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It's another Peabody for WFAA8's Byron Harris


WFAA8 investigator Byron Harris and his colleague, Brett Shipp, have made habits of winning broadcast journalism's most prestigious prizes.

It was Harris' turn Thursday. He won his second George Foster Peabody award for "Bitter Lessons," which the official citation says "exposed abuses by government-funded 'career' schools that provide poor training and sometimes leave desperate students deeper in debt than they started."

More specifically, Harris reported in fall 2010 that felons and the homeless were regularly being recruited by ATI of Richland Hills, which declined to provide a spokesperson for an on-camera interview.

Harris also has won four duPont Columbia awards while Shipp has collected three Peabodys and three duPonts, according to their station bios. In 2009, they shared the duPont Gold Baton award, which for the first time was awarded to a local television station.

At the network television level, Thursday's Peabody honorees included the series Justified (FX); The Good Wife (CBS); Men of a Certain Age (TNT) and The Pacific (HBO).

The 70th annual Peabodys will be awarded on May 23rd during a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Larry King will host.

For a complete list of Peabody winners, go here. Below is video of the story that came up a winner for Harris.

Look, up in the sky: Troy Bush ending his flight time as HD Chopper 8 pilot/reporter


HD Chopper 8 pilot Troy Bush in his Facebook photo

Fear of not flying has prompted HD Chopper 8 pilot/reporter Troy Bush to call it a day at Dallas-based WFAA8.

His last day at the station will be April 6th, he said in an email to unclebarky.com. Rusty Thetford, who "showed me the ropes of ENG (Electronic News Gathering) flying in Dallas," will now be flying Chopper 8, Bush said.

Bush recently completed his fourth year as WFAA8's go-to guy in the sky during times of flooding, fires, storm damage and other events calling for an airborne perspective.

"WFAA was my dream job ever since I started flying in 1987," Bush said. "Unfortunately, the economy has hit the TV business hard. It's forced WFAA to reduce our flight time drastically. I would rather get hit in the head with a hammer than not fly. I'm a pilot that reports, not a reporter that flies."

Bush said he'll be returning to the Gulf of Mexico, where he flew crews to rigs for many years before joining WFAA8. "Despite what you hear in the news, oil and gas exploration is booming."

For the past two years, rival North Texas TV stations have relied on Garland-based Sky Helicopters, Inc. during times when WFAA8 continued to fly solo with Chopper 8. Financial reasons were cited.

"WFAA actually owns our bird free and clear," Bush said. "I doubt they would ever go the generic route with Sky Helicopters."

Bush and Chopper 8 memorably covered the Sept. 2010 flooding in Arlington while also giving the city's fire chief a ride so that he could see the scope of the damage first-hand. All four major local TV news providers offered extended live, breaking coverage, but WFAA8 clearly had the first and best overhead pictures.

In goodbye sentiments sent to unclebarky.com, Bush thanked WFAA8 managing editor Cliff Williams for "taking a chance on someone with no TV experience." He likewise thanked "all the reporters I worked with, especially (news anchor) John McCaa, (traffic reporter) Alexa Conomos and (Daybreak co-anchor) Cynthia Izaguirre."

"You guys always made me feel I was a star," he said of the WFAA8 staff in general. "I will miss you all."

Scott Sams out at CBS11 after four-year stint as early morning co-anchor


Scott Sams, who joined CBS11 in April 2007 as co-anchor of the weekday early morning newscasts, has been let go by the station.

"We have decided not to renew Scott Sams' contract, but we thank him for his contributions during the four years he was with us, and we wish him well," CBS11/TXA21 communications director Lori Conrad said in response to an email query Thursday. "His replacement will be named at a later date."

Sams, who lately has teamed with newcomer Lisa Pineiro, joined the DFW-based CBS-owned station from KTEN-TV in Sherman, TX. Before that he had spent nearly 20 years at rival WFAA8 before the station parted ways with him in September 2004. Sams sued his old employer, with both sides eventually claiming victory after he received a portion of the monetary settlement he had sought for "wrongful termination."

Informed sources say that CBS11 has an interview scheduled next week with a possible early morning replacement, David Rose of Fox's KCPQ-TV in Seattle. Rose, a graduate of Dallas-based Southern Methodist University, has been with the station since July 2007 and currently anchors the 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

CBS11 continues to run fourth in the early morning news ratings race, in part because of its network's little-watched lead-out program, The Early Show.

Earlier this week, WFAA8 confirmed a shakeup of its No. 3-rated early morning newscasts, with Ron Corning hired from New York to replace incumbent co-anchor Chris Flanagan on April 25th. On that same day, Flanagan will become co-host of WFAA8's 9 a.m. Good Morning Texas program.

WFAA8 shakes up morning picture with import of Ron Corning to Daybreak, export of Chris Flanagan to Good Morning Texas

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Ron Corning arriving, Chris Flanagan remaining at WFAA8

Dallas-based WFAA8 is hoping to brighten its early- and mid-morning ratings pictures with a new male anchor on Daybreak and the transfer of incumbent Chris Flanagan to Good Morning Texas.

News director Michael Valentine, responding to an inquiry Wednesday, said the station has hired Ron Corning to join Cynthia Izaguirre on Daybreak, effective April 25th. On the same day, Flanagan will join GMT, with current co-host Rob McCollum being "reassigned" but "still involved" with the show, Valentine said.

Corning most recently worked at Cablevision's News 12 Long Island, which he joined in November 2009 after being dropped as a morning anchor by Fox's Good Day New York (WNYT-TV/Ch. 5) in April 2008 after nearly two years at that station.

The WFAA8 newcomer also has been a news anchor for The Daily Buzz, a syndicated morning show previously carried in D-FW by TXA21. From 2004 to 2006, Corning worked with ABC's World News Now and ABC World News This Morning, according to his wikipedia biography. During his stint with ABC, he was named one of the world's "Most Beautiful People" by People magazine. He's a graduate of Massachusetts' Wheaton College.

Flanagan joined Daybreak in March 2009 from WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. He has a year remaining on his contract with WFAA8 and sources say he is free to look elsewhere during that time. McCollum has been with GMT since July 27, 2009. He replaced Gary Cogill, who was reassigned to arts coverage and since has left the station to get into movie production.

In the February "sweeps" Nielsen ratings, Daybreak ran third at 6 a.m. in a four-station field, trailing Fox4 and NBC5 in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. At 9 a.m., GMT finished behind the syndicated Live with Regis & Kelly and the third hour of NBC's Today show in both of those ratings measurements.

Here's a six minute, 23 second "compilation reel" put together by Corning. He clearly enjoys messing around on the air, but also shows something of a serious side.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., May 20-22) -- Mavs get upper hand against OKC, but numbers again fall off


The Matrix led the Mav' Saturday night victory march. Photo: Ed Bark

Measurements of sports bar viewing remain highly imprecise at best, which might account for some of the Saturday night shortfall for the Dallas Mavericks' defensive-minded playoff win at Oklahoma City.

Still, you'd think that in-home interest at least would match that of Game 2. But not quite. Game 3 on ESPN (8:07 to 10:45 p.m.) averaged 727,199 D-FW viewers, down from 741,050 for Game 2 and 803,381 for the opener of the Western Conference championship series. Dallas now leads 2-1, with two more wins putting the Mavs in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006.

The game's appeal among motherlode 18-to-49-year-olds also slipped a bit, with 417,906 in this age range watching Game 3 compared to 434,359 for Game 2 and 450,812 for Game 1.

That's still total dominance of the weekend Nielsens. And Game 2 did manage a moral victory with an overall peak audience of 983,449 in the final 15-minute increment. That outpointed Game 2's high point of 941,895.

Game 4 against the Thunder is Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, with the competition including the second hour of ABC's final Dancing With the Stars performance show followed by the latest season premiere of The Bachelorette. Mavs-Thunder will no doubt will whip both attractions, but the overall audience could be diminished a bit before many viewers again take a hike from local 10 p.m. newscasts to watch the game's denouement.

Also on Saturday night, the season finale of NBC's Saturday Night Live, with host Justin Timberlake and heavy participation by Lady Gaga, drew a nice-sized 228,548 viewers to easily outdraw all prime-time programming except Mavs-Thunder. But the 15-minute increment of The Preakness on NBC galloped to a surprisingly strong 318,582 viewers early Saturday evening, pulling an appreciably bigger audience than the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier (

Over on Fox4 Saturday night, the struggling Texas Rangers' road loss to the Phillies (at the hands of former Ranger ace Cliff Lee) managed 152,365 viewers in falling a bit short of CBS' 8 p.m. Crimetime Saturday repeat (159,291 viewers). ABC's three-hour reprise of Spiderman 3 barely wove a web with a scant 48,480 viewers.

Sheen inflicting himself on Dallas, too


Sheen made his earlier bed on Two and a Half Men. CBS photo

It's oh so tempting to never write another word about the chain-smoking, fire-breathing, kiss-my-ass phenomenon known as Charlie Sheen.

But giving him up for Lent keeps falling by the wayside, especially since he's lately provided a big local angle. Sheen's "Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option" tour, previously noted in these spaces, will touch down at Dallas' American Airlines Center on April 27th. Sheen has announced 12 new dates on his Twitter page, which is perilously close to having 3 million followers as of this writing.

The former Two and a Half Men star, who's filed a $100 million lawsuit after being fired, is launching his shows on April 2-3 in Detroit and Chicago. Both reportedly sold out in a TicketMaster record of 18 minutes. Tickets for the Dallas show -- "This IS where you will hear the REAL story from the Warlock," Sheen promises -- will go on sale Saturday, March 19th, with $1 from each ticket sold going to the Red Cross Japanese Earthquake Relief Fund. Prices range from $49.50 to $89.50, although of course you can pay more if you'd like.

S-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, are you going? Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who's trying to get Sheen to do a series for his HDNet cable channel, almost assuredly will be on hand to press Sheen's flesh. But what about you? Here are some talking point options that perhaps will prompt your comments.

A. Hell no, I'm not goin'. I'd rather be on the receiving end of a hot lead enema followed by a marathon of $#*! My Dad Says

B. Hell yeah, I'm goin'. Whether anyone likes it or not, this is a once in a lifetime pop culture event. I might even snag myself a "Duh. Winning" t shirt.

C. The Apocalypse is nigh.

D. Can't afford the price of admission, but I still find this guy fassssssssssssssssss-inating, as Babs Walters would say.

E. Don't like Two and a Half Men. Hate all the attention Charlie Sheen is getting. Would rather read about Fulton J. Sheen.

Dallas-based WFAA8 would "strongly protest" any airing of ABC series under the current working title of Good Christian Bitches

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Cover art for Kim Gatlin's novel (now a potential ABC prime-time series) and co-star Kristin Chenoweth from her Facebook page.

So far it's still just a pilot for a potential ABC series, with filming scheduled to begin in Dallas next week.

And its working title, Good Christian Bitches, seems highly unlikely to stick to the wall if the network makes a full-blown commitment to a serial soap drawn from Kim Gatlin's same-named novel.

Dallas-based WFAA8, the ABC affiliate station for North Texas, nonetheless is on message control after fielding complaints about what would be the most provocatively named series in broadcast network history if it ever came to that. So WFAA8 is sending out an official reply to all inquiries, stressing both the work-in-progress nature of Good Christian Bitches and its determination to let ABC know how it feels about such a title. A copy of the response also was emailed by WFAA8 to unclebarky.com.

The station says it was "not aware of the program in question" until stories and complaints started turning up. So WFAA8 contacted ABC, whose "executives have indicated that if this pilot does become a program, it would not contain the title of the book. If it did carry that name, we would certainly voice an opinion, and strongly protest to the network."

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin, in a separate email to unclebarky.com, noted that it can be "a long and difficult road from a pilot to a network series. So it's probably premature to take a position about whether WFAA would air the program. I also have confidence that ABC will act in the best interests of the viewers if this makes the lineup."

As detailed in a previous post, GCB's stars include Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Potts and Leslie Bibb. Premise: the character played by Bibb, a divorced mother of two named Amanda Vaughn, returns to her hometown of Dallas after a scandal rocks her world. She expects to receive comfort and support from her former classmates, but instead finds that their Christian values "are as counterfeit as their travel jewelry."

WFAA8, which preempted the first two seasons of ABC's NYPD Blue for content reasons, says in its official response that "often, organizations will prematurely issue false statements and make assumptions about programs, then encourage members to contact local stations such as WFAA in protest, long before the facts are known."

The station cited ABC's Wife Swap reality series as an example. An organization hoping to block the show "sent its members information . . . suggesting the program would be promoting the swapping of wives in a sexual context, tearing at the moral fiber of marriage," WFAA8 said. "Of course once the facts were known, the program was quite the opposite and had no connection whatsoever to anything such as that."

The station said it will be "watching closely (for further developments on GCB) and will remain in touch with the network as this situation progresses."

The Parents Television Council already has denounced the potential series, sharply criticizing both its working title and its premise. It has urged its members and other supporters to sign a petition demanding that ABC "immediately cease and desist" developing GCB. The headline on PTC's petition page reads, "Misogyny and Religious Bigotry in New ABC Series."

It's official: TNT's Dallas pilot to be shot in -- drumroll -- Dallas


TNT's previously announced pilot episode for a new version of Dallas will get a proper home, the Dallas Film Commission announced Thursday.

Location shooting in Dallas is scheduled to begin in late April, with original series stars Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy dropping in to reprise their indelible roles of J.R., Sue Ellen and Bobby Ewing.

The focus, though, will be on the Ewing offspring, with a pair of Desperate Housewives alumni, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe, respectively playing J.R.'s son, John Ross, and Bobby's adopted son, Christopher.

There's a love triangle, of course, with Elena (Jordan Brewster from Fast & Furious) dividing her affections between the Ewing kids as "they clash over the family dynasty's future." Christopher otherwise has a fiancee named Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo from Veronica Mars).

The script for the sequel, which likely will evolve into a TNT series, was written by Cynthia Cidre, former executive producer of the short-lived CBS serial drama Cane. Directing is Michael M. Robin, whose credits include TNT's The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles.

"We are so excited that we get to shoot the pilot episode of Dallas in Dallas," Cidre and Robin said in a statement. "The city has changed so much since the original series and we can't wait to show our audience the fun, the culture, the architecture, the restaurants, the landscapes and the people that make Dallas such a vibrant and cinematic city."

In other words, they're saying all the right things about a series whose CBS original initially ran into opposition from city officials who worried it would portray Dallas as a greed-drenched haven for oily, crooked, philandering businessmen. Which it pretty much did. But Dallas pumped multi-millions into the area economy while becoming prime-time's No. 1-rated series. So all was quickly forgiven.

The first Dallas ran from 1978 to 1991 and also spawned several CBS made-for-TV movies back when broadcast networks actually made such things. A planned Dallas feature film, with John Travolta at one time inked to play J.R. Ewing, has hit a series of dry holes and for now is dead.

Another TV pilot, Good Christian Bitches, is scheduled to begin shooting in Dallas next week as a candidate for next season's ABC schedule.

This is good news for both the Dallas Film Commission and local production crews, who had been on a high last year with three network series simultaneously in production -- Fox's The Good Guys and Lone Star and NBC's Chase. The first two have been canceled and Chase has gone out of production with no realistic chance of returning in the fall.

Snippets of D-FW anchor dean Clarice Tinsley during her wonder years at Milwaukee's WITI-TV

Anchor Clarice Tinsley, now in her 33rd year at Dallas-based KDFW-TV (Fox4), spent three years at WITI-TV in Milwaukee before heading here.

Your friendly content provider and native Wisconsinite grew up in Racine watching nearby Milwaukee TV stations, but was a cub reporter and college kid at the University of Wisconsin in Madison by the time Tinsley joined WITI. The station had a long and proud history, and never tired of promoting it. But WITI also was the longtime home base of Albert the Alley Cat, a hand puppet voiced by the station manager who was as popular -- if not more so -- as any of WITI's human personalities. Albert worked with the station's weathercaster for many years before moving over to sports.

Stand-alone footage of Tinsley with Albert may not exist. But you can catch glimpses of her in this one-minute 1978 WITI promo with the theme song, "Count On Us to Take You There." Watch closely at the 34-second mark and again at the 42-second mark during a big holiday dinner scene that of course includes Albert hamming it up.

Ah, the golden age of television, complete with wisecracking weather puppets. Enjoy.

Megan Henderson appears to be quite happy in L.A.


Fox4's early-to-mid-morning Good Day continues to merrily roll along in the D-FW Nielsen ratings without Megan Henderson and with Lauren Przybyl.

Still, Henderson made quite an impression here during her five-and-a-half-year stay before leaving in February 2009 for Los Angeles' KTLA-TV, where she's again working the morning shift.

Henderson also pops up near the end of the 5 p.m. newscasts on Dallas-based CW33 for her daily taped blip of celebrity news. But hardly anyone is watching that. So here's a recent clip of her giving a very enthusiastic welcome back to veteran weathercaster Mark Kriski, who had just returned after a three-month battle with pneumonia and a resultant infection.

Longtime Good Day meteorologist Evan Andrews also might have merited such a pants-happy welcome had he been on the shelf for a while during Henderson's Fox4 days. But we'll likely never know.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Tues., March 15) -- "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in key demos for CW33's 9 p.m. news

It's come to this. In a No. 5 market with 6.9 million available viewers, CW33's Tuesday edition of its 9 p.m. local newscast received the dreaded "hashmarks" (no measurable audience) in the key younger demographics measured by Nielsen Media Research.

The newscast did manage to entice 10,389 total D-FW viewers, compared to the 232,011 drawn by Fox4's competing local edition. But Nielsen said the station came up completely empty among 18-to-34-year-olds, 18-to-49-year-olds and 25-to-54-year-olds.

Oh, there may have been 10 or 20 viewers of these ages who watched all or part of CW33's news. But it wasn't enough to move the Nielsen needle among demographic groups that CW33 has been avidly courting. That includes the 18-to-34-year-olds targeted by the CW network.

CW33 wasn't helped by an 8 p.m. repeat of CW's Hellcats, which had minimal audiences in those three demographic groups. But a broadcast station coming up with nothing is virtually unheard of in prime-time. Even Ch. 52's pair of competing 9-10 p.m. old chestnuts, All in the Family and Sanford and Son, respectively drew 13,162 and 9,696 viewers in the 18-to-49 age range.

So the 9 p.m. Tribune-owned CW33 newscast officially has hit rock bottom in times when Houston's Tribune-owned station, (KIAH-TV/Ch. 39), is proceeding with plans to launch NewsFix this weekend, according to a detailed report in the Houston Chronicle by David Barron. Among the new presenters is Harris County constable Victor Trevino, who will give viewers the nightly crime report.

"We are reallocating the screen time that used to go to anchors and reporters and using that to give the viewer more content," KIAH general manager Roger Bare explained to the Chronicle.

Instead the news will have an off-camera narrator, Gregory Onofrio, a onetime Dallas and Houston radio deejay who also will appear on camera for the newscasts' nightly "Closing Comments." Besides that, he'll be doing the weather. And no, that's not a joke, although what's left of the "newscast" might turn out to be.

CW33 news director David Duitch has told unclebarky.com that such drastic changes won't be happening here. But one wonders. And in the end, the locals have nothing to say about it anyway. If Tribune deems NewsFix a success, then its other owned stations will follow in line. At KIAH, the chief meteorologist left last week and the sports anchor's last day is Friday. Former 9 p.m. news anchor Steve Simon will still get some face time -- on a segment titled "Simon Says."

OK, enough. In other Tuesday ratings, CBS' 7 p.m. repeat of NCIS topped all prime-time attractions with 311,657 total viewers, edging Fox's competing new episode of Glee (297,805 viewers). But Glee easily was the night's most-watched program among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

A rerun of CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles won the 8 p.m. hour in total viewers. The 18-to-49 laurels went to Fox's new half-hour of Raising Hope and NBC's closing half-hour of The Biggest Loser. Fox4's local newscast won at 9 p.m. in both ratings measurements.

Tuesday's four-way local news competitions left only CBS11 out of a winner's circle.

WFAA8 ran first at 10 p.m. in total viewers, but again took a hard fall among 25-to-54-year-olds, where Fox4 placed comfortably on top while NBC5 took the runner-up spot.

The Peacock and Fox4 tied for first place at 6 a.m. in total viewers, with Fox4 again taking the 25-to-54 gold.

WFAA8 made a solid showing in the early evening, sweeping the 6 p.m. competitions and tying Fox4 for the 5 p.m. top spot in total viewers. Fox4 edged WFAA8 at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Dirty Sexy Money was one thing (but Good Christian Bitches?)


GCB co-star Kristin Chenoweth in her official Twitter photo

The pilot episode for ABC's Good Christian Bitches, still not officially ruled out as the title of the network's adaptation of Kim Gatlin's same-named book, is scheduled to begin filming in Dallas next week.

The Dallas Observer's Unfair Park blog, citing various other announcements and news sources, noted Tuesday that Kristin Chenoweth (Glee, Pushing Daisies) is the latest addition to the prime-time sudser's cast. Other participants in this potential series are Leslie Bibb, Annie Potts, Miriam Shor and Marisol Nichols, with Darren Starr of Sex and the City fame serving as executive producer.

Basically put, GCB is the saga of a scandal-shocked divorced mother of two named Amanda Vaughn (Bibb). She returns to her hometown of Dallas to encounter scorn and overall cattiness from her former Christian schoolmates. Or as it's described on Gatlin's official GCB website: "In the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud, Amanda turns to those who love her and the faith she's always known. Will the Good Christian Bitches get the best of her, or will everyone see that these GCBs are as counterfeit as their travel jewelry?"

Cover art for the book depicts a grinning, voluptuous blonde in a low-cut blouse with a bejeweled silver cross bisecting her cleavage. "I wasn't trying to win a Pulitzer Prize," Catlin said in a 2008 interview with the New York Post, for which a link is provided on her website.

As noted in this post's headline, ABC had a fairly provocative title a few seasons back with Dirty Sexy Money. And in 1982, the network proudly presented The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch, a made-for-TV movie produced by the late Dallas native Aaron Spelling.

The will-they-or-won't-they-keep-it game surrounding Good Christian Bitches is getting ratings-challenged ABC some publicity mileage at the moment, even though the Parents Television Council already has condemned it as an affront to both women and "the world's largest faith."

"Would they even consider a program title or a plot line based on 'Bitches' who were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist?" PTC president Tim Winter asks with, in this case, considerable justification. "I suspect not, and I certainly hope not. So why the double standard?"

ABC is certain to change the title if GCB makes the cut for next season. And if for some reason it doesn't, a number of affiliate stations likely will refuse to air it, possibly even including Dallas-based WFAA8. This is the same station, after all, that declined to carry ABC's NYPD Blue for its first two seasons in protest of the series' adult language and occasional glimpses of bared behinds. WFAA8 was the only station in a Top 10 TV market to renounce the series. The station eventually relented after NYPD Blue won a total of nine Emmys in its first two seasons.

Under any title, GCB doesn't look to be anywhere near that league.

Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Mon., March 14) -- The Bachelor dominates prime-time but NBC5 cleans up

ABC ran the ratings table in prime-time Monday with its two-hour finale of The Bachelor followed by The Bachelor: After the Final Rose and The Bachelor Makes WFAA8 Anchor John McCaa Puke.

OK, that last one's a fake, although co-anchor Shelly Slater told him she could feel his disdain for the show at the end of Monday's 10 p.m. local newscast. Atta baby, John. Right there with ya.

Anyway, Austin weasel Brad Womack gave blonde widow Emily Maynard his final rose to the tune of 325,508 D-FW viewers from 7 to 9 p.m. Then rumors that their made-for-TV love story already had ended threatened to de-petal the Final Rose hour, which held on to 283,954 viewers. But no, Brad put a big sparkler on Emily's finger, and they're supposedly going to try to work it out. Which they won't. McCaa could give a rat's assets, and so could your friendly content provider. Urp, The Bachelor also won all three prime-time hours among advertiser-craved 18-to-49-year-olds.

NBC's plucky Harry's Law otherwise rose from the ashes of the preceding The Event to finish a strong second at 9 p.m. with 256,251 total viewers. Alas,Harry's again bombed with 18-to-49-year-olds, placing a distant fourth in its time slot. It was the same story with 25-to-54-year-olds, putting NBC5's 10 p.m. newscast at a sizable disadvantage.

But eureka, the station recovered to win the late night local news race in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. WFAA8 took second place in total viewers but slid to an out-of-the-money fourth in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Fox4 regrouped at 6 a.m. with a doubleheader win after Friday's twin punchout at the hands of NBC5.

WFAA8 won at 5 p.m. in total viewers and at 6 p.m. with 25-to-54-year-olds. Monday's other local news golds went to CBS11 at 6 p.m. in total viewers and Fox4 at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 age range.

Iron Mike Rawlings? He cannily picks his spot in a mayoral race against Dallas' former top cop

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Mayoral candidates David Kunkle, Mike Rawlings in Facebook photos

First impressions tend to be important. And in his inaugural TV ad, Dallas mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings looks more like the city's top cop than the former top cop he's running against. Namely David Kunkle.

Bull-necked and dressed in police blue, Rawlings appears imposing and billy club ready while laying down his law in a 30-second spot that's lately popping into local newscasts.

"During tough financial times, it's not what ya say, it's what ya do," says the man whose initial group of endorsers includes Roger "Captain America" Staubach." And of course, raising taxes is not an option. They all say that.

Rawlings is full front and center, with no visuals other than Iron Mike's industrial-sized mug and a tree that looks a little emaciated in comparison. His closing tagline: "Because real leadership is all about solutions."

Kunkle, a lean, fit fitness freak with an equally preternatural full head of hair, has yet to fire off his first TV ad. He's not known as a riveting public speaker, but will need to put on a good show after Rawlings' opening image-enhancer. The guy looks as though he could step into the lead role of Blue Bloods after first making a beat cop of Tom Selleck.

Well, maybe that's exaggerating just a bit. But Rawlings seems to be trying to position himself as the perceived manliest man in this race. When you run against the former Dallas police chief, it's best not to look too tweedy.

Here's the spot:

WFAA8 anchor/reporter Shon Gables is wanted in Detroit after judge cites her for contempt of court in slander judgment and orders bench warrant for her arrest


A bench warrant has been issued for the arrest of WFAA8 anchor/reporter Shon Gables after a Detroit judge cited her for contempt of court.

Court documents say that Gables twice failed to appear in court, on Feb. 4th and March 4th of this year, to "testify under oath regarding her assets" in connection with a successful $35,000 slander judgment against her. The plaintiff in the case, Richard Klamka, is the brother of Gables' second and now ex-husband, Peter Klamka, who also has had legal difficulties in recent years. To say the least, it has been a messy divorce and a protracted dispute.

"I am in constant communication with Shon and she has kept me up to date on the issue," WFAA8 news director Michael Valentine said in an email response Monday to unclebarky.com.

Gables joined Dallas-based WFAA8 in January 2010. In August of that year, she had a third child, Peyton Anne, with her third husband, Anthony Robinson, and has blogged about her pre- and post-pregnancy experiences on the website soulsummer.com.

Detroit judge Jeanne Stempien issued the contempt of court bench warrant on March 4th. "It is further ordered that the bench warrant issued for the Defendant's arrest shall be released when the Defendant pays to the court the sum of $2,000.00," the court document states. That would not affect the $35,000 that Gables has been ordered to pay to Richard Klamka.

Gables anchors weekend editions of WFAA8's early morning Daybreak and also reports for the station three days a week. Oddly enough, she reported on people in her current circumstances in an August 2010 story that is headlined "Warrant roundup underway in Dallas County" on wfaa.com.

"They are promising that those who weren't at home will still be tracked down," Gables told viewers of authorities' determination to apprehend those with delinquent traffic and non-traffic fines.

"We'll be back until we catch them and put them in jail," Dallas Marshals Interim Chief Paul Hansen told her.

Gables said in her report that all of this can be avoided if "offenders simply pay their fines or obey the law."

Return with us now to NBC5's "JaM" cam promos for anchors Jane McGarry/Mike Snyder

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JaM's Jane McGarry and Mike Snyder: the way they were and the way they went out as NBC's longstanding featured anchor team.

Bill Clinton was president and Rupert Murdoch was on the prowl when Fort Worth-based NBC5 introduced its most famous ad campaign ever.

The station's "JaM" promos, which included a Jif peanut butter style logo, were launched a couple of years after Jane McGarry and Mike Snyder became NBC5's 6 and 10 p.m. anchor team in 1992. The station's promotions director at the time, Lee Spieckerman, said it was an effort to strengthen NBC5's brand in the months preceding the big summer of '95 D-FW affliliate switch in which Murdoch's Fox corporation took Channel 4 away from CBS, which in turn relocated to Channel 11.

Spieckerman, always a talkative and indefatigable point man for his station, lately has posted four news commercials that ran in 1993 and '94. The two JaM spots are bookended by meteorologist David Finfrock's self-effacing advertisement for himself and a hard-charger on behalf of NBC5's "Public Defenders" team of Marty Griffin, Sabrina Smith and Mike Androvett.

The second JaM spot is the one to watch. Snyder at one point is approached by a man who asks him, "Aren't you the M in Jam?" And a grateful McGarry is presented with a school kid's rendering of the JaM logo. It all ends with an elderly black couple sitting on a porch bench.

"Well, it's 10' clock," says he.

"Let's JaM," she says before they both laugh and head indoors to experience the wonders of NBC5's late night newscast.

The JaM ads are easy enough to ridicule, then and now. But they juiced up the station's profile and were a sharp and intendedly hip response to WFAA8's earlier set of cracker barrel-ish ads starring a cowboy hat-toting Dennis Weaver. Spieckerman, who now runs SpieckermanMedia LLC, still remembers them fondly. And certainly without apology.

"As to criticism, bring it on!" Spieckerman said in an email. "In our Gallup market research at the time, JaM was, overwhelmingly, the most recalled and successful station audience marketing campaign of the era. Within a year of its debut, Jane McGarry ascended to parity with (WFAA8's) Gloria Campos in research rankings, though both were somewhat behind (Fox4's) Clarice Tinsley."

The "Public Defenders" campaign "also took the market by storm," Spieckerman contended. "Virtually every highly-promoted PD special report pushed KXAS' 10 p.m. news to #1 in the ratings at a time when WFAA had been winning every weeknight."

Seventeen years down the road, only Finfrock remains in place as NBC5's chief meteorologist. Snyder was let go by the station on July 1st of last year and McGarry is now an early evening news anchor. Their 10 p.m. replacements are Brian Curtis and Meredith Land, with "BaM" being something the promotions department might want to consider.

NBC5's "Public Defenders" team has long been broken up, and the station currently has no full-time investigative unit.

Here are the four commercials from yesteryears. And whatever you think of them, they still call attention to themselves.

Fox4's Next: a visually impaired show for a social media age


Behold the hardly palatial digs of Fox4's new Next. Photos: Ed Bark

Fox4's Next snuck into view during lunchtime Friday, and the station seems to have spared every expense on this experimental half-hour.

Hosts Fiona Gorostiza and Steve Noviello presided over a set dominated by a big blue screen, a dingy black floor and Noviello himself. The station's resident consumer reporter for the most part took hold of the first-half hour like a hobo bogarting a joint. And if that's a dated reference, hey, there aren't many if any young "social media" addicts watching broadcast TV news at 12:30 p.m.

Next ideally is supposed to be light and fun, but its first edition dawned in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan. This also turned out to be the most compelling segment of Next, with Fox4 reporter Adrian Arambulo narrating a series of jarring youtube clips before colleague Lynn Kawano explored the Facebook angle after noting that her brother in Hawaii is OK but without cell phone service at the moment.

These reports took up the first nine minutes of the program, and the producers deserve credit for seizing the moment rather than simply sticking to whatever plans had been laid the day before. Still, Next looked all together pretty low-rent on-screen. And the show started deteriorating when Noviello began babbling about Steve Jobs' latest must-have hand-held device after viewers were exposed to taped footage slugged, "Apple Fanatics Camp Out Overnight for Ipad2."


The reliably bubbly Gorostiza, who's both a roving reporter and substitute weathercaster for Fox4's Good Day, had little to do or say until gabby Noviello finished narrating the inevitable Charlie Sheen segment and then proclaimed him "Hollywood's most trending celebrity" in the social network realm.

Is he crazy or is he a genius, Noviello wondered aloud.

"Crazy genius," Gorostiza said.

The two of them then were shown eating junk food at Dallas' Maple and Motor restaurant, which -- imagine this -- updates its Facebook page "almost daily." Sure enough, it had a new post early Friday afternoon: "Great first show Steve and Fiona. We are watching you."

Late in the show, Gorostiza finally got a little somethin' somethin' -- a taped piece with Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, who has a Twitter account with over 62,000 followers as of this writing. Gorostiza said that Marion in turn should follow her. And so the deed was done -- right before our eyes!

Otherwise perhaps some eyes crossed while trying to focus on Gorostiza's zebra print dress. Noviello was a veritable Mr. Rogers in comparison, with a light tan v-neck sweater layered over a button-down collar checked shirt. The shirt was hanging out a bit, though, something Mr. Rogers never would do.

Fox4 management so far is undecided about the future of Next, with Friday's unveiling only a test run. Or as Noviello put it at show's end, "This new social media experiment that we're doing."

Your friendly cutting edge content provider, who has both a Facebook and Twitter account, will probably tweet something on the order of "This new social media experiment that they're doing at Fox4 has a set that looks like an old Internet dial-up connection."

:) LOL, peace out.

By the way, the below spokesman for Heart Attack Grill is now dead. He was 29


As noted at the end of Wednesday's lead story on Nightline, Arizona-based Heart Attack Grill soon plans to have a second restaurant -- in Dallas.

The home of the Quadruple Bypass Burger and unlimited Flatliner Fries earlier revealed those plans in a February publicity release. Specifically, Heart Attack Grill plans to further enhance its reputation with a Market Street eatery due to open its doors in June.

The impetus for Nightline's story was the death last week of Heart Attack Grill's official spokesman, 570-pound Blair River. He died of pneumonia at age 29 after a short lifetime of eating free at the Heart Attack Grill. All patrons weighing in at over 350 pounds have that "privilege."

The owner of the restaurant, "Dr. Jon" Basso, nonchalantly told Nightline that "had he (Blair) been thinner, he most likely would have survived that pneumonia."

Basso has no remorse whatsoever, contending that Heart Attack Grill represents "shock therapy" for those looking to win their battles of the bulge. Nightline called the restaurant a "monument to greasy gluttony." One of Heart Attack Grill's slogans says it offers a "taste worth dying for."

All patrons must wear a hospital gown while eating. And they're served by waitresses in abbreviated nurse's costumes. Anyone who polishes off a Triple or Quadruple Bypass Burger receives the added honor of being transported to his or her vehicle in a wheelchair pushed by a "personal nurse."

Yeah, it's a free country, although it's certainly not what makes this country great. And Heart Attack Grill loves all the attention it's received from numerous media outlets since the 2005 opening of its first and so far only restaurant in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.

Should the restaurant be a success in Dallas, then maybe we're just getting what we deserve. We are what we eat, and there's absolutely no doubt that Dallas' own Heart Attack Grill will be gang-covered by every area TV station on the day of its grand opening. Maybe they'll even be able to shoot some of the happy customers from the waist up rather than showing all of those anonymous oversized asses and bellies during recurring stories on America's "obesity epidemic."

The restaurant already has a new 500-pound-plus spokesman, a guy named Ernie Hart. He was the restaurant's original pitchman but was unable to perform his duties for a few months while recovering from open heart surgery and a companion coma. Near story's end, Nightline showed Hart happily wrapping his industrial-sized mouth around an 8,000 calorie Quadruple Bypass Burger. He's seemingly intent on living life to its fullest.

In memoriam, here's Blair River's last commercial for Heart Attack Grill. Viewers are warned that "in some cases, mild death may occur."

Next big thing? Fox4's Next with Steve Noviello, Fiona Gorostiza

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So far it's a one-shot "experiment." But if the ratings and content play along, Next with Fox4's Steve Noviello and Fiona Gorostiza could be at least a weekly sighting on the Dallas-based station.

The half-hour show, which will be "very interactive" according to station sources, premieres on Friday, March 11th at 12:30 p.m. following Fox4's regular noon newscast. Replacing a TMZ repeat, Next will highlight the latest pop culture and technology talking points without getting too serious about either.

Noviello otherwise is Fox4's consumer reporter while Gorostiza is both a weathercaster and roving reporter for the station's early-to-mid-morning Good Day program.

University of Diversity: a new look from a different angle at the race/gender compositions on D-FW's four major TV news providers

In May 2008, unclebarky.com's inaugural look at staff diversity on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 focused on the four DFW stations' full-time anchors and reporters.

We'll try a change of pace this time by taking a look at who ended up with the late night news face time during a previously highlighted two-week February "sweeps" period. These are the same newscasts that came under close scrutiny in this website's series of "This just in: A night in the Lives of D-FW's late night newscasts" dissections. The dates are Monday to Friday, Feb. 14-18 and Feb. 21-25.

The recently released February sweeps ratings results show that the 10 p.m. newscasts on NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 and the 9 p.m. edition on Fox4 had larger average audiences than newscasts in any other day-part. So for reporters looking for higher profiles, these are still the optimum venues. They also show how the stations are presenting themselves to a demonstrably diverse viewing area. Whatever a reporter's race or gender, merit obviously should be the over-riding consideration in which correspondents get on the air and which don't. But stations also must make efforts to reflect the market they're serving.

Before beginning, let's note that the story count on Fox4 is appreciably higher for two reasons. Number one, the 9 p.m. newscast runs 25 minutes longer than the 10 p.m. editions on rival stations. Number two, Fox4's new, nightly "News Wrap" segment usually features three or four somewhat abbreviated stories by staff reporters. So that's also going to increase the overall body count.

Finally, only stories with identifiable reporter IDs are included. Usually these are via opening introductions by anchors and closing "standups" by the reporters themselves. Or in the case of "News Wrap," the reporters are clearly visible while talking to the camera after an anchor sets the table. Fox4's in-studio interviews of newsmakers, usually by anchors Steve Eagar or Heather Hays, are not included in the final story totals. Nor are sports reports. But stories by anchors who venture out into the field -- such as NBC5 anchor Brian Curtis' piece on airport security -- are part of the overall count.

OK, here we go.

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Fox4 reporters Brandon Todd, Sophia Reza and Matt Grubs.

FOX4's 9 P.M. NEWSCASTS, FEB. 14-18 and FEB. 21-25

Different reporters used -- 17
Total number of stories -- 70
Stories by men -- 38
Stories by women -- 32
Stories by white men -- 27
Stories by minority men -- 11
Stories by white women -- 10
Stories by minority women -- 22
Reporters with five or more stories on these newscasts -- Brandon Todd (9); Matt Grubs (8), Shaun Rabb (7), Sophia Reza (6)

Comment: Fox4's two most prominently used reporters in these periods, Todd and Grubs, are both white males. Its regular news, weather and sports anchors also are white. But close to half of the news stories with reporter IDs -- 33 of 70 -- were by minority staffers. That's a very high percentage, with Fox4 making the overall best use of both genders in stories reported by people of color. Eight different minority reporters had at least one story apiece, led by Shaun Rabb's 7 and Sophia Reza's 6.

The total number of stories also is fairly evenly divided by gender, but Reza is the only woman reporter who appeared on at least half of these newscasts.

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NBC5 reporters Scott Gordon, Ellen Goldberg and Omar Villafranca

NBC5's 10 P.M. NEWSCASTS, FEB. 14-18 and FEB. 21-25

Different reporters used -- 12
Total number of stories -- 41
Stories by men -- 23
Stories by women -- 18
Stories by white men -- 14
Stories by minority men -- 9
Stories by white women -- 11
Stories by minority women -- 7
Reporters with five or more stories on these newscasts -- Ellen Goldberg (9), Scott Gordon (9), Omar Villafranca (8)

Comment: Of the 41 stories reported, 26 were from the trio of Goldberg, Gordon and Villafranca. And three of the stories came from anchors Meredith Land (2) and Brian Curtis, who journeyed to Kansas City to report on airport security systems. NBC5's featured anchor quartet has one minority -- sports anchor Newy Scruggs. But he's often not there, with either Matt Barrie or newcomer Rontina McCann regularly filling in.

As with Fox4, reporting by gender is split fairly evenly. The station's overall percentage of stories by minorities -- 16 of 41 -- is solid and mostly from two reporters, Villafranca and Ashanti Blaize, who had four stories to his eight.

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WFAA8 reporters Chris Hawes, Jason Whitely and Monika Diaz

WFAA8's 10 P.M. NEWSCASTS, FEB. 14-18 and FEB. 21-25

Different reporters used -- 15
Total number of stories -- 46
Stories by men -- 25
Stories by women -- 21
Stories by white men -- 21
Stories by minority men -- 4
Stories by white women -- 12
Stories by minority women -- 9
Reporters with five or more stories on these newscasts -- Chris Hawes (8), Jason Whitely (7), Monika Diaz (5)

Comment: WFAA8 long has had the most diverse anchor team, with John McCaa and Gloria Campos in charge while white males Pete Delkus and Dale Hansen respectively handle the weather and sports segments while also trading barbs and jabs. The station's overall minority representation among reporters is decidedly less eye-catching, with just 13 of the 46 stories delivered by people of color. Veteran Gary Reaves is the only male minority reporter in this mix.

The gender split, as with the previous two stations, is relatively even. Chris Hawes and Jason Whitely, both white, continue to do the heaviest lifting, with a combined total of 15 stories during these periods.

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CBS11 reporters Arezow Doost, Jay Gormley and Carol Cavazos

CBS11's 10 P.M. NEWSCASTS, FEB. 14-18 and FEB. 21-25

Different reporters used -- 14
Total number of stories -- 47
Stories by men -- 13
Stories by women -- 34
Stories by white men -- 13
Stories by minority men -- 0
Stories by white women -- 11
Stories by minority women -- 23
Reporters with five or more stories on these newscasts -- Arezow Doost (9), Carol Cavazos (7)

Comment: CBS11 clearly was no country for old men -- let alone young or middle-aged men -- during these two weeks. Thirty-four of 47 stories were by women, by far the market's biggest gender disparity.

The station had no minority men in view on its 10 p.m. newscasts. But a total of 23 stories were reported by minority women, one more than on Fox4. These included three by anchor Karen Borta, who is of Hispanic descent even if much of the market remains unaware of this. The station's other three featured anchors are white. Among reporters, minority women Arezow Doost and Carol Cavazos set the pace with 16 stories between them.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: These are snapshots of a two-week period, but for the most part are representative of the stations' gender and racial makeups. African-American men increasingly are vanishing from the reporter ranks. Fox4's Shaun Rabb and WFAA8's Gary Reaves both have logged more than a dozen years at their respective stations while NBC5's Randy McIlwain (who had just one story during this period) also is a veteran street reporter. CBS11 likewise has a longtime storyteller in Steve Pickett, but he made no late night appearances during these two weeks.

Whether for lack of applicants or abilities, there currently are no new African-American male reporters of significance at any of these four stations. But recently hired and comparatively young minority women are making their marks in late night news, including Doost and Andrea Lucia at CBS11; Monika Diaz at WFAA8; Ashanti Blaize at NBC5 and Sophia Reza at Fox4.

Investigative reporters make fewer appearances because of the time it takes to put together their stories. There are no minorities in their ranks at present. WFAA8 has long relied on the duo of Brett Shipp and Byron Harris while Fox4 still deploys Becky Oliver. CBS11's Ginger Allen remains relatively new on this scene and NBC5 doesn't have any full-time investigators.

As previously reported, the ratings results for the full four-week February "sweeps" put CBS11 on top at 10 p.m. in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. WFAA8 finished second in total viewers and Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast had the runner-up spot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Maybe now you also know a little bit more about how they look in a market where it's not only the anchors who count.

Cuban courts Sheen for unscripted HDNet series

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Mark Cuban and his HDNet would like to provide a weekly forum for the "bitchin' rock star from Mars," also known as Charlie Sheen.

RadarOnline reported Friday evening that the Dallas Mavericks owner and the Two and a Half Men head case "have begun negotiations" on a show for HDNet. That's not quite right, Cuban told unclebarky.com via email.

"Negotiating. No. Had a discussion about it. Yes," he said.

Asked why he'd want to do a deal with Sheen, Cuban said, "Why wouldn't we? That's the beauty of being an independent network. We all are curious about Charlie. And if he wants to tell us and show us more, HDNet is happy to provide him a platform. I think it would be fascinating."

Sheen has threatened to sue CBS for breach of contract after the network shut down production of Two And A Half Men in response to what it called "the totality of Charlie Sheen's statements, conduct and condition."

Cuban and HDNet already employ former CBS newsman Dan Rather, whose $70 million breach of contract lawsuit against the network was dismissed by a New York court in January 2010. Dan Rather Reports has been part of HDNet's prime-time schedule since November 2006.

Cuban's younger brother, Brian Cuban, is not a big fan of Sheen's at the moment. In "An Addict's View of Charlie Sheen," which he recently posted on his blog, The Cuban Revolution, Brian called Sheen "a scumbag for outing (Two and a Half Men producer) Chuck Lorre for being in AA."

Brian, a self-described "recovering addict" who says he's been sober for nearly four years, wrote that he "was once officially a certified Charlie Sheen mess minus the hookers and porn stars."

The actor's ongoing unhinged behavior, on display in numerous television interviews during the past week, is typical of an addict whose "self worth is completely stripped," Brian said. "Strip away the fame, money and bizarre statements and it's an insecure guy with a problem doing coke and using porn stars and rhetoric to pump himself up because he/she is afraid to face the reality of the situation. That's what addicts do."

Whether Sheen does a deal with HDNet is iffy at best. But Mark Cuban obviously would love to have him and clearly is a guy who still likes to take chances. In 2007 he bankrolled HDNet's 13-episode Geek to Freak with Dennis Rodman. So anything's possible.

CBS11 and Fox4 dominate Feb. sweeps while once dominant WFAA8 takes a beating


CBS11 anchors Doug Dunbar, Karen Borta were most-watched at both 6 and 10 p.m. for first time in station's history. Photo: Ed Bark

CBS11 and Fox4 can celebrate big-time while NBC5 and particularly WFAA8 try to find ways to stop the bleeding.

The final February "sweeps" ratings are in, and CBS11 has achieved another milestone with 6 and 10 p.m. wins in total viewers for the first time in the station's history. The station added a 10 p.m. win among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming on most stations. WFAA8 had swept the 10 p.m. competitions in the November "sweeps," but fell to a relatively distant second place this time out.

Fox4 rolled to dominant twin wins at 6 a.m. and ran first with 25-to-54-year-olds at both 5 and 6 p.m. The station's 5:30 p.m. local newscast also outdrew the competing network news programs among 25-to-54-year-olds. And the 7 to 9 a.m. portion of its Good Day program beat the ABC, NBC and CBS network morning programs in both ratings measurements.

Also, Fox4's one-hour 9 p.m. local newscast ran second to CBS network entertainment programming while outdrawing both ABC and NBC in total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds.

That left a battered and bloodied WFAA8 with a lone win at 5 p.m. in total viewers. For the first time in at least the last 30 years, the ABC station was shut out in the 25-to-54 demographic that all stations agree is the key to increasing advertising revenues. WFAA8 also made more history it didn't want to make by losing at both 6 and 10 p.m. in total viewers for the first time in three decades or more.

CBS11, for its part, is still in an overall weaker position than WFAA8 among 25-to-54-year-olds, where it ran fourth in two time periods and third in another. But the station clearly has built momentum over the past two years while WFAA8 has slipped to second best in time periods it used to win with ease.

NBC5, which swept the 6 a.m. ratings a year ago with some help from NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, fell back to second place in both ratings measurements at that hour. The February 2010 results were skewed by 11 weekdays of Olympics action, particularly with run-overs that sucked viewers away from the 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox4, WFAA8 and CBS11.

CBS11's 10 p.m. newscasts again benefited from potent network lead-in programming on most weeknights. Clearly that helped the station, which retained a sizable percentage of its inherited audience while both NBC5 and WFAA8 increased the viewership for their 10 p.m. newscasts after getting comparatively meager network lead-ins from 9:45 to 10 p.m.

This can cut both ways, though. CBS11's 10 p.m. newscasts may be "wind-aided," in the words of WFAA8 management. But WFAA8's early evening newscasts got a jump start from the 4 p.m. Oprah Winfrey Show, which won the hour in both total viewers and 25-to-54-year-olds. Still, the station managed just one win in the 5 and 6 p.m. competitions, and was drubbed by Fox4 at 5 p.m. in the 25-to-54 measurement. WFAA8 also had the most-watched late night program in ABC's Nightline. But if many viewers went to bed with their sets tuned to WFAA8, they awoke and changed the channel to a rival station.

Also of note: Univision's Spanish language local newscast on Ch. 23 had more 25-to-54-year-old viewers at 10 p.m. than any of its English language competitors. And it ran second at 5 p.m. in that demographic.

Here are the final Feb. sweeps weekday newscast results for a four-week period that ran from Feb. 3rd to March 2nd. Year-to-year comparisons are not included because of the pronounced Winter Olympics effect in Feb. 2010.

10 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 237,482
WFAA8 -- 214,904
NBC5 -- 167,325
Fox4 -- 141,492

CBS11 -- 87,050
WFAA8 -- 82,265
Fox4 -- 78,320
NBC5 -- 77,357

6 A.M.

Total Viewers
Fox4 -- 138,722
NBC5 -- 116,421
WFAA8 -- 72,304
CBS11 -- 61,431

Fox4 -- 87,423
NBC5 -- 60,425
WFAA8 -- 50,360
CBS11 -- 31,844

6 P.M.

Total Viewers
CBS11 -- 198,144
WFAA8 -- 170,095
Fox4 -- 148,487
NBC5 -- 131,311

Fox4 -- 70,242
WFAA8 -- 65,551
CBS11 -- 55,050
NBC5 -- 37,032

5 P.M.

Total Viewers
WFAA8 -- 148,279
CBS11 -- 130,410
NBC5 -- 126,671
Fox4 -- 120,507

Fox4 -- 57,878
WFAA8 -- 45,482
NBC5 -- 44,084
CBS11 -- 39,486

A Leppert shows his spot

Former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert's 3 minute, 30 second "Why I'm Running" for the U.S. Senate pronouncement has been up for a few days on both his official website and you tube. But I couldn't resist the above headline, so what the hell.

Nor can I resist saying that it's easier listening to Charlie Sheen than to this gooey keep-the-feds-out-of-our-lives "true Texas conservative" glop. Which is accompanied by piano and string Muzak and also includes another patented Leppert reference to his sainted mother, who raised him on her own and "balanced the checkbook" every month.

Wearing a baby blue shirt with a buttoned down collar, Leppert solemnly mouths all the standard issue pieties while standing next to what looks like either a jail cell or a window with burglar bars, but is probably neither. Be assured he won't vote for any legislation that further allows Washington to intrude on our lives. Because that's the way he rolls as a true-blue crusader for the private sector.

Double ugh, with a splash of prune juice. Does he really expect people to swallow this?

Another CW33er -- reporter Duarte Geraldino -- gets out of Dodge


Reporter Duarte Geraldino stayed long enough to have a cup of coffee at CW33 -- but not a sandwich.

Arriving at the Dallas-based station in July from KRIV-TV in Houston, he's already out the door. Ratings-impaired CW33 also likely will soon be cutting ties with other staffers, but so far there's nothing firm to report.

Also of note: Veteran reporter Shana Franklin will be joining her husband in California, where he has a new job, after anchoring Saturday's newscasts. Her departure was previously reported in these spaces. But Franklin agreed to report for CW33 for the remainder of the February "sweeps" ratings period, which ends on Wednesday.

NBC5 gets down home with early morning team in new series of "Get More Local" spots


Deborah Ferguson, Scott Friedman, Tammy Dombeck, Jennifer Lopez.

A series of decidedly homey new 30-second image spots on behalf of NBC5's morning team signals a back-to-basics approach for the Fort Worth-based station.

They harken to homegrown promotional campaigns of old, with no evidence, on-screen at least, of the one-size-fits-all ads produced corporately for thinly customized use by all of NBC's owned-and-operated stations.

News anchors Scott Friedman and Deborah Ferguson, weathercaster Jennifer Lopez and traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck are all shown in their comfort zones. Families and out-of-studio pursuits are underscored, with viewers even getting a look at the longtime "media marriage" of Ferguson and husband Steve Lamb, a veteran WBAP radio (820 AM) personality.

"I'm the messy one," he says. "I'm the neat one," she adds as the couple trade lines in their kitchen. They're later seen riding motorcycles together.

Friedman in turn is an avid bicyclist in one spot and a dedicated family man and father in another.

"We call it doing life together," he says as the Friedman clan gathers around a buffet dinner. His contented 11-month-old daughter "loves a party," dad proudly notes.

Dombeck is happily at home with her horse ("the biggest challenge was actually getting on the thing") and Lopez is "always on mom duty" with her two young daughters.

The overall tagline of the spots is "Get More Local." And under NBC's new Comcast ownership, that looks like the new marching orders.

NBC5 currently is running second in the early morning ratings race, behind Fox4 and ahead of WFAA8 and CBS11 in that order. There's lots of money to be made with a better showing. And these toasty, very nicely produced new spots are aimed at making it seem as though NBC5 has a decided home field advantage.

The station at this point isn't allowing embedding of the spots, which seems pretty silly. So you can't see them in these spaces, but you can find all six of them in a youtube cluster right here.