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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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Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Concert For Diana, Not Us?

Elton John, Fergie, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran, Lily Allen, Kanye West, Bryan Ferry, Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, P. Diddy, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Status Quo, Take That, Will Young, Pharrell Williams, Tom Jones and the English National Ballet.... All in 44 minutes? I don't think so.

I'll watch NBC's "Concert for Diana" tonight (8-9 p.m., Chs 5, 2), but I don't have high hopes. When you cut a six-hour concert with an all-star line-up into an hour (44 minutes or so minus the commercials, even less with any Matt Lauer interviews with Prince Harry or Prince William), lots of stuff will be left on the editing room floor. Yes, it's a great tribute for Princes Diana, who would have been 46. But probably not so much for us. It's too bad NBC wouldn't blow off the "Law & Order" reruns tonight to air more of the concert.... or that another network (the CBS/MTV/VH1 family, or ABC/ABC Family) doesn't have the rights so more of the Wembley Stadium concert could have aired on cable.

Watch tonight and then post your concert reviews here on my blog. Which artist was the best? Which did you want to see more of? I'm curious what you think... and I bet readers of this blog will want to read your opinions tooo....

Friday, June 29, 2007

Did You Know Steven Spielberg Or His Family Here?

Did you know Steven Spielberg or his family here in the late 1940s? I'm looking for people who did.

The Oscar-winning film director was born here in 1946 while his father, Arnold, studied electrical engineering at UC and his mother, Leah Posner Spielberg, studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. They lived on Lexington Avenue in Avondale. Arnold and Leah both werer Cincinnati natives. They moved to New Jersey in 1951 or so.

If you knew them, or know of any relatives here, or heard family stories about them, I want to know. I'm looking for stories to be published in an upcoming article. Just drop me an e-mail. Put "Spielberg" in the message line. Be sure to includend your full name, age, the name of your neighborhood or town, and a daytime phone number.



WGUC-FM Contributing To New NPR Format

Naomi Lewin's "Classics for Kids" and other WGUC-FM (90.9) programs will be offered to National Public Radio's new service starting in late October. WGUC-FM is one of dozen charter stations, says Rich Eiswerth, WGUC-FM general manager.

NPR will provide a searchable database of performances, interviews and reviews for classical, jazz, world and AAA (adult album alternative) music, says Ken Stern, the NPR CEO during a visit to town this week. It's an outgrowth of Bob Boilen's popular "All Songs Considered" webcast, he says. "We think we can offer something different," Stern says.

The new NPR site will provide links to WGUC-FM and the other charter stations, so listeners around the world can see play lists or sample the stations, Eiswerth says. If a deal can be reached with the musicians' union, WGUC-FM also will provide the new site with the station's Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera and May Festival broadcasts, he says.

Stern, who accepted an award for NPR news coverage here Tuesday at the Volunteers of America annual convention, visited the station Tuesday afternoon. After talking to Eiswerth, he met with the staff for an hour and answered questions. He talked about the pilot "Bryant Park Project" online show and blog hosted by reporter Luke Burbank and former MSNBC and MTV reporter Allison Stewart.

"This is our first show aimed at a younger audience, which we define as between late 20s and 30s," Stern says.

The "Rough Cuts" online incubation process also was used to develop Michel Martin's weekday "Tell Me More" show which premiered April 30 on Oxford’s WMUB-FM (88.5). It airs at noon weekdays.

Dan Patrick's Got Game?

Will ESPN's Dan Patrick be the next Bob Barker? The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the 1974 Mason High School graduate, who started in TV at Dayton's Ch. 2, "is on the short list" of people who will be asked to audition for CBS' "The Price Is Right." Barker retired June 15 after 35 years hosting the show. A new host will debut with the fall TV season in September.

Here's the link to Tom Hoffarth's sports column. Scroll to the "What Smokes" headline down quite a ways:

If you were Dan Patrick, would you make this career move? Have you maxed out your potential at ESPN? Or could you still do a radio show, and maybe some play-by-play, around the TV game show schedule?

1360 Switching To ESPN Monday

This is great news for sports fans. ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" will have a new, stronger Cincinnati affiliate Monday. Clear Channel's 1360 will drop the taped call-in advice shows and pick up "Mike & Mike in the Morning," "Colin Cowherd" and Mason High School graduate Dan Patrick.

No comment from Clear Channel folks yet.... but you can see the website for "Cincinnati's ESPN 1360" at You may have to load it twice, because the first time it kicks to CC's Homer 1530 Homer the Sports Animal. The new site has a link to "1530 The Sports Animal For Local Sports."

Hamilton's WMOH-AM (1450), which has been ESPN's local affiliate for three years, was told Monday that Clear Channel will get ESPN Radio in two months. Actually, it turned out to be seven days. WMOH-AM's weak signal doesn't penetrate all of Hamilton County. In fact, WMOH-AM seldom has enough listeners with Arbitron diaries to make the quarterly ratings. Chris Theiss, WMOH-AM GM, says the station will do a new local morning show, and keep high school sports and Miami University, while searching for daytime syndicated show. It could drop Miami for OSU a year from now, he says.

I live in Fairfield and listen to "Mike & Mike" every day. (They're also on ESPN2 mornings.) They'll give sports fans a strong alternative to CC's Tim Lewis on 1530. And Cowherd and Dan Patrick have good shows, and offer a choice for those listening to Mo and Doyel or Jim Rome.

I think we're a big enough sports town to support sports on 1530, 1360, 700 and Furman and weekend Sporting News on 96.5 FM. (Was this a pre-emptive strike by Clear Channel to keep ESPN from going to 96.5? I expect the Angry Guys to be on 96.5 by end of the year.)

What do you think? Are you an ESPN Radio fan?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time Warner Adds ESPN Deportes

One down, two to go. Time Warner Cable added ESPN Deportes to its Spanish-language tier today, but still no word on when ESPNU or the high-definition feed of ESPN2 will be available in Greater Cincinnati.

ESPN Deportes debuted today on digital Channel 187, as part of its $2.95 per month Digital en Espanol tier. Subscribers also receive CNN Espanol, La Familia Network, Discovery Espanol, Puma Venezuela, Cine Latino, Canal Sur and Sopresa.

When the TWC-ESPN deal was announced in April, local Time Warner spokeswoman Karen Baxter said: "We'll get it (ESPNU) on as soon as week can." On Thursday she said Time Warner "will be adding ESPNU and ESPN2 HD later this year, but I don't have a date yet."

Will Greater Cincinnati's largest cable operator give us ESPNU before the college basketball season starts? Or the football season kicks off? Says Baxter: "Yes, we do expect ESPNU to be available by the start of the football season."

Valerie Abati Update

Today's forecast: Meteorologist Valerie Abati will be leaving WXIX-TV (Ch 19) in the near future. I hear for Pittsburgh.

Abati, hired three years ago, confirms she has a job offer. "The contract isn't signed yet, but I'll let you know the details as soon as it is," she says in an e-mail.

On Monday, the day that Lexington meteorologist Christie Dutton started at Fox19, the station posted a job opening for a full-time meteorologist. Says News Director Steve Ackermann: "We have a weather position posted and it has nothing to do with Paul (who is doing a great job on the Ten O’Clock News) and it has nothing to do with Christie."

So it must have something to do with Valerie. But Ackermann wouldn't elaborate.

Abati has been working nights this week while Horton trained Dutton in the mornings. Abati came to Fox 19 three years ago from Chattanooga, replacing Maria LaRosa. Now there’s a name from the past…

Hey, Paula, Shut Up

Here's all you need to know about "Hey, Paula," Bravo's new reality series documenting Paula Abdul's life earlier this year. In the closing scene of of the 10 p.m. premiere, a sobbing Abdul says: "I'm tired of people not treating me like the gift that I am."

The seven episode series begins with Paula getting ready to attend the Grammy Awards in February. She sneaks out early to red-eye to Philadelphia to sell jewelry on QVC, and complains to her assistants that they packed the wrong clothes for her to wear on the plane. Once in Philly she worries that people might not buy the stuff on TV, and then jets back to LA.

One of the main characters is her hair stylist Daniel, who says he needs four hours to get Paula ready for the Red Carpet. We also meet her wardrobe assistant Kylie, (former) publicist Jeff (who apparently quit since the show was taped), and her four Chihauhuas (Bessie Moo, Chomps, Thumbelina and Tulip). We also see another woman, apparently her housekeeper or assistant, picking up the dog poop in Paula's backyard.

Bravo only sent out the first show for review. A second episode at 10:30 p.m. tonight includes her taping that loopy "American Idol" satellite interview. The Bravo release explains: "With just two hours of sleep, Abdul attemps to grab some shut-eye after a meeting with perfume manufacturers, but ends up losing a battle with insomnia, and continues to miss night after night of sleep. A full week of meetings later, with no ZZZs, combined with catching the flu, Abdul must get through a series of satellite interviews to promote "American Idol." And this is when she makes headlines once again."

Who cares? I found the first episode as boring as Larry King's interview with Paris Hilton. Bravo should have called this "Poor Paula." (Even if they wanted to, they probably couldn't. Abdul is one of three executive producers and obviously controls the content, and how she's portrayed.) She can't even pack a suitcase for a trip? Or get dressed by herself? And wouldn't dare clean up after her prized pups? Poor Paula.

I'd bet that a reality series about Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest or even Randy Jackson would be more interesting.... which is not to say they should be filmed. I wouldn't watch. I'm tired of these celebrity diaries... Aren't you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Trying To Save Internet Radio

Rich Eiswerth, GM for classical WGUC-FM and WVXU-FM, and Brian Jay Miller from, head to Capitol Hill Thursday morning to join the fight to save Internet radio. They're supporting legislation which would prevent the Copyright Royalty Board from imposing steep new fees for music streaming on the web on July 15, which the radio industry has dubbed The Day The Music Dies.

Eiswerth says WGUC-FM's fees would increase 250%. And the new royalty rates would be retroactive to January 2006! Ken Stern, NPR CEO who met with Eiswerth while in town Tuesday, told me: "If we don't get this overturned, it could be potentially devestating to public radio stations." Stern also will attend the House Small Business Committee member (of which Steve Chabot is a member).

The website for Miami University's WMUB-FM ( in Oxford says that the station's two streams -- the on-air signal and a 24-hour jazz channel -- "will be at risk" if the new fees are not reduced or eliminated.

For more info go to

How many of you listen to music streaming regularly? What are your favorite sites?

Jean-Robet Cadet on Oprah Today

Oprah Winfrey's website has a great section about Jean-Robert Cadet, the former Haitian slave now living and teaching here. Cadet appears on "Oprah" at 4 p.m. today (Chs 9, 2) in a show about child slavery.

Got to

Cadet, a teacher at Northern Kentucky University, wrote about his 15 years of slavery in his autobiography, "Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American." His book was required reading for incoming NKU freshman last summer.

Earlier this year, Cadet established the Jean R. Cadet Restavec Freedom Foundation in Blue Ash to help children in forced domestic slavery and to end slavery in Haiti. He taped "Oprah" in February, and the segment has been edited into a rerun from back then, which is why the information is archived under past shows.

The anti-slavery activist has addressed the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in New York, a UN slavery committee in Geneva, Switzerland, and the United States Foreign Relations Committee. He was honored as an “Everyday Freedom Hero” last year by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Colleague Sara Pearce also has links to his book on our LitChick blog at

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paul McCartney & Ringo vs. Paris Hilton

Flash poll time: Which will you watch on "Larry King Live" -- Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono at 9 p.m. today.... or Paris Hilton at 9 p.m. Wendesday?

To me, it's no contest. The Beatles show from the Cirque du Soleil "Love" tribute in Las Vegas should be fun. I'm sick of all this attention to Paris Hilton.

You agree?

Bill Tonnis Signing Off WLW-AM

After more than 20 years, newsman Bill Tonnis will sign off WLW-AM July 6 to embark on new career as youth minister at Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church in Green Township.

"I feel I've been called to do something more positive with young people," says Tonnis, 47, a Green Township resident. "I thought I'd regret it if I didn't attempt this."

The 1978 Elder High School graduate earned a master's degree in religious and pastoral studies from the College of Mount St. Joseph three years ago. In February he released his "Listen To Your Heart" CD.

Tonnis started in radio at WVXU-FM while attending Xavier University. He hosted NPR's "Morning Edition" 1982-84, while working part-time at WLW-AM. He has been full-time since 1984 or so, he thinks. After years as a reporter, he now anchors 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. weekdays on WLW-AM and other Clear Channel stations.

"It's unusual to be with one station this long," he says. He'll miss his "daily connection with thousands of people" listening to WLW-AM. And he'll miss his co-workers. "The current news team here is one of the best we've had," he says.

He's certainly worked with a bunch of news people since the 1980s…. Kathy Lehr, Matt Reis, Bill Ridenhour, Don Webb, Ann Alexander....

How many more names can we add to the list?

Slime Time Coming To Kings Island

Kids getting slimed at Kings Island could be seen nationally on Nickelodeon this summer.

Slime has been a part of the fun at Kings Island for years, but another truckload is coming.
Nickelodeon's 18-wheeler Slime Mobile, hauling 1,200 of the green goo, stops at Kings Island July 14 as part of the 20-city "Slime Across America" summer tour. Kids can get slimed, play games and watch a Nick Live! Slime Edition stage show at noon, 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. that Saturday in the Kings Island parking lot.

Nickelodeon is sending along a video crew to tape highlights for its "Slime Across America" TV promotion. Clips from the Slime Mobile's stops will air during commercial breaks 5-7 p.m. July 6 through August 17. "Cincinnati is one of the stops they're filming, so there is a good chance it will be featured on the air," says Joanna Roses, Nickelodeon publicist. Another reason Kings Island clips very likely will be used: Mason is the third stop of the tour, after Los Angeles (July 2) and Milwaukee (July 7). More details will be posted at

A little Nick and slime trivia: Nickelodeon began in 1979 on the old Warner-Amex QUBE cable system in Columbus, about the time Warner-Amex (now Time Warner) was starting to wire Princeton School District communities in Hamilton County... Slime was introduced on Nickelodeon's "You Can't Do That On Television" in 1982... Kids and adults also have been slimed on "Double Dare," "Figure It Out" and "Slime Time Live".... Slime and Nickelodeon became part of Kings Island after Viacom bought Paramount in 1994.

Monday, June 25, 2007

American Idol Auditions Announced

"American Idol" hopefuls will have to travel a long way to audition for season seven. Of the seven sites announced today, the closest is Atlanta. Other cities: San Diego, Dallas, Omaha, Charleston SC, Miami and Philadelphia. San Diego is first stop on July 30th at Qualcomm Stadium.
Details at

Friday, June 22, 2007

So What Did I Miss?

I'm back from a quick Florida trip for a wedding and a brief family reunion. I'll be honest, I didn't watch much TV except for part of "America's Got Talent." This is the No. 1 show on TV? Why? What makes it so popular? I don't think the editing, writing or hosting is as good as "American Idol," so why are you watching?
What have I missed in the past week?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Hiatus

I'm going to be out of the office for a few days. Comments will continue to be posted on the blogs, I'm told. Thanks for checking in. See you in a few days.
John from Cincinnati

Another View of the Beverly Hills Fire

My blog two weeks ago about the Beverly Hills fire coverage 30 years ago prompted the below recollection from John Getter, former Ch. 5 reporter/anchor now living in Las Vegas with his wife, Pat Weinstein, also a former Ch. 5 reporter/anchor.

I had asked him if it was true that Ch. 5 fed the NBC network live Beverly Hills fire video -- which was shot from a great distance, perhaps at the station's tower in University Heights (Chickasaw Street), or station roof at 9th & Elm -- in contrast to the close-up video aired by Chs. 12 & 9 with new portable cameras from the scene.

Anyway, I thought you'd like to read this... and I hope follow-up comments don't dwell on Ch 5's limitations or low ratings today. But I'm interested in those who watched Ch 5 that night, or worked there, or other memories of the fire coverage.

Here's the email:

"It was a Saturday night, if I recall correctly, and I was co-anchoring the news with Ken McDowell. (Pre-Clyde days) The fire started late in the evening and we had no reporter working. The photographer was at the station having edited the newscast.

When we began to grasp that this was a big story, I called Pat (Weinstein) at home in Northern Kentucky. She was the closest. So she… went to the fire. She was the first TV reporter on the scene...

She had no photographer, so she gathered up some information... talked to the fire chief, walked up the hill and got a feel for things and I believe she made one report by phone. But, this was before cell phones, and there was no 2-way radio in her personal car, so she drove back to the station.

For a couple hours we continued to do live interrupts with new information and, of course, Pat played a major role since she was, at that point the only reporter on the air who had been to the scene.

I don’t recall if the "live" pictures we used were shot from the station roof or from the transmitter site up on the hill. Anyway, our lead didn't last.

We had made the switch from film to videotape, but not to live remotes. Ch. 12 had been developing its microwave truck. It was not completely finished, but they had the wisdom to drive it to the scene and broadcast the first live reports by an ENG truck in Cincinnati. Howard Ain’s reports just killed us competitively. EDGE (electronic data gathering equipment) worked exactly as they hoped and did truly give them the edge in live news for a while.

And now you know...


Lin Mason, A Cincinnati Broadcasting Pioneer

I received this email today about the passing of Lin Mason, formerly of WKRC-AM and WLWT-TV, from local broadcast historian Mike Martini of WMKV-FM and Media Heritage:

"I just found out that Lin Mason passed away last Friday in Jupiter, Fla. He was 91.

Lin was the last of the "old guard" at WKRC, starting there in 1938 at the end of its CBS "O&O" (owned and operated) period before Taft bought it. He was hired by then Program Director Ruth (and told a great story about how he met her curling her hair in the lobby of the old Alms Hotel.)

AT 'KRC, Lin was a vocalist (a tenor), an announcer (for Jimmy Scribner's "Johnson Family") and producer. He left KRC around 1943 to work as a PD at a station near Dayton. Lin also produced Singin' Sam's nationally syndicated Coca-Cola show in the mid-1940's.

He came back to be one of the first Program Directors at fledgling WLWT in the early 1950’s. He ended up in Miami working on LB Wilson’s TV station there and got out of the business in the 1960’s.

Lin was a great storyteller who had to overcome some tragedies. Lin (who was a pilot himself) had his only son die in a experimental plane crash. His first wife died when they were both struck by a car while walking on a sidewalk near Miami in the 1990s. His second wife, Oneida, survives him and lives near Jupiter, FL. His daughter, Niki, lives on Lin's olf farm near Hillsboro.

Lin was born May 24, 1916, near Zanesville and graduated from Muskingum College in 1937. He had four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Just thought you should know. Lin was an important part of Cincinnati’s broadcast history.


Anyone out there remember Lin Mason, or have a story to share?

Two New Anchors For Channel 9

Two anchors are better than one. That's the theory among WCPO-TV (Channel 9) managers, who will replace David Rose with two anchor-reporters sometime next month. Rose, whose contract was not renewed in March, had worked a split shift – co-anchoring "Good Morning Tri-State" and the 5:30 p.m. weekday newscasts.

Channel 9 is doing auditions this month, after a national anchor search. There are also some internal candidates from the Channel 9 reporting staff, says Bill Fee, Channel 9 vice president and general manager.

The new morning co-anchor also will report during the day. The evening co-anchor will report for the 11 p.m. news, Fee says.

"Although David was a very hard worker, we decided to go the traditional route," he says. Rose started at Channel 9 five years ago as an early evening co-anchor and 11 p.m. reporter.

The anchor positions will be filled by early next month, Fee says.

Of the guys on staff, who should get a shot at anchoring? John Matarese, Lance Barry? Jay Warren?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jericho Returns In Reruns

For all of you "Jericho" fans: CBS will repeat the pilot at 9 p.m. Friday, July 6 (Chs 12, 7). The next week, CBS will skip to the second half of the season with "Return to Jericho," which recapped the first 11 shows for the spring relaunch (8 p.m. July 13), followed by episode #12, "The Day Before" (9 p.m. July 13, Chs 12, 7).

Episodes #13-22, about the escalating tensions between New Bern and Jericho, will air at 9 p.m. Fridays in July and August.

CBS last week announced it ordered seven new episodes for midseason, after an effective protest from fans.

John from Cincinnati Doesn't Draw A Big Crowd

HBO's new surfing drama, "John from Cincinnati," wasn't a total wipe-out, but the initial ratings do not look good. HBOs audience dropped 71% from "The Sopranos" series finale Sunday night to the next show, the premiere for David Milch's "John from Cincinnati, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

An estimated 11.9 million people watched the end of "The Sopranos." Only 3.4 million tuned in for "John from Cincinnati," a 29% audience retention. "John from Cincinnati," starring Austin Nichols as a mysterious stranger altering the lives of a Southern California surfing family, takes over "The Sopranos" 9 p.m. Sunday time slot this weekend.

"The huge dropoff is not a good sign for the show," Broadcasting & Cable notes.

"The Sopranos" 11.9 million mark was higher than its season aveage (8.2 million), but 1.5 million short of the highest-rated episode (13.4 million for the 4th season premiere in September 2002), according to the Associated Press. Two other episodes drew more viewers -- the December 2002 4th season finale (12.5 million) and the 5th season premiere in March 2004 (12.1 million), AP says.

Changes On The Fox19 Morning Team

When Christie Dutton from Lexington joins WXIX-TV on June 25, she'll do the "Fox 19 Morning News" with Rob Williams and Cindy Matthews. Valerie Abati will return to weekends, says Tony Phillips, Fox 19 marketing manager.

Dutton has been morning and noon meteorologist at Lexington's WTVQ-TV (Channel 36). She fills the vacancy from the promotion of Paul Horton, from the morning show to chief meteorologist in January. Horton replaced Rich Apuzzo, who was fired in October.

David Chase Comments On The Sopranos Finale

"The Sopranos" creator David Chase tells the Newark Star-Ledger that he wasn't thinking about a possible movie sequel when he filmed the finale -- though he doesn't completely rule one out. He also refused to talk about why he decided to end it the way he did, cutting to black as Tony, Carmela and AJ sat in the diner listening to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin.' "

About the finale he said: "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there."

As for a movie: "I don't think about (a movie) that much. I never say never. An idea could pop into my head where I go, 'Wow, that would make a great movie,' but I doubt it. I'm not being coy. If something appeared that really made a good Sopranos' movie and you could invest in it and everybody else wanted to do it, I would do it. But I think we've kind of said it and done it."

Here's the link to the story by TV writer Alan Sepinwall:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Did The Sopranos Go Out With A Bang?

So be honest: How many of you with Time Warner Cable thought the cable went out -- again! -- when "The Sopranos" went to black in last night's finale? I bet you cursed Time Warner.... and when you realized that's how creator David Chase wanted the series to end, did you curse David Chase?

Was this the worst ending for a TV series? That life just goes on for Tony, Camela and their family? With all the foreshadowing -- the 80-90% chance he'd get indicted, the shadowy characters in the restaurant at the end -- I wanted something to happen. Not that I needed a lot of bloody murders, but the finale just seemed so antiseptic. Some might praise the ending, saying we could each draw our own conclusion as to what happened to the characters, or be left with the feeling that Tony and his family always lived in fear. To me, two words flashed to mind: Movie Sequel. All the doors are open for a feature film franchise, if James Gandolfini can't move on to another role.

"The Soporanos" finale didn't have the closure of the last M*A*S*H, or the creativity of "Newhart." It will be debated for days, or years.

Did you like the ending? Why? How should it have ended?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Are You Watching John From Cincinnati?

After Tony Soprano exits TV tonight -- dead or alive -- "John from Cincinnati" ventures into HBO households. Obviously, HBO thinks very highly of "John from Cincinnati," from "Deadwood" creator David Milch, to debut at 10 p.m., after "The Sopranos" finale. It takes over "The Sopranos" 9 p.m. Sunday slot next week.

So let the debate begin: Is "John from Cincinnati" the next great thing for HBO, or all of television? Some reviewers think so. On the other hand, Tom Shales of the Washington Post calls the latest from the "Deadwood" creator nothing but dead air.

I've had the benefit of seeing the first three shows. I found them interesting, but not compelling. I'll watch the next couple to see what we learn about this mysterious, mystical guy named John (Austin Nichols) who shows up out of nowhere at the Southern California surfing border town of Imperial Beach. And to see if the three generations of the Yost surfing family ever figures out that John is the reason for weird things happening -- Mitch (Bruce Greenwood) levitates, a dead bird comes back to life, etc. (Gee, I was hoping "Homer from Louisville" would have a similar magical impact on the Reds after his Friday debut, but the bullpen relapsed Saturday night into the same old same old.)

John, the character, is fun to watch. He's a confused infant in a grown-up's body. (Is he an alien? A Christ? Mentally retarded?) In tonight's show, when he rides in a SUV, he sticks he head out the window into the breeze like a dog. Most of what he says he repeats from what he's just heard. I figure he'll change the lives of the Yost family because they'll alter their behavior after hearing him repeat their statements about wanting to get high, or kill someone, etc. But I'm not sure this new Mork from Ork, in a TV drama about the surfing culture (certainly not mainstream America), will have wide appeal. HBO's "Deadwood" and "Rome" certainly had cult audiences, but they didn't captivate the country like Tony Soprano & Co.

John's favorite line, when he doesn't know the answer to a question, is: "Some things I know, and some things I don't." Will "John from Cincinnati" be the next must-see "Sopranos?" I'm not sure it will, but it could catch on in a summer filled with nothing but reality TV. So I guess this John from Cincinnati should just say, "Some things I know, and some things I don't."

I want to hear what you think about "John from Cincinnati." After you watch, post your comments and reviews here. I'm curious to see what people think of this one. Did you like it? Like it enough to watch again?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Heimlich Family Feud on 20/20 Tonight

ABC's "20/20" plans a report tonight on Dr. Henry Heimlich and his public feud with his son, Peter (10 p.m., Chs 9, 22).

ABC is promoting the segment with the headline: "Dr. Heimlich's New 'Maneuver': Cure AIDS with Malaria." It may be new to Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative correspondent, but it's not a new story. The Enquirer reported on Heimlich's controversial malaria injections in 1995.

It appears to be the hook for ABC to report on the five-year fight between Peter and his father. Ross speaks to Peter, but not his dad. Instead, son Phil Heimlich, the former Hamilton County commissioner, defends his famous father, ABC says.

For more information about the segment, go to

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm John From Cincinnati

Yes, I'm John from Cincinnati, and I've seen the first three shows of HBO's new "John from Cincinnati" premiering 10 p.m. Sunday after "The Sopranos" finale. And I can say that the plot and characters have as much to do about me as anyone or anything in Cincinnati. The reference (in the second episode, June 17) appears to be accidental.

Here's what you need to know: The character John Morad (Austin Nichols, "Deadwood," "Surface") who shows up mysteriously at Imperial Beach, Calif., appears to be a total zero at first.

The mystery is: Who is John? Where is he from? Is he an alien? A Christ? Retarded? A mutant from the sea? (In the premiere, John declares: "The end is near!")

And why do these mystical things – retired surfer Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood) levitates, a dead cockatiel comes back to life – occur after he arrives?

When John is asked a question he can't answer, he says: "Some things I know, and some things I don’t." He says that a lot. He appears to be an infant in a fully grown body. He watches and listens to people, then imitates them. A former cop says, "I’ve got my eye on you." So whenever John sees the guy, he says, "I’ve got my eye on YOU!"

When he walks into a bathroom, he has no clue what to do. People grab his hand and tug him along, like a small child.

John gets his name this a conversation with a heroin addict named Butchie (Mitch's son) in the June 17 show:

John: "I don't do well in traffic."
Butchie: "It leads me to believe that you're not from around here."
John: "I’m not from around here!"
Butchie: "No? Or any other metropolis, for that matter. I'm feeling kind of a small town. Not a farm town, but a small town. A small town like, I'm feeling a little Cincinnati."
John: "I am from Cincinnati!"
Butchie: "Get the (deleted) out!"
John: "You get the (deleted) out!"

I'm definitely curious to see the next episode – but I'm not sure it will become my Must See TV as was "NYPD Blue" (also from executive producer David Milch), or the first seasons of "ER," "LA Law," "Twin Peaks," "The Sopranos," "Everybody Loves Raymond" or the great years of "Seinfeld."

I'll write another blog Sunday so you can comment on the show after watching it, and tell me what you think of "John from Cincinnati."

Michael Flannery Party Sunday

The big community thank you for Michael Flannery, former WCPO-TV "9 On Your Kids Side" reporter, will be at 6:30 p.m. Sunday sat Crossroads Community Church, Oakley.

Flannery, 48, of Westwood, raised more than $1 million and helped at least 700 kids with special needs over five years at Channel 9. The segments were canceled when Channel 9 didn't renew his contract March 30.

"It's important to show how much Michael meant to the city. It's a huge loss not having someone to call when a child has a special need," says Beth Lockwood of Anderson Township. Her grandchildren were helped by Flannery.

Flannery told me today he still hasn't found a job. And he wants to thank everyone for their support, particularly to two people who sent him money. "I want people who sent me checks to know I got them. I do appreciate it," he says.

The 6:30 p.m. program is free and open to the public. Reservations for a 5 p.m. dinner with Flannery at the church ($10 aduilts, $4 children) can be made through Friday by contacting Debbie Baker from the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati at 513-761-5400, or by e-mail,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Good News for Jericho Fans

Don't go nuts, yet, "Jericho" fans. But Television Week and TV Guide say CBS is close to reversing its decision to cancel "Jericho," after passionate fans sent hundreds of pounds of peanuts to CBS.

Says Television Week: "Sources close to the production said the network is near4 a deal with "Jericho" producers to bring the show back at midseason."

That way episodes could run without interruption, like "24." Ratings for "Jericho," "Lost" and "Heroes" dropped in the spring after a long hiatus.

Here are the links:

The End of Tony Soprano

OK, so how will "The Sopranos" end Sunday?

It doesn't look good for Tony, his gang and family after last Sunday's episode. His whole empire is crumbling, after hits by Brooklyn crime boss Phil Leotardo on Bobby at the Lionel train store and Silvio outside the Bada Bing!

Tony's wife and two kids are in hiding. He's holed up in the upstairs bedroom of an old house, clutching a big assault rifle, with four bodyguards downstairs. Earlier in the day, his therapist cut off his session, and threw him out of the office.

So how will it end 9 p.m. Sunday? (before he premiere of HBO's "John from Cincinnati?" More about that later this week)

Will Tony's tip to the FBI agent about possible terrorists result in protection for Tony? Or will Tony be killed off? Or go to jail?

Who will die in the finale -- Tony's sister Janice? His depressed son AJ? Meadow? Wife Carmela? What's your over/under on Sunday's body count?

You can post your comments here. And you can take our "Sopranos" poll at

D-Day Special on XM Satellite

XM Satellite radio is borrowing an idea Wednesday from the old WVXU to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of D-Day.

Starting at 12:41 a.m., XM's 1940s channel (XM 4) will re-create NBC 's radio coverage of the D-Day invasion of the Normandy coast of France. XM will broadcast the original bulletins (currently housed in the National Archives), and adhere to the original NBC broadcast schedule (as found in the Library of Congress). The marathon will feature music of the era and news reports until 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

WVXU-FM won a Peabody Award for its 1994 broadcast, "D-Day Plus 50," in which D-Day radio news bulletins were condensed into a 12-hour broadcast. Some of those old network news reports will be heard along with 1940s big band tunes on Tom Sandman's "Sandman's Standards" radio show 8-10 p.m. Thursday (a repeat from Saturday night) on WMKV-FM (89.3), the nostalgia station run by former 'VXU staffer George Zahn. He helped produce "D-Day Plus 50."

Geena Davis, former Commander in Chief

I had a few minutes to speak to a former president the other day: President Mackenzie Allen from ABC's short-lived "Commander in Chief," aka Geena Davis. The actress says she also misses the show, canceled a year ago by ABC. Like NBC's "Studio 60" last fall, it started out hot but then consistently lost viewers.

"Pretty much every day somebody asks, Why did they take that show off the air? It's interesting to me how much of a presence it still has," says Davis, who comes to town Wednesday for the Smart Talk Women's Lecture Series at the Aronoff Center.

"I really miss doing that show. It was so much fun. It was the best character, and she was potentially inspiring to women."

So what went wrong? "It was the product of a few factors. The most important one was that we changed show-runners (executive producers) three times, not through any decision of the actors. We had the creator, then Steven Bochco, which caused some delays for his team to move in, and then it happened again when Steven Bochco was replaced. It's really tough to keep your audience when you're not on the screen."

I told her I thought part of the problem was that the show-runner could never figure out the Capitol Hill part of the show, and gave too much power to the House Speaker (Donald Sutherland). She disagreed, but conceded that the focus changed with each new boss.

Davis says she took the last year off to be with her kids (daughter 5, twin sons 3), but she's close to signing to shoot a movie this fall. "I'm incredibly picky. I've been able to play really great parts, like the president and "Thelma & Louise." So it's really tough. I want to pick something really, really good. Also, there are fewer opportunities for a 50-year-old actor."

Here's a link to ticket info, and to my story with her other comments about gender stereotypes in children's movies, sports and other stuff:

Where you a "Commander in Chief" fan? What's your favorite Geena Davis movie?

Friday, June 01, 2007

WGUC's Opera Season

Classical music WGUC-FM (90.9) airs the Cincinnati Opera 2006 Summer Festival at 7:30 p.m. Sundays in June, starting this weekend. The performances were recorded last summer.

The summer series debuts with "Tosca," conducted by Giordano Bellincampi. "L'Etoile" will air at 7:30 p.m. June 10, followed at 9:35 p.m. with artistic director Evans Mirangaes previewing the 2007 Summer Festival.

A full schedule is posted at the station's Website:

A New Twist for the Wheel of Justice

Knowing that Channel 9 newshound Chic Poppe is all over the place, it's not surprising that this happened: Poppe says he helped police capture Leetae Williams, one of the fugitives on Channel 12's weekly "Wheel of Justice" segments.

Poppe says he was driving down Hamilton Avenue in Northside after 6 a.m. Thursday, after hearing a police call about a naked woman (an assult victim) running through Northside. He says he observed a suspicious man darting back and forth across the street, and hiding between houses. Poppe says he called 911, and then hung up when he saw two police cruisers coming up Hamilton Avenue. He says he pointed out the suspicious man to to police, and helped officers arrest Williams.

"I was the one who caught the guy. I was the one who saw him first," says Poppe, a Channel 9 photographer and 33-year news veteran.

But Poppe wasn't mentioned in Channel 12's story Thursday -- because he wasn't mentioned in the Cincinnati Police report on the arrest. Deb Dixon interviewed arresting officer Tom Haas.
Dixon says Haas mentioned that Poppe was at the scene, but "he didn' give him credit" for the arrest.

"If Chic says he helped in the arrest, I think that's very cool. We're all in this together. The police said he was there, but he's always there. I love Chic Poppe. He's everywhere."

Dixon says Poppe doesn't qualify for the Wheel of Justice reward money for several reasons. He didn't know that Williams was one of the Wheel of Justice fugitives, and he called 911 instead of CrimeStoppers to report the suspicous man.

"It's just a coincidence that the guy lurking around was on the Wheel of Justice. He didn't know who he was. I'm convinced the police would have found him," she says.

Channel 5's New Competitor

Is this a sign of how bad things are for Channel 5 news, or how good things are going for Channel 12's news at 10 p.m. on Channel 64? In the overnight ratings last night, Local 12 news at 10 p.m. on Channel 64 came within two-tenths of a ratings point of Channel 5's 11 p.m. news.

The half-hour 10 p.m. news on Channel 64 averaged a 3.4 rating and 5% audience share.
Channel 5's 11 p.m. news averaged a 3.6 rating and 7% share. Channel 5 wasn't helped by NBC, which aired "Studio 60 on the Sunstrip Strip" that delivered a 2.2 rating at 10:45 p.m. as a lead-in. And yes, "The Simpsons" had more viewers at 11 p.m., with a 3.7 rating and a 7% share.

For the record, Channel 19's news had more news viewers at 10-11 p.m. (6.8 rating and 11%), second in the time period to CBS' "Shark" on Channel 12 (8.9, 15%).

Jim Borgman
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