TV Q&A: 'Chicago Fire,' 'Downward Dog' and an MIA WTAE anchor

Thursday, 29 March 2018 12:00 PM Written by 

Q: Noticed on "Who wants to be a Millionaire" show, several former contestants show up as a contestant's "plus one" from the audience.  Does the show provide "experts" for contestants? I saw this on March 19, even though it was a rerun.  Chris Harrison even mentioned that the plus-one was a former contestant on the show.  It was an episode shown on a couple of stations that day, so I assume this is the show that went out over all stations that carry “Millionaire.”


Rob: A spokesperson for “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” says the show “does not get involved with selection of the contestants’ “Plus Ones” – it is up to each contestant to choose who they want to bring to the show.”

Q: Friends and I would like to know which channels will have the most complete coverage of the royal wedding on May 19? Thanks


Rob: It’s probably a little early to know what networks are planning but also safe to assume cable news networks will provide wall-to-wall coverage and perhaps some entertainment channels will do likewise.

Q: I have read your article about the “Outsiders” trying to find a home in order to continue its story. I am now a fan after watching both seasons nonstop. I am finding out that this happens a lot every time I find an entertaining, intelligently written story in a series. Is there anyone I can write to to show my support as well? I don't use Twitter or Facebook. 


Rob: Sorry but that ship sailed in spring 2016 when WGN America canceled “Outsiders.” No other network picked it up, although some sniffed around, including possibly CMT, but then it got out of the scripted series business. “Outsiders” is done.


Q: Any news on bringing back “Downward Dog”?

Rob: Sorry, but this one is finished, too. Producers tried to shop it to another network, but they never were ever able to make a deal.

Q: Can you tell me what happened to the original "Chicago Fire"?  It was a great show with a great cast. I see it has been replaced with new cast members. Was there a contract dispute with the former actors, concept, production costs, other reasons given, etc. I was a loyal fan of the original and lament such transmogrifications in the television industry.


Rob: In the current age of TV, casts of shows rarely stay fully intact for a show’s entire run. More often than not there are changes made to the cast for a variety of reasons dictated by story (bringing in new characters adds fresh blood), actors wanting out, contract disputes, etc.


Q: What update can you give on the launch of "The Passage" TV series on Fox, based on the books by Justin Cronin?


Rob: At this point “The Passage” is a pilot in contention at Fox but one that’s already seen some recasting and reshooting. We may have a better sense of the show’s prospects when the networks announce their 2018-19 TV series orders in May.


Q: I understand local TV stations' self-perceived need for self-promotion during news telecasts. However, WPXI seems to me to take it a little over-the-top. During a late-March newscast break, a typical commanding announcer booms, "Weather Team 11 tracks snow, and lets you know when it arrives!" Seriously??!


Rob: I’m all for mocking TV stations’ promos when they are legitimately over-the-top, but this one doesn’t seem that way to me. We know weather is the No. 1 reason viewers tune into local news, so why wouldn’t a station promote its weather coverage and when a storm is due to arrive? I can’t get upset about this one.


Q: I noticed Bofta Yimam has not been on Channel 4 WTAE news for a while.   Has she left WTAE?


Rob: Yes, we reported her departure in February.




I just finished reading your article on the public’s reaction to shows depicting people who are dealing with autism every day, whether they are the person who is struggling with it or the family members that deal with the day-to-day challenges and triumphs of everyday life with the person. It is very important that the average American become aware of the different aspects of autism and that not everyone who is autistic is exactly the same.

You see, my late youngest brother Jim was autistic back in the 1960s. It was discovered when he was 2 and was able to sight read at 2. My father had brought up a can of cauliflower from the pantry and Jim looked at it and read without any prompting by anyone “Snowflaus Cauliflower.” My mother standing there preparing dinner had him repeat it and Jim did without hesitation. His behavior was very different from the rest of us. He was the fifth child out of five. He could not handle loud noises, was adamant on certain routines and if anything did not go as it was first stated at the last minute he would have a major breakdown. My parents realized something was definitely different about him in his daily activities. Once he did his older brother’s math homework just by doing a quick look at each row of the problems and writing the answers down quickly. He had them all correct. His major problem was interacting socially. He was a brilliant person and knew a great deal on many subjects, he just had a very hard time expressing what he knew.

This problem caused many issues in school and on the street as he grew up. He started out in public school, but they were not prepared for a person like Jim. In fact, the medical world was not prepared; they did not have a definite diagnosis for him in 1965-66. He did attend a special therapy lab at Pitt. There he would go into a room with every toy known on the market. Before he could play with whatever he wanted, he had to put a jigsaw puzzle together. If he did not complete his task, he was sent into a room with one of our parents that had a desk, and lounge chair, and an easy chair. The time I was there, he landed in that room, crawled up onto the lounge chair and fell asleep. Our dad was in with him and read the paper. The parent was not to interact with him at any time.

When he was in school, kids bullied him every day. It got so bad that he was jumped in the boys’ room and had his ribs cracked and had to take off a few days till they healed. By fifth grade our parents found a school dedicated to special education students. It was there that life changed for Jim.

From that point forward, the education of autism was increasing and more options were coming to life. In some areas there was still a strong need, but Jim being identified as high functioning made the best of what was available. We were fortunate that he was high functioning, but at times we did have very stressful periods. However, he provided us with very proud moments so those are the ones I keep in my memory bank. My heart goes out to the families that struggle with a child/young adult who is not high functioning  yet at the same time so loving.  

It is because of where my brother worked for 20 years (Life’s Work) and I was able to meet the people he worked and able to tour, that I have a very strong belief that people who have a disability like autism have special talents, and it is our responsibility to find them and develop them. Jim had the talent of organization, manufacturing and a very analytic mind. It took time to find these special talents, but when called upon to use them, I would not want anyone else to do the job. He was very good at what he did.

I am so happy “The Good Doctor” is on TV. I can see some of my brother in Sean Murphy.



I agree with Joe from McCandless, WTAE weather reporting is beyond overkill.  Nobody needs four to five weather reports in a 30 minute segment.  Maybe in a warning situation.  I think this is the obsession of the News Director and not the public.   I am also annoyed to the point of switching channels.





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