TV Q&A: ABC News, 'Storage Wars' and 'The Big Bang Theory.'

Friday, 13 January 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

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TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about ABC News, “Storage Wars” and “The Big Bang Theory.” As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer


Q: What's going on with ABC News? Why did they get rid of Christiane Amanpour and put George Stephanopoulos back in at “This Week”? Does this mean that “Good Morning America” will get a new co-host? If so, I hope it's not that newsreader. I have to change the channel every time he's on.
- Kristen, 31, Greentree
Rob:
ABC executives chose to return George Stephanopoulos to "This Week" while continuing as "Good Morning America" anchor, which we reported last month. Current "This Week" host Christiane Amanpour is now a roving global affairs anchor for ABC and will host a weekday show on CNN International.
Ratings for “This Week” fell under Amanpour, which is probably the primary reason for the change.
And I’m with you on “GMA” newsreader Josh Elliott. He’s insufferable.

Q: I love “Storage Wars” on A&E, but I am extremely disappointed with the Texas version.  Do you know if the ratings drop for the Texas version and if there is any chance of the network going back to airing two new versions of the original instead of one original then one Texas episode?
- Linda, 46, Cecil
Rob:
A publicist for A&E said back-to-back episodes of the original “Storage Wars” are airing for the next few weeks. The Texas edition, which is performing well so far, will be back later this year with new episodes.

Q: My family and I are big fans of "The Big Bang Theory" and were wondering about the wonderful actor Jim Parsons (he really makes us laugh), what information can you give us about him?
- Mary, 49, Penn Hills
Rob:
Parsons is indeed a fantastic fit for the role of Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.” And he’s always struck me as a nice, polite guy in real life, too.
Here’s a portion of his official bio from CBS:

In 2011, Parsons received a Theatre World Award for his debut Broadway performance as Tommy Boatwright in the Tony Award-winning revival of "The Normal Heart," starring opposite Ellen Barkin, John Benjamin Hickey and Joe Mantello. "The Normal Heart" was also presented with the Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Revival of a Play" and "Outstanding Ensemble Performance."  A critical sensation, the show also received nominations from The Outer Critics Circle for "Outstanding Revival of a Play," as well as five Tony Award nominations. The play ends its 12-week run at the Golden Theatre on July 10th.  Parsons' additional stage credits include "The Castle" for the Manhattan Ensemble Theater, "The Countess" for the Globe Theater, and "The Tempest" and "As You Like It" for the Houston Shakespeare Festival.
On the big screen, Parsons will appear this fall in the comedy "The Big Year," opposite Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Directed by David Frankel, the film is based on Mark Obmascik's tome about three men who try to outdo each other during a year-long competition to spot the rarest birds in North America. Parsons will play an avid birder in the contest.  He will also appear in the upcoming feature film "The Muppets," opening in theaters Thanksgiving 2011.  
His other film credits include Todd Phillips' "School for Scoundrels," opposite Billy Bob Thorton and Jon Heder, and Chris Terrio's "Heights," opposite Glenn Close and James Marsden. Parsons delivered scene-stealing performances in several independent films, including "Garden State," "Gardner of Eden" and "The Great New Wonderful."
Parsons earned a Masters in Fine Arts degree from the Old Globe Theater/University of San Diego and a BA from the University of Houston. Born and raised in Houston, he now resides in Los Angeles.  His birth date is March 24.”

Q: On “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny works for the Cheesecake Factory, but clearly their version of the Cheesecake Factory is nothing like what it is in real like (at least here in Pittsburgh.) At best, I would liken Penny's place of employment to a Denny's.  So, my question is, does the show have to pay to use the Cheesecake Factory name? Or better yet, why hasn't the Cheesecake Factory sued the producers for defamation?
- Linda, 39, Castle Shannon
Rob:
I've had a similar thought and last night I was at dinner with a friend who brought up how much it bugs her that the Cheesecake Factory on "Big Bang" looks like a Denny's without any prompting from me. There’s no mention of “promotional consideration” paid by Cheesecake Factory in the “Big Bang Theory” end credits so Cheesecake is not paying Warner Bros., which produces “BBT.” And why would Warner Bros. pay Cheesecake when “BBT” gives the chain a ton of free publicity every time it mentions the restaurant by name? True, the Cheesecake Factory restaurant set on “BBT” is smaller and not as spacious as the restaurant but if you adhere to the motto “any publicity is good publicity,” then this is great exposure even if it’s not 100 percent authentic in its presentation.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain says, “The Cheesecake Factory does not have any sort of arrangements with the show. The Cheesecake Factory is really pleased to be featured in such a funny & wildly popular show.”

Q: Has Susan Koeppen had her heart valve replacement surgery? When does KDKA expect her to return?
- Elaine, 57, Mt. Lebanon
Rob:
I do not believe she has had surgery but is expected to return to KDKA in the near future.

Q: What happened to Scott Stiller from WTAE Traffic. I haven't seen him for weeks. I know you say that if we don't see someone they are probably on vacation. But I recently saw a promo ad for the morning show team and he was not in it.
- Judy, 54, Pittsburgh
Rob:
And that promo is a good indicator that all is not well.
WTAE general manager Michael Hayes referred me to Total Traffic Network, which employed Stiller. Charlie A, Weirauch III, traffic operations manager, said Stiller is no longer with Total Traffic Network. I sent Stiller a message via Facebook but did not receive a response as of deadline.

Q: Why has my Pittsburgh ABC affiliate disappeared from Armstrong cable?
- Rose via phone call
Rob:
Rose lives in Grove City and gets her cable via Armstrong. She still has network affiliates but, for example, her ABC station is out of Youngstown. Previously she could get that station and WTAE.
Dave Wittmann of Armstrong said multiple factors went into pulling WTAE, including antiquated federal regulations, a request from the Youngstown station to enforce its non-duplication rights and syndication exclusivity, which would result in WTAE’s signal being blacked out “75 percent of the day” in Mercer County. He also said WTAE’s request for retransmission consent fees “made it impossible to continue carrying WTAE in Mercer County.”

FEEDBACK

Re: Roman numerals in copyrights. BBC News says "The practice is believed to have started in an attempt to disguise the age of films or television programmes. In other words, the opposite of claiming an undeserved antiquity."
They don't cite a source though. It's possible somebody just guessed once, and everyone's been repeating the same guess as fact ever since.
- Steven, 49, Pittsburgh

E-MAIL OF THE WEEK

“Like to spear [sic] in an episode of person of interest on TV. I could be a bad foreign person who befriends Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese. who knows. maybe something think about. Background that I was in the CIA with Mt. Reese. [sic] Let’s ponder a bit. Thanks Frank S. Sent from my iPhone.”
- A reader pitches himself for a role on CBS’s “Person of Interest,” which I, of course, have no control over.

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