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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Mon., May 12)

Killer kid "Bounce Houses." A high school German textbook with a wee glimpse of potentially mind-warping female nudity.

But here's the good news. An oversized kiester could help prevent diabetes.

It's amazing -- and often depressing -- to contemplate what passes for news in a ratings sweeps month. This time it was mostly WFAA8's turn to go off a couple of deep ends with stories titled "Lesson In Nudity" and "Bounce House Danger."

Early in Monday's 10 p.m. WFAA8 newscast, reporter Jonathan Betz uncovered an advanced German textbook -- Deutsch Aktuell -- that had a picture of a German adult bookstore in the upper right hand corner of one of its pages. A male high school student saw it, and says that he and some of his fellow students started snickering a bit during class.

Then an aggrieved North Texas mom was brought in to declare, "It's shocking."

Betz told viewers that the textbook had been in use since 2005, with more than 3,000 copies being studied in the entire state of Texas. But now the Allen ISD plans to remove the book from its curriculum and Plano's considering doing the same.

Wow, way to crack down. And what a scandal -- in Mayberry maybe. The high school kid shown on camera in Betz's story said he found the whole thing humorous. And he didn't appear to be growing any hair under his fingernails either. But WFAA8 found it simply irresistible to run with something it could title "Lesson In Nudity."

"Bounce House Danger" had a nice sweeps ring to it, too. Anchor John McCaa first baited the hook by telling viewers, "Kids love them. But some parents say they have become death traps for their children."

One parent, actually. And that was a Washington mother who says her three-year-old son was killed while on an inflatable slide.

Veteran WFAA8 medical reporter Janet St. James did the story, noting that there are no safety regulations for inflatables in Texas.

"It's up to the parents' own common sense," said Jerry Hagins of the Texas Department of Insurance.

The last available "Bounce House" statistics, from a 2004 study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said that 4,900 injuries and four deaths had been caused by them in that year.

But it's suspected that "scores more injuries go unreported," St. James said.

Look, just about any toy can be branded dangerous these days. That's not to diminish the loss of the aforementioned Washington mother. But "Bounce House Danger" could be put right alongside "Swing Set Savagery" or "Tonka Toy Trauma." Hope that hasn't given 'em any more ideas.

Over on CBS11, anchor Karen Borta maintained a straight face while teasing, "You think your backside is too big? We'll tell you why fat inside your derriere may actually be good for you."

CBS11 titled this tease "Big Bottom Benefit" and deployed the standard-issue tight shots of anonymous, oversized female buttocks movin' on down the road. But the promo almost lasted longer than anchor Doug Dunbar's brief recitation of a Harvard University study that said a big momma's bounce could be a potential diabetes fighter. Or it could prematurely cut your life short -- which didn't figure into this particular story.

CBS11's J.D.Miles, Fox4's Saul Garza, NBC5's Tammy Dombeck


GOOD WORK -- All four major late night news providers made mention of Hewlett Packard's proposed multi-billion dollar buyout of Plano-based EDS. But only CBS11's J.D. Miles had a full-blown, reporter-driven story. This potentially is a pretty big deal that could have far-reaching consequences for both EDS workers and the North Texas economy. It deserved more than comparatively passing mention on the other stations' most-watched newscasts of the day.

Fox4's weekly "What's Buggin' You?" segment, with Saul Garza presiding, is consistently interesting and informative. On Monday night's 9 p.m. newscast, he looked at what appears to be selective enforcement of alleged code violations by mostly small businesses using people in goody get-ups to attract customers.

A local tax service company received five citations for having a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty. And a man who looks as though he's having hard times got a pricey ticket for carrying a big red arrow on behalf of a mobile phone company. The man said he worked 40 hours a week at the job, for a wage of $6.00 an hour.

This type of law enforcement seems to be excessive and unneeded. (For that matter, so are all of those garage sale sign sweep-ups that bedevil people trying to make a little extra money.)

At the end of his report, Garza said that some of the codes cited in his story are being revisited and could be revised.

THIS JUST IN: SOME GROCERY STORES ACTUALLY ARE CHEAPER THAN OTHERS -- CBS11's Borta narrated a story on comparison shopping at Tom Thumb, Kroger, Wal Mart and Target to see which was selling 20 selected items at a lower total price.

There's no particular harm in this, even if it's a trusty old sweeps gambit that's been done many times before in this market and countless others. But did CBS11 think it had a scoop in showing SMU marketing professor Dan Howard saying, "When you compare stores, you can save money."

Revelations like these literally are priceless -- and pricelessly funny. In the end, CBS11 found Target to be the cheapest, followed by Wal Mart, Kroger and Tom Thumb. Howard professed himself "somewhat surprised" because, after all, Wal Mart says its prices are "always lowest."

CBS11 is promoting companion comparison shopping stories on Tuesday's and Wednesday's late nighters.

TAMMY'S TRIMMER -- NBC5 used early morning traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck as a prop for a heavily promoted story on her "slimming secrets."

"Gridlock buster Tammy Dombeck's been flooded with emails lately," anchor Jane McGarry contended. "People want to know what she's been doing."

Redoubtable Meredith Land then stepped into the breech, just as she did on Friday night for NBC5's lead story on a poisonous snake "invasion" of North Texas that turned out to be restricted to a family's backyard.

Land revealed that Dombeck's "sleeker, slimmer" look is the result of a "Fit Formula" in which a tailor designs bigger jackets to fit her "hourglass" top half while stitching the lower half tighter to conform to her "tiny" waist. In olden times girdles were used.

Anyway, Dombeck is a sweet, nice person who's only trying to keep her early morning job after colleague Rebecca Miller got gassed earlier this spring.

On the other hand, what's good for the goose also is good for NBC's male ganders. So since the Peacock has put this issue in play, what about news anchor Mike Snyder and sports anchor Newy Scruggs? With WFAA8 sports guy Dale Hansen keeping his weight off, Snyder and Scruggs easily rank as D-FW's tubbiest duo.

So what about a "Fit Formula" followup built around their expansive waistlines? What can be done about it? Is there possibly a way to make Mike look svelter when he stands and delivers those stories on snake invasions? But don't hold your breath or suck in your gut. Weight loss stories are always women's work on the local TV news front, while the guys can get away with looking like pork sausages.

Seven nights to go.