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Flippin' the bird: Dubya goes turkey bowling

"This will be the death of any thoughts this man ever had of being president!" Norm Hitzges proclaimed before George W. Bush slid a frozen Butterball toward 10 Coke bottles.

But no, we weren't spared.

Bush was still governor of Texas when he turkey bowled on Hitzges' old Tailgate Party TV show. And as the future prez noted, "Turkeys vote."

Let that sink in while enjoying the sights and sounds from this now vintage clip. It also includes a brief interview and demonstration by Turkey Bowling inventor Derrick Johnson, who was fired for perfecting his sport on a grocery store graveyard shift. Happy Thanksgiving!

Taking flight: WFAA8 anchor Brad Hawkins heads for Southwest

Daybreak co-anchor Brad Hawkins has decided to leave WFAA8 after eight years, but it'll be a short departing flight to Southwest Airlines. Get the full story here. Also, the latest D-FW ratings are a big stomp for ABC's Dancing with the Stars. And FX's The Shield sends itself off Tuesday night with a rousing, satisfying finale.
Ed Bark

TV's top 10 old-school alpha males, plus a little more ratings intrigue as the November "sweeps" hit the 15-day mark

Action hero Jack Bauer returns this Sunday (Nov. 23) in a new 24 movie setting the stage for January's start of Season 7. Also, rogue cop Vic Mackey will walk his bruising beat for the last time next Tuesday (Nov. 25) on the series finale of The Shield. Where do they rank on our list of TV's all-time old-school alpha males? Count 'em down on our Making A List page.
Also, there's still much to be decided as D-FW's homegrown newscasts hit the homestretch of the 20-weekday November sweeps. See where they stand three quarters of the way through.

And in more local news for you, NBC5 meteorologist James Aydelott soon will be reading maps elsewhere, and Dan Rather's 11th hour cancellation means he won't be speaking Saturday night in Dallas on the 45th anniversary of JFK's assassination.
Ed Bark

New for you

CBS11 investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham and his partner, Michael Spann, are happy to be back in D-FW after the Oct. 10 births of Gregory Adam and Liliana Elizabeth in a Hartford, Conn. hospital. Cunningham talks about Liliana's recovery from a serious infection and praises station management's response to his becoming a first-time father under decidedly unique circumstances.
Also, the latest D-FW Nielsens show further sea changes in the 10 p.m. news wars, where the top dog newscast of two Novembers ago is now fighting to stay out of fourth place. And we salute news anchor Clarice Tinsley on her 30-year anniversary at KDFW-TV (Channel 4).
Ed Bark

Synergize this: Fox Television Stations, Inc and NBC Local Media form news service in Philly with plans to expand to other markets where both corporations own stations (P.S. those five markets include Dallas-Fort Worth)

Content-sharing used to be done under corporate umbrellas such as Dallas-based Belo, where the "strategic partnership" between The Dallas Morning News and WFAA8 mandated daily planning sessions on how to optimize and cross-promote each other's news product.

Reporters at both news organizations pretty much hated that relationship. But management didn't much care. So it's a good thing that those days are pretty much over, now that Belo has split into two entities. WFAA8 no longer has to tell the DMN what big stories it's working on -- and vice-versa. They still hug each other in other ways, though, via back-and-forth links on their respective Web sites, etc.

But now comes further news of possibly more troubling content partnerships between competing corporations that used to wage all-out wars against each another.

The Dallas Morning News and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, long derided in each other's newsrooms as "The Morning Snooze" and "The Startlegram," announced earlier this month that they'd be "exploring ways to collaborate in a few targeted areas of newsgathering."

On Thursday, Fox Television Stations, Inc. and NBC Local Media said they'll be forming a "local news service" in Philadelphia, where both networks own stations. They'll begin getting in bed with each other in January 2009, with more such arrangements to come.

"The parties intend to roll out the local news service in other markets at a later date," Fox and NBC said in a joint statement. Those five remaining markets include Dallas-Fort Worth, the country's fifth largest. NBC owns KXAS-TV (Channel 5) and Fox owns KDFW-TV (Channel 4). The two networks also have "O&Os" (owned and operated stations) in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

DMN editor Bob Mong, in a Nov. 7th memo to staffers, said that it makes sense to collaborate with the Star-Telegram "because of the challenging economic and revenue environment we find ourselves in. I can assure you we have no intention of diluting our powerful brand . . . I also believe that collaboration is made possible because of the mutual respect the two newsrooms have for one another."

The joint Fox-NBC statement basically is an identical twin.

Says NBC Local Media president John Wallace: "By pooling resources to provide video coverage of general market events, we can ensure our stations are covering the news of the day, and at the same time, focus our efforts on the type of specialized reporting that defines our brands and differentiates our stations within their communities."

We'll see how those respective two statements hold up a year or two from now. In the best case scenario, infighting from within will call a halt to these relationships. That's in part what happened in the case of the DMN and WFAA8. The latter station's investigative reporters don't want to and shouldn't have to share their scoops with the print people across the street. And vice-versa.

The more likely course of events is this, though. Someday in the not too distant future, we'll be reading The Dallas-Fort Worth Star-News or watching FoxNBC4/5. I hope that doesn't happen because independent, distinctive and competitive local news coverage is the last barrier to full-blown homogenization. But you'll still have rascally unclebarky.com for at least the near future. Our overhead is lower than a rat's rent payment, although a few more pre-paid ads sure would help.

One more thing: Fox and NBC earlier partnered on hulu.com, where clips and full episodes of their respective entertainment series are available for free. It's a great web site that doesn't compromise anybody unless characters from Fox's House and NBC's ER start crossing over on a weekly basis.

In the end I'm for anything that saves money in a very dispiriting economy. But these latter day news content arrangements in the end aren't likely to save any jobs. Quite the opposite, I'm afraid. How far away are we from the day when D-FW's Fox4 and NBC5 start consolidating their news staffs, sending one reporter rather than two to cover a breaking story?

Thursday's announcements definitely open that door -- and it's more than just a crack.

Edie Adams and the Kovacs Award -- forever inseparable as the Dallas Video Festival advances to drinking age

Edie Adams with crazed husband Ernie Kovacs, and in later years.

Visionary Dallas Video Festival founder Bart Weiss, who used to elbow the hell out of me in our pickup basketball games, had the pleasure and privilege of knowing and collaborating with Edie Adams.

The Ernie Kovacs Award, named in honor of her incredibly inventive husband, was discontinued after 2002. That was largely because Edie, then in her late 70s, had found it increasingly hard to make the journey from her Los Angeles home to be among kindred spirits in Dallas.

Edie, Bart, myself, Sylvia Komatsu and Ron Simon formed the board that selected the Kovacs Award winner from 1997 until "we realized that it was just getting to be too difficult for Edie to travel and decided to end the award," Bart said in an email sent Thursday, the first day of the 21st annual Video Festival.

I never met her, but did get to hear her debate the merits and demerits of potential Kovacs winners during our teleconferences together. As a kid, I perhaps accelerated a bit toward puberty while watching her then very seductive commercials for Muriel Cigars. The so-called "Golden Age" of television didn't get any better than that.

Born Elizabeth Edith Enke on Aug. 16, 1927 in Kingston, PA, Edie passed away on Oct. 15th at age 81. But what a life she led, particularly from Sept. 12, 1954 to Jan. 13, 1962.

That was the duration of her storied marriage to Ernie Kovacs, who died tragically on the latter date in a car accident. Edie had kept his flame burning and his trademark cigars smoking ever since. She was a pistol.

The very first Kovacs honoree was Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science 3000, followed in chronological order, according to Video Festival news releases, by Terry Gilliam, Robert Smigel, Paul ("Pee-wee Herman") Reubens, Martin Mull, Mike Judge and Bill Camfield, a true D-FW television icon who created Slam Bang Theater and the famed, madcap "Icky Twerp" character -- our own Ernie Kovacs -- back when KTVT-TV (Channel 11) dawned as an independently owned and operated station.

I remember being a go-between for Bart at one of those those semi-annual gatherings of television critics in L.A. My assignment was to give the Austin-based King of the Hill creator a manila envelope after a lunchtime Fox interview session had ended.

We wanted to gauge whether he'd accept the Kovacs Award as well as attend that year's Video Festival. Otherwise he was to know nothing. So I gave him the envelope, told him something like, "This is really cool, so please read what's inside," and then hastily exited toward another news "event" with David Hasselhoff or somebody.

Technology marches on, but at least a semblance of the personal touch never hurts. And of course, Mike was totally thrilled with his Kovacs Award and showed up to receive it.

I asked Bart to write down a few thoughts about the woman who made it all possible, or perhaps speak them into a dictaphone or beam them to me. Whatever works these days.

As you might well know, was a very busy man on Thursday. But the now ancient mariner came through with an email sent late Thursday afternoon. Here are some of recollections:

"Ernie Kovacs epitomized what television could be. He was an artist who defined and was defined by his medium., who did not stand up and tell jokes but worked with what TV could do.

"Edie, who was his widow and collaborator for many years, spent a large part of her life preserving Kovacs' work and going around the world showing it. When we decided to have an award at the festival, it seemed obvious that it should be named after Ernie, and that we needed to have Edie involved.

"We also were lucky enough to have Edie come to the festival, show some rare Kovacs work and talk about why it's important. She came year after year, telling stories and showing work.

At a festival like this, one of the few perks is the time you get to spend with wonderful people who you would otherwise never meet. And indeed we had some great conversations.

"Once, I remember after dinner walking out of the restaurant and the pianist recognized Edie and she sang a few songs. It was magical. Then she sang what I remember as a kid as the Murial cigar commercials she did for many years. Funny that she is known for a cigar when Ernie was known for a cigar all those years and had Dutch Masters as a great sponsor letting him do what he wanted.

"Edie gave a lot to Dallas coming all those years and spreading the spirit of creativity. Who knows what Kovacs would do on an iphone."

Rest gently, Edie. You, too, Ernie, although neither of these larger-than-life, thoroughly invigorating media giants will ever go gently into any night.

And now it's time to play Edie off in a way I know she'd enjoy. Cue the youtube video, which certainly is fitting, too: