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On top of the news: Lauren Jones still has her desk job at Tyler's KYTX-TV

Thought you'd like to see the first and so far only official Fox publicity shot for its new reality series Anchorwoman. Premiering on Aug. 21, it stars model and former wrestling villain Lauren Jones as the eyecatching new news reader for KYTX-TV, the CBS station in Tyler, TX. Filming is ongoing and scheduled to end near or on the Fourth of July. For the complete and now widely circulated unclebarky.com story, go here. And if you'd like to suggest a reasonably clean caption, or express indignation or admiration, hit "Comments" and have at it.
Ed Bark

The windup and the pitch . . . three winners in the unclebarky.com newscast slogan contest

Thanks to all who participated in unclebarky.com's inaugural reader contest. We hope to have more of them. And now for the three winning entries in our local newscast slogan contest, all of whom will be individually contacted via email to pick their prizes.


Chris Huff for these three inventive efforts:

Belo8 -- "Pete & Dale's Playhouse"
CBS11 -- "Lead-in Squandering You Can Count On"
TXA21 -- "The DriverSelect TXA21 News -- First in Prime Thanks to Middlekauf Ford. Home of the SuperDoppler Radar Brought to You By Cirro Energy"


Sara Ivey for:

"NBC5 -- "You'll Feel Better Watching Other People's Tragedies"
Fox4 -- "Serious About Breaking Your Heart"
CBS11 -- "First In Cute Baby Animal Stories"


Brian Lusk for:

CBS11 -- "We're just like NBC5 -- only different"
Belo8 -- "Three Guys, A Girl And A Laughfest"

Honorable Mention

Jesse Jackson for:

Belo8 -- "Hansen in HD. Sorry, Please Watch Us Anyway"
NBC5 -- "Remember When Our Prime-Time Lineup Mattered? Please Watch Us Anyway"

Thanks again, everybody!
Ed Bark

Hori will be quick to the anchor desk at Miami's WFOR-TV

Former CBS11 anchor Shannon Hori (right) replaces Maggie Rodriguez and will team with Eliott Rodriguez at Miami's WFOR-TV.

Just 10 days after leaving CBS11's early morning show, Shannon Hori will be staying up late as the 6 and 11 p.m. co-anchor of CBS station WFOR-TV in Miami.

Hori, whose first day is Monday (June 25), takes the chair vacated by Maggie Rodriguez, who on June 2nd became the new co-anchor of CBS' Saturday Early Show. Hori's co-anchor is holdover Eliott Rodriguez, no relation to Maggie.

Her new boss, WFOR vice president/station manager Tom Doerr, was news director at CBS11 in Dallas when Hori joined the station in July 2004 to team with Doug Dunbar in the early mornings. She came to D-FW from NBC station WESH-TV in Orlando, FL.

CBS11 hasn't named Hori's replacement yet. Anchor/reporter Ginger Allen lately has been joining newcomer Scott Sams from 5 to 7 a.m.

Hori said goodbye to area viewers on June 15. For those who missed it, here's the video.

Yee ha ha: Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually comes off funny -- and intentionally, too

Craig Ferguson is in position to become honorary Texas yahoo.

Not known for a riotous sense of humor, Texas Gov. Rick Perry parried with Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson on Thursday's edition of the CBS talker.

Not in person but via a letter sent on the governor's official stationery in response to Ferguson's "honorary citizenship campaign," launched on June 13.

Ferguson, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, touted Perry's qualified support of his quest to "become a citizen one town at a time across the United States. Sooner or later I will become, just by default, an American citizen."

Perry's signed letter is provocatively funny in parts, meaning he must have at least one pretty loose staff writer. Either that or Kinky Friedman has a covert job in the statehouse. Here's what the guv put his name to:

"Dear Craig,

There was a time when we granted the status of Texan to just about anyone, including criminals, drunks and Tennesseans. Today our standards are much higher.

"We need to know first of all if you have a gun rack on your car -- and we don't mind gun racks on girlie cars, which I suspect you drive.

"Secondly, we need to know if, upon approaching roadkill, you drive on by, or stop and throw it in the back so you can skin it and hang the pelt on your wall.

"Third, we need to make sure you have never, and never would, deface the Alamo (as some celebrity rock star with a bad British accent once did through the release of bodily fluids.) Editor's note: Legend has it that Ozzy Osbourne did the peeing.

"Lastly, we need to know if you are willing to stand guard on our border, and prevent the entry of illegals from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.

"Your citizenship as a Texan depends on your answers to these questions, and whether you can dip tobacco and eat chili at the same time.

"Sincerely yours,

"Rick Perry


Ferguson says he's also received honorary citizenship documents from the governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska and Nevada. A few mayors have chipped in, too.

Texas is by far his biggest conquest, though, even if Perry forgot to mention that you also have to wear a string tie for formal occasions and drink a shot of jalapeno juice daily to stay regular.

Veteran reporter Mary Stewart putting CBS11 behind her

CBS11 reporter Mary Stewart, a stalwart on the local TV news scene for 21 years, will be calling it quits next month.

Her last day at the station will be July 20th, Stewart said. She'll be leaving the following day on a trip to Nova Scotia with her husband.

Stewart could be the first of several reporters to leave rather than adapt to the "urgent" newscast approach recently put in play by new news director Regent Ducas.

Live, on-the-spot crime and tragedy reporting are key to the new approach, particularly during the "First Five Minutes" segments of the nightly 10 p.m. shows. An oft-heated internal debate continues over whether this will be the salvation or the ruination of the newscasts, which were struggling in the ratings when Ducas came aboard.

During the May "sweeps," the first with Ducas fully in charge, CBS11 ran third in the total homes Nielsens and fifth at 10 p.m. among advertiser-coveted 25-to-54-year-olds.

During the summer rerun season, the station sporadically is doing a little better job of holding on to its lead-in audience from CBS entertainment programming. But the resumption of first-run programming this fall will be the real test.

Stewart joined CBS11 in 2000. A year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and has been an honorary co-chair of the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

She began her journalism career researching documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and worked at TV stations in Des Moines, Iowa, Jacksonville, Florida and Boston before joining Dallas-based WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in 1986.

The windup and the pitch . . . but we know you can do better in unclebarky.com's first grand prize contest

Promoting a local TV news station is an art form in a way. Pick just the right resonant slogan or personality and at least a small percentage of viewers will respond. In close ratings races, that can make all the difference.

As you'll see from a new Back Channels piece, Ch. 4 once used comedy hillbilly Ernest P. Worrell to sell its newscasts. And Ch. 8 deployed actor Dennis Weaver as a crackerbarrel, back porch Barnum.

It's a bit more sophisticated now. But Uncle Barky is certain that you can come up with creative, cheeky alternatives to the current sales pitches. And we've got some very nice prizes for those with the best one-liners. Here's what the stations are using now:

Fox4 -- "The News Station"
NBC5 -- "Not Just What Happens, What Matters."
Belo8 -- "First In News, First In High-Definition" (sub-slogan: "The Spirit of Texas")
CBS11 -- "Coverage You Can Count On"

Surely you can do better. And here's what you can win, with Uncle Barky the sole judge and executioner:

First Prize Winner
Pick any three from among the following, all of which are brand new and unopened:
Complete Season One of The Rockford Files
Reno 911! -- The Complete Fourth Season Uncensored!
Complete Season One of Battlestar Galactica
Official Kitchen Timer tied to the Bravo series Top Chef
Complete Season One of Miami Vice
Complete Season One of Hogan's Heroes
Complete Season One of One Tree Hill
Complete Season One of My Name Is Earl

Second Prize Winner
Pick any three of the remaining prizes

Third Prize Winner
You'll get the two remaining prizes.

Deadline for entries, which must be received via email, is noon Friday (June 22nd). Send all entries, one per person, to unclebarky@tx.rr.com Please include your actual name, not your email ID.

Prize winners will be notified and posted Monday on the Above the Fold page. And delivery or shipping will be arranged if necessary. Possibly by pony express, though. Unclebarky.com has limited funds. Just kidding -- about the pony express part.

So please participate, have fun and be creative, snarky, pitchy, whatever. You can devise slogans for as many stations as you want. And select a celebrity to deliver them if you'd like.

It's all up to you. And if the turnout is decent, we'll have more contests in the future.

Early to rise: Fox4's top-rated Good Day puts on a new face

Fox4 has hired young gun Adrian Arambulo to report for Good Day, filling the spot left when Casey Stegall left to become a Los Angeles-based correspondent for Fox News Channel.

Arambulo, a native of Chicago, arrives from CBS affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, where he had been a general assignments reporter since February 2004. He previously worked at Texas' KGBT-TV, which serves the Rio Grande Valley. He was the station's Brownsville bureau chief and also filled in as a news and sports anchor.

Arambulo appears to have a sense of humor. His KLAS station bio says that in his free time, he enjoys "overeating, exercising randomly, golfing sporadically, dancing poorly and watching his favorite Chicago sports teams religiously."

A few more thoughts on fantastic finishes . . . and why The Sopranos wasn't one

It's Rags to Riches by a nose at the pulsating Belmont. AP photo

Great endings usually aren't debatable. We pretty much know them when we see them, whether it's TV, the movies, sporting events, concerts, novels or a superb cup of coffee at the end of a sumptuous meal.

Sunday night's finale of The Sopranos, detailed and dissed earlier on this page, came just a day after a truly fantastic finish involving two horses who weren't Pie-O-My. Rags to Riches' winning stretch duel with the favored Curlin made her the first filly to win the belmont Stakes in 102 years. She refused to let him have his way. And just when it seemed he would, she surged to win by a near photo finish.

Those are the kinds of denouements that leave you searching for superlatives. "Rosebud" at the end of Citizen Kane. The "group hug" to close out The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Boise State coming back from the dead to beat vaunted Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The magical, mystical burial of Six Feet Under.

It's kind of like the argument about who belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame. If you have to argue the point, then that player doesn't really belong.

The Sopranos' place is assured as an all-time great television series. In this view it's still the best ever. But the abrupt "We report, you decide" ending left a ring around its tub.

Creator David Chase wasn't expected to deliver a bloodbath. Those who think that's all we wanted have got it all wrong. But the episode came and went without any true high drama. Tony and Carmela have had some of the show's great, crackling moments together. But in the end they docilely ate onion rings in a nondescript diner. Then Chase abruptly snapped the umbilical cord, making many at first think their TVs had gone flat-line on them.

Alas, the problem wasn't with our sets. It was with an artiste who basically chickened out. Unlike Rags to Riches, Chase coughed up the bit. Isn't anybody out there getting tired of having to fill in the blanks? That's Chase's job, isn't it? He's the one who created this world. And he could have kept it spinning while at the same time giving us a jumping off point that felt cinematic and majestic. The Sopranos wasn't Dynasty, for crap sakes. It long had earned both the right and the privilege to go out with a figurative bang. Instead the match blew out before the charcoal got lit.

Imagine ending the Rags to Riches/Curlin stretch duel about five seconds before its finish. Gee, it's a shame to see either horse lose. They've put so much heart and effort into this thing. So why don't you just imagine how it ended? That way everybody can be their own storyteller.

Sorry, but it shouldn't have worked that way with The Sopranos. We can still sing its praises, just maybe not in a cathedral anymore.

Shock to the system: Little electricity as The Sopranos pulls the plug

Last supper: Tony and Carmela wait at a diner for the kids in The Sopranos' last set piece. No one got hurt and Dad ordered yummy onion rings for the table. Too bad viewers weren't better-served.

In the end we deserved better.

Not a big bang of a shootout necessarily, but a more tangible sense of closure. Instead, The Sopranos left with its fly open.

Creator David Chase put his masterwork to bed Sunday night with a lax finale that plodded toward a prolonged and palpably tense diner scene. Would a gunman suddenly rise to whack Tony -- and maybe Carmela and A.J., too -- while Meadow endured a parallel parking crisis?

The camera cannily picked out several potential hit men as America's collective terror alert went off the charts. Tony, Carmela and A.J. bit into their first onion rings and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " played on a tabletop juke box. Geez, you could hardly swallow.

But then Chase abruptly cut the cord, with the lyrics recycling to "Don't Stop" while Tony looked up to see Meadow hurrying in. Click -- just like that -- to a last silent rolling of the closing credits as the raging debate began over whether this was one of TV's all-time letdowns.

The show's 86th and final episode, subtitled "Made In America," had underachieved from the start. The Sopranos isn't supposed to make you look at your watch, but the first half-hour lacked any urgency or electricity. Instead there were too many brief scenes of little impact. Even A.J.'s second close brush with death, this time unintentionally, seemed like a cheap attempt to literally light a fire under the proceedings.

Phil Leotardo later went down for good while he was with his wife and two of their little grandkids at a gas station. Chase needlessly rubbed it in. First a little-seen subordinate gunned down Tony's chief nemesis. Then Leotardo's SUV, still in drive, slowly ran over his skull while his wife watched in horror. They passed on the idea of having Phil next break wind and explode a gas tank.

A.J. also made a false run at joining the Army before Tony all too easily bought him off with a job as a gofer on a film written for Cleaver star Daniel Baldwin. Meadow proceeded with plans to be an idealistic defense attorney, with Tony's eyes lighting up at the prospect of her earning $170 grand a year.

It seemed for a while that Paulie Walnuts might either be a snitch or Tony's eventual assassin. But we learned, barely in passing, that one of Tony's lesser vets, Carlo Gervasi, would be singing to the feds. Odds were 80 to 90 percent that Tony at some point would be indicted, his attorney told him.

Tony also had a brief button-up scene with his sister, Janice, before visiting comatose lieutenant Silvio Dante in the hospital. So much busywork, so little momentum. The night's best scene had Tony visiting his late father's now thoroughly demented brother, Uncle Junior. He wanted the old man to keep his money out of Janice's hands, but that was like telling a monkey to keep the change.

"You two ran North Jersey," Tony told him.

"We did?"


"That's nice."

The finale's climactic diner scene apparently was meant to reinforce The Sopranos' series-long fealty to family. Instead it seemed forced, with Chase more intent on running a series of almost diabolical misdirection plays.

Yes, we get it that Tony could get it at any minute. But this seemed cheap and manipulative. Who was that guy sitting by himself in a nearby booth? And what about another customer who went by himself to the restroom -- a la the Godfather -- while Meadow continued to battle a tight parking space?

MIght she get to the diner just in time to witness the horror of her family spattered in blood? But no, this all seemed to be Chase's way of playing one last big game of "Gotcha" before slamming the door shut.

The Sopranos remains a singularly great series. But Sunday's finale only served to set up a sequel. Life goes on for Tony, Carmela, Meadow and A.J. Life isn't fair, though, for devotees who wanted and merited a rousing sendoff. Hate to say it, but this was nothing of the sort.

The TV biz used to be easy as ABC. But now . . .

Two recent releases sent to unclebarky.com illustrate the increasingly obvious: Your basic living room TV set is making the slow but steady conveyor trip from living room centerpiece to oversized knickknack.

CBS Interactive just announced, for instance, that Joe Ferreira has been named senior VP and GM of the recently created CBS Audience Network. Its management team, by the way, will "oversee the two dozen partners contributing to nearly 90% unduplicated web reach for CBS content in an open, non-exclusive content syndication strategy."

That's a pretty big gulp. Here's a bigger one: "In May, CBS announced phase II of the Audience Network, which included partnering with leading community-building websites and social application providers to allow users to incorporate CBS-provided clips on their blogs, wikis, widgets and community pages."

Furthermore, "these new partners included Automattic (that's not a typo), Clearspring, DAVE Networks, Goowy Media, meebo, MeeVee, Musestorm, Ning, RockYou!, Slide, VideoEgg, Voxant and vSocial."

Unclebarky.com's been getting those clips, too, and has even used a few. Look out, MeeVee.

You'll notice that the word "television" isn't used in any of this terminology. Consider it a bypass on the four-lane artery to the pulsating heart of something or other that's going to be really big if you believe all of this stuff.

Also this week, The Nielsen Company announced that it will begin measuring the "mobile media consumer."

Eight million people viewed some form of video on their mobile phones in the last 30 days, says Nielsen. And at least seven percent of all 18-to-34-year-olds did so in this year's First Quarter (January to March).

"This new mobile measurement service demonstrates Nielsen's continued commitment to follow content wherever consumers take it," says Nielsen VP Jeff Herrmann.

Just remember to phone home once in a while, too.

Ball's in your court, Pete Delkus

NBC5 weatherman David Finfrock does the Baseball-Size Hail Boogie in this exciting excerpt from a recent NBC5 newscast. And here you thought he could only cough.
Ed Bark

The Sopranos: Happiness ain't a warm gun

Cut off by his shrink and from his family, Tony Soprano went to bed Sunday night with an automatic weapon the size of a King Cobra.

And no wonder. The penultimate episode of The Sopranos put Bobby Baccalieri permanently out of commission and left Silvio Dante all but dead in a hospital bed. So now it's Tony, fellow old-liner Paulie Walnuts and a handful of relative nonentities facing the wrath of Phil "The Shah of Iran" Leotardo's hit squad.

Wearing black leather in a makeshift hideaway, Tony and his remaining boys seemed like New Jersey's branch of the James Gang. On the lam but always ready for a fight.

We begin our countdown to Sunday's grand finale with a Back Channels rewind to The Sopranos' first big national media event in July 1999. Series star James Gandolfini was decidedly uncomfortable amid a gang of TV critics. But co-stars Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco made the best of it on a night when their show received four awards from the Television Critics Association. Check out this first-hand account and look for more Sopranos-themed material throughout the week.

Is The Sopranos the most influential TV drama series ever? Is Tony Soprano the all-time greatest TV drama character? We'll be taking our stabs and inviting your comments. Bada Bing.
Ed Bark