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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, March 28, 2006

On hiatus

Wanted you to know that you won't be seeing any new postings for a couple of weeks. I'm headed into the hospital to have some plumbing fixed. Basically, I'll go in with a ":" and come home with a ";"
Yes, that means more time to watch TV... which to me, kinda sounds like work...

Maybe if I watch Channel 5's 7 a.m. news Saturday they'll do a better job with George Vogel's taped sports segment. During his report last Saturday, the ticker below him reported that the late Friday NCAA tournament game was at half-time. At the half at 7:25 Saturday morning??
And another observation about the NCAA games: Since Duke has been knocked out of the tourney, can those Chevy commercials with Coach K be knocked off the air too?

Of course, the fun part of my job are the pleasant surprises -- like the references on "The West Wing" last Sunday to Cincinnati, WKRC, The Enquirer and Graeter's Ice Cream. So what if the ice cream (and too much Halloween candy) made the little boy barf...

Thanks for checking out my blog.
I'll blog when I get back.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How to see UC on ESPNU

This just in... No way that Time Warner will have UC's third-round NIT game at 6 p.m. today from ESPNU.
So if you want to see the UC-South Carolina game, you'll need Adelphia or Insight digital cable, or DirecTV -- or to go to a sports bar.
You'll find ESPNU on:
--Adelphia basic digital Channel 125 in Liberty and Delhi townships, Amelia, Cleves, Maineville and Morrow. If you've got Adelphia digital cable, you'll have it. ESPNU was just added to your systems.
--Insight digital Channel 447, if you have bought the extra-pay Sports & Lifestyle and Family tiers.
--DirecTV Channel 609, if you have the extra-pay sports package.
Time Warner has never added ESPNU, the college sports channel launched a year ago.
“We apologize to the UC fans,” says Rob Howard, local Time Warner public affairs director. “It’s unfortunate. There are a lot of channels out there, and we get a lot of requests from customers for certain channels. We are negotiating at a corporate level to carry ESPNU on a broad basis. But it takes some time for these things to be negotiated.”
Radio coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. today on WLW-AM (700).
WXIX-TV (Channel 19), the Bearcats’ TV flagship, was not offered the game by ESPNU, says Tony Phillips, Fox 19 promotion manager. “We approached ESPN about local rights and were told none were available for this game. They held rights for their own networks,” Phillips says.

The Simpsons come to life

This is really cool: Have you see the British re-creation of “The Simpsons” opening using actors? Go to:
Or you can wait till Sunday, and see it on TV. Fox will use the live-action opening sequence Sunday (8 p.m., Ch. 19) made by a British team to promote the series on England’s Sky One network, which is why Marge is driving from the right front seat….

UC game plan
If you want to see the UC-South Carolina NIT game at 6 p.m. today, you’ll need the ESPNU college sports channel launched a year ago. Time Warner doesn’t carry it, but Northern Kentucky’s Insight cable has it on digital Channel 447, part of the Sports & Lifestyle or Family digital tiers.
It would be a shame that we can’t see Eric Hicks or Andy Kennedy’s last game in Fifth Third Arena. You’d think Time Warner folks would wake up and make its customers happy… If anything changes with TW today, I’ll update the blog asap.
If you’d rather hear Andy Furman’s “Sports Talk” tonight from Sarasota, you’ll need XM Satellite Radio. While 700 WLW broadcasts UC’s NIT game at 6 p.m., Furman will do “Sports Talk” on WLW’s XM Channel 173.

Jeopardy! testing online
For three days next week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- Jeopardy! wannabes can take the 50-question general knowledge test on line at
First you must register. And you can only take the exam once.
Tests for those of us in the Eastern Time Zone is 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tests for the Central and Mountain Time Zones are Wednesday night. Test for the Pacific Coast are Thursday.
Passing the online test does not make anyone eligible to appear on the show, or guarantee you a spot for a tryout. This is just a preliminary screening which could result in you being invited to a full audition where you would take another written test, play a mock version of the game and be interviewed by producers.

Test for Inventors
I know some people didn’t like ABC’s “American Inventor,” but enough watched to make it No. 13 in the national ratings last week, with 14.1 million viewers. Ratings could be as strong again today (9 p.m., Ch 9), with it following the prermiere of ABC’s four-week “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: After the Storm” hurricane relief shows (8 p.m., Ch 9). It’s a shrewd bit of scheduling for ABC, since the top-rated CBS shows (“CSI,” “Survivor”) have been bounced off the air the past two weeks by the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The real test comes next week when “CSI” and “Survivor” return.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Verdin Bell to the rescue

Verdin Bell Co. has helped the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” folks with their efforts to aid Katrina victims. Verdin last month cast a bronze bell for the 118-year-old First Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Orleans’ 9th Ward, as part of the show. On Thursday, ABC starts a four-week series of “Extreme Makeover: After the Storm” (8 p.m., Ch. 9) episodes about helping hurricane victims in Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Louisiana. The Verdin episode airs April 4.

Clyde comments
Life is good, says Clyde Gray, who returned to the Channel 9 anchor desk on Monday, two weeks earlier than anticipated. He had planned to take the entire month off with his wife, Kalena, and their adopted infant daughter, Claire Elizabeth, born Feb. 19.
He emailed me to say: “Claire reached the one month mark Sunday. So, the Grays had a family meeting and decided it was okay for Dad to go back to work, so here I am. Fatherhood is swell and I already miss my two princesses, but we agreed it was okay for me to come on back since we had a month together.”

Busy night
Lots of tough choices and new stuff tonight, so program the DVR to catch a couple of these:
--New episode of “Lost” (9 p.m., Ch 9)
--Following "Lost" is the premeire for ABC’s “The Evidence,” where you’ll see all the clues and evidence in the show opening, then watch the cops (Orlando Jones, Rob Estes) figure out the whodunit (10 p.m., Ch 9).
--NBC’s new “Heist” (10 p.m., Ch 5), with Dougray Scott leading a bunch of career criminals in ripping off three Beverly Hills jewelry stores during Academy Awards week. To make things interesting, he falls in love with the cop investigating the case. (NBC repeats at 8 p.m. Friday on Bravo, and 9 p.m. Friday on Ch. 5)
--“TV Land Awards” honors “Cheers,” “Good Times,” “Dallas” and “Batman” (9-11 p.m., TV Land). It's followed by “Living in TV Land” (11 p.m., TV Land), with a camera crew following around William Shatner.
--And reality TV reaches new depths with Fox's "Unan1mous" (9:30 p.m., Ch 19), where nine people are locked underground together and must choose who wins $1.5 million.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Aye Carumba!

Two more years for “The Simpsons!” Fox has renewed TV’s longest-running prime-time series currently on the air for 18th and 19th seasons (through 2007-08). It's also the longest-running animated series in TV history. Fox also says the show holds the Guinness Book of World Record for most guest stars featured in a TV series. Adding to the guest star list Sunday (8 p.m., Ch 19) will be Ricky Gervais, who plays a husband that Marge moves in with when the Simpsons participate in a “Trading Spouses”-like reality show. (Not "Trading Spaces." D'oh!)
Fox also has renewed “King of the Hill,” but only for one season (2006-07). The 200th “King of the Hill” episode airs in May. “The Simpsons” reaches 400 shows in May 2007.

From 64 to 12
--Saw Jessica Donnellon on Channel 12 this morning reporting from snowy West Chester. She was a reporter for Channel 64, until the station pulled the plug on news last month….
--Also noticed that Clyde Gray was back on Channel 9 last night. He had planned to take the entire month off to spend time with his wife, Kalena, and their newborn daughter, Claire Elizabeth. They adopted her on Feb. 19. GM Bill Fee says it was "his decision alone" to return two weeks earlier than expected.

Yes to WAIF
Chris Comer interviews Jon Anderson from the rock band Yes at 10 p.m. today on WAIF-FM (88.3), or listen on line at

Poor Jim Scott
Poor Jim Scott, stuck reading all of those school closings all morning. It reminded me of an attempt by a couple Cincinnati radio managers 15 years ago – or longer – to change the school closing list to a numeric one. Basically each school would have a number, and then a radio personality could simply say, “Numbers 1 through 7 are closed, No. 8 on a 1-hour delay, No. 9-13 closed….” Managers at the time rejected the idea, saying that parents wouldn't remember the numbers of their kids schools. But wouldn’t it be a lot easier? Or do most people get their school closing info from scrolls at bottom of the TV? Or online?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Top 10 List

From Christ O'Brien, morning co-host on Don't-Call-Us-Oldies-Any-More WGRR-FM (103.5) comes this "Top 10 List of Leprechaun Pet Peeves."

10. People are always after their Lucky Charms.
9. Dumb guys always asking what Snow White was like.
8. Try finding a Men's Room at an Irish pub with fixtures set at Leprechaun height.
7. Getting a brain-freeze from drinking a Shamrock Shake too fast.
6. Location of their pot of gold is now available on Mapquest.
5. People constantly asking, "Didn't I see you jumping on Oprah's couch?"
4. Being run over by near-sighted parade float drivers.
3. Throwing out their backs trying to lift a bar of Irish Spring.
2. When Dick Cheney mistakes them for a green quail.
1. Pointy Hat Head!

Did you watch?

So did you watch “American Inventor”’ last night with Newtown's Doug Hall as a judge? What did you think? Will it survive? I liked it, and my 13-yr-old son really liked it. Did you?

March Madness

Xavier is out of the tourney, but we’ve still got a team to root for. Lauren Kramer and Perry Seal, each 28, the Cincinnati couple in ESPN’s “Marriage Madness” contest for a free “ultimate sports wedding” at ESPN HQ, won the online voting Thursday. They advance to the “Engaged 8” next week. Lauren and Perry will appear on videotape in the next round on “Mike & Mike In The Morning” on ESPN2 (6-10 a.m.).

Around the dial

Fox 19 has picked up UC’s NIT game at 8 p.m., so basketball fans will be flipping back and forth between UC and the NCAA tourney on CBS (Ch 12). “Trading Spaces” will be pushed back to 11 p.m. today, and “Nanny 911” fans (if there are any) must wait until 6 p.m. Sunday to watch the show.

...A new “Dr. Who” lands on the Sci-Fi channel 9-11 p.m. today. Let’s hope the special effects are better than the cheesy ones on the old British series that ran on CET for nearly 20 years. For more info check out:

…Ficks Reed, the Blue Ash furniture company, donates about $50,000 in furnishings to a terminally ill Florida man on Sunday’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (8 p.m., Ch. 9).

...Sirius Satellite Radio announced deals today with Audi and Volkswagen….

...WWE wrestling returns to NBC Saturday (8-10 p.m., Ch 5) after a 13-year absence. NBC aired wrestling with Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Hulk Hogan at 11:30 p.m. Saturdays when “Saturday Night Live” was on a break.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Inventive fun tonight

While I don’t expect many of you to give up the NCAA tourney tonight (7:20 p.m., Ch 12), ABC’s new “American Inventor” (8-10 p.m., Ch 9) is fun to watch. TiVo it, and you’ll see a mix of Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” emotional personal stories, and “American Idol.”
When I interviewed Newtown marketing guru/inventor Doug Hall for my story today (, he told me that the woman judge on the show, Mary Lou Quinlan, played Paula Abdul better than Paul. After previewing tonight’s show, I must agree. She can well up with tears in an instant listening to contestants who lost their marriage or homes. She’s Paula on the show, and Doug is Simon.
Hall says the tapings had to be stopped for half-hour breaks periodically so a judge could take a walk and cool off. Hall says he frequently argued with fellow judges swayed by an emotional story when the contestant’s invention was merely an enhancement of an existing item, not truly an invention. “The show isn’t called ‘American Incremental Improvement,’ ” he told me. Another time (not in the pilot), while Mary Lou was all teary-eyed, he told a contestant the show wasn’t called “American Sob Story.” (Some viewers will hate that!)
It sounds crazy, but this show could work – maybe not as big as that “cheesy singing show” as Hall calls “American Idol” – but it could be a hit, and Doug Hall could be a big break-out reality star.
If you watch tonight, jump on my blog Friday and tell me what you think of the show.

Today’s burning question
So how long will it take WSTR-TV (Channel 64) to change that big billboard over the station along northbound I-75 at Towne Street? The one that says: “The Future of Prime-Time News, WB 64 at 10 p.m.” Channel 64 canceled its news three weeks ago.

ESPN madness
Don’t forget to vote for the Cincinnati couple – Lauren Kramer and Perry Seal of North Avondale – today in ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike Marriage Madness” contest.
Voting is open 7:40 a.m.-6 p.m. today.
Lauren and Perry are the only ones of the 16 finalists who play sports together (basketball, flag football). The other 15 just watch sports together, ESPN says. They’re up against a Cleveland area couple to advance to the “Engaged 8.” The winners gets the “ultimate sports wedding” in May at ESPN HQ in Bristol, Conn.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Meet Nick Lachey

Got lunch plans Friday? Want to meet Nick Lachey? Q102 is giving away tickets to a small lunch Friday here with Lachey to promote his new single, “What’s Left Of Me.” Morning team Jeff & Jenn told me today that about 20 people will win tickets from contests and give-aways this week during the morning show, afternoons with Brian Douglas and evenings with Holly Morgan. So far nobody has won tickets from Monday’s Jeff & Jenn contest, being photographed in front of all 34 Skyline restaurants in Hamilton County, or their Tuesday deal, a listener getting Bob Huggins to call the morning show. Wonder if Nick will stick around in town to watch UC’s NIT game Friday night on campus?

ESPN's marriage madness
Here’s a reminder for Thursday morning – be watching or listening to ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” just after the SportsCenter updates at 7:40 and 9:40 a.m. to hear the Cincinnati couple vying for a sports-themed May wedding at ESPN HQ in Bristol, Conn. “Mike & Mike” airs 6-10 a.m. on ESPN2, and on Hamilton’s WMOH-AM (1450).
Lauren Kramer and Perry Seal, each 28, of North Avondale entered the “Marriage Madness” contest on a lark two weeks ago. They were named one of the 16 finalists on Monday. He’s a regional sale rep/designer for Bose audio systems. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Lakota Schools in West Chester Township. They met playing flag football in Oakley. She helps him coach an AAU basketball team for 13-year-old girls in Villa Hills.
ESPN has ranked the 16 couples in a basketball tournament-style bracket ( Thursday we’ll know more about their opponent, another Ohio couple –Megan Carroll and Jeff Janzig from the Cleveland area. Online voters and an ESPN “selection committee” will determine which couple advances to the “Engaged 8” bracket. Voting is open Thursday 7:40 a.m.-6 p.m. The winner will be announced Friday morning.
Here’s an odd thing: Cincinnati has the 4th most entries (14) of any city, behind Pittsburgh (21), Chicago (16) and Dallas (15). Yet most of Greater Cincinnati can’t get the ESPN Radio affiliate in Hamilton. That tells me we have a lot of ESPN2 viewers here.

Radio gossip
Steve Mann has left the building. He’s no longer program director at oldies WGRR-FM (103.5). Marty Thompson is now programming both WGRR-FM and country WUBE-FM (105.1). Thompson, a former WGRR-FM PD, came back to Cincinnati from a Las Vegas station a year ago to program WUBE-FM. CBS Radio owns WGRR-FM, B105, Q102 and WAQZ-FM.

TV tonight
It’s NCAA tourney time, so “Survivor” fans must remember to watch or TiVo tonight at 8 p.m. (Ch 12, 7), with the games starting Thursday… “American Idol” results show gets pushed back to 9 p.m. starting tonight (to put a dent in “Lost” ratings?)… Tonight’s “Lost” is a rerun, but “Invasion” at 10 p.m. is new (Ch 9, 22)…

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

To the hoops

A couple of basketball-related things today:
--WXIX-TV (Channel 19) has bought rights to air UC’s NIT game at 8 p.m. Friday, opposite the NCAA tourney on CBS (Chs. 12, 7). Fox's “Trading Spaces” gets shoved back to 11 p.m. Friday, and “Nanny 911” moves to 6 p.m. Sunday.
--For goofy fun, check out WGUC-FM’s “Musical Madness” ( They’ve matched up 64 classical music composers in basketball tourney-like brackets for listeners to vote. No. 1 seeds are Bach, Beethoven, Hadyn and Mozart. The musicians will advance from the First Movement to the Second Movement, Suite Sixteen, Elite Octet and Final Quartet. The winner will be announced April 20.

Channel 12 news
Diana Lara, the former Channel 5 traffic reporter, is subbing this month for Channel 12’s Sasha Rionda on "Nuestro Rincon," the Spanish-language newscast (5:30 a.m. Saturday, 6:30 a.m. Sunday7). Lara lost her traffic gig when Channel 5 didn’t renew its contract with Metro Networks last September for a helicopter, pilot and reporter (Lara). She also has done some TV work in Dayton.

Summit success
I guess the kids at Summit Country Day School made a difference? Kevin Covais, the 16-year-old New York cousin of students Matthew and Patrick Schiess, advanced to the final 12 contestants on “American Idol.” Kids at the school have been asked to call in and vote for the youngest singer on the show. That’s nice, but I don’t see Kevin winning the competition. The final 12 sing tonight (8-10 p.m., Ch 19), and one goes home Wednesday (9-9:30 p.m., Ch 19).

TV note
Bravo has bought reruns of “6 Feet Under” from HBO to air this fall.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Serling search

I mentioned this in my Sunday column, and wanted to mention it again here: I’m looking for fans of Rod Serling’s original black-and-white “The Twilight Zone” shows. I want to hear from you by email at Tell me why it’s one of your favorite shows, and make sure to include your name, neighborhood, age and daytime phone number. And if you worked with Serling here, I want to hear from you too!
Your comments could be part of my story about Serling’s work in Cincinnati in the early 1950s. His friends, former coworkers at WLW and TV historians will discuss Serling at “The Twilight Zone: The Cincinnati Connection” at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the main Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 800 Vine Street, downtown. The program is free and open to the public.

“Joey” gone
As expected, “Joey” tanked against “American Idol” last week, and NBC pulled it instantly. “Most Outrageous Moments,” a spin-off from “Most Outrageous Game Show Moments,” will air 8-9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC (Ch 5). NBC also has ordered more “Deal, or No Deal.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns to TV with her second sitcom since "Seinfeld." (How many of you remember "Watching Ellie?") Anyway, her new "New Adventures of Old Christine" is pretty ordinary, with an over-zealous laugh track. She plays a divorced mom who gets along great with her ex-husband, who's dating a younger wormen named Christine. "Christine" airs twice tonight, at 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I know what you're going to say -- it's more proof of the "Seinfeld" curse, adding it to the list of other failures by Jerry's pals ("Listen Up," "Bob Patterson," "Michael Richards Show"). To me, it's just proof that "Seinfeld" is in the pantheon of TV sitcoms, and most others look awful when compared to it. "Christine" is more ordinary than awful. Watch it tonight and tell me what you think.

Friday, March 10, 2006

And another reality show here???

Anyone seen Fox’s “Trading Spouses” in Boone County recently? I’ve heard the Fox reality series may be filming in the Hebron area. Know anything?

“West Wing” scoop
“The West Wing” fans should mark April 16 (Easter) on their calendars. That’s when the Emmy-winning drama airs the funeral for VP candidate Leo McGarry (John Spencer). “The West Wing” returns this Sunday (8 p.m., Ch 5) with the first new episode since before the Winter Olympics. It was shot before Spencer died Christmas weekend. McGarry’s death won’t be mentioned until April 9, I’m told. Here’s what fans should expect:
March 26 – first show filmed after Spencer’s death.
April 9 – Characters learn that McGarry has died.
April 16 – McGarry’s funeral.

You bet
Just in time for the NCAA office pools, WVXU-FM (91.7) airs a sobering report at 2 p.m. Saturday about the growing problem of young people addicted to internet gambling. “Logging On and Losing Out: Dealing Addiction to America’s Kids” is a collaborative effort of American Radio Works and BBC Radio. It’s estimated that three-quarters of high school and college kids are gambling on a regular basis, much of it online poker, the report says.

Do I need to remind you that “The Sopranos” return Sunday on HBO? Didn't think so.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Another ABC reality show in town

Another day, another ABC reality show in town. This is crazy.
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” knocked on the door of a home in Sunrise, Ky., about 50 miles south of Cincinnati in Harrison County (south of Falmouth), early Thursday morning. They will tear down the house Saturday, and rebuild a new one by next Thursday. John Henry Homes of Blue Ash is part of the project.
It’s the third ABC show to film here in two weeks, and the sixth ABC reality series to be involved with Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in a three-week span!
--“Supernanny” is taping at an Erlanger home this week. See my story today:
--“Wife Swap” filmed a Mason woman last week as a prospective candidate for that show.
--On Monday, ABC’s “Miracle Workers” premiere featured Dr. Edward Holland of Union, who works at the Cincinnati Eye Institute satellite office in Edgewood.
--Doug Hall, the Newtown-based marketing guru and author, will be one of four judges on ABC’s “American Inventor” series – produced by “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell – premiering next Thursday on ABC (8 p.m., Ch 9).
--“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on March 19 will show Ficks Reed, a Blue Ash furniture maker, donating bedroom suites, a dining room set and other items to a Florida family whose home was damaged by a hurricane.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised ABC has discovered Cincinnati, after seeing CBS’ big ratings for “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race.”

Everyday Freedom Heroes
You can watch a wonderfully inspiring special today about people who have made a difference, “Everyday Freedom Heroes” (9 p.m., Ch 9). Too bad the rest of the world can’t see it (yet).
Local producer Jim Friedman has profiled the seven activists honored by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in January. Among the seven is Madeira resident and former Haitian slave Jean-Robert Cadet. The others are peace, justice, racial equality and social services activists in New York, Los Angeles, Memphis and Palm Beach County, Fla.
Friedman told me months ago he hoped a national cable channel would pick up the show. But so far the only commitment is from a Tampa station.

You won’t see meteorologist Kristen Cornett anymore on WLWT-TV, but you may see her on NBC’s Weather Plus channel on Time Warner cable. She’s now working in New York for NBC’s Weather Plus.

Thanks for the comments about "Sons & Daughters." Keep 'em coming.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sons & Daughters & You

So, did you watch ABC’s “Sons & Daughters” last night, the sitcom fictionally set in Hamilton? What did you think? Funny? Not funny? I want to know. I’ve seen it 4 times, so I’ve lost my perspective. I'm very interested in what you thought of it. Please post your comments!

By the way: “Sons & Daughters” was third at 9 p.m. here and nationally. The premiere drew 13% of the audience here, compared to only 9% nationally. “House” won the time period nationally (with 20% of the audience), but in Cincinnati CBS’ new “The Unit” drama was first at 9 p.m. (22% audience share) followed by "House" (19%).

“…Time for the Al Schottelkotte News…”
Can’t wait to see legendary anchorman Al Schottelkotte – who died in 1996 – back on the airwaves tonight with CET’s replay of his 1988 home video documentary, “The Great, Near Great and Not So Great Moments in Cincinnati History” (7:30-9 p.m., Ch 48). For more than three decades, his no-nonsense style was such a fabric of the community. And for those who never saw him, it will be a great introduction to him. In his clipped style, Schottelkotte recalls the history of Fountain Square, downtown movie theaters, Coney Island, boxer Ezzard Charles, WLW radio and local broadcasting history, and the Reds, Bengals and the old NBA Cincinnati Royals. The show, digitally remastered from the original ¾-inch videotape, will be offered as a pledge premium. This one I’ll DVR.

Taking “American Idol” to the Summit
The kids at Summit Country Day School in Indian Hill will be calling “American Idol” tonight again for their favorite singer, Kevin Covais of Levittown, N.Y. The youngest “American Idol” contestant – he’s only 16 – has a huge following at the school because he’s the cousin of students Matthew and Patrick Schiess, and nephew of admissions director Kelley Schiess. Covais and the seven other male finalists sing tonight (8 p.m., Ch 19). Four singers – two males and two females – will be eliminated Thursday. If Covais advances, he’ll be one of the 12 finalists for the weekly live competition through May sweeps.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hollywood meets Hamilton

On tape from Hollywood, it’s Hamilton, Ohio: Tonight you’ll finally see “Sons & Daughters,” the ABC sitcom fictionally set in Hamilton (9 p.m., Ch. 9). But don’t look too hard for Hamilton, because you won’t see/hear anything except for a reference to Cincinnati (“I’m pretty in Cincinnati. I’m not pretty in a general sense”) and bowling alley signs (“Hamilton Bowl”). You’ll also see the full context of the two scenes promoted by ABC on its website and airwaves – the little girl saying, “We’re going to Hell because we’re Jews!” and a Hitler-style mustache painted on the elderly aunt who had made that remark originally to the little girl. Part of the humor is how relatives of main couple can’t relate to the husband being married to a Jew, and raising their kids Jewish.
Star/co-creator Fred Goss, a Michigan native and Christian married to a Jew, says he pulled this subplot from his own life.
“I’ve got relatives in West Virginia and Michigan who, until I brought my wife home, had never met a Jew. I thought it was interesting to place her (Liz, the main character’s wife) in a world where there aren’t many Jews.”
The “going to Hell” remark “is racism out of sheer ignorance, because they’ve never met a Jew. They had no concept.”

Your favorite CBS shows?
Chances are CBS just renewed one of your favorite shows. In a rare move, CBS announced a full-year renewal for the fall season for three new shows and 11 old shows. The list: How I Met Your Mother, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, The Amazing Race, Survivor, 60 Minutes, Cold Case, CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, NCIS, Numb3rs, Two And A Half Men and Without A Trace.
CBS premieres “The Unit,” another crime drama, today (9 p.m., Ch 12) with Dennis Haysbert (“24”), Scott Foley (“Felicity”), Robert Patrick (“The X Files”) and Regina Taylor (“I’ll Fly Away”).

No joke
This is no radio stunt by a station during a personality’s vacation. Jonathan “Jay” Love really has left WDBZ-AM (1230), the Buzz of Cincinnati. Love helped put the station on the air in 2000 for his father, J. Ross Love, who owns it. Love has quit to become the fund-raiser for AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati (AVOC). No replacement has been named for his 1-4 p.m. shift.

Joey update
You can guess what NBC thinks of "Joey." It returns to TV tonight, with back-to-back shows, 8-9 p.m. (Ch 5) -- against “American Idol,” the No. 1 show on TV. This is what some TV folks would call "burning off episodes" or "just keeping the lights on." Don't expect "Joey" to return for fall. Frankly, the show doesn't deserve another season. Right?

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Oscar for Oscars

OK, I liked the Oscars telecast. I thought Jon Stewart was funny. I liked the fake commercials. I liked the suprises, like “Crash” winning best movie over “Brokeback Mountain.”
Yeah, I’m a homer, but I thought George Clooney was very funny and gracious in his acceptance speech. Loved his opening line (“All right, so I’m not winning director?”), and his joking about his obituary (“Oscar-winner George Clooney, the sexiest man alive in 1997, and “Batman,” died today in a freak accident”). Loved his sense of humor, mentioning “Batman” and not his achievements…
He also showed class in praising the other nominees (“they are stellar performances and wonderful work”) and playing off Stewart’s joke about Hollywood being out of touch (citing the 1939 Oscar for Hattie McDaniel).
I’m sure I’ll get hammered by you for liking the show so much. What did you like or not like?

WB/UPN blues
Thanks for the posting Friday about Ch 64/Sinclair Broadcast Group dumping the WB network and going with Fox's new MyNetworkTV. I had heard about it earlier in the day, and did a short brief Saturday for our Business section.
I'm not totally suprised. Sinclair is a shrewed operator. They got Warner Bros to pay millions back in 1998 to switch Ch 64 from UPN to WB. I'm sure Sinclair got a great deal with Fox for being the largest group owner so far to take MyNetwork TV, and make it viable.
I also wasn't totaly suprised when Elliott Block, owner of low-power Ch 38, told me that he has not had any discussions with the new CW network, the merger of the WB and UPN assets premiering this fall. In the past, UPN and WB first have targeted Ch 64, the full-power station, and much later cut a deal with the low-power station.
Block says the CW hadn't ever returned his phone calls. I bet they will now. My guess is that we’ll see a repeat of what happened in 1995 and 1998. In '95, when UPN signed with Ch 64, later the WB went to Block's low-power station (then Ch 25). In '98, UPN eventually went to Ch 25 (now 38) after Sinclair took the WB. Sometime before the fall TV season, the CW likely will go to low-power Channel 38. There isn't another option. (Cincinnati has fewer UHF stations than other similar size cities, dating back to FCC allocations in the 1950s. We're now blocked in by stations in Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville. We're "under TVed," network executives say.)

Another question: If the CW goes on Channel 38, with such hits as “Gilmore Girls,” “Veronica Mars,” “One Tree Hill,” “Charmed,” etc., will Time Warner cable expand its coverage of Channel 38? (Right now it just picks up Ch 38's UPN programming in the evenings.) Don’t count on it; it's nothing automatic. When Ch. 38 (then Ch 25) was the Warner Bros network station 1995-98, the Warner cable system here didn’t carry it full-time. We’ll see what happens.

ABC’s “Miracle Workers” premiere tonight (10 p.m., Chs 9, 22) spends most of the hour with a blind man being treated by Dr. Edward J. Holland, director of cornea services at Cincinnati Eye Institute. “Miracle Workers” sends Todd Heritage, 34, of Kent, Ohio, down here in an effort to restore Todd’s eyesight after 22 years. The music and hype are a little over the top, and the comments from participants are repetitive, but I won’t tell you how it comes out – though you can guess if this is the big prime-time debut, and the show is called “Miracle Workers.”
Your best TV tonight is a “24” double feature (8-10 p.m., Chs 19, 45) since “Skating with the Stars” went away.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cincinnati soldier on "60 Minutes" & lotsa stuff

Cincinnati soldier on “60 Minutes”
Willie Brand, the Cincinnati military police reservist convicted of abusing a detainee in Afghanistan, tells his story on “60 Minutes” Sunday (7 p.m., Chs 12, 7). The 1998 Western Hills High School graduate was a member of the 377th Military Police Company, based in Roselawn, which served in Afghanistan in 2002-03.
Two Afghan detainees during the war were found beaten to death and chained from the ceiling. Brand tells “60 Minutes,” in his first TV interview, that when prisoners were combative, he controlled them by striking his knee into their legs.
“This is what we were trained to do, and this is what we did. I was not the only one, there were many others hitting them,” he tells correspondent Scott Pelley.

Gawking at Bill Hemmer
Great story about Cincinnati native and Fox News reporter Bill Hemmer seeing NBC’s Al Roker in New Orleans during Mardi Gras on, the Manhattan media gossip site. When Roker didn’t recognize Hemmer at a restaurant, Hemmer said, “I’m Bill Hemmer. You know, I was on CNN.”
Here’s the link:

Come to the zoo, zoo zoo
Did you see Sarah Jessica Parker singing an old Cincinnati Zoo jingle on David Letterman’s “Late Show” Wednesday? You didn’t? Well, you’re not the only one. Zoo officials had no clue until I called them about it.
Parker, who grew up in Clifton in the early 1970s, talked about how much she loved the zoo, then sang the jingle from back then:
“Come out to the zoo, zoo, zoo
“The Cincinnati Zoo, Zoo, Zoo.”
Don't blame me if that dumb song gets stuck in your head.

Clooney vs. Clooney
Here’s an odd quirk in TV scheduling: While George Clooney attends the 78th annual Academy Awards Sunday (8-11 p.m., Chs 9, 22), where he’s up for three Oscars, CET will air a “Tim Janis: Coastal America” narrated by Clooney (9-10:30 p.m. Sunday, Ch 48). Clooney narrated Janis’ first public TV pledge special two years ago, which raised more than $1 million for PBS. Janis is a hot young classical composer who mixes his concert footage with beautiful video of US landmarks.

Blast from the past
Norm Clarke, the former Cincinnati sportswriter for Associated Press, makes his prime-time acting debut tonight on “Las Vegas” (9 p.m., Chs 5, 2). He’s the curly-haired guy with an eye patch. Clarke, who covered the Reds and Bengals in the 1970s and early ’80s, is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Plan ahead
Wanted to mention this today, in case someone wanted to make the trip up to Oxford Monday afternoon:
“Dayton Codebreakers,” the World War II-era documentary which premiered on Dayton’s WPTD-TV (Channel 16) last April, will be screened at 4 p.m. Monday in Oxford in 115 Shideler Hall on the Miami University campus.
It’s the story of Joe Desch, a National Cash Register electrical engineer who was recruited by the U.S. Navy during World War II to lead a code-breaking effort aimed at stopping catastrophic losses of American ships to German U-boats. The top-secret work in a Dayton NCR lab remained classified for more than 50 years.
After the screening, filmmakers Deborah Anderson (Desch’s daughter) of Kettering and Aileen LeBlanc of Yellow Springs will talk about the film (
If you can’t make it to Oxford, watch your public TV listings this spring. More than 100 public TV stations – including CET and KET – plan to air the film, LeBlanc says.

Have a good weekend. We can buzz about the Oscars telecast on Monday.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Northern Kentucky "Miracle Worker"

The premiere of ABC’s “Miracle Workers” series will feature Dr. Edward J. Holland, director of cornea services at Cincinnati Eye Institute. A TV crew spent about 10 days with Holland at the CEI satellite office in Edgewood last August and September when he treated a 34-year-old man from Kent, Ohio, who had been blind since childhood.
“Miracle Workers,” which features an elite medical team helping people overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, debuts at 10 p.m. Monday on ABC (Ch. 9, 22).

Network news
ABC: Jennifer Garner’s “Alias” finally returns to ABC on 8 p.m. Wednesday – not Thursday – starting April 19, so the series finale will air in May sweeps. “Alias,” off the air since December, will replace “George Lopez” and “Freddie,” which will end their seasons early....

NBC: Before “The West Wing” ends on May 14, fans will see many old faces on the show. Rob Lowe, Mary-Louise Parker, Annabeth Gish, Emily Proctor, Anna Deavere Smith, Marlee Matlin, Gary Cole and Tim Busfield will reprise their characters in guest shots. “The West Wing” returns March 12. The show still hasn't dealt with the death of VP candidate Leo McGarry (actor John Spencer, who died before Christmas.)

It’s March, and you know what that means – basketball tournaments, spring training games (1 p.m. today, Reds-Tigers on WLW-AM) and public TV fund-raising.
CET starts its annual March pledge drive tonight with yoga expert Lilias Folan in the studio during "Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age" (8 p.m., Channel 48). It’s also the title of her newest book. Folan, 70, began teaching yoga on Channel 48 in 1972. Her "Lilias!" shows produced by CET air on 33 stations.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Seinfeld, Friends swapping stations

“Seinfeld” and “Friends” are swapping stations -- not that there’s anything wrong with that. “Seinfeld” moves from Ch. 64 to Ch 19 on March 27. It will air at 6 p.m.
In June, Ch. 19 loses “Friends” reruns to Ch. 64. “Seinfeld” likely will move part of the 7-8 p.m. slot “Friends” is vacating on Ch.19, and a second airing could be scheduled for late night.

Clooney on Barbara Walters
When George Clooney visits with Barbara Walters today (10 p.m., Ch 9), expect her to remind George of his comment the first time she interviewed him (in November 1995, a year into “ER”), when he said he would never marry again. (Clooney married actress Talia Balsam – Martin’s daughter – in 1989, and they divorced in 1993.)
Clooney also tells Walters he doesn’t expect to win any Oscars Sunday. According to ABC, he says: "Paul Giamatti’s been winning an awful lot and he’s really good in the film ("Cinderella Man")... I think Ang Lee will probably win" [director, "Brokeback Mountain"]. Clooney is nominated for best director and writer for "Good Night and Good Luck," and for acting in "Syriana."
Walters’ big pre-Oscar special airs tonight because it’s the last day of sweeps. The Oscars air 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC (Ch 9). Walters also chats with Patrick Dempsey, Matthew McConaughey and Mariah Carey.

Burning question of the day
Hey, XM listeners, did anyone check to see if WLW-AM debuted on XM Channel 173 today as promised? Yeah, I know its a dumb question – you didn’t get satellite radio to listen to a Cincinnati terrestrial station.

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