TV Q&A: 'Sound of Music Live,' 'Low Winter Sun' and a WPXI anchor

Friday, 13 December 2013 04:29 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 “Sound of Music Live, “Low Winter Sun” and a WPXI anchor. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I thoroughly enjoyed NBC’s "Sound of Music Live." It seems to have gone off without a hitch -- perhaps there were some but they were covered up well -- it was like attending a Broadway show and the signing was just fine. But what a shame that Julie Andrews could not be added, even for a cameo. Her voice was a pleasure to hear and is truly missed!

-Tom, 65, Mt. Lebanon
Q: I watched “SOM” on NBC last night and thought it was fairly well done, considering the stage setting.  But I felt that the cast was lip-syncing (done well, though), which took away from the production.  Do you know?  
Were they?

- Bill, Churchill

Q: While watching "The Sound of Music" I noticed an annoying background noise, something like "white noise." Did anyone else hear it? Also, I got the impression that some of the songs were pre-recorded and lip-synced. Were they? For you people who try to compare this production with the original movie and complain about it, take it for face value as a stand-alone rendition. You are the type of people who would watch a new version of "Our American Cousin" and complain that nobody got shot.

- Dan, 67, New Castle

Rob: According to the show’s publicist, the actors sang live the entire time, no lip-syncing.

We discussed the white noise sound that some viewers heard – bad sound mixing, perhaps? – in this week’s Tuned In podcast.

As for Andrews, her voice was damaged by a throat operation and she’s not singing much these days.

 “Sound of Music Live” turned out to be a ratings hit, drawing 18.6 million viewers

Q: I'm wondering if any word has come out of AMC in regards to a second season of “Low Winter Sun.” I really enjoyed it, especially Lennie James. I'm sure it's a long shot to be back, but I haven't seen a definitive yes or no from the network.

- Dan, 43, Lewiston, NY

Rob: Good timing, Dan. I was wondering about this, too, but figured the show will not return given the total lack of buzz. I e-mailed the show’s AMC publicist to confirm and at first she said no decision had been made but a few hours later word came out that the show had been canceled and she emailed back with the news.

“Low Winter Sun” got mixed reviews, not only from critics but also from its own cast members


Q: What's the deal with “The Mentalist”? Is it going to stay with the new format? It is humorless and boring. Any chance of getting the previous CBI group together?

Also, doesn't the plot of CBS’s upcoming “Intelligence” sound exactly like “Chuck”?

- Allison, 59, Mt. Lebanon

Rob: Some semblance of normal is returning to “The Mentalist.” At the end of last Sunday’s episode, Jane and Lisbon joined the FBI so from here on out, it will be back to the crime of the week. A CBS publicist said viewers will still continue to see the old CBI gang, including Rigsby and Van Pelt.

As for “Intelligence,” I was just watching the first two episodes this week and had a similar thought, although “Intelligence” is much more self-serious and lacks most of the comedic element that made “Chuck” charming in its early seasons.


Q: I thought FCC had in place a rule involving the volume of commercials (supposed to be same as show playing). That doesn't seem to be happening.

- Frederick, 63, Franklin Park

Rob: As we’ve noted previously, the CALM Act went into effect last year.

For viewers who remain unsatisfied or skeptical of local stations efforts, The FCC outlines how to complain about the CALM Act on its website. There's a link to file complaints there. 


Q: In the show “Boardwalk Empire,” what are the wood structures on the beach in front of the Albatross Hotel where Nucky Thompson lives?

- George, 51, Kentucky

Rob: The show’s HBO publicist wasn’t sure what George was talking about but my PG colleague Maria Sciullo, a “Boardwalk” devotee, thinks he’s referring to cabanas on the beach where sunbathers would change from street clothes into bathing suits.


wpxi logos to centerQ: Recently on Comcast cable I noticed a disturbing change on the banner and station logo position. The station logos on all channels have moved more to the middle of the screen as compared to the bottom corner (see photo at left). The banners are now elevated from the bottom of the screen. This is very annoying and decreases the actual picture. This new configuration is more prominent on all local news broadcasts. Comcast cannot give me any satisfactory answers. Is this change permanent?  Who do I complain to? I think FiOS also has the same format. If you could get some answers for me I will be forever in your debt because it almost makes TV unwatchable. This new format is throughout the area. My friend in the North Hills has the same picture.

- David, 54, Baldwin

Rob: Comcast spokesman Bob Grove said the cable systems have made no changes in delivery of local programming, which makes sense. This is originating at the local stations. And it seems pretty clear why: Watch the same program on an HD set and on an SD set. On SD, you’ll see the logo is only half on screen (see photo below); my guess is if they didn’t move the logo closer to center on HD, you wouldn’t see it at all in SD.

logo cut offI asked WTAE director of engineering Dave Kasperek about this and he had a similar take: “Ever since the introduction of 16x9 TVs program producers have had to carefully compose graphics and camera shots to respect ‘safe title area’ of all the legacy 4x3 TVs still in use while creating a compatible pleasing 16x9 image. Think about it -- we don't know what a given viewer is watching on so we have to compose for two dissimilar display devices. The end result by definition is a compromise and clearly some viewers will take note. When you see graphics cut off at the edges of a 4x3 TV the safe title area was not considered carefully enough or that TV is really out of standard.”


Q: Maybe you mentioned it in one of your articles that I may have missed, what happened to Peggy Finnegan. I've been watching channel 11, recently, and there are two other female anchors substituting for her with David Johnson.

- Jon, 58, Lower Burrell

Rob: The confusion is understandable. Finnegan’s bio at still lists her as anchoring at 5 and 6 p.m. and doesn’t mention the noon news, which she has anchored since April 2011.

When Channel 11 hired Lisa Sylvester this fall, she was put in the 6 p.m. slot after the noon news expanded to an hour.

“With the noon expanding to an hour, we gave Peggy a half hour off on the back of the early evening,” explained WPXI news director Mike Oliveira. “So Peggy does the hour at noon and 5 p.m. Lisa handles the 6, 10 and 11.”

Of course, moving anchors to noon is also often the first step in phasing out an anchor – by making room in more prominent time periods for someone new -- something Pittsburgh viewers have seen happen before.


Q: Back in March 2012 you answered a question about whether the Weather Channel HD on Comcast will carry any local weather information, including “Local on the 8s”.  You answered: “According to Comcast spokesman Bob Grove, local forecasts are carried in Weather Chanel in standard definition and Comcast is looking into incorporating them into the HD programming in the future.”

Well, we’re now a year-and-a-half into the future, and I decided to tune in and see if “Weather on the 8s” had any information on last weekend’s winter storm.  And apparently we’re still stuck in the “past” since there was still no local weather info there.  (The standard definition channel still carries local weather info, as it always has.)

Can anyone tell us when the “future” will finally reach Pittsburgh as it has in other cities around the nation?

- Mark, Squirrel Hill

Rob: According to Comcast spokesman Bob Grove, the “Local on the 8s” information will be displayed on Weather Channel’s HD feed in Pittsburgh beginning in the first quarter of 2014.

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