainly is having a lot more fun than Bills Coach Dick Jauron, whose future with the Bills is so precarious that Gruden's name is among those that had come up in speculation about the next coach.

Of course, Gruden's price tag probably would have made him an extreme longshot to coach here anyway.

You do have to wonder if the multi-year deal that Gruden signed has an "out-clause" if his dream job comes open. But it certainly looks like he is enjoying life in the booth, where he never loses. 

-- Alan Pergament 

"Mad Men" Finale Good to Last Drop

Well, I gave you a couple of days to watch and digest Sunday's season finale of  AMC's "Mad Men" before giving you my take.

I thought the next-to-last episode that had the Kennedy assassination as a backdrop was the best of the season, but the finale was a close second.

The terrific, plot-thick finale seemingly ended the season-long drama involving the failing marriage of Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty Draper (January Jones) and the drama about the ownership of Don's advertising firm. The scene in which the Drapers told their kids that they were splitting was heartbreaking. A scene in which the New York State divorce laws in the 1960s was explained to Betty was educational.  

Additionally, two of the firm's unappreciated employees -- Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) -- were finally rewarded with positions in the new firm being formed. The scene in which Don finally went to Peggy and gave her the respect she longed for was one of the best in the finale. 

It also was nice to see that it looks like Joan (Christina Hendricks) will be back on board with the new firm.

I suspect we haven't seen the last episode dealing with the Draper marriage. But I expect the focus of season four next summer also will be on the trials and tribulations of the new firm, which should be rich plot territory. 

-- Alan Pergament  


HBO Series Coming to Local TV

Viewers without HBO will be able to see the popular pay-cable comedies "Entourage" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" next fall on one of the local stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.

Nick Magnini, the general manager of Fox affiliate WUTV and WNYO, reports that Sinclair has made deals to carry reruns of the two HBO programs and reruns of the CBS series "How I Met Your Mother" and Bravo's "Real Housewives" reality series.

It will be interesting to see how much of the risque content of "Entourage" and "Curb" will be lost in the versions shot for broadcast stations.

Of course, it isn't the first time that an HBO series has gone to local television. Tamer versions of "Sex and the City" episodes have been carried here.

Magnini added that the HBO series will be carried from 10 p.m. to midnight, presumably when the kiddies aren't watching. He said it hasn't been decided if the shows will air on WUTV or WNYO or both in September of 2010.

-- 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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