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Ch.2's Demler Back on the Pope Beat

This is what I’m thinking:

First, a quick note about the above opening of this blog and some future blogs.

I am reprising one of the standard ways I used to start an opinionated column in my previous stint at the Buffalo News. A little TV column history. I started using “this is what I’m thinking” in honor of Paul Reiser’s use of the phrase in the sitcom “Mad About You” in which Helen Hunt co-starred
as his wife. My memory is that when Paul and Jaime Buchman had a disagreement, Reiser’s character would open his discussion by saying “this is what I’m thinking.”

So this is what I’m thinking on my first day back as a News blogger:

I would have thought that the chances of any local TV station sending a reporter or an anchor to the Vatican this week when a new pope is being chosen would have been about equal to the chances that a pope would ever resign.

 
Demler

But there is Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler in Rome reporting this week about the big story of the week about the papal election to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

I can think of 630,000 reasons for a Buffalo station to send someone to Rome – that’s the number of Catholics in eight counties of Western New York.

But I can think of one big reason not to send someone: $$$$$$.

So my first thought was that perhaps Demler was on vacation in Europe, as she was in 2005 when she covered the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Not so, said Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner. However, he explained how the station is able to afford to send Demler to Rome.

Toellner said Demler is one of three anchors from Gannett Broadcasting who was sent to Rome to cover the big story for the group of 22 stations in 19 markets. The other two Gannett anchors chosen are from Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Toellner said.

How long will Demler stay away from her anchor seat? “It is undetermined,” said Toellner. “Until the story is over. We don’t anticipate it being weeks. We will evaluate our coverage plans daily."

Most national experts have been suggesting a new pope will be chosen within three to five days, which would mean Demler wouldn’t be there too long.

Her report Monday focused on a group of Western New Yorkers who just happened to be in Rome on a religious trip and are excited about possibly being there when the new pope is selected.

As Demler said during her solid, upbeat report “when there is a world event, there always seems to be a Buffalo connection.”

I would presume Demler’s reports for other Gannett stations wouldn’t be so WNY centric.

Naturally, Channel 2 is promoting the hell - I mean heck – out of Demler’s reporting from Rome. The only way it could have been better for the station would have been if the papal election had occurred during the recently-concluded February sweeps.

From the papal election to the funeral of J.R. Ewing. Now there is a segue.

In any event, Monday’s episode of TNT’s new version of “Dallas” dealt with the funeral of the scoundrel played by the beloved actor Larry Hagman, who died in November.

My first thought was I wish I hadn’t read an Associated Press story about the episode because the guy who wrote it revealed just about everything that was going to happen.

My second thought was, am I supposed to laugh or cry?

I’m sorry if you think this is a little heartless. I really, really liked Hagman, who invited the nation’s TV critics into his home a few times during press tours that I covered in Los Angeles. But the dialogue Monday night was laughable at times. I lost it when an angry Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) told his wife of seven years, Ann (Brenda Strong), that he was “pissed” because she hadn’t told him that she had a teenage child who had been missing until this season.

Oh, you’re probably wondering who shot J.R.? Viewers were given a phony answer for most of the episode and at the end were told it was a charade. I haven’t been so shocked since the Sabres failed to score on the power play.

However, it probably is smart for the writers of this soap to drag out the story line of “Who Killed J.R.”? – yes, the new version no longer asks “Who Shot J.R.?”—for several more episodes.

Somehow after all these years it doesn’t seem to have as much suspense as who is going to be the next pope.

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