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This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Thurs., Nov. 1)

Pepperoni pizzas and flaming mattresses respectively were hot stories on NBC5 and CBS11 on Night 1 of the November "sweeps."

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a story.

Yes, but how big a one? NBC5 predictably overbaked the latest national food recall Thursday night, leading its 10 p.m. newscast with foreboding music and anchor Jane McGarry's dire, Nostradamus-esque intro.

"Peanut butter. Spinach. Even hamburger meat," she intoned. "Now you can add pizza to that growing list of recalls. Tonight, food frustration. And North Texans say enough is enough."

NBC5's Lindsay Wilcox reported live from -- where else? -- outside a Wal-Mart after McGarry said that 21 E. coli cases had been linked to Totino's and Jeno brand pepperoni pizzas. They're voluntarily being taken off shelves by the maker, which is sad news for a beefy man interviewed by Wilcox. His girlfriend loves those pies, he said, and will be "horribly disappointed."

Rival stations Fox4, Belo8 and CBS11 also had news of the recall -- but in brief anchor readers buried within their newscasts. Fox4 and CBS11 both noted that none of the reportedly ill pizza eaters resides in Texas, a fact that the Peacock somehow managed to omit.

NBC5 and reporter Scott Gordon deserve credit, however, for breaking a heartwarming story that its competitors piggybacked onto Thursday night. The veteran Night Ranger had told viewers Wednesday about "Miracle Girl" Kaitlyn Wade of Arlington, who returned home to a hero's welcome Thursday after recovering from horrific injuries caused by an alleged drunk driver. The 13-year-old spent five months in the hospital after previously surviving leukemia as a little kid.

Fox4, Belo8 and CBS11 all had detailed stories on Kaitlyn, who also managed to survive an onslaught of reporters' questions. Meanwhile, Gordon already had moved on to another interesting story on a man whose sinus cavity operation went terribly wrong when a doctor mistakenly removed part of his brain and left him permanently disabled.

"The hardest part is thinking of doing this another 40 years," his wife said of caring for her once vibrant husband. She successfully sued, but may receive only a small fraction of a multi-million dollar judgment, Gordon reported.

On CBS11, investigative reporter Bennett Cunningham put on a firefighter's outfit while real-life practitioners set a non-fireproofed mattress on fire. The live blaze, complete with an "Elapsed Time" clock, consumed the bed buddy while Cunningham went "undercover" on videotape to expose sellers of mattresses without state-required "fire barrier material."

The law took effect on July 1st, Cunningham noted. He also told viewers that manufacturers and retailers legally are allowed to sell old mattresses made before that date.

Still, it wasn't a bad show-and-tell story, with Cunningham telling co-anchor Doug ("Good to have ya") Dunbar that "the fumes are just absolutely horrendous." He also needlessly noted that viewers can't smell them through their TV sets.

Back to NBC5, which is a regular purveyor of stories about bad smells. This time it was new, eco-friendly frontloading washers prone to a mold buildup on the doors' rubber sealers. That can leave clothes smelling mildew-y. Grant Stinchfield reported live from a Dallas laundry room, and managed to sell the story a lot better than the Peacock's pizza topper.

Fox4's 9 p.m. newscast included a followup story on charges of racism leveled by two black University of North Texas football players against first-year coach Todd Dodge. Both have been suspended, and their allegations seem flimsy at best. Reporter Jason Overstreet interviewed the two players and UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal, who talked to him on-camera.

The university's willingness to talk publicly about the suspensions and an ongoing investigation contrasts sharply with Fox4 management's refusal to comment on the Oct. 16th suspension and ongoing investigation of reporter Rebecca Aguilar. Alas, most media companies are like that. They aggressively pursue stories "in the public interest" but invariably clam up when they're in the spotlight. The right to know only goes so far.

Belo8 trio: Brett Shipp, Chris Hawes and David Schechter

Mentioned last, but hardly least, is Belo8, which pretty much had a model newscast on opening night of the sweeps.

Reporter Brett Shipp opened the program with a followup on Atmos Energy's allegedly lax approach to repairing dangerous gas leaks. Shipp, accompanied by an independent operator with a natural gas detecting device, uncovered more leaks in a neighborhood where an elderly couple died a year ago from a gas leak explosion.

The two found more evidence of leaks, and of seeming Atmos negligence despite the company's official statement that it had "responded in person to more than 1,500 concerned customers" after Shipp's first report on the matter.

This is serious stuff, and potentially a lot more dangerous than Totino's pepperoni pizzas. But it takes diligent enterprise and legwork to report such stories, and that's the basic difference on most nights between Belo8 and NBC5.

Belo8's Chris Hawes later had an interesting report on homeowners burying plastic St. Joseph statues in their yards in hopes that their properties will sell faster in a sluggish market. It's an old tradition that's lately been revived, she said. So much so that statues are hard to come by in some areas.

Later, the station's David Schechter had a "Your Frying Eyes" report (um, not a good title) on eyeglass lens makers whose finished products fell far short of doctor's prescriptions for strength and clarity. Belo8 again boldly named names, citing LensCrafters as the worst offender in independent tests of the eyeglasses. The company said it stands by its specs and encourages customers to report any errors.

Also a standout Thursday: CBS11 reporter J.D. Miles' report on the increasingly prevalent "redshirting" of kindergarten age kids being held back a year to have a competitive advantage over classmates.

"It could be seen as some form of elitism," said child care group expert Susan Hoff before Miles told viewers that redshirting is more common in affluent school districts.

On Fox4, consumer reporter Steve Noviello's latest "On Your Side" segment looked at questionable $1,000 gift certificates used as a come-on by an area Kia car dealership. The information seemed sound, but Noviello easily could take his presentation down a notch or two. Background music better suited to a game show doesn't help either, but hey, that's show biz.

We'll close with the latest hijinks from Pete 'n Dale's playhouse, otherwise known as the segue from weather to sports from Belo8's Pete Delkus to Dale Hansen

Big Pete this time twitted bigger Dale's "big melon" before showing it superimposed on a jack o' lantern. Hey, guys, Halloween was the night before, even if Dale had it off. Thanksgiving's coming, though. Who's gonna call who a turkey first?