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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What a sad weekend

What a sad weekend, with the passing of Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver (“McCloud,” “Gunsmoke”) and Gavin MacLeod (“A Christmas Story,” “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”).
My favorite memory of Knotts is when he attended a TV writers press conference with Andy Griffith to promote “The Andy Griffith Show” moving from Nick at Nite to TV Land in the late 1990s. The press conference was cut short after 20 minutes, for another session. When Knotts and Griffith left the room, so did about a dozen TV writers. We tracked them down in the green room and chatted with them for another half-hour (much to the dismay of the Nickelodeon/MTV officials who wanted us back in the ballroom for the other sessions). They were so naturally funny together 30-some years later.
Griffith recalled how, when they were starting the series in 1960, he was supposed to be the funny guy. But after seeing Don Knotts at work, he decided to play it straight and let Knotts be the nutty one. They had met on the Broadway play, “No Time for Sergeants” in the 1950s.
A couple of things about Don Knotts: So often we complain that the Emmy Awards are screwed up, and the wrong person wins. Well, that can be said about Andy Griffith, but not Don Knotts. He was instantly recognized for his work on “Andy Griffith,” winning best supporting comedy actor five times in six years (1961-67) for Barney Fife.
And Griffith? He never won an Emmy for the show – because he was never nominated! (He won one in 1981 for a TV movie.)
I’ve also got to give credit to "Tonight Show" creator Steve Allen. He gave Knotts his first TV gig in 1956, when viewers first saw his “nervous man” routine during Allen’s “man on the street” interviews. He was one of many future stars showcased by Allen – Tom Poston (“Newhart”), Pat Harrington Jr. (“One Day At A Time”), Buck Henry, Bill Dana (Jose Jimenez), Smothers Brothers, Tim Conway, Louis Nye. What a cast!

Fife Wear Started here
For 10 years, Greg Akers, co-owner of Toon Art/Hometown TV in Forest Park, has been merchandising “Andy Griffith Show” products and memorabilia. He met Knotts many times while developing a popular line of Barney Fife T-shirts, magnets, ties, boxer shorts and autographed lithographs.
Akers says a portion of sales from remaining autographed lithos will be donated to Abrahamson Pediatric Eye Institute of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Knotts in recent years had consulted Dr. Richard Abrahamson, wife of Toon Art/Hometown TV co-owner Mendy Abrahamson.
Check out the Fife, “Andy Griffith Show” and other TV merchandise – and cartoon art – at, or visit the office at 581 Northland Blvd., Forest Park. (513) 851-2357.

Dancing into a big career break
Won't it be interesting to see where Drew Lachey's revived career will go from his "Dancing with the Stars" reality show? I'm glad he won the trophy – and he’s right, it is ugly – but the real loser was Stacy Kiebler. She should have finished second -- a very close second to Lachey – not Jerry Rice. Expect her cash in on her new success too.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Big One on XM

First let me apologize up front for this being a long blog today, but I’ve been busy this week… and I’m gonna be out of the office until Tuesday. So here goes:

Truly the Nation’s Station
If you’re trying to decide between XM or Sirius satellite radio, here’s something to consider. WLW-AM will be added to the XM satellite radio lineup on Wednesday, March 1, on Channel 173.
The entire day – except for Reds and Bengals games – will be heard across North America on XM. (Major League Baseball has a separate deal with XM; the NFL has an exclusive deal with Sirius.) Alternative programming (taped or some live call-in shows) will air during Reds and Bengals games.
So this means Gary Burbank, Mike McConnell will be heard from coast to coast. And Cunningham and Furman? Is this a good idea? At least WLW-AM will truly be “the nation’s station” again – as it was in 1934-39 when it broadcast experimentally on 500,000 watts.

Nick’s turn tonight
Nick Lachey gets a little prime time on WB’s “Twins” today (9:30 p.m., Ch 64), after watching his brother dance on ABC the past two months. Nick plays a former underwear model named Chalie Solik, hired by Farrah (Molly Stanton) to be marketing director of the family undergarments company. Hijinks ensure, I'm sure...

Last 'cast
Channel 64’s 10 p.m. news signs off tonight after 26 months. Parent Sinclair Broadcast Group has pulled the plug on the WSTR-TV news operation. News Director Pete Janovas will close the newscast with a video of all the folks who worked behind-the-scenes in the newsroom.
“What was it Springer used to say on Channel 5? "For those you see... and those you don’t?" Anyway - it’s been an interesting few years. And this (cancellation) really is a shame because folks worked so hard.”
Here’s a question: How quickly will anchor Kim Moening -- or reporters Marjani Coffey, Jessica Donnellon or Karin Johnson -- get hired by another TV station in town?
Another question: Will Ch. 19's 10 p.m. audience immediately grow by a few thousand without any local news competition?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

All downhill to me

Is it just me, or have the Olympics failed to get any more interesting this week? Maybe I’m just the wrong demo, but the pacing of the prime-time show -- all the figure skating, the back and forth to speed skating or bobsled – just hasn’t captured my attention. I found myself flipping back and forth to “American Idol,” and wondered what would happen if NBC let viewers call in and vote for their favorite figure skater, as “American Idol” does? Who can understand the new skating judging system anyway?

Golden Idol
Here’s a first: The Winter Olympics last week finished out of medal contention in the weekly Nielsen ratings. The highest-rated Olympics telecast (Monday) was 5th for the week, behind two “American Idols,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives.”
“Dancing with the Stars” and “House,” CSI” “Lost” also finished in the top 14, ahead of the lowest-rated Olympic night (Wednesday). I'm not surprised.
Here is the top 20
1. American Idol, Weds
2. American Idol, Tues
3 Grey’s Anatomy
4 Desperate Housewives
5. Olymics, Monday
6. Olympics, Saturday
7. Olympics, Thursday
8 Dancing with the Stars
9 Olympics, Sunday
10 House
11. Olympics, Friday
12 CSI
13 Olympics, Tuesday
14 Lost
15 Olympics, Weds
16 Survivor
17 Dancing with the Stars Results, Fri
18 Without a Trace
19 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
20 Two And A Half Men.

Monday, February 20, 2006

SI model mystery solved

OK, I've finally figured out the Middletown connection for Brooklyn Decker, one of the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model "rookies" (Page 29). She's the daughter of Tessa Moore Decker, a 1985 graduate of Madison High School in West Middletown. I talked to Tessa in Charlotte, N.C., where the family has lived since 1990, and this is what she said:
Brook was born in Kettering -- not Middletown, as SI says -- in 1987. The Deckers lived in West Carrollton, and some with her parents in West Middletown, for about a year, then left town. "Middletown is what she remembers," mom says.
Brook's dad, Stephen, is not a doctor. (SI said he "implants pacemakers.") He sells pacemakers, but doesn't install them. Mom is a nurse in Charlotte.
Tessa's parents, Dan and Nancy Moore, now live in Middletown. Her brother, Kelly Moore, lives in West Middletown.

Burbank updates
Answers to questions last week from listeners to Gary Burbank's show on WLW-AM:
--"Deadwood" has been renewed by HBO. A third season (12 episodes) starts in June. "Deadwood" originally was slated to return March 12, with “The Sopranos,” but lost the time slot to “Big Love,” starring Bill Paxton as a Salt Lake City polygamist with seven kids, three wives and three homes. Creator David Milch already talking to HBO about a fourth season.
--"Rome" has been renewed for a second season. Production starts in March on 12 episodes to debut next year. No word on story lines.
--"Everwood," WB’s wonderful family drama knocked off the air in January for “Beauty and the Geek,” returns on a new night on Monday, March 27, at 9 p.m., replacing “Related.”

Friday, February 17, 2006

SI swimsuit model from Middletown?

Imagine my surprise when I was reading – yes, I said reading – the new “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue last night and saw that one of “the rookies” models was born in my hometown of Middletown, Ohio. On Page 29, Brooklyn Decker, 18, says she was born in Middletown, but raised in Charlotte, N.C. Her dad, Stephen, implants pacemakers. Her mom is a nurse.
Anyone who knew a Dr. Stephen Decker or his wife in the Middletown area 18-20 years ago should post on this blog now. I’m trying to track down anyone who knew the family.

For 7th Heaven Fans
If you’re a fan of WB’s “7th Heaven” – and I know many folks here are – then you should be at the main Public Library in downtown Cincinnati at 1 p.m. Saturday. Writer Suzanne Fitzpatrick from the sweet family drama (and WB’s #1 rated show) will participate in a panel discussion, “Break in Hollywood: The Art of Screenwriting” with Ken Jones, NKU theatre department chairman.
They’re scheduled to talk about how to improve your screenplays, and selling your work in Hollywood, with the Oscars just around the corner. But I’m sure Fitzpatrick also will talk about “7th Heaven,” which is going out of production this spring. The panel discussion is 1 p.m. at the the Huenefeld Tower Room, on the third floor. It’s presented by the Public Library’s Literature and Languages Department.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Drew Lachey vs. the Olympians

NBC’s quest for ratings gold with the Winter Olympics just got more difficult. Not only has “American Idol” continued to draw millions from NBC’s prime-time telecasts, and "Survivor" and "Dancing with the Stars" too, but now ABC will announce the “Dancing with the Stars” winner on Sunday, Feb. 26, against the Winter Olympics closing ceremony.
Lachey is one of four celebs dancing tonight (8 p.m., Chs 9, 22) in the semi-finals. We’ll find out 8-9 p.m. Friday if he advances to the final competition next Thursday, Feb. 23. (He should, since he’s been first or second each week.)
But instead of revealing results next Friday, they will be held until Sunday. ABC’s “Dancing” results will be stretched into a two-hour show (8-10 p.m.), against NBC’s Olympics closing ceremony (8-11 p.m.).

Get into Action
Don’t forget about CET’s online “Action Auction” this month. The first phase of bidding closes today for some items at Only 10 days are left to bid on tons of other stuff. The auction closes 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

CBS News
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ new CBS sitcom, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” premieres 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 13. CBS again will try comedies at 8-9 p.m. Wednesday, with “Out of Practice” at 8 p.m. March 22, followed by Jenna Elfman’s “Courting Alex” at 8:30 p.m. Expect all three to be heavily promoted during the NCAA basketball tournament in March.
“The Unit,” CBS’ drama about a new super-secret strike force, will debut at 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 7. Stars include Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley and Regina Taylor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

George Clooney for King

George Clooney, the pride of Augusta High School (and NKU’s most famous drop-out?), sits down for an hour with Larry King at 9 p.m. Thursday on CNN. Here’s how the “Larry King Live” press release describes the show:
“In a rare profile interview, actor-director George Clooney will appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Thursday, Feb. 16, at 9 p.m. (ET). From his Academy Award nominations to his love life, one of Hollywood’s most outspoken stars sits down with King for a stimulating hour.”

The dueling Lacheys
Was reading TV Guide last night, and wanted to share Drew Lachey’s comments about his zeal for “Dancing with the Stars.” The story says:
“Lachey says the fire inside has everything to do with the lifelong rivalry between him and his old brother Nick. “I hate losing,” he says. “And as brothers do, we beat each other up. But it’s clearly more friendly.”
Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke are among the four couples in the semifinals Thursday (8 p.m., Ch 9). One couple will be eliminated on the Friday results show, leaving three for the finals Feb. 23.
By the way, the results show was the No. 2 Friday show last week at No. 20 (to the Winter Olympics opening at No. 9). Thursday’s “Dancing” was No. 3 for Thursday at No. 11 for the week, behind “CSI” (No.3) and “Without A Trace” (No. 10). And "American Idol" last Wednesday (No. 2, behind Tuesday's "Idol") beat the Grammy Awards (No. 15)

NBC News
Good news for fans of “The Office.” NBC has dropped plans to end the season on March 30, and instead will mix new and rerun shows through May 11. “Teachers,” the new sitcom which was to replace "The Office," instead will air at 9:30 p.m. Thursday after “Scrubs.”
“Joey” comes back on Tuesdays – not Thursday – starting 8:30 p.m. March 7, for three weeks. On March 28, “Scrubs” will air at 8:30 & 9, followed by “Teachers.”
Sounds like “Joey” could be gone for good after Tuesday run in March?
Will anyone miss it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What about BOB?

I’m surprised at the number of calls and emails about tiny WBOB-AM (1160) changing formats from syndicated conservative talk to oldies. Dusty Rhodes, Brian Kauffmann and other local investors are leasing the station to bring back the 1950s and ’60s “real oldies” that Rhodes played on 1530 for two years (2003-05), before that station switched to Jerry Springer, Air America and liberal talk.
My story today:

Too early to know
It’s too early to say if any of the old BOB shows – Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, -- will be picked up by any other station. It’s VERY UNLIKELY unlikely any station will pick up the entire lineup, since WBOB was ranked #28 of 32 stations here last fall with a 0.4% share of the audience. It was by far the lowest-rated talk station, not making any gains against WLW, WKRC, WCKY, WDBZ, WVXU, etc.

Ingraham fans can try to get her at 7 p.m. on Middletown’s WPFB-AM (910). It comes in surprisingly strong in daylight hours – I can listen to Don Imus in the morning all the way down I-75 to Paul Brown Stadium. As it gets lighter longer, you’ll be able to hear her show.
Your other option: audiostreaming Laura at
Medved is streaming at
I’d guess others are too. Google ’em.

Matthew Perry back to NBC
Former “Friends” star Matthew Perry is returning to NBC for Aaron Sorkin’s new fall drama pilot set behind-the-scenes at a fictional “Saturday Night Live”-type sketch comedy show. D.L. Hughley and Steven Weber also have been cast in the show written by Sorkin, the Emmy-winner who created “The West Wing” and ABC’s “Sports Night.”

I’m watching the Olympics again tonight, figuring that “American Idol” will go on forever. Well, at least May. We’ll see how badly “Idol” beat the Grammys when ratings come out today… and soon see if “Idol” will beat the Olympics. I’ll TiVo “Idol,” and skim it later.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

CSI: Cincinnati Chili

More notes from the couch while recovering from my hospital stay last week....
--Did you hear the reference to Cincinnati chili on "CSI: Miami" Monday? Autopsy revealed chili and pasta, and someone immediately knew the deceased had to be from only one town in the great US of A. No surprise, if you know former Loveland resident Ann Donahue is running the show....
--Ran across ABC email saying that "Invasion" is going on hiatus in March, but returning in April. Replacing it will be "The Evidence," a Rob Estes and Orlando Jones crime drama at 10 p.m. Weds March 22.... "American Inventor" from Simon Cowell -- sorta "American Idol" for inventors -- starts Thurs March 23 with Cinci author-marketing wiz-radio host-columnist Doug Hall as a judge... "Inventor" will be paired with four "Exteme Makeover: Home Edition" specials about rebuilding after Katrina... and "Commander in Chief" -- knocked off the air March 7 by "Sons & Daughters," the family comedy fictionally set in Hamilton, Ohio -- will return Tuesday, April 18.
--More dates: HBO email confirms "The Sopranos" resume March 12.... Fox email reconfirms that "Prison Break" comes back March 20.

Olympics preview
WLWT-TV (Ch 5) launches a Winter Olympics preview show at 7:30 p.m. today. Will air nightly through the Olympics. Opening Ceremonies with Bob Costas and Brian Williams anchoring air Friday.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Breaking News: Hospitalized Reporter....

....recovering at home from being in the hospital all last week. That's why I haven't blogged for 10 days. I'm at home, rebuilding stamina, and hope to be back at The Enquirer next week. Just wanted you folks to know....

Random thoughs while laying in hospital bed:
--Will some hospital somewhere offere w-fi? Or ethernet for patients? The limited cable lineup wouldn't be so limited if I could see the Daily Show on a laptap.... or check email instead of watching "NYPD Blue" reruns or Fox News repeating the same old snooze all day...

So what did I miss?
--Saw that John Phillips has been bumped from Ch 12 traffic in favor of Bob Herzog, former Ch 64 movie host. They wanna do in-studio traffic and map. So Phillips lost his helicopter 13 months ago, and now his TV gig.
--WNKU now podcasting. Go to for downloads. One of the guys behind this is George Zahn, the former WVXU-FM wiz who joined WNKU after Xavier sold station.
--Saw our story today that will start charging for service, ala satellite and cable.
--Saw that "Commander in Chief" being knocked off the air in March for new ABC sitcom, the one fictionally set in Hamilton, called "Sons & Daughters." It's mostly unscripted. Waiting to get my review DVDs. "Commander in Chief" back in April. My guess is that Steven Bochco still trying to figure out how to make this work. Only so many presidential crisis can involve the Speaker of the House......
--Yeah, I watched the Super Bowl game and commercials. My favorite was stadium placards to pour a bottle of Bud. Laughed out loud, AND remembered who made it. Can't say same for Diet Pepsi recording albums & making movie with Jackie Chan (just remembered the Diet Coke can getting smashed).... Who cares if horses play football, or fusion and 5 blades makes a better shave, or if Burger King ingredients can dance and sing? Some spots were spoiled by seeing "previews" on TV last week. And yeah, I liked the office monkeys again. Funny spot. The rest of the spots were as weak as the Steelers & Seahawks offenses....

Gotta go
I mean it. Just had a colon infection. Really gotta go. Hope to blog more from home this week when I can.

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