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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., Nov. 14)

CBS11 anchor Doug Dunbar touts his revelatory Emmitt Smith story. Photo: Ed Bark
God probably doesn't particularly care who wins the November ratings "sweeps" in this or any other TV market.

The sweeps do tend to work in mysterious ways, though. On Monday's 10 p.m. edition on CBS11, co-anchor Doug Dunbar touted "a powerful and a passionate side of Emmitt Smith that you probably don't know about. But you will -- in just minutes."

Verily, the former Dallas Cowboy and pro football's all-time leading rusher says he's been a man of strong religious faith ever since attending a conference by televangelist T.J. Jakes during the mid-1990s prime of his NFL career.

Smith, in the company of his wife of 11 years, Pat Smith, talked "exclusively" to Dunbar about finding his spiritual side after the station promoted the interview to the high heavens.

"If you're not settled spiritually, things can be a little more chaotic than normal," Emmitt said.

All well and good. But the link between Smith and Jakes, a multi-millionaire through the grace of his jam-packed sermons and seminars, isn't exactly a closely kept secret. The Washington Post wrote in 2001 about Jakes' associations with Smith and former Cowboys teammate Deion Sanders.

Smith and Jakes have appeared in public many times over the years, including as far back as the preacher's 1997 "photo op" baptism of Smith, Sanders and two other Cowboys teammates. And in early September of this year, Smith kicked off a local and national tour on behalf of his new book Game On, which Jakes heartily endorsed as an opportunity for readers to learn "just what it takes to be a champion in every aspect of life, including the all-important areas of faith and family."

So no, Dunbar didn't exactly have a scoop in hand here. He did, however, have some promotable "sweeps" merchandise on a station that's still locked in a pretty tight battle with WFAA8 for the 10 p.m. ratings win in total viewers.

In fact, the almighty Book of Nielsen even has a passage on this. It reads: "Blessed are they who suck viewers in by any means necessary. For they shall inherit the right to proclaim, 'We're No. 1.' "

OK, not really, But it's still more than enough to make any news director fall on his or her knees.

Over at WFAA8, viewers were taken on what co-anchor Gloria Campos billed as a "rare behind-the-scenes tour" of the new Dancing with the Stars set. Rare? Well done, Gloria, but likewise a li'l "sweeps" fib.

Daybreak's Ron "Taking Over the Morning" Corning journeyed to L.A. to take the tour a week after colleague Shelly Slater went West for a report on the DWTS diet. The show is an important part of ABC's and affiliate WFAA8's prime-time schedule. But are viewers really supposed to lap this stuff up?

Both WFAA8 and CBS11 had "new information" on allegations that McKinney chiropractor David Allen Russell had sexually molested two teenage students from the next door Taylor Dance Studio while he examined them for groin injuries at his clinic.

WFAA8 reporter Craig Civale interviewed three former dance studio workers on camera. One of them, Carla Mullendore, first talked last Wednesday to NBC5's Ellen Goldberg. But at that time she didn't want her face shown to viewers. All three contend that Russell had an undue "influence" over the studio because of his long-term romantic relationship with owner Susan Taylor. She in turn has charged them with harboring a "personal vendetta."

On CBS11, reporter Jay Gormley also interviewed Mullendore, plus Russell's newly hired attorney, Todd Shapiro. NBC5 had an interview last week with the defendant's initial attorney, Raf De La Garza. Russell has unequivocally denied all charges through both attorneys.

NBC5's Goldberg led that station's Monday late nighter with an interesting story on a possible theft ring operating at DFW International Airport. Among the recently stolen items are IPads. Various passengers readily agreed they'd be upset if this happened to them. News flash from the "Well, Duh" department: sound bites such as these really aren't needed to flesh out a story.

The Peacock also followed up on a previous Goldberg story that rival stations somehow have missed or deemed inconsequential. Reporter Scott Gordon journeyed to Eastland for more info. on the Siebert Elementary School second grader who was bitten multiple times by a rattlesnake when he reached into a supply cabinet inside the school.

The rattler since has been found, as Gordon showed on camera. But classes have been moved to a nearby church until after Thanksgiving so that officials can make sure the school is safe. The kid is fine at this point but initially had to be airlifted to Fort Worth's Cook Children's Medical Center for emergency treatment. So it wasn't just a trifling matter.

NBC5 co-anchor Meredith Land later proved to be the most vexed about a continuing NBA owners/players stalemate that now seriously threatens the entire season.

"It's like taking away Christmas," she lamented.

We've saved Fox4 for last because, well, there just isn't much to report. The station's featured one-hour 9 p.m. newscast again had little pop and even less enterprise, which is puzzling.

Monday's highlight -- just like the previous Monday -- was Saul Garza's weekly "What's Buggin' You?" segment. This time he helped an aggrieved consumer in her battle with Verizon Fios. Its wiring system literally ran across a roadway as part of a serpentine path to a connector box. Garza had the pictures to prove it, and Verizon quickly arrived to bury and re-route the wiring after the woman had strived to have it done since June of last year.

Fox4's Shaun Rabb had a worthy piece on a new Dallas County report that said 30 percent of the area's children live in poverty. But one got the impression that the station devoted time to this only because its anchor dean, Clarice Tinsley, moderated a panel on the report's findings. And of course she was shown on camera doing so.

Longtime D-FW sports commentator/radio host Mike Fisher earlier kept a discussion of the NBA lockout lively during his in-studio bat-around with Fox4's Steve Eagar and Max Morgan.

Otherwise that's all she wrote regarding a station whose principal anchors, Eager and Heather Hays, still gamely strive to sell a news show whose overall content lately has gone limp. Story-wise, there's just not a whole lot to excite the senses -- and that didn't used to be the case.