TV Q&A: 'Hawaii Five-0,' 'The Joe Schmo Show,' 'Drop Dead Diva' and local news personalities

Friday, 22 February 2013 04:31 PM 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 “The Joe Schmo Show,” “Drop Dead Diva” and local TV news personalities.

As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: On the recent “Hawaii Five-0” that just aired on Monday I could swear that the bad guy was Pat Monahan from Train. I could not see the credits, they were too small. If it wasn't him, it was his twin. Can you find this out for us?

- Carol, 58, Castle Shannon

Rob: Carol is correct. According to CBS’s description, Pat Monahan from Train did appear in Monday’s episode. 


Q: I really enjoy the show “Vegas” on CBS. I think it has a great cast and great writing. It consistently wins the 10 p.m. time slot in total viewers (10-11 million) but does not always win the 18-49 demographic. I read that CBS will most likely cancel it even though 11 million viewers is a number most shows don't even get close to. What are its chances of survival? Is there anything viewers can do to save the show? Why is the 18-49 demographic so important?

- Amy, 38, Allison Park
Q: Is “Vegas” canceled, or being moved on the schedule?

- Char, 74, Sewickley

Rob: “Vegas” has not been canceled but it will be pre-empted for the next two weeks for “Golden Boy.” “Vegas” returns March 12 and a new episode airs March 19. I’ll have a story on the show in TV Week on March 10 that addresses much of this question.

Amy is correct that “Vegas” is in danger of cancellation because, like NBC’s “Harry’s Law” last season, it skews old. Not enough young people are watching. Why does that matter? Because networks cater to advertisers and advertisers function under the belief that young people’s brand preferences are not set but older viewers are and that makes older viewers less persuadable by their commercials.

Q: Does AMC have plans to re-air the first half of season five of “Breaking Bad” before airing the final episodes this summer? If not, is it available to watch anywhere besides iTunes?

- David, 48, Bridgeville

Rob: These episodes are actually re-airing now at 4:30 a.m. Mondays although an AMC publicist says they’re likely to re-air at a more sane hour closer to when the new episodes premiere this summer (but no date for that has been set).

A check of our online listings also shows that the entire series is set to start re-airing from the beginning on AMC sister-channel Sundance with the first two episodes starting at 11 p.m. on March 4.


Q: I was wondering if someone connected with "Rules of Engagement" has a Pittsburgh connection because on the Feb. 11 episode there was a quick shot of Liberty Avenue and Smithfield Street used as a set-up shot. It took me by surprise because the buildings looked familiar, so I backed up the DVR and froze the picture. Sure enough, I could make out the blue street sign which read "Smithfield St." Just curious.

- Alex, 69, Pittsburgh

Rob: I am not aware of anyone on “Rules” with a Pittsburgh connection and an email to the show’s CBS publicists, Vernon Cheek and Stanka Luna, was not returned. My guess is the show’s editors simply grabbed the establishing image from a repository of stock footage, unaware of or unconcerned about the actual location.


Q: Is “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” more than just a one episode pilot? Really nice premise. I would say it has promise -- much better than “Caprica,” which was a mistake.

Do folks on your side of the business get dates as to when shows like “Mad Men” Season 5 and “Walking Dead” Season 3 will be available on Netflix?  

One last question and one comment: Is “Defiance” not the biggest “Firefly” rip off ever?  

And you're 1000 percent right -- The CNN coverage on the crippled cruise ship was absolutely over-the-top ridiculous!!! What are they thinking?.... It’s a complete embarrassment. 

- Tom, 47, Upper St. Clair

Rob: I reported on the status of “Blood & Chrome” in a column earlier this month. At the moment, there are no plans for future episodes but perhaps hopes that there might be more.

NetFlix has just recently begun sending me notices about the availability of upcoming titles (usually 1-2 months before the streaming release date) but there’s no public forum where these dates are posted.

I have not yet seen “Defiance” so I cannot judge it in comparison to “Firefly.”

Q: Will SyFy be airing the last few episodes of this season's “Haven”? I know they postponed showing them because of content pertaining to school violence but I haven't seen them in the TV listings since.

- Ron, 60, Bethel Park
Those episodes aired in January. You might try checking to see if they are available online at the usual spots (, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instand).

Q: Just wondering if you were surprised by what seemed like a somewhat unexpected cancellation of "Drop Dead Diva." I seem to remember hearing it was an expensive show to produce, but it seems a shame it was canceled so abruptly with no thought to resolving the storylines. Any rumblings about it being picked up somewhere else?
- Cynthia, 51, McCandless

Rob: No rumblings at all.

I was surprised by the cancellation but I had not been paying attention to the show’s ratings either. “Diva” did not have a ton of buzz in recent years, for whatever that is worth. There’s also new management at Lifetime and the newcomers may have been eager to put their stamp on the network with new programs.

Q: I noticed that the Wikipedia page for TLC's "Police Women" series has been recently updated to say that the show will return this year in St. Louis. A Google search only returned speculation from 2011 that the show would be filmed in St. Louis. Any truth to the Wikipedia page that you know of? Thanks!
- Tyler, 22, Penn Hills
None that I know of. TLC confirmed it is not making any new “Police Women” episodes but I also learned reruns have been airing on OWN. It’s possible OWN will reactivate the series, I suppose, but network spokeswoman Jessica Boyer did not respond to the question.

Q: Why does CBS insist on renaming “Survivor” every season? When they change the name season to season, my DVR fails to recognize the program, and thus fails to record it.
“RuPaul's Drag Race” dealt with the problem this year by reminding its Facebook fans to update their DVR lists, but it would be so much easier if the shows retained consistent names year-to-year.

- Fritz, 29, Squirrel Hill

Rob: While I understand the need to change a show’s title for marketing purposes and on-air promotion – to distinguish it as new, different and something viewers have not seen before – it makes absolutely no sense to change the title each year in listings in the DVR age. Set your DVR for “Survivor: Palau” and the next season when it’s “Survivor: Samoan Islands,” the DVR will fail to record it because it’s not the same title. The only logical reason for this is networks either don’t know or don’t care if they mess with DVR viewers because they’d prefer viewers to watch their shows live as live ratings mean more to advertisers.

CBS released a statement in response to the question: “The show title always starts with the ‘Survivor’ brand name but changes per season to reflect the location or specific theme of the season. We’re certainly mindful of how new technologies influence the viewers’ navigation experience – both the known and the unforeseen – but it’s too early to speculate on what might happen for next season and beyond.

Q: On “Joe Schmo Show,” is the interpreter using real sign language, or is he just making up gestures?

- Maureen, 33, Astoria, OR
According to the show’s publicist, “Actor Fred Cross, who plays Stan ‘The Interpreter’ on Spike’s ‘The Joe Schmo Show’ is using actual American Sign Language (ASL). Fred learned sign language as a child from his grandmother who was deaf. He’s used this skill (aside from being a graduate of Second City) in a number of notable roles as an interpreter on the TV series ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Weeds.’ His other non-interpreter TV acting roles have included ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘“The Office,’ ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘House.’

And what about Karlee, “the deaf girl”?

“Jo Newman, who plays Karlee knows some ASL – she knew it in advance of joining the show,” the Spike publicist explained. “She had an improv routine about a deaf character and learned it for that but she does improvise quite often.”


Q: Are there TV series that might buy a script written by a fan?  If so, do I submit to the network or how would that work?
My other question: WTAE-TV news has a legal commentator named Del Greco and also an on-air personality Andrew Del Greco.  Are they related?

- Kate, 43, Scott Township
WTAE Reporter Andrew Del Greco is NOT related to legal analyst Robert Del Greco. 

“Andrew tells me he gets asked this all of the time,” writes WTAE news director Justin Antoniotti in an emailed response.

As for script submissions, most shows destroy any scripts sent to them to avoid legal tangles down the road. Writers in Hollywood are sometimes encouraged to write spec scripts of current shows – not shows they want a job on -- as a way to submit a writing sample to a prospective series they do want to write for. But really, to get a writing job in TV, you almost always need an agent.


Q: Do you think WTAE's Amber Nicotra will get the weekend anchor job in the mornings.

-Joe, 42, N. Huntingdon

Rob: Uncertain but if they’re still looking, it seems like it is not a slam dunk.

We are still searching for a new weekend morning anchor,” WTAE’s Justin Antoniotti explained. “We are very fortunate to have someone as talented as Amber to anchor while we complete our search for candidates.”

Q: Is Bob Grove, the Comcast spokesperson to whom you have forwarded many inquiries in the past, the same as the Bob Grove who is the Pittsburgh Penguins long-time historian and host of the team's pre- and post-game radio shows? Or is the same name just a coincidence?
- Mike, 48, White Oak
He is one and the same. Grove grew up a Penguins fan and was a sports editor for the Observer-Reporter newspaper in his pre-Comcast days.

When I left the newspaper business I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to co-host for some broadcasts beginning in 1998,” Grove said. “My current radio duties just evolved out of that, thanks to great support from the team.”


Q: The reception for channel 11 (WPXI) over the air lately has been absolutely abysmal.  I think it started about a month or two ago. It's not connected to the weather; even on calm, clear nights we have very spotty reception. Have they changed their equipment or shut off a transmitter or something? And might there be any hope for improvement?  Thanks in advance.

- Kelsey, 21, Eighty Four

Rob: Although WPXI expanded its signal in a different direction recently (

) WPXI general manager Ray Carter says nothing has changed that should be impacting Kelsey.

We haven’t made any changes that should be affecting coverage within our service area, and I just checked with our engineers to see if we’ve had similar complaints. They tell me we’ve received no calls or emails,” he replied. “She might want to rescan her TV channels to make sure she’s getting the strongest of the available WPXI signals. (That rescanning process can be done through their digital-to-analog converter boxes and/or digital televisions.)

“I would also encourage Kelsey and all other viewers to contact our engineers if she has a technical issue. She is welcome to call our WPXI Technical Hotline at 412-918-8181. We’re committed to providing quality broadcast service to our entire market and will work with the viewer to take care of any concern.”



We had a technical hiccup that resulted in many TV Q&A submissions after Dec. 8, 2012, not getting through to me. If you submitted a question between Dec. 8 and Feb. 13, please submit it again here:


I’m still working on getting answers from unresponsive publicists to questions that arrived this week about “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Holmes on Homes.”

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