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II Super Bowl XLIII posts

A guest star-infused episode of The Office will be Sunday's post-Super Bowl dessert. Check out our stat sheet on what it'll have to beat to set an all-time record. Plus other Supie odds & ends. Also, PETA's making my vegetables hard with its banned but already widely seen Super Bowl ad. Click on over to our new Web Browser page to see both the spot and why NBC saw it as way too sexy.
Ed Bark

Blart's not art, but . . .

Former King of Queens star Kevin James is the latest TV toiler to score with an out-of-nowhere hit movie. But where does Paul Blart: Mall Cop rank on our all-time list of surprise hits that made their onetime TV stars bankable at the box office? Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings show what Idol can do for the Fox show that follows it. Which isn't particularly good news for Lost.
Ed Bark

Goodbye to Good Day?

Her latest contract is almost up, leaving Good Day co-anchor Megan Henderson in the mood to make a move -- or not. Get the latest here.
Ed Bark

And here I thought NBC5 was just givin' me the finger

Yeah, I wondered what the hell this was, too.

NBC5's remodeled web site, nbcdfw.com, gets a lot of old-school, on-air promotion during both day and night. A new feature, the so-called "Golden Local," lately has been making the rounds. It's described as "14 inches of gold-colored spinning status," even though its cowboy-hatted likeness (above) appears to be telling viewers to stick it.

There's currently a less than raging "Golden Local" competition for "Best Barbecue," which as of this early Wednesday afternoon is being led by Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse over Railhead Smokehouse.

Both eateries' logos and links to their Web sites are included, and they're the only barbecue pits you can vote for. So if you smell a pair of paid ads, well, these are tough times.

Meanwhile, the new NBC5 site is stripped of what used to be a wealth of anchor/reporter blogs. The old nbc5i.com had a league leading 17 of 'em, including this classic dispatch from anchor Jane McGarry. We're also being deprived of anchor Mike Snyder's weight loss updates, which had just gotten started.

Now they're all gone. And all we get in return is a stinkin' fool's gold statue givin' us the finger.

D-FW slide show

Fox4 survived a major power outage while its foot soldiers and those from rival stations hit the streets skidding Tuesday night. Our up-close look at the frozen chosen is here.
Ed Bark

Re-stocking the shelves

An upcoming visit from Mr. Freeze finds Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast on fire in Monday night's D-FW ratings. Plus, a new TV Bulletin Board serves more nuggets of semi-nutritious info., including the current whereabouts of former Fox4 anchor/reporter Natasha Curry.
Ed Bark

WFAA8 goes to cornbelt for new early riser

This just in: WFAA8 has hired a new Daybreak co-anchor -- from Des Moines. Get our complete story here.
Ed Bark

Inside pages

Publishing problems earlier Monday kept unclebarky.com steaming behind the scenes. But all's well -- finally -- so take a look at our posts on the first Dallas edition of Antiques Roadshow, an absorbing American Experience film on the father of the atomic bomb and the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings. Also, look out below on this page for Terrell Owens' new reality series.
Ed Bark

Just what this team needed: T.O. goes into OT with new series for VH1

The man knows how to pick his networks.

VH1, already home to Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, Celebrity Rehab and I Want to Work For Diddy, is welcoming Terrell Owens to its fold in a new, still untitled series set to premiere this summer.

Owens' "best friends and publicists," Kita Williams and Monique Jackson, will get busy and "battle the two sides of his large personality," VH1 understates in a publicity release.

And ya know what? VH1 says viewers are gonna "discover that behind all the braggadocio, emotional histrionics, and sculpted physique that is the outspoken media magnet known to the world as 'T.O.' -- there is also a quiet, sensitive, mild-mannered guy from Alexander City, Alabama . . that's Terrell."

His Cowboys teammates are still waiting to meet any reasonable facsimile of a "mild-mannered" T.O. But according to VH1, "Terrell is ready to re-examine his personal life and finally put a plan into action."

Not without Kita and Monique, though. "They will function as matchmakers and therapists and also put their marketing expertise to use and help him make his life off of the field as successful as his life on it!" VH1 exults.

T.O.'s new show comes on the heels of a Michael Irvin project announced last week by Spike TV. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones must be doing heel clicks -- which can be quite a trick when you also have your head up your ass.

New for you

WFAA8 hoists its Gold Baton and hosts Pat Green. Also, TNT premieres its new ad men series, Trust Me, and the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are good news for both CBS and CBS11. Plus, Bob Eubanks is coming to Grapevine and Katie Couric is moving to prime-time for a pair of special editions. TV Bulletin Board has the details.
Ed Bark

Irvin puts Cowboys behind 88 ball in new Spike TV reality series

One day duo: Debbie Denmon and Shon Gables. Photos: Ed Bark

Dressed for balmier weather in a pink, sleeveless top, Shon Gables dawned on WFAA8 viewers Sunday morning in tandem with incumbent Debbie Denmon.

"I'm the new kid on the block," Gables said on three separate occasions while also repeatedly noting the unseasonably cold weather.

Denmon, who is moving to the station's weekend evening newscasts, agreeably chaperoned Gables' maiden voyage as WFAA8's new Saturday/Sunday AM anchor. From now on she'll be on her own.

Gables, a native Oklahoman who briefly lived in Texas "way back" in 1988, handled her limited duties smoothly Sunday. As previously posted, she had been freelancing at WPIX-TV in New York City after a stint from 2003 to 2006 as co-anchor of NYC's early morning newscasts on WCBS-TV.

"You're gonna love it and the viewers are gonna love you," Denmon told her near the end of Sunday's program.

"Well, thank you for passing the torch," Gables said. "You're a wonderful sweetheart."

Enough with the candy coating.

Yes, Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually winked at Sarah Lucero of San Antonio's KENS-TV after answering one of her questions.

No, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison didn't know who the first Texas governor was.

And maybe longshot hopeful Debra Medina again scored points by repeatedly promising to end property taxes if elected. Even if there's no chance she'll ever be able to deliver on that.

The three Republican candidates for governor gathered at Dallas-based WFAA8 studios Friday night for The Belo Debate, which was shown on a statewide network of stations. The big winner? WFAA8. This was a model for how debates should be conducted.

The questioners were sharp, the pace was crisp, the set looked like a million bucks and the candidates were called on to navigate a variety of segments.

A so-called Jeopardy round, as WFAA8 anchor and moderator John McCaa described it, caught Hutchison off balance when it came to identifying the state's first governor. But candidates also were grilled in depth during one-on-one segments in which the sharpest, most persistent questioners were longtime Dallas Morning News political reporter Wayne Slater and Len Cannon of Houston's KHOU-TV.

Lucero and Terri Gruca of Austin's KVUE-TV rounded out the reporter contingent. All work for Belo properties, hence the one-hour program's less than scintillating title. But prospective voters who took the time to tune in were given ample reason to stay tuned.

McCaa expertly orchestrated the proceedings without being a drudge about it. And the tone throughout showed both a respect for the office and a willingness to press the candidates when their answers didn't seem to add up.

So which of the three candidates came out ahead? Probably Perry, despite that patently phony grin punctuating several of his answers. He came to play, though, tangling twice with Slater and also playing an interesting game of ping-pong with Cannon on the subject of whether he'd serve out his entire term if re-elected. In the end, Perry unequivocally said yes -- and actually seemed to mean it.

Hutchison looked nice in a royal blue suit, but otherwise didn't seem to register much. She made a reasonably impassioned closing statement, although it likely was too little, too late. Perry seemed far more engaged, creating a few sparks while Hutchison too often came off as bland and comparatively lethargic. Maybe she should have batted an eye at Slater.

Medina, belatedly invited by Belo when her poll numbers accelerated to double-digits, has a knack for speaking in easily digested sound bites. For one she's a "born-again, Bible-believing Christian."

Another mantra -- "where there's freedom, there's prosperity" -- is tied to Medina's opposition to property taxes. And as a novelty act, she can still get away with describing both Petty and Hutchison as a "team of economic tricksters intent on destroying our freedoms and selling Texas to the highest bidder."

Who knows? Maybe Medina can force a run-off, which would give Hutchison a chance to regroup and perhaps put a skip in her step.

The Belo Debate tried to wrench all three candidates from their well-rehearsed talking points without being a bully about it. This was a forum with decorum, but never to the point of tedium.

***Reliable sources at D-FW's CBS11 think they see a frontrunner for the vacant job of news director. That would be Adrienne Roark, news director at CBS-owned WFOR-TV in Miami.

Roark was at CBS11 Friday for an interview. According to her WFOR bio, she joined that station in January 2007 as assistant news director before taking charge of the newsroom in June of that year.

CBS11 also has had in-house interviews with Scott Keenan, formerly an interim news director at the station, and Kurt Davis, currently news director at KENS-TV in San Antonio.

The previous CBS11 news director, Scott Diener, recently left the station to join its former president and general manager, Steve Mauldin, at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

***Responding to a previous post on WFAA8's nationally popular new iPhone app, Elvira Sakmari, director of integrated media at Fort Worth-based NBC5, notes that her station launched an iPhone app in October.

It also ranked No. 10 in iTunes' free news aps list, "where we stayed for a week," Sakmari says.

"We congratulate WFAA, CBS11 and The Dallas Morning News on their app launches," she adds.

As of this writing, iTunes' top 100 downloads of free news aps lists WFAA8 as No. 7 nationally, a spike from No. 10 last week.

CBS11's app has jumped up to 29th place (from 57th) and the DMN ranks 71st (from 73rd).

There are no other North Texas-based news apps in the top 100, including NBC5's.

Layoffs and Lost

We have updated information and quotes on WFAA8's new round of layoffs, which were first reported on unclebarky.com. Also, see how Lost's Season 5 return fared in the D-FW Nielsen ratings.
Ed Bark

Inside pages

Fox's new Lie to Me finds truths in the face of -- facial expressions. Also, the latest D-FW ratings track the night and day audiences for Tuesday's inauguration coverage. And a new "Ask Uncle Barky" answers some of your pressing questions, including the status of NBC5 meteorologist James Aydelott, who was supposed to be in Tulsa by now.
Ed Bark

More changes at "The 33" and, of course, on Lost

Reporter Michael Rey has been let go as part of an ongoing shakeup at "The 33," which also has named two new reporters. And Lost returns for a 5th season Wednesday with an opening nod to an old Willie Nelson song.
Ed Bark

Take a look inside

In response to a previous unclebarky.com post, CBS11 news director Scott Diener pledges to give credit where it's due from now on. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings chart the numbers for Gil Grissom's CSI goodbye episode and President Bush's farewell address. And Showtime's decidedly different United States of Tara premieres Sunday, with star Toni Collette playing a foursome.
Ed Bark

New for you

Death-defying Patrick Swayze stars in the new A&E cop series The Beast, which premieres Thursday night. Our review is right here. We also have goodbyes and fitting video for the recently departed Richardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan. A new "Ask Uncle Barky" has crept into the mix, and the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are uncommonly bad news for WFAA8's local newscasts. Also, NBC announces that Conan O'Brien's departure from his Late Night show will be sooner rather than later.
Ed Bark

Inside looks

Fox4 reporter Shaun Rabb's exclusive jailhouse interview with an accused cop killer wound up making news on CBS11 as well. Except that the station played fast and loose with crediting it. Also, Tuesday's D-FW ratings are another cakewalk for American Idol, which launched its eighth season. And PBS takes a rare stab at the funny bone in a six-hour history of comedy that begins Wednesday night.
Ed Bark

Aguilar alleges racial discrimination in suit against Fox4 (updated)

Former Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar

Former Fox4 reporter Rebecca Aguilar filed a racial discrimination suit against the station late Monday afternoon, claiming she was suspended and ultimately terminated because of her "documented history of complaining about the treatment of Hispanics and Latinos by her employer."

The lawsuit was first publicized Tuesday by Courthouse News Service, which quotes Aguilar's attorney, Steve Kardell as saying, "Fox4 wanted my client to advocate change in the community through her reports, but to keep silent in improving working conditions in the newsroom."

Aguilar's repeated proposals that Fox4 "consider interviewing Latino and Hispanic candidates for management positions" resulted in "strained relations with her employer," the lawsuit alleges.

The seven-page suit charges that Fox4 retaliated by taking Aguilar off the air after "pretextual and fabricated criticism about a particular story." That's a reference to her controversial Oct. 15, 2007 interview with an elderly West Dallas salvage business owner who had shot and killed two alleged burglars within three weeks time. The story and Aguilar's paid suspension attracted national attention and pointed debate on whether she had "ambushed" her interview subject or was just doing her job.

Aguilar was suspended on the day after the story aired and remained off the air until being terminated in early March of 2008. It ended her 14-year career at the station.

Fox4 news director Maria Barrs, who is named in the suit, could not immediately be reached for a response. Stations generally do not comment on pending personnel matters. But in response to an earlier "Charge of Discrimination" complaint filed by Aguilar through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Barrs told unclebarky.com that "Fox4 looks forward to defending our decision in the appropriate forum."

Aguilar's lawsuit claims that she was suspended and terminated "based upon her race."

"This has caused Aguilar to sustain damages, including, but not limited to, loss of salary, benefits, promotions, past and future income opportunities, emotional pain, suffering, mental distress and anguish," the suit says.

Fox4's decision to retaliate against her "was intentional and performed with malice and/or with reckless indifference to Aguilar's protected rights," according to the lawsuit.

Aguilar is seeking lost wages and benefits from March 2008 to the present, plus punitive damages and payment of her attorney's fees and costs.

In her first comments on the lawsuit Tuesday, Aguilar said she expects criticism "for bringing up discrimination against me."

"But they didn't walk in my shoes for 14 years at Fox4," she said in a telephone interview. "I just don't want this to happen again to another reporter, especially a Latino. That's what counts. That's why I'm doing this . . . Fox hurt my reputation. I had just become the Hispanic broadcaster of the year (as judged by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists). And with one unfair decision, they took me out. So I'm just saying that inside the newsroom, everything is not as 'Fair and Balanced' as Fox always touts."

Aguilar, who remains in Dallas, said she'll "always love television news. And yeah, sure, if I could get back into it, I would. But I haven't seen anyone knocking my door down. I think that has a lot to do with what Fox did to me."

Golden Globes and Gold Baton

NBC's Golden Globes telecast as usual brought out the best and worst of recipients and presenters Sunday night. Check out our fun rundown and also see how they fared against 24 and other stuff in the D-FW Nielsens. Also, WFAA8 will be the first local TV station ever to win a Gold Baton when the prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia awards are handed out later this month. And hear Will Ferrell's fake George W. promise to "tear Dallas a new party hole" on our new Web Browser page. Thank ya.
Ed Bark

Inside looks

All hell once again breaks loose as 24 restarts for a seventh season that might make president-elect Barack Obama feel a bit blessed about the relatively minor problems he's about to inherit. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsens are in, with an up-close look at local audiences for last night's college football championship game.
Ed Bark

Nita Wiggins out as Fox4 sports reporter

An ongoing epidemic of downsizing in D-FW's television newsrooms has claimed Fox4 sports reporter Nita Wiggins, whose last day was Thursday. We have more details here.
Ed Bark

More new stuff inside

PBS has set the dates for its three Antiques Roadshow hours from Dallas. Also, WFAA8 scores big in the 10 p.m. newscast ratings with help from deposed radio jock Russ Martin. And TNT is readying two more prime-time dramas fronted by familiar TV names. Plus, our new "Web Browser" page puts you in touch with the TV sights and sounds of hulu.com.
Ed Bark

A few tips on using unclebarky.com (it's as easy as UNC)

We try to be easily navigable here at homegrown unclebarky.com. But this might make it a bit easier, especially when a new month kicks in.

1. Previous months are automatically archived at the start of each new month. So if you want to see recent posts that suddenly are invisible, just click on the appropriate month in our Archives list, located in the bottom right-hand margin of each UB page.

2. Our free search engine seems to work quite well. So if you're looking for a particular review or the whereabouts of a certain D-FW news person, just type in the appropriate name and then click "Find." The "powered by FreeFind" box is at the top right hand margin of each UB page.

3. UB is free and always will be. But of course it helps if you make it a point to make any Amazon purchases by first clicking on one of the ads appearing on unclebarky.com. We get a small percentage of sales, and it takes a pretty big purchase to add up to much. But every penny counts, and we greatly appreciate each and every buy.

4. Purchases via the Netflix and itunes ads on unclebarky.com also put a bit of cash in the UB mini-bank. Checking out our "AdBrite" sponsors helps, too. So feel free to at least see what they have to offer.

5.The "Advertise on Uncle Barky" tag -- in red in right-hand margins -- lets you build your own ad and then pay in advance electronically . It's always fun -- for me at least -- to see these ads magically pop up. And our rates are really cheap. Honest.

6. Most of all, enjoy the site. I'm doing as much as I can to keep you up to date on local and national TV developments of note. And if it mostly has to be a labor of love, then so be it. My pleasure.

Ed Bark

Inside pages

FX's excellent Damages returns for a second season Wednesday night. Meanwhile, The CW offers excrement in the form of its new 13 -- Fear Is Real. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in, too.
Ed Bark

It's a go for Miller as The 33's new weeknight weathercaster

Former NBC5 early morning meteorologist Rebecca Miller is officially the featured forecaster at The 33, with previous occupant Bob Goosmann still on board for now. (Updated twice Tuesday with quotes from Miller and Goosmann) Also, ABC premieres Homeland Security USA while welcoming Scrubs for the first time as part of a revamped Tuesday lineup.
Ed Bark

All the news that's fit to print -- plus an ad

CBS lands inaugural page 1 ad in NYT.

Sign of the apocalypse or just another sign of the times?

The New York Times and CBS partnered Monday (Jan. 5th) for the first front page display ad in the newspaper's 157-year history.

CBS, currently the No. 1 network in overall prime-time viewership, uses the two-and-a-half-inch, across-the-bottom-of-the-page space to laud its success story "at a time when there are more media choices than ever." Pictured are the network's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Two and a Half Men, The Mentalist, 60 Minutes and NFL telecasts.

"America's most watched network will clearly have one of the most read ads -- and we value this new means of prominently showcasing our valuable media properties," CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer said in a statement sent to TV critics.

The Times was a bit less jubilant in the lead paragraph of its story on the change in policy by reporter Richard Perez-Pena.

"In its latest concession to the worst revenue slide since the Depression, The New York Times has begun selling display advertising on its front page, a step that has become increasingly common across the newspaper industry," he wrote rather glumly.

All such ads will appear below the fold, says the Times, which won't say how much they cost. Consider it the cost of doing business in continuing troubled times for media companies of all stripes.

Still, a front page color ad in the Times? That seems a bit like monkey poop on a Rembrandt, but it beats turning the lights out in times when the Times' revenue from continuing operations fell 13.9 percent from November '07 to November '08, according to the newspaper.

Maybe they'll draw the line, though, on accepting an ad touting VH1's new January lineup of Sober House, Rock of Love Bus, Tool Academy (it has nothing to do with work benches) and Confessions of a Teen Idol. Guess we'll see.

Flights out for Sky 4, Chopper 5 and Chopper 11

Sky 4, Chopper 5, Chopper 11 and their attendant pilot/reporters are history in D-FW. All three stations instead have turned to a Garland-based company for smaller, cheaper flights. Also, WFAA8 closed out 2008 on a ratings high with its Big D NYE special, which drew almost as many viewers as the Rose Bowl. And ABC's new True Beauty reality series has a former Dallas pageant queen in its group of 10 duped posers. We've also got the D-FW ratings for the Cotton Bowl and the past weekend's other college and pro football attractions.
Ed Bark