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"Sharknado" sequel might have made local TV history!!!!!

By Alan Pergament

"Sharknado 2: The Second One" may have made local television history.

OK, I may have exaggerated a little.

There's no way to really instantly check if it became the highest-rated Syfy channel movie in Western New York history.

But that conclusion certainly makes more sense than the science in the basic cable movie that aired Wednesday night starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and all those D-list cameos.

A local researcher suspects that I am right, but added it might take him until "Sharknado 3" arrives to confirm it. (Once again, I'm exaggerating slightly).  

I certainly did my part adding to the hype with my Sunday review. It also didn't hurt that some scenes were shot in downtown Buffalo (did you see the Liberty Building in the background near the end?) and the Lockport Caves (where local actor Michael Dugan became shark food).

The first airing of the movie had a 4.4 rating locally from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and the repeat that followed it at 11 p.m. had a 1.8 rating, giving it a combined local rating of 6.2.

To put the local 4.4 rating in perspective, it was more than three times the 1.3 rating that the original "Sharknado" had here when it surprisingly took Twitter by storm a year ago.

This Just In: According to media reports, the national audience for "Sharknado 2" was 3.9 million, which was almost triple the 1.4 million who watched the premiere of the original. The sequel set a national Syfy record.

Locally, It also beat every prime time program Wednesday on ABC and Fox. ABC was running repeats of its comedies, including "Modern Family. " Fox was running "So You Think You Can Dance."

It also tied a repeat of "Criminal Minds" on CBS and came very close to tying "Big Brother," which in some ways is more mind-boogling than "Sharknado."  

Halle Berry's "Extant" beat the sharks with a 6.3 rating on Channel 4, which is only slightly higher than the 6.2 rating for the two combined runs of "Sharknado 2."

The 6.2 rating also was higher than the first hour of NBC's "America's Got Talent" (6.1). The second hour of "AGT" jumped the shark with a 8.6, but "Sharknado" ate up a new episode of "Taxi Brooklyn" (3.9) at 10 p.m. 

Of course, "Sharknado 2" was a huge Twitter success again, with numerous local amateur comedians suggesting some of the actors deserved Emmys.

My favorite moment in the intentionally stupid and campy film was when producer Michael Gellman of the daytime show "Live! with Kelly & Michael" became shark food. Runner-up: The moment Fin (Ziering) found the severed left hand of April (Reid) inside a shark, retrieved her engagement ring and asked her to marry him again.

Can't wait for the wedding to be interrupted by flying sharks in "Sharknado 3."      

Thoughts on Lauer, Roker, Bon Jovi and dealing with sharks

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking:

Inquiring minds want to know: Why would Matt Lauer and Al Roker of NBC’'s "Today" appear on "Sharknado 2: The Second One" on the Syfy channel at 9 tonight?

 It could be partly because the film is produced by NBC Universal, which makes it good cross-promotion.

They also have a lot of fun acting in a deadly serious manner.

Truth be told, they laugh a lot more on "Today" every day for silly reasons than they do on "Sharknado."

As expected, this morning on "Today," Matt and Al had a little fun at their own expense while showing some behind-the-scenes material concerning their "Sharknado" roles.

Lauer said the director told him, "thanks for doing this. I think this adds a lot of credibility to the movie."

He added that it would be the only time "Sharknado" and "credibility" would be used in the same sentence.  

The tougher question to answer is why Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan also have cameos in the movie since their show isn't produced by NBC Universal.

Of course, Kelly and Michael don’t appear on a news program so their reputations aren’t on the line in the same way as Lauer’s with journalism purists.

But let's face it, morning TV hosts jumped the shark journalistically years ago.

Speaking of sharks in the water: The reported bid Tuesday that a Toronto group led by rocker Jon Bon Jovi made to buy the Buffalo Bills certainly validates Jason LaConfora of CBS Sports. He is the reporter that last November – before the Bills played Atlanta in Toronto -- first revealed that Bon Jovi was interested in buying the team.

Some skepticism greeted the report.

I had some fun with it back then when I wrote: 

I have no idea if Jason LaCanfora''s report on CBS about Jon Bon Jovi's interest in buying the Buffalo Bills is credible or means anything. I understand why in the age of social media, it became a mainstream media story here. But I would have been more convinced about its credibility if LaCanfora had talked about it on his insider segment on CBS''pregame show Sunday. He didn't say a word about it in his segment on the big network. The tip seemed to be one of the online prayers that insiders throw out just in case they prove to be accurate five years down the road. I certainly smiled when LaCanfora cited as evidence of Bon Jovi's interest in the Bills that the singer added a Buffalo concert date to his tour. If that is evidence, then I'm thinking Rihanna and Michael Buble might be interested in buying the Bills, too.

I suppose La Confora deserves some praise now, even if I still wonder why he didn't mention the Bon Jovi story on the big network.

But Bon Jovi's Los Angeles-based publicist, Ken Sunshine, has some explaining to do.

Back then, Sunshine responded to LaCanfora's report by saying, "it's preposterous to say he's had any discussions with the Bills and Erie County. The Bills are not for sale, and he has too much respect for Mr. (Ralph) Wilson to engage in any discussions of buying the team."

Of course, Bon Jovi's public relations team had to say that because it was unseemly to talk about buying the team while Mr. Wilson was still alive. He died four months later on March 25.

Some people might reflect on Sunshine's carefully-worded statement when hearing the singer now claims he isn't interested in moving the team from Buffalo. He has to say that or else the Bills would be a lame-duck team until it became easier to break the lease after the seventh year of its current 10-year lease. 

Channel 2 Sports Director Adam Benigni certainly isn't buying the singer's recent claim that he would keep the team here. Benigni gave a strongly-worded opinion Tuesday night that that the Bon Jovi group does want to move the team to Toronto. You rarely hear opinions that strong here from any sports anchor.

I would like to see more reporting on the impact the move of a NFL team would have on the Canadian Football League, the Toronto Argonauts and Canadian politics. That old issue -- and whether it is applicable -- has seemed to have gotten lost in all the Bon Jovi talk. It should be addressed again.

One more thing: I don't think it is a good idea for Bon Jovi to have a concert here right now. If he thinks he'd get as much love as James Taylor received Tuesday night or Justin Timberlake a few weeks earlier, he's living on a prayer.



Weekend reflections on weather reports, movies, golf and soccer

By Alan Pergament

It is time to complain about the weather.

It was too nice over the weekend.

That was certainly true compared to the weather forecasts on local news, which I am really complaining about.

I suppose it was my own fault, but I trusted them.

I'm not complaining about anyone in particular, because I am sure if I did Channel 4's Pope Don Paul would complain that I misread his analysis. (On Facebook Friday afternoon, Paul predicted it "looks like we'll be dry more than wet this weekend, but still tricky.")

I channel surf a lot in my job and late last week I heard most weather experts say that although Friday was gorgeous, there was going to be a decent amount of rain over the weekend.

So I planned accordingly.

Because that's what the local meteorologists do -- help us plan our weekends. 

Rather than go to Canalside to soak in the sun and the music, I went to a movie late Saturday afternoon, "A Most Wanted Man" with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was happy to check out the renovated North Park Theater, which was finally showing a movie I cared to see.

It was great. The North Park, that is. The movie not so much. Hoffman was terrific as usual, but it is easier to figure out what Jon Bon Jovi really thinks about whether the Buffalo Bills should be moved than it was to understand the dark plot of the film based on a John le Carre story.

I think the film was OK even if it was over-rated nationally. But then again, I think every movie this summer has been over-rated. That is except "Boyhood," which I saw in New York City more than a week ago and plan to see again when it arrives here. It is the best movie of the summer. It is almost three hours long and you hardly notice it.

But back to Saturday afternoon.

I fully expected to emerge from the darkness of " A Most Wanted Man" to see the predicted rain.

However, it was sunny outside. Very sunny.

The rain never came Saturday, but surely would arrive Sunday afternoon as predicted.

Or not.

Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

So I went off to the driving range Sunday in the countryside with the top of a convertible down, not caring if the rains came. I haven't hit a golf ball on the range in more than two years, but was inspired by a recent "Real Sports" report on HBO that said the sport is in serious trouble because it is too expensive, takes too long to play and is too frustrating.

If it is easier to get on a course now, then maybe I should get back in the game.

The golf piece wasn't even the most compelling in that "Real Sports" episode, which I saw late Saturday night.

The most compelling piece was about the migrant workers in Qatar, who are building the facilities for the World Cup in 2022 in oppressive conditions that have led to hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths. 

And the workers can't get out of their jobs, either, and go home to their native countries.

It is a very, very sad, inhumane story that makes you wonder how the United States can possibly compete in the soccer tournament in Qatar unless FIFA steps in immediately and forces the mega-rich country to change its ways. Affter all, playing soccer in Qatar eight years from now would seem to be condoning what is being done there. 

You would think that some pressure from the United States, which had a large percentage of fans at the World Cup matches recently completed in Brazil, would also help change things.     

But back to golf.

I was terrible. But that was as predictable as the weather people getting it wrong sometimes. The rains stayed away until late at night, when it didn't really matter.

It looks like rain this morning, which means I might head back to the movies. I just wish "Boyhood" was playing here so I could see it again. 


Reprising a memorable interview with James Garner

By Alan Pergament

When I read all the glowing and deserved tributes to the late James Garner online and in newspapers after his death Saturday, I decided I couldn't add much to the praise of his everyman likability, charm and good looks. He was what my father would refer to as a man's man.

My dad also used to say "there is only one Paul Newman." "There is only one Clark Gable." "There is only one Humphrey Bogart."

It was his highest praise of an actor.

I'm sure if he were alive, my dad would have said, "there was only one James Garner." 

Garner's TV success in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" predated my time as a television critic even if some of you think I've been doing this forever.

I watched those series as a regular viewer and admired Garner's ability to make characters who engaged in questionable behavior become appealing anyway.

But I don't remember much about all those episodes. Heck, I don't remember much about this season's episodes of "House of Cards."

Once I became a TV critic, I didn't have time to watch what I liked in the past. I had to focus on the present and future.

What I did remember was being in Los Angeles for a press conference appearance by Garner with television critics 20 years ago. I didn't remember writing the story, but thanks to a search of this newspaper's online library I found the story with my byline and re-read it.

In 1994, he was promoting six, two-hour versions of "The Rockford Files” that he agreed to make after several years of saying no to returning as private detective Jim Rockford. He also was co-starring in that summer's feature film remake of "Maverick."

Here is an edited version of the 1994 column, which I felt after reading it again captures Garner's spirit,  sense of humor, work ethic, wit and view of the moral responsibility of entertainment.

After years of saying no to returning as private detective Jim Rockford, Garner has agreed to make six two-hour versions of "The Rockford Files" for CBS over the next two years.

Why has he finally decided to reprise an Emmy-winning role that is making a new generation of fans on cable''s Arts & Entertainment channel?

"Money!"" deadpanned Garner. "I'm being -- I think I'm being funny. You want to know the real truth? I'm of an age that I don't know if I could do this three or four years down the line. And I want to do it. And if I'm going to do it, I should do it now. And it's a wonderful character to do; it's been very successful in my life, and I'd like to give it one more shot.

"I used to love to get up and go to work every day. My alarm never went off. I was up before it, and I went to work and I was always early. And I stayed there, and I was the last guy leaving the set because I enjoyed it so much. And I want to do that again."

Also returning: Original cast members Stuart Margolin as his ex-con friend, Angel Martin, and Joe Santos as irascible Detective Dennis Becker. But Garner said Noah Berry has suffered a couple of strokes and won't be able to return as Rockford's dad.

More importantl, creator Stephen J. Cannell and writers Juanita Bartlett and David Chase are aboard doing three of the scripts.

Chase (editor’s note: He went on to fame as the creator of "The Sopranos") said the first movie will bring "everyone up to speed to where Rockford is today."

Actually, he hasn't gone far. He is still living on the beach in the trailer.

"This guy can get nowhere fast!" cracked Garner.

One place Garner isn't going is the Universal lot to shoot the films. Garner, who was in a celebrated financial dispute with the studio over profits from the original series, wasn't about to enter the lot.

"I told this to the Universal people when we were negotiating," said Garner. ""To drive onto that lot every day to me would be like sticking a knife in my ribs and reminding me of a very bad circumstance before."

How can he be sure that the problems with Universal won't happen again?

"The deal is different," said Garner. "To put it very simply, they give me the money, we give them the film."

Garner, whose effortless charm was on display for the entire interview, credits his writers for the success of the original show, which ran from 1974 to 1980.

"I love the character of Rockford," said Garner. "It's a wonderful, wonderful antihero. . . . The character's always appealed to me because he's not your average, run-of-the-mill hero."

He will change only slightly, according to Chase.

"His attitudes have not changed," said Chase. "The only thing we can say is, Los Angeles is a vastly different city, and he's found it more and more difficult to live in L.A."

Garner agrees that today's antiheroes don't have the same sense of humor as Maverick and Rockford and often tend to be more mean-spirited.

"I have problems with some of the heroes today who must kill all those people,"said Garner. "I don't  know what it is about producers and writers who have to kill 30 people in the first reel.

"I don't think it's particularly good entertainment. I don't think it's that exciting and I think there's a moral responsibility. Particularly if you're going to do something for television, you have a moral responsibility to do things that are not detrimental to society."

By just making "Rockford" again, Garner is doing his bit for society.

"I get it every day," said Garner. "When are you going to do 'Rockford' again? It's very pleasing to know that people want it."

Ch.7 adds third member of sports team; Critics honor "Good Wife"

 By Alan Pergament

It may be last in local news, but Channel 7 beat Channel 4 at something.

While Channel 4 keeps looking for a third member of its sports team, Channel 7 has found its replacement for Allen Leight, who now works for the Buffalo Sabres.

Nick Filipowski arrives at the E. W. Scripps station from KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa, where he has been a weekend sports anchor and reporter. He moves from the 147th TV market to the No. 52 market.

Here is what he says about himself in his KTIV bio: "Growing up in a military family, I lived in eight states and in Japan for eight years.  Moving and living in different places, and experiencing new cultures allowed me to gain a better understanding of sports and the stories that drive the business."

"After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I spent the next few months selling shoes for New Balance,  before landing my first job as the Weekend Sports Anchor at KNOP-TV in North Platte, Nebraska.

"I love the Yankees, Nets and Broncos. Yes, I bleed Husker red."

The Broncos? Channel 7 will have to talk to him about that. 

He doesn't arrive until mid-August, which means the station will have to cover the Buffalo Bills training camp with Sports Director Jeff Russo and backup Shawn Stepner.

Channel 4, which lost sports producer Jay Harris to John Murphy's Buffalo Bills radio show on WGR and only has two on-air sports staffers in Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill, has been looking for a third member of the sports staff for weeks. However, the station is often slow to fill positions.

In another sports note, John Hager, program director of 97 Rock and Sports Radio 1270 The Fan,  wouldn't say if 1270 is interested in carrying Syracuse University football and basketball now that ESPN 1520 has dropped the Orange in favor of a new deal with the University at Buffalo.

But he did't rule it out, either.

"We are looking at several options to replace UB sports, and should have an announcement soon," Hager said in an email.

Finally, "The Good Wife" may have been ignored in the best drama category of the Emmys, but the Television Critics Association honored the CBS series for "outstanding achievement in drama" at its annual awards Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Here are some other TCA winners:

"Breaking Bad" of AMC as the program of the year.

Matthew McConaughey of HBO's "True Detective" for individual achievement in drama.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus of HBO's "Veep" for individual achievement in comedy.

"COSMOS: A Space Time Odyssey"  on Fox for outstanding achievement in news and informational programming.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" on LOGO for outstanding achievement in reality programming.

"The Fosters'" on ABC Family  for outstanding achievement in youth programming.

"Orange is the New Black" on Netflix for outstanding new program.

"True Detective" for  outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials.

"Veep" and "Louie" (Fx)for outstanding achievement in comedy.

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" earned the Herritage Award and director James Burrows earned the Career Achievement Award.  

Berry's series a local hit; Hanks' "Sixties" series gets Emmy nod

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking;

Buffalo fell much more in love with Halle Berry's new series "Extant" than the nation did.

But that's expected because Channel 4 is one of the strongest performing affiliates in the country for CBS programming.

The Wednesday premiere had a 9.1 rating here, easily defeating a repeat of NBC's reality powerhouse "America's Got Talent" (7.9) in the hour that they went head-to-head.

Nationally, "Extant" had a 6.7 household rating, which analysts described as solid, but unspectacular compared to last season's debut of "Under the Dome."

CBS also repeated "Extant" Thursday night.

It will be interesting to see Sunday afternoon if the Buffalo market approaches the national rating of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. The game is being carried on ABC.

Argentina's penalty kick victory Wednesday after a scoreless 90 minutes had about a 3.7 rating on ESPN here, well below the 4.3 rating it had nationally when it became the highest-rated and most viewed World Cup game on the ESPN networks that didn't involve the United States men's team. 

Germany's 7-1 destruction of Brazil Tuesday had a 3.0 rating here, well below the 4.2 rating it had nationally.

The local numbers are decent, just not in the range that you might expect in a market that was one of the strongest in the country for NBC's coverage of the Premier League.

As the Buffalo Bills training camp nears, the key local question is whether Channel 7 or Channel 4 will be the first to hire a new sportscaster.

Channel 7's owner, E.W. Scripps, also has posted job openings for a news producer, two associate producers and someone on the assignment desk. Clearly, Scripps realizes it needs help behind the scenes before it hires new reporters and anchors.

Channel 4's newest reporter, Joe Melillo, made his on-air debut this week. According to the station website, Melillo was born in Stony Brook, Long Island and most recently has been a reporter at WENY in Elmira. He is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut.  

I enjoyed Thursday night's episode of CNN's series on "The Sixties" that dealt with the British Invasion on the music scene that got a big boost from the arrival of The Beatles. The series produced by Tom Hanks' company had the rare distinction of being nominated for an Emmy Thursday while the series is still playing. The episode on "The Assassination of President Kennedy" was nominated in the outstanding documentary or nonfiction special category. The American Experience program on "JFK" was nominated in the same category.

And National Geographic's "Killing Kennedy'"was nominated in the outstanding movie category.        

"Good Wife" incredibly snubbed by Emmys

By Alan Pergament

Did I hear it right?

That was my first thought while watching the Yahoo! live presentation of the Emmy nominations this year and failing to hear "The Good Wife" be nominated as best drama.

It is my favorite broadcast TV show and was believed to be a sure best drama nominee after having a terrific season.

The six nominees are all worthy -- "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "House of Cards, "Mad Men" and 'True Detective." Interestingly, none of them is on broadcast television.

But "The Good Wife" certainly had a better season than two of the long-running, nominated shows on my must-see list -- "Downton" and "Mad Men." As consolation prizes of sorts, Julianna Margulies of "The Good Wife" was nominated as outstanding actress in a drama, and Buffalo native Christine Baranski and Josh Charles were nominated for supporting roles on the series.

It is hard to understand why three actors in a series can get nominated when the series is snubbed in the outstanding drama category. But hey, the Emmy nominations don't have to make sense.

It wasn't a good morning for the broadcast networks as James Spader of NBC's popular drama "The Blacklist" failed to get a best acting nomination in a category filled by Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad," Jeff Daniels of "The Newsroom," Jon Hamm of "Mad Men," Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" and Woody Harrelston and Matthew McConaughey of "True Detective." All of the nominated males have one thing in common -- they didn't appear on broadcast network series.

Less surprising was the absence of "American Idol" from the list of best reality series and the failure of "Late Show with David Letterman" to get nominated in the variety category. Letterman's replacement next year, Stephen Colbert, was nominated for "The Colbert Report" in a category that includes "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "Real Time with Bill Maher,' "Saturday Night Live," "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon."

The good news is my favorite new comedy, HBO's "Silicon Valley," was nominated as best comedy along with "The Big Bang Theory," "Louie," four-time winner "Modern Family," "Orange is the New Black" and "Veep." Interestingly, "Bang" and "Modern Family" were the only broadcast network series in the category, as critical-favorite "Parks & Recreation" was ignored.

I once mistakenly gave the Fox comedy "Brookyn Nine-Nine" an Emmy award when it actually won a Golden Globe. The Emmys didn't even grant it a nomination.

I'll have more to say after I get a look at all the Emmy nominations. 

Berry makes "Extant" well worth a summer look

By Alan Pergament 

If Halle Berry had starred in "Gravity" instead of Sandra Bullock, I might have thought the film was out of this world instead of hating it.

OK, probably not.

But I probably would have been able to tolerate the 90 or so minutes of the overrated space odyssey a little better.

This is my way of saying I was predisposed to liking Berry’s new CBS series, "Extant," which premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

This isn't to say the pilot showcases the beautiful movie star -- who started her acting career in television -- in the best light early. In the first scene, she is losing her lunch and tells her young son "my body is readjusting."

She plays Molly, who has been up in space for 13 months by herself and is getting readjusted to live on earth. The brief time Molly is in space comes during some occasional flashbacks.

Continue reading "Berry makes "Extant" well worth a summer look" »

Goo Goo Dolls, Ronald Reagan movie are front and center

By Alan Pergament 

Leftovers after the long holiday:

The Goo Goo Dolls will be "Front and Center" on WNED-TV and across the nation on Saturday, July 26.

WNED is carrying the performance taped at the Iridium in New York City at 1 a.m., 30 minutes after the publicist for the popular television concert series said it will air in some parts of the country nationally.

That should give concert-goers plenty of time to return from Alternative Buffalo's Kerfuffle at Canalside, where indie pop artists Cage the Elephant, Bear Hands, Big Data, Bleachers, Brick + Mortar, Kongos, The Crystal Method are scheduled to perform starting at 2:30 p.m. July 26.

OK, I admit I’'ve never heard of any of them. (That became obvious when I thought Kerfuffle was the name of a band.)

But I've heard plenty of the Goos and some of their tunes are even on my Ipod. The set list includes "Iris," "Slide," "Let Love In," "Naked," "Here is Gone," "Rebel Beat," "Black Balloon," "Come to Me," "Name," "Sympathy," "Stay with You" and "Better Days."

Continue reading "Goo Goo Dolls, Ronald Reagan movie are front and center" »

"48 Hours" repeats program on murder with Buffalo ties

By Alan Pergament

The "48 Hours" program on the murder in Florida of a University of Buffalo Law School graduate is being repeated at 10 tonight on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, a network spokesman reports.

Reported by Peter Van Sant, the updated report is on the murder of 66-year-old Lanny Horwitz and is titled, "Love, Hate & Obsession." It originally aired in December. 


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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 |