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Andre Reed to be interviewed live on Sunday Night Football

By Alan Pergament

What will Andre say and how will he say it?

That's the question after NBC's announcement this morning that Andre Reed, the retired Buffalo Bills wide receiver who enters the National Football League Hall of Fame on Saturday, will do a live interview on Sunday Night Football when the Bills play the New York Giants in a preseason game.

It sure will be interesting if Reed is asked about his recent expletive remark in a New York magazine about rocker Jon Bon Jovi's interest in buying the Bills and possibly moving them to Toronto.

I'm pretty sure Reed's remark endeared him even more with Bills fans, who after all have heard the expletive enough at the Ralph during games.

NBC also said that Michael Strahan, the former Giant who has turned into a daytime TV star with Kelly Ripa, also will be among the Hall of Famers interviewed live.

Let's just hope the interviews don't interfere too much with the game action. 

Interestingly, NBC's release is promoting the game by stating "that two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants will face 2014 fourth-overall pick WR Sammy Watkins of the Bills."

In other words, Watkins already is being viewed as a star before he plays his first down in the league. And just think, a few months ago many NFL analysts were suggesting that the Bills gave up way too much to move up in the draft to get him.  




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. 


Ch. 4's interim news director has a lot on his plate

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking about a busy news week:

Channel 4's interim news director, Peter Jacobus, sure has several staff hiring issues on his plate however long he stays here.

That's because the former Channel 4 news director, Joe Schlaerth, had a reputation for being very slow to fill open positions. That was true throughout his 10-year tenure as news director. However, it is possible he wasn't allowed to hire anyone in recent months because he was about to be let go.

I would have liked to ask Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina about that, but she still hasn't  answered my telephone call from Wednesday after Schlaerth was removed.

In any event, here are some of the immediate things that probably are on Jacobus' plate:

Replace former anchor Diana Fairbanks, whose 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts have been filled by Don Postles and Jacquie Walker since Fairbanks worked her last newscast more than a month ago.

Replace meteorologist Brian Shaw, who got a job in Louisville quickly after being led out the door after being fired in early June.

Replace sports producer Jay Harris, who left in March to produce John Murphy's radio show on WGR. That means Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill are Channel 4's only sports staffers at a busy time with the Buffalo Bills in training camp. 

Hire a third sports reporter, which has been on Channel 4's agenda for months. It is unclear if the new sports reporter actually will fill Harris' position.

Replace several important people who worked behind the scenes and have left.

Jacobus has a fan in former Channel 2 General Manager Steve Cohen, who currently is the news director at KUSI-TV in San Diego.

After Wednesday's blog listed some of Jacobus' credentials that I was able to gather from a google search (Channel 4 didn't put out a release), Cohen sent me an email.

"Your description of Pete Jacobus does him some disservice. He is one of the longest standing, most respected news directors in the profession. He is a superior newsman, who has covered most of the major stories of the last four decades. He ran KGO-TV (in San Francisco) in its heyday, and virtually mentored, hired, and led a generation of news executives from New York to Los Angeles.

"We have been colleagues from the time he ran KGO and I was at WXYZ in Detroit. Buffalo will find his leadership and community-based news gathering a refreshing change for viewers of WIVB."

Cohen concluded his email by saying something nice about my coverage of his "crazy profession."

Crazy indeed. In Buffalo, we have a TV channel that covers news that refuses to be interviewed when it makes news.  

I also received an email from WBBZ-TV's John DiSciullo, director of promotion and production, that noted my column last Sunday about all the digital channels available free over-the-air failed to mention the extra channels WBBZ carries. I was aware of it, but primarily dealt with the new sub-channels being offered.

"At WBBZ-TV we offer the following," wrote DiSciullo:

WBBZ    67.2:   THIS TV – the 24/7 movie channel offered by MGM. THIS TV was on our main channel before MeTV launched.

WBBZ    67.3       MeTV-  available 24/7 without our local program insertion.

WBBZ    67.4        DAYSTAR – Religious programming 24/7

Program Note: If you missed the June compilation episode of Visit Buffalo Niagara's web-based series "Buffalo For Real TV" with Nelson Starr as host, be advised it is being repeated  on two Sinclair Broadcast stations this weekend. It airs at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on WNYO and at 4 p.m. Sunday on WUTV. It also was written by Starr. John Paget is the director.

Edward J. Healy, vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo, Niagara, reports there is a possibility that it will produce another half-hour special to air this fall.

Finally, inquiring minds want to know what happened to Williamsville East graduate Justin Rhodes during Judgment Week on "America's Got Talent"? The singer didn't make it to the round of 48.

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.  

UB deal means Syracuse is being dropped from ESPN 1520

By Alan Pergament

The move of University at Buffalo football and basketball radio broadcasts from Sports Radio 1270 The Fan to ESPN 1520 won't make every local college sports fan happy.

That's because it means that Syracuse University games in those sports no longer will be carried by the 50,000 watt station where UB is headed in a move that will increase the exposure of its athletic program.

Greg Ried, the general manager of ESPN 1520 and all local Entercom stations, confirmed Thursday night that Syracuse is being dropped.

"ESPN 1520 will be exclusive to UB sports as far as full season coverage," wrote Ried in an email.

Asked if that meant Syracuse games wouldn't be carried on any Entercom station -- it also owns WGR and WBEN -- Ried wrote: "As of right now we will not."

That would seem to leave an opening for 1270 The Fan to carry the Orange if Syracuse is willing to go on a station affiliated with CBS Sports Radio that only operates with 1,000 watts at night and 5,000 in the daytime.

I reached out to a 1270 representative Thursday night to see if the station would be interested in carrying Syracuse and will report when I hear back.

While Entercom's decision to carry the local college team is commendable and understandable, you could have a lively debate here whether there is more local interest in UB basketball or Syracuse basketball.

There are a lot of Syracuse graduates in the area (full disclosure: I am one of several members of the local media who is a SU graduate if you didn't know that already), its basketball program is annually one of the best in the country and it now plays in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference.

Syracuse's two appearances in the NCAA tournament at the First Niagara Center last March -- it lost the second game to Dayton -- attracted so many SU fans that they were like home games for Jim Boeheim's squad.

However, just about every Syracuse basketball game is carried either on national or local television, which might reduce interest in its radio broadcasts.

Still, Syracuse's games should be attractive enough to interest 1270 The Fan enough to consider trying to make a deal to carry them to offset its UB loss.

If not, it wouldn't be shocking to see Entercom try to carry some Syracuse games on one of its stations in the area when they don't conflict with UB games.    


UB football, basketball broadcasts moving to ESPN 1520

By Alan Pergament

One of the complaints about the radio broadcasts of the University at Buffalo football and basketball broadcasts last season was that the station carrying them often couldn't be heard near the Amherst campus.

That won't be a problem this season as UB announced today that those broadcasts are moving from AM 1270 to ESPN 1520, a 50,000 watt sports station owned by Entercom.

By comparison, Sports Radio 1270 The Fan is a 1,000 watt station at night, 5,000 watts during the daytime.

Besides carrying UB football and men's and women's basketball games, 1520 will also carry 30-minute weekly shows with football coach Jeff Quinn, men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley and women's basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack, the school announced.

The games also will be carried on stations in Rochester, Albany and New York City, which UB said makes it the first time in school history that it will have a radio network carrying games across the state.


Local World Cup rating out of this world for soccer

By Alan Pergament

Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina in extra time Sunday to win the World Cup had local ratings that were out of this world for soccer.

ABC's coverage during game time from 3 p.m. to around 5:45 p.m. had a 10.4 rating on local affililate Channel 7, which was more than double the 4.6 local rating for Spain's victory over Netherlands four years ago during game time.

The rain showers Sunday afternoon may have helped the local rating, as did the fact the game went into extra time.

However, the rating clearly confirms the impressive surge in interest in the United States and Western New York for the soccer competition played every four years. The question now is whether the interest will continue beyond the World Cup. 

The final hour of Sunday's game from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. averaged a 12.5 rating locally, peaking at 13.7 in the final 15 minutes when the winning goal was scored by Germany's Mario Gotze.

While Univision also has had impressive national ratings for its coverage of the World Cup, its coverage didn't register a rating here. The channel is only on Time Warner Cable's Buffalo system, the satellite dishes and FiOs.

The national rating for the World Cup isn't available at this writing. It may include the pregame show, which will lower the rating.

Update: ESPN reports the game averaged a 9.7 overnight rating in the 56 metered markets, including Buffalo. That includes the pregame show, which is why ESPN says that Buffalo averaged an 8.6 rating rather than a 10.4 rating. The rating is reduced when the low-rated pregame show is added. Still, ESPN said Buffalo was one of 12 markets that recorded its highest men's World Cup rating ever.   

To put the local rating in further perspective, let's compare the World Cup final to the decisive games in major sports.

The World Cup rating was:

Higher than the 9.2 rating on Channel 2 for the Los Angeles Kings title clincher over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals.

Higher than the 8.6 rating on Channel 7 for San Antonio's title clincher over the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

Higher than the 9.6 rating on WUTV for the Boston Red Sox's World Series clincher over the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, it was lower than the 12.2 rating on Channel 4 for the University at Connecticut's NCAA men's basketball final victory over Kentucky.

It was nowhere near the 51.0 rating on WUTV for Seattle's Super Bowl romp over Denver. But expecting the world version of football to compete with interest in the American version on television was way too much to ask. 

Sabres release statement asking for Jeanneret's privacy

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Sabres released a statement this morning about play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret's announcement today that he has throat cancer.

Here's the entire release sent by Michael M. Gilbert, vice president of public & community relations for the National Hockey League team.

"The Buffalo Sabres are deeply saddened to learn of Rick Jeanneret's cancer diagnosis. RJ has been a vital part of the Sabres family and the Buffalo community for 43 years and this news undoubtedly weighs heavily on everyone who has had the privilege of listening to his broadcasts through the years. As he begins treatment in the coming weeks, we will continue to keep RJ, his wife, Sandra, his mother, Kay, his sister, Marcia, his children, Mark, Chris and Shelly, and his grandchildren in our thoughts. We wish RJ a full and speedy recovery and know his tenacity will serve him well in his fight. On behalf of the Jeanneret family, the Sabres are asking for respect of the family's privacy as RJ undergoes treatment -- any inquiries should be directed to Michael Gilbert The team has also set up a dedicated email address,, for fans to send well-wishes and notes of encouragement." 



Huge soccer surge in popularity may be bending the truth

By Alan Pergament 

NBC News correspondent Bill Neely finished his Monday night report on Team USA's 2-2 draw with Portugal by declaring that this year's World Cup performance of the team "may prove to be the turning point for soccer in the United States."

About 36 hours earlier, ESPN's Roger Bennett used a two-year-old ESPN survey to declare in a commentary on "CBS Sunday Morning" that "we now live in a nation in which demographics determined that soccer is the second most popular sport for those aged 12-24, ahead of basketball, baseball and college football."

"In fact," the Brit added, "the United States has become a bona-fide soccer nation. And the 2014 World Cup will empower the sport to complete its takeover."

I hope that's all true. It's a wonderful sport. It also is a safer sport to play than football, which is why so many parents prefer their kids play it.

But is it a continuing revolution? Not so fast.

Please forgive me for interjecting some reality and perspective and possibly be a downer at the party, but I have my doubts because I've heard this revolutionary song before.

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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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