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Headin' West -- for a last roundup

There at the creation: former NBC chairman Grant Tinker, winner of the first Television Critics Association Career Achievement award in June 1985, stands amid five past TCA presidents, including your then croissant-mustached friendly content provider at far right.

Saturday, Aug. 1st, will mark the 25th anniversary of the national Television Critics Association awards. Since I was at the first one, I'm going to this one.

The venue is Pasadena, CA, where networks began gathering Tuesday to shop their fall wares. I'll be leaving on Thursday and staying only for a few days. It seems like something very worth doing -- even though all of unclebarky.com's expenses will be billed to your friendly content provider, not The Dallas Morning News.

I won't be posting any stories while out there, but will gather some material and take some pictures. So this is the last post until Tuesday.

We have, however, left you with more fresh material, including a review of ABC's new Sunday night space spectacular, Defying Gravity. There's also a look at the Internet-only Good Morning Texas interview with Texas-born Bachelorette bad boy Wes Hayden. And Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings are newly in the house.

Our scoop on Fox4's new Good Day co-anchor remains in play, too. So check it all out, tell your friends, and we'll be back in business before you know it.
Ed Bark

Fox4 has decided on new Good Day co-anchor, sources say

After a five-month gap, Dallas-based Fox4 (KDFW) has picked a new Good Day co-anchor to succeed Megan Henderson, informed sources tell unclebarky.com. Get the name and the details here.
Ed Bark

Fox's More to Love puts on the pounds

Twenty "plus-sized" women, including North Texan Natalia Jackson, vie for bulky bachelor Luke Conley in the new Fox dating competition, More to Love. It's supposed to be "inspirational," but um, our review is here. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings weigh the numbers for Monday night's Bachelorette finale while a new "Ask Uncle Barky" has most of the answers, but not quite all of 'em. And WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen has left his weeknightly ESPN radio show, reports ace Dallas Observer sports reporter/columnist Richie Whitt.
Ed Bark

Silverman bounced at NBC

Ben Silverman in first month on job at NBC. Photo: Ed Bark

Ben Silverman's problematic two-year reign as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment came to an abrupt end Monday. Read our full account here. Also, WFAA8's Good Morning Texas has a new male co-host and CBS11 will be getting a new digital channel after petitioning the FCC earlier this month. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in, too.
Ed Bark

So you sometimes think we've got it bad here? Think again

Morning weathercaster Don Harman, of Kansas City Fox affiliate WDAF-TV, set a modern-day record for over-laughing when a live shot from Pooches Paradise got a little out of hand.

One of the program's news anchors later observed, "You know what, here's the thing. First newscast in America rated 'mature.' "

He must have meant to say "infantile." Boy, are these people easily amused or what? Take a look.
Ed Bark

Weighing in further on Bud Gillett's lawsuit

As though nothing had happened, CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett dropped in as the lead-off hitter on Thursday's 5 p.m. newscast after management earlier in the day pledged to vigorously fight his lawsuit against the station. We take stock of the suit and Gillett here. Also, let's have some fun with NBC's newest disaster epic, The Storm, starring former Dawson's Creek heartthrob James Van Der Beek. The latest D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in house. Plus, get a first look at Showtime's introductory clip for the fourth season of Dexter, which dawns on Sept. 27th. It's on our Web Browser page.
Ed Bark

CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett files multi-pronged discrimination suit against his station -- but still wants to stay there

Veteran CBS11 reporter Bud Gillett claims the D-FW station is discriminating against him because he's an older white male. His lawsuit pulls no punches while CBS11 pledges to fight back "vigorously." Get the details here. Also, see how President Obama's latest prime-time news conference played in Wednesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings. And NBC has just launched a new website tied to the Sept. 14th premiere of The Jay Leno Show. Our Web Browser page gives you a taste. Plus, David Letterman's Late Show has socked it to Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show for the second straight week. And that hasn't happened in more than a decade. Get our rundown here.
Ed Bark

Possible midseason ABC legal drama getting ready to shoot in Dallas

Unfair Park's ever-prolific and resourceful Robert Wilonsky reports that a previously announced midseason ABC legal drama, The Deep End, will be filmed in Dallas.

It's packed with newcomers save for Billy Zane, whose previous credits range from Titanic to The Phantom, which actually was kinda under-rated.

Twentieth Century Fox Television is making the series for ABC, with Dallas masquerading as Los Angeles.

Dallas Film Commission president Janis Burklund tells Wilonsky that ABC has committed to a six-episode order, although "there's a good chance there will be more." They all say that.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for that oft-announced/renounced Dallas feature film to be made here. John Travolta, who once upon a time was inked to play J.R. Ewing, may be able to segue right into the role of his pappy, Jock, by the time anyone actually pulls the trigger on this one.
Ed Bark

New for you

Rivals networks offer heaping helpings of new reality and scripted series, but CBS keeps shooting them down with its repeating rifle of crime and comedy reruns. It's the only network to show a year-to-year summertime increase in total viewers. Our story is here. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings give NBC and NBC5 some bragging rights.
Ed Bark

Analog this: Citing a "massive decline" in its converter box audience, CBS11 petitions the FCC for a new digital frequency

D-FW's CBS11 has the FCC's number, but wants a new one after "several thousand" viewers complain they can't get the station's signal anymore. Get the exclusive details here. Also, the latest D-FW ratings show that few viewers captured Monday night's premiere of NBC's controversial The Wanted. And NBC will carry President Obama's prime-time news conference Wednesday after the administration blinked and bumped it up an hour in deference to America's Got Talent.
Ed Bark

ABC's Dating in the Dark -- whose bright idea was this?

Western civilization reels anew with ABC's Monday night premiere of Dating in the Dark. Our lights-out review is here. Also, the weekend D-FW Nielsen ratings spotlight Tom Watson's near-miss and the Texas Rangers' walk-off win. And Shaquille O'Neal will go the wide world of sports route by taking on star athletes from other fields in a new ABC series premiering next month. Get the details on our TV Bulletin Board page.
Ed Bark

Close encounters: through the years with Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite's death on Friday, at age 92, takes many of us back to the way it was. My own first-hand experiences, with an emphasis on his stops in North Texas, are rekindled in this time-traveling obit.
Ed Bark

Walter Cronkite: Nov. 4, 1916 to July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, the legendary CBS anchor/reporter dubbed "the most trusted man in America" at the height of his powers, died on Friday, July 17th, at the age of 92.

He last anchored the CBS Evening News on March 6, 1981, long before the Internet became a reality and cable news networks began polarizing the airwaves with partisan opinions. We'll post a full obituary on Saturday. For now, it seems enough to say that Walter Cronkite was never surpassed as a true giant of network television news. His passing reminds many of us of the way it was.
Ed Bark

Lindsay Lohan survives Labor Pains and more or less delivers

There are several reasons -- mostly voyeuristic -- to watch multi-troubled Lindsay Lohan carry the load in the new ABC Family channel movie Labor Pains. We survey the situation here. Also, TBS is carving out a latter day ID as a destination for ethnic "urban" comedies. And the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in the books. Plus, lo and behold, a new set of questions and answers has been posted on the "Ask Uncle Barky" page.
Ed Bark

Emmy voters again snub Friday Night Lights

The 2009 Emmy nominations are in. And even with expanded fields in the drama and comedy series categories, there's still no room at the inn for Austin-made Friday Night Lights. What a buncha dim bulbs. Our unclebarky.com breakdown is here.
Ed Bark

Inside stuff

CNBC gets up-close with the ever-profitable porn industry in its latest prime-time documentary. Consider it a new way to look at stimulus spending. We also review HBO's new film on controversial Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams. And the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings show how Tuesday night's baseball All-Star game fared against NBC's potent America's Got Talent.
Ed Bark

NBC5 web site streaming funeral service for reporter Brett Johnson

Funeral services for NBC5 reporter Brett Johnson, who passed away Sunday at the age of 48, will be streamed live on nbcdfw.com. The service is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15th. Here is the link.
Ed Bark

More in store

TNT's latest new drama series, Dark Blue with Dylan McDermott, launches on Wednesday night. Our review is here. Also, dine on a super-vintage look at the 1969 opening of WBAP-TV's 6 p.m. newscast. And the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings make a hit of ESPN's elongated long ball competition on the eve of baseball's All-Star game.
Ed Bark

Services for Brett Johnson

As relayed by NBC5, these are the official arrangements for reporter Brett Johnson, who passed away Sunday at the age of 48.

Tuesday, 6-8 p.m.
Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel and Cemetery
7301 E. Lancaster Ave.
Fort Worth

Funeral Service
Wednesday, 2 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
800 W. 5th St.
Fort Worth

Graveside Services (following funeral)
Shannon Rose Hill Funeral Chapel and Cemetery
7301 E. Lancaster Ave.
Fort Worth

A celebration of Brett Johnson's life will follow Wednesday at Billy Bob's of Fort Worth, 2520 Rodeo Plaza. The start time is between 5 and 6 p.m.
Ed Bark

New inside

Sen. Ted Kennedy gets puffball treatment in a new HBO documentary. And the "Built for Fun" Rangers' weekend fall from first place is still a ratings go-getter in D-FW. Also, the prime-time Emmys have a first-time host for this September.
Ed Bark

NBC5 reporter Brett Johnson dies at age 48

NBC5 reporter Brett Johnson died Sunday at Baylor All Saints Hospital of complications from acute pancreatitis. The Fort Worth native was 48.

Johnson suffered what friends described as a "massive organ shutdown" shortly after being hospitalized Wednesday.

"He passed about 30 minutes ago," longtime friend and WFAA8 investigative reporter Brett Shipp said in a telephone interview that began shortly before 12:30 p.m. Sunday. "His family made the decision to pull him off of life support. He took about eight breaths on his own and passed peacefully. Obviously all of his close friends are just totally shocked. It just happened so suddenly."

NBC5 anchor Mike Snyder was among many friends and colleagues who visited Johnson at All Saints Saturday.

"The breadth of this man's soul is demonstrated by the number of friends who have just gotten down on their knees and prayed for him this week," Snyder said by telephone. "It is just incredible . . . He's a dear, dear friend, and it's difficult to put into words how much we love him."

Snyder, his voice breaking, said, "They disconnected the machines while we were at church this morning saying prayers for him . . . Brett was without question a man's man and a reporter's reporter. In a newsroom full of people in a mad dash, Brett was always someone who'd stop by your desk and make you laugh. He was just one of those endearing souls. We were just extremely lucky to have him."

Johnson and his girlfriend were planning to leave on a scuba diving trip to Mexico on the day he took seriously ill, Shipp said. Shortly after being admitted to the hospital he went into cardiac rest.

"We knew when we saw him on life support that there wasn't a lot of hope for him," Shipp said.

NBCdfw.com posted an obituary for Johnson at 12:35 p.m. Sunday. He joined the station as a freelance reporter in 1996 and had been a full-time staffer since early in 2005. Johnson also worked at two other North Texas TV stations -- KDFW-TV (Channel 4) and KTVT-TV (Channel 11) before the latter station was bought by CBS. His first TV appearance was as a seven-year-old kid on KTVT's Saturday morning Icky Twerp birthday party show. As an adult, his first loves were music and all things Texana, friends say.

Shipp and Johnson first met as fellow journalism students at Stephen F. Austin University.

"Our careers took a pretty amazing parallel path," Shipp said. They worked in Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Oklahoma City before becoming colleagues at KDFW.

A graduate of Eastern Hills High School in Fort Worth, Johnson had a "passion for Fort Worth, it's culture and its music, and the Stock show," Shipp said. "That was his signature, covering the Fort Worth Stock Show. He really pushed for coverage of Texas arts, from the chili cookoffs to any kind of Texana feature story. He just loved to do those. With his departure, you just wonder who's going to pick up that passion anymore."

Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth immediately agreed to host a memorial for Johnson "on the main stage on whatever night we want," Shipp said.
"He's just that well-loved. He was an old-school guy who believed in giving the viewers what they need, and not presuming that the news is all blood and guts."

Former NBC5 meteorologist James Aydelott, who left the market earlier this year to do weathercasts for a Tulsa station, said he "could always count on Brett to make me laugh with his wicked, sarcastic wit, especially about the news business. Yet he was so full of zest for music and life and living.

"He would always take the extra time to enjoy a good song or a ride around town with his dogs. He also fed us fried turkey every Thanksgiving, and was always spot-on with his restaurant recommendations . . . To say he was unique is an enormous understatement."

Johnson's nbcdfw.com obituary noted that he recently reported on the first day of another sweltering Texas summer.

"Listen, I was born and raised in this state," he told viewers. "And I can break a sweat at the drop of a hat. And I'm telling ya, I'm predicting a long, hot one."

In Shipp's words, Johnson was "just one of the most fun-loving compassionate people I've ever known. I just never had a bad time with Brett Johnson, no matter what we were doing."

Here is video of NBC5's video tribute to Johnson. It's narrated by reporter Scott Gordon, who says of his friend, "Brett Johnson always felt more comfortable in a cowboy hat than a suit and tie."

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.

Local, local, local

A lengthy disruption in service by our cable/Internet provider knocked unclebarky.com to the canvas for much of Friday. But now we're back in there punching with three better-late-than-never posts on Brian Curtis' oddly unheralded debut as NBC5's new 10 p.m. co-anchor; an ethical lapse by WFAA8 and the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings.
Ed Bark

Runaway Runway, now on Lifetime, has two North Texans among its designing women/men

Project Runway's 6th season contestants include Lone Star needlers Louise Black (4th from left, upper row) and Shirin Askari (4th from right, upper row). Premiere date is Aug. 20th. Lifetime photo

Bravo for Lifetime, which resolved its legal battle over the rights to Project Runway, which used to be on NBC Universal-owned Bravo.

The sixth season of the (Peabody winning!) reality competition dawns on Aug. 20th in tandem with a new "companion series," Models of the Runway. Included in the mix are two from Texas.

Louise Black, 32, originally from Temple, now resides in Dallas, says a Lifetime publicity release. In one of her several videos on Lifetime's Web site, Black greets "my lifetime.com people" and tells them she loves "anything with a decadent, decaying sort of feel to it."

Shirin Askari, 24, was born in Tulsa. But the freshest press materials say she now lives in Garland, also the home of unclebarky.com central. Never mind that Lifetime's behind-the-curve Web site says she's still holed up in Richardson. Her official "Home Visit" video declares her a major I Love Lucy fan who also gets "a lot of inspiration" from watching old movies.

They'll be competing for a $100,000 cash prize, a feature article in Marie Claire magazine and a trip to Paris. Project Runway, hosted by Heidi Klum, also features "mentor" Tim Gunn and judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.

Let the record show that your friendly content provider is pounding this thing out while snappily attired in a baby blue Gap T-shirt and brown mustard-hued walking shorts from the now defunct Steve & Barry's.

Now what? Post-Snyder era begins on NBC5's 10 p.m. newscasts

Man of the house: But sports guy Matt Barrie looked just a little bit out of it on Tuesday's late night NBC5 newscast. Photo: Ed Bark

Fort Worth-based NBC5 set sail without longtime 10 p.m. co-anchor Mike Snyder Tuesday. First at Four anchor Kristi Nelson took his chair, but that's just temporary. We speculate and elaborate here.

Addendum: Or never mind, if you will. Brian Curtis will be NBC5's new 10 p.m. co-anchor, beginning this Thursday. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are in, with an emphasis on all that Michael Jackson coverage Tuesday afternoon and night.
Ed Bark

Cute. The 33 hires native Texan and former Miss Missouri USA as sports reporter

The news just never stops here at unclebarky.com, where sources say that Dallas-based KDAF-TV ("The 33") has hired a young blonde beauty to rev up the station's sports department. Get the pictures -- and further details -- here. And eat your heart, out, Pete Delkus. All you've got to look at is WFAA8's fat, old bald guy.
Ed Bark

Jackson memorial goes national on multitude of networks

Smokey Robinson speaks at Tuesday's memorial. Photo from msn.com

Michael Jackson's memorial dominated the broadcast and cable universe Tuesday. But did it deliver as a live television event? Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Out as NBC5's 10 p.m. co-anchor, Mike Snyder talks about what's next

As previously reported on unclebarky.com, NBC5 anchor Mike Snyder has chosen one of the options available to him, ending a 19-year-run on the Fort Worth-based station's 10 p.m. newscasts while remaining with the 5 and 6 p.m. editions. Go here for our interview with Snyder and video of Monday's 10 p.m. farewell. Also, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings chart the numbers for what turned out to be Snyder's farewell late-nighter.
Ed Bark

Inside stuff

Sarah Palin will soon be in play. We speculate on which cable news network might benefit the most from making a play for her as host of a new talk show. Also, the D-FW Nielsen ratings for Thursday and Friday show a striking comeback by one 10 p.m. newscast.
Ed Bark

A happy Fourth to all!!!

Another Independence Day is nigh, so we'll be taking advantage of the extended weekend before resuming festivities here on Monday.

Have a safe and happy holiday, everybody.
Ed Bark

Insights, Rochelle Brown dropped by Fox4

D-FW's longest-standing minority-targeted program, Insights, and its executive producer and first host, Rochelle Brown, are out of the picture at Fox4. Brown had been at the station longer than even anchor Clarice Tinsley. Click here for our story and an interview with Brown.
Ed Bark

Season 7 of Curb has its parking spot

Several readers have asked, and we now have definite word.

Season 7 of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 20th. As previously reported, star Larry David's guest list includes the entire principal cast of Seinfeld -- namely Jerry, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards.
Ed Bark

New inside

Another reporter has been dropped by KDAF-TV ("The 33"). Get the details here. Also, the Texas Rangers crucial Tuesday night win over the Angels is a player opposite 10 p.m. local newscasts. And BET's Sunday night awards show, which doubled as a tribute to Michael Jackson, comes very close to being the most-watched show of the week in all of TV land.
Ed Bark

Goodbye June, hiya July

June has moved to the archives on some unclebarky.com pages as we re-stock for July. On the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page, you'll find a response from NBC5 management to recent criticism of the station's week-long series on homes for sale. Also, WFAA8 sports anchor Dale Hansen returned Tuesday -- with predictable results -- while the station also has a new promotional campaign for its ratings-challenged early morning newscast. Get both updates here. Furthermore, Sunday's premiere of HBO's new Hung gave the premium cable network a nice bump in the national Nielsens while viewers continued to sink their teeth into holdover True Blood.
Ed Bark