TV Q&A: 'It Takes a Choir,' 'The Millers' and 'Nightly Sports Call'

Friday, 28 November 2014 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 “It Takes a Choir,” “The Millers,” a local pre-emption and “Nightly Sports Call.” As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I was not able to locate the USA TV show, "The Choir" that had been scheduled in October. I'm a big fan of Gareth Malone and his show when it was on the BBC America Network. What happened with this American version and would you know if there is another date set up for it to be on?

- Joni via email

Rob: Retitled “It Takes a Choir” for USA, the show never premiered as USA said it would in October. That was at least the third or fourth time the network announced an air date and then scrapped it. Because Pittsburgh Brashear High School was featured in one of the episodes taped in December 2012, I’ve been keeping tabs on this one pretty closely and had a question about a new premiere date out to USA at the same time Joni’s question arrived.

Last Thursday USA finally confirmed an air date. USA is writing off the show, airing all the episodes between 12 and 8 p.m. on Dec. 29. The Brashear episode will air second, 1-2 p.m.


Q: Why is CBS braying about The Dish not carrying their programs? Anyone with any sense knows that all you have to do is plug in your other TV - almost everybody has at least two TVs - and get your antenna turned to channel 2 - you never have to miss any CBS programming for any reason, unless you cannot receive the signal because you are so far from civilization that you are isolated. Such fuss over nothing!!!!!!

- Tom, 65, Mt. Lebanon

Rob: If only that were true, Tom. In Squirrel Hill it is impossible to get some over-the-air channels (in the past when I’ve tried, WTAE did not come in). I’ve heard other folks have trouble receiving other channels, depending on location. While Tom’s theory may work in some cities with flatter terrain, Pittsburgh’s hilly topography ensures that the ability to receive channels over-the-air is not a given.


Q: I thought “The Millers” was doing OK in the ratings - why was it taken off?  Did it have to do with Sean Hayes coming on?
- Linda, 50, Cecil
No, Sean Hayes had nothing to do with it. The decision was driven by ratings.

“The Millers” did OK but not spectacular last season on Thursday but CBS gave the sense they were determined to make the show a hit despite its many creative failings.

The move to this fall resulted in big ratings declines that were enough that no amount of wishing and hoping to make the show last long enough for syndication could justify keeping it on the air to CBS executives. So they cut their losses by canceling the show.


Q: The three major networks chose not to show the president's speech on immigration. However, WTAE took it upon themselves to pre-empt the winter finale of “Grey's Anatomy” to show it. When the speech was over after 15 minutes, they joined the show already in progress. What possibly could have been their motivation for doing this considering there are many other avenues to watch the speech, including a stream on WTAE's website.

- Judy, Scott

Rob: A little over a decade ago, before the age of streaming video, if a local station pre-empted the network’s prime-time lineup, there was often no way for viewers to see the episode they missed. That’s no longer the case. That “Grey’s Anatomy” episode was available at so viewers could have the opportunity to see it, making the pre-emption far less egregious than it once would have been.

At the same time, Judy is right that a wealth of outlets, including PBS, made the speech available so even those without cable who were interested could find it.

Here’s a response from WTAE general manager Charles Wolfertz: “This was a live presidential address scheduled at a time when the American people could view it on an important issue that affects people in all areas of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. 

“We felt a journalistic responsibility to our viewers to provide the President’s address on WTAE-TV and” reports WTAE parent company Hearst got permission from ABC to pre-empt prime-time on Hearst-owned-stations. 


Q: I watch the “Nightly Sports Call” and I have a question. They double box Pompeani and Collier or Cooke. The guests on the right box appear in High Def, but Pompeani appears to not be in High Def. Am I crazy or what?
- Bob, Monroeville

Rob: Bob is not crazy!

Part of ‘Sports Call’ is done in our Studio A, which is all-HD. Part of the show is done in our Studio B, which has not yet been converted [to HD],” explained KDKA general manager Chris Pike. “We had intended to make the transition in that studio earlier this year but were delayed. The equipment is in house and should be installed in first quarter 2015.”

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