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WBBZ owner critical of local news; "The Office" finale expands

By Alan Pergament

If you think I am critical of local news, wait until you hear what WBBZ Owner Phil Arno thinks about the business he worked in for decades.

In a recent interview, Arno, who was a photographer at Channel 4 and Channel 7 before becoming the the No. 1 helicopter-reporter in Southern California for years before returning to his native Buffalo, said "news to a great extent is filling air time. They do certain stories that are significant and important and then they throw in fender benders and abandoned buildings burning down that really isn't news just because they have to fill time. They don't necessarily have to be interesting. They have to fill the time."

You can read more of Arno's thoughts about the news and his independent station in my column in Saturday's printed edition of The Buffalo News.

Here's some notes left on the cutting room floor about Katie and Max Bichler's second-place finish in Sunday's season finale of "The Amazing Race."

The episode was the highest-rated program in Western New York Sunday, more than doubling the rating for Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.  

Katie and Max almost were eliminated several weeks before the finale when they finished last in a challenge but they were saved because they discovered at the finish line that it was a non-elimination episode.

The audience might have been surprised, but they weren't that surprised because "The Amazing Race" was their favorite show before they were chosen to be on it and they knew all about non-elimination episodes.

"We kind of had a feeling," said Katie. "There hadn't been (a non-elimination episode) yet. Eventually you knew they will be at least two. We weren't surprised."

By the way, I have had some people email that they weren't rooting for the Bichlers because they were so unlikable in the early episodes. That strategy changed as the competition continued.

"When we were starting we knew people wouldn't like us," said Katie. "We were not very friendly and outgoing. We didn't want to make friends. We had to change our strategy when we doing so horribly. We changed."

On Sunday night, the Bichlers joined their fellow competitors in New York City to watch and celebrate the finale and they expect to stay in touch with several of them.

"We're part of a weird little fraternity now of 'Amazing Race' alumni now," said Max.

He praised the winners -- hockey players Bates and Anthony Battaglia.

"They did run a strong race," said Max. "They weren't deceptive or sneaky. We were happy for them."

NBC has announced that the series finale of "The Office" a week from tonight's semifinal has been extended by 15 minutes and now will run from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Even hour episodes of the series can seem bloated so this just looks like a money grab to sell more commercial time at high rates. Although "The Office" has never been a big ratings winner, it is one of the shows that gets a high percentage of viewers who make more than $100,000 and that has always made it more attractive to advertisers. 

Here's NBC's capsule summary of the finale: "Months after the airing of the (mock) documentary (upon which the show is based), the workers of (paper factory) Dunder Mifflin, past and present, gather for a wedding and a final round of interviews. Mysteries are solved, hatchets are buried, pranks are prunked." Steve Carell isn't listed as one of the guest stars, but there are rumors he will show up. The wedding? After last week's episode, I'm guessing it is Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Angela (Angela Kinsey).

After the episode ends, NBC plans to run a 45-minute episode of the low-rated "Hannibal" with "limited interruption." The switch from "The Office" to "Hannibal" seems to be as silly (and as jarring) as anything in "The Office" over the last eight seasons. And that's saying something.




Sitcoms | Television | TV news
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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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