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Happy 80th Birthday, Irv

Topping the news tonight is a report that legendary retired anchor Channel 7 Irv Weinstein had his 80th birthday today.

Weinstein confirmed it in a hilarious email about his celebration plans that I will share with readers once I get his approval.

This much I can say. The family is celebrating in Palm Springs, Calif. at the home formerly occupied by actress Donna Reed.

It is hard to believe that it has been more than 11 years since Weinstein retired from Eyewitness News. He now lives in California.

-- Alan Pergament   

Video: May 'sweeps' preview

The News' Television Critic Alan Pergament gives a network-by-network rundown of what's coming in the May 'sweeps' in this video produced by Digital Reporter Denise Jewell Gee:

Channel 2 News Gets Perspective

When the Buffalo Sabres opened their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Boston Bruins, all three local news departments made it the lead of their newscasts.

When the Bruins eliminated the Sabres Monday night, Channel 4 and Channel 7 had sports reporters at the top of the 11 p.m. newscast doing the post-mortems. The reports were followed by mandatory pointless interviews with disappointed fans.

And Channel 2? Its big story was on reports that General Motors will announce today that it is investing $400 million in its Town of Tonawanda plant to produce a new V-8 engine. Sports director Ed Kilgore didn't arrive to talk about the Sabres' elimination for eight minutes.

Of course, the GM story has a greater impact on the area in the long-term and is bigger news. It was nice to see some news perspective for a change about what is important. Three cheers for Channel 2 News and perspective.

Having said that, it wouldn't be shocking if viewers were more interested in the Sabres' story than the more important one on GM.

-- Alan Pergament 

Analyzing the Sabres Analyst

I review Buffalo Sabres TV analyst Harry Neale and (briefly) the rest of the broadcast team in today's Sports on the Air column.

Neale is easy to listen to -- sort of like mall music. But he doesn't go too deeply into game strategy.

Play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret, reporter Rob Ray and excellent studio host Kevin Sylvester deal with strategy more than Neale, who is heavy on statistics, giving replay descriptions and adding cutesy coaching philosophy.

Neale's biggest contribution is keeping his buddy Jeanneret around for a few seasons rather than retire.

I've weighed in. Now it's your turn to decide if I was too hard or too soft on the former Hockey Night in Canada analyst.

-- Alan Pergament 

ESPN Practically Ignores Second Bills Pick

Local sports fans should sit back and enjoy the Buffalo Sabres game with the Boston Bruins tonight on MSG instead of watching the NFL draft on ESPN.

After all, ESPN didn't care enough about the Bills second-round pick tonight to even pay attention when it was made.

The ESPN crew was talking with Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren about his team when the Bills selected defensive tackle Torell Troup of Central Florida. You could hear the choice in the background while Holmgren talked.

ESPN didn't even address the pick until after a commercial when host Chris Berman asked Mel Kiper about the choice.

The Holmgren interview was a clear indication of how ESPN views the draft picks after the first round. It looks for ways to entertain a national audience, which undoubtedly annoys fans of any local team trying to hear the next selection.

You could almost hear the screams in homes across Western New York when Holmgren was being interviewed.

At 7 p.m., the draft moved to ESPN 2.

-- Alan Pergament

Mayock Gets Bills Pick Again

Most of Western New York didn't see it, but NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock accurately predicted the Buffalo Bills top draft choice again.

About an hour before the Bills selected, I received a press release from The NFL Network in which Mayock accurately predicted the Bills would select Clemson running back C.J. Spiller.

I immediately called my best friend and said the Bills were picking Spiller.

That's because Mayock is the E.F. Hutton of draft experts and his accuracy rate dealing with the Bills is especially high in his final mock draft.

In the past five drafts, he predicted the Bills would pick Donte Whitner in 2006, Leodis McKelvin in 2008,  Aaron Maybin in 2009 and now Spiller in his final mock draft.

Of course, The NFL Network isn't carried on Time Warner Cable. That leaves local cable coverage to ESPN, which mostly drooled over the pick of Spiller. (Go here to see NFL Network's coverage of the Spiller pick.)

"The Bills are moving quickly and maybe that's a hint," said host Chris Berman before the pick. "There's a team that needs excitement."

Analyst Jon Gruden was the most excited for the Bills, noting Spiller terrorizes defenses with breakaway speed and adding that "he's gone" after one (defensive) mistake. 

"I love this pick," added Gruden after saying Spiller was a high character guy. "I can't be more excited for C.J. Spiller."

Only Mel Kiper was a bit of a downer, noting (accurately) the Bills still have big offensive line problems.

Kiper didn't get much air time in ESPN's Thursday night coverage, primarily because analyst Steve Young seemed to be conducting a filibuster. He never shut up. Gruden got his share of screen time, but Kiper and Tom Jackson were overwhelmed by Young's filibusters. The coverage would have been better if Young had been benched.

-- Alan Pergament 

Video: Alan Pergament talks about the Sabres, "Glee" and more

In this installment of Talkin' TV video, Alan breaks down the coverage of the Sabres' playoff broadcasts. He also discusses FOX's hit shows "24" and "Glee."

Lauer Gets in the Church Spirit

"Today" show Matt Lauer got in the comedy spirit this morning when talking to the chief executive officer of the airline that plans to charge customers for carry-on bags.

This is what Lauer told Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines: "You had to know this was going to go over like a fart in church, pardon the expression."

Fart jokes in the morning?

When it comes to NBC News and its anchors, Lauer is no Brian Williams in the comedy department.

-- Alan Pergament

Versus Blackout Means No HD for Sabres Fans

Some Buffalo Sabre fans were quite upset Monday night that they were unable to see the 2-1 playoff loss to the Boston Bruins in high definition while the rest of the country could.

The reason for that is that the Versus telecast of first-round games is blacked out in the markets of the participating teams to give the home market exclusivity.

Versus carried the games in HD. MSG, the Sabres home channel, only carries the team's away games in HD when they play teams in the New York City market. CBC, which also is carrying the Sabres-Bruins series, isn't in HD on Time Warner Cable.

The same thing is going to happen Wednesday night for Game 4. Versus' HD coverage will be blacked out here again.

-- Alan Pergament

City Honors Graduate Is Finalist in "Lost" Contest

A 2003 graduate of City Honors is one of five finalists in the Ultimate "Lost" Fan Promo Contest.

Andy Kelemen, a commercial producer who now lives in Pittsburgh, was named one of five finalists today by ABC. His entry is titled "The Lost Life."

The winner gets to have his or her 35-second promo air before the May 23 series finale of the landmark series about survivors of an airplane crash on a mysterious island. The winner also gets to go to the cast party in Hawaii after the series finale.

For more on Kelemen -- who was voted class clown at City Honors -- and "Lost," read Tuesday's Buffalo News. 

Here's a link to Kelemen's entry. It is pretty clever, using several "Lost" symbols that should be familiar to fans of the show. You can vote once a day, according to the contest rules. Voting ends Friday.

-- 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.

@StillTalkinTV |