TV Q&A: NBC's 'Whitney,' WTAE's 'Rachael Ray' move and weekend morning anchors on WPXI

Friday, 09 September 2011 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 NBC’s “Whitney,” WTAE’s decision to move “Rachael Ray” to late night and weekend morning anchors on WPXI. 

As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I read your column faithfully and your opinions are usually accurate. Why did Jeff Goldblum leave “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”? I thought he was great! And, any news on “Bobs Burgers,” or am I the only person who thought it was hilarious?  Thank you for your time.

- Andrea, 41, Oakland

Rob: You are not alone in your love of “Bob’s Burgers.” The show grew on me, too, and I was happy to report earlier this year that it was renewed for a second season that will air in 2012. 

As for Goldblum and “L&O: CI,” it appears he left of his own choosing after his contract expired. His representative chalked it up as “due to uncertainty” about the show’s future.

 

Q: I can't seem to watch NBC for more than a half hour without seeing at least 3 commercials for the new fall show "Whitney." Enough already!  Have you seen it yet?  Is it worth all their hype?

-Dee, 50, Mt. Lebanon
Rob:
It’s funny that, anecdotally, this is the show I’ve heard more people talking about – and not in a good way. People seem to hate the promos or at least resent the show for seeing it hyped.
I did not hate “Whitney” – plenty of other critics did, I think – but I did not like it that much either. It had some funny moments but the characters were disappointingly generic.

 

Q: I notice that you list tvtattle.com as one of your favorite sites. Lately when I have been visiting the site, my virus scan has warned me that the site was downloading some suspicious files to my computer. Are you ever in touch with the site's operator to find out what is going on?
Also, the site usually has 2-3 video advertisements that pop up when you open it.  This too is extremely annoying. 
Thanks for your help, and great work!
-Jack, 26, Columbus, Ohio
Rob:
I’d completely forgotten that I list TVTattle.com as a favorite site. It is a favorite but I’ve had the same problem and worse. My PG laptop got corrupted twice this summer from going to that site but oddly my home computer, which has different anti-virus software, has never reacted badly to the site.

Regardless, I’ve asked to have the link removed from post-gazette.com so no one else is impacted. The site’s operator, who identified himself only as Norman, said he’d received one other e-mail on the issue the same day he received mine and he thinks he corrected the problem. Prior to that he said he received just two virus concerns in 18 months.

 

Q: I see WTAE is replacing the Rachael Ray show with Nate Berkus' new show. Do you know if any other Pittsburgh stations will be airing the Rachael Ray show?

-Sharon, 44, Irwin
Rob:
We reported last week that Ray’s show will remain on WTAE but move to a new time slot, 1:05 a.m. 

Q: Why did “The Rachael Ray Show move to 1:05 a.m.? Ratings will be EXTREMELY low!  KDKA or WPXI should try and pick it up. This is AWFUL!!

-Adam, 13, Pittsburgh

Q: So you reported in your article that “Rachael Ray” is moving to 1:05 am and being replaced by Nate Berkus. Is there really that much more of a demand for Berkus? I thought Rachael Ray was one of the top daytime shows. Can you find out more as to why channel 4 made the move?

-Rob, 36, South Hills

Rob: TV is a business first and foremost and there’s a business decision behind everything. (Remember: Viewers are not the customer, advertisers are.)

My guess is Channel 4 got a better deal on Berkus’ show, hence the move. WTAE general manager Michael Hayes did not get into the business reasons in his response to the questions.

“Both are good shows and we're fortunate to have them,” he said in an e-mail. “Nate will be a nice bridge between ‘Live’ and ‘The View’ while giving viewers an alternative format focused on home and style.”

 

Q: I am a DirecTV subscriber. Are you aware, is there anywhere I can register my unhappiness with the fact that they still do not have AMC in high-definition? AMC has some of the most acclaimed shows on television (“Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad”) and yet I still have to watch with the border blacked out and relatively poor picture quality.
I would gladly trade one of the Disney high-def channels or Cartoon Network or something to get AMC in high-def (I know it doesn't work that way, just saying).
-Jim, 41, Allison Park
Rob:
Again, this is a business issue. DirecTV would love to provide you with AMC in HD but the two companies have not yet struck a deal to make that happen. My guess is AMC wants compensation for its HD channel that DirecTV is unwilling to pay.

 

Q: I sometimes watch “Dr. Phil.”  At the end of the show, it says for tapes of the show … and it gives the info.  My question is this: Can't anybody record any TV show or movie? What's the story?

-Eric, 51, Monroeville
Rob:
Yes, anyone can record what’s on TV but my guess is some programs offer copies of their episodes because not everyone thinks to hit record at the beginning of every show they watch. And it’s pretty much pure profit if anyone takes them up on the offer.

 

Q: Why has the fourth hour of NBC's "Today Show" been a repeat this week? The other three hours use fill-in anchor/hosts when one of the primary anchor/host is off, is this not possible with the fourth hour? Are Kathie Lee and Hoda so insecure with their jobs that someone can't fill in when they're both off. (However, I have seen someone fill-in when just one of them is off, eg. Jimmy Fallon). It seems a little strange for a news program to be airing a report from May 2010 as was done this past Monday (8/22/2011) when a repeat of the make-up free fourth hour of the "Today Show" was rebroadcast and they showed Meredith Vieira as part of the cast. Of course, as we all know, Meredith left earlier this year. Thanks for your help in finding out this information. I've checked the web and cannot come up with an explanation for this practice.

-Tracy, 40, Pittsburgh
Rob:
Again, it’s a business issue: Reruns cost nothing; fill-in co-hosts do. They used reruns because it’s summer and they can get away with it. Also, the fourth hour of “Today” is not a news program – not by a long shot – even though it carries the “Today” brand name.

An NBC publicist’s official response to Tracy’s question: “We are bringing back some of the most talked about fan-favorite episodes this week.”

 

Q: Whatever happened to polite applause? So many TV shows today include bellowing, screaming, etc.
I know there is a group who think "Wow! My voice was on TV," such as the "In the hole" idiots at golf tournaments, but really, the ovations some people get were never received by the likes of Caruso, Olivier, Lincoln ... well you get my point.
-Donald, 75, Pittsburgh
Rob:
Sorry, but I don’t get your point. I haven’t noticed canned laughs or applause on TV shows being all that much more boisterous today than in the past. Maybe on daytime circus shows like “Jerry Springer” but not on sitcoms or “SNL.”



Q: NBC is airing a show called “Prime Suspect” with Maria Bello this coming season. There was a British series called “Prime Suspect” that starred Helen Mirren as Jane Tennyson.  My question is this. Did NBC have to pay for the use of the title or what?

Also, who is replacing Patrice King Brown on KDKA TV?

-Marie, 73, Delmont

Rob: Yes, NBC bought the rights to the “Prime Suspect” format.

As far as KDKA-TV’s anchor situation, I thought something would have been finalized by now, too.

“The short answer to the question is no one [will replace Patrice],” said KDKA general manager Chris Pike in an e-mailed response. “As we said when she retired, the smile and warmth that endeared Patrice to Pittsburgh area viewers for 30+ years are irreplaceable. With that said, we anticipate adding two anchor/reporter positions in the very near future.”

This week I heard that former Cleveland morning news anchor Kimberly Gill tweeted that she is heading to Pittsburgh for a job but I could find no evidence of such a tweet on her Twitter feed, although she did say she dined at Kaya in The Strip on Aug. 23.

 

Q: Why was Cara Sapida replaced as the news anchor on WPXI weekend news?  I felt she did a great job.  Where is she now?

I don't care for the new cast of “The Early Show.”  I don't like the stories they are featuring.  I used to watch it faithfully when Harry Smith was with the show.  Where is Harry now?

-Janet, 77, Penn Hills

Rob: New weekend morning anchor Brittny McGraw did not replace Channel 11 reporter Cara Sapida, who was just filling in on weekend mornings until McGraw arrived at Channel 11 to replace the departed Danielle Nottingham

Harry Smith has moved to NBC to work on a prime-time newsmagazine expected to air sometime during the 2011-12 TV season. 

 

Q: I know you've spoken about this before … at the end of each half hour on Headline News, Comcast runs that local interview piece.  Why wouldn't Comcast move this to some other channel? There are plenty of other channels to put something like this. It doesn't seem to make any sense to replace part of a national newscast. Thanks
-Joe, 44, Squirrel Hill

Rob: I’m pretty sure they program Comcast Newsmakers where they do on HLN because CNN makes the time available to be pre-empted. I don’t know of another cable news network that does that.



Q: I asked this question previously; however, I can't believe it is still an issue (unless this changed in the last week and a half I have been out of town).
Do KDKA or WTAE have plans to put HD capable cameras in the field for recorded and live reports instead of just having them in the studio?  WPXI was and still is the only news organization in the city to get HD right.  You would think this would be an embarrassment at this point for the other two.

-Eric, 51, Monroeville

Rob: You’d think it would be as easy as flipping a switch but it’s not.

WTAE director of engineering Dave Kasperek said the station has rolled out a fleet of HD field cameras but the links in between the cameras and what viewers see on-air remain a work in progress.

“It’s something we work on every day,” he said. “Every day we find a piece of something that we get working a little better.”

He said viewers can expect a gradual improvement in the picture quality from field reports as engineers solve these equipment communication problems.

KDKA-TV news director Anne Linaberger did not respond to a request for comment.

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