TV Q&A: 'Prodigal Son,' 'Crossword Mysteries' and WPXI's morning news

Thursday, 24 October 2019 12:00 AM Written by 

Q: The Oxygen network had been showing “NCIS” reruns on Wednesdays (4 p.m.-1.a.m.). They now are showing other programming on that day/time slot.  Have they discontinued the “NCIS” shows or moved them to another day/time slot?


Rob: A search of the listings shows Oxygen relocated “NCIS” reruns to running much of the day Monday, 12-3 a.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday. Reruns also air at assorted hours much of the day on USA and TNT.



Q: Are these shows canceled: “Big Little Lies,” “Berlin Station,” Deep State” and “Prodigal Son”?


Rob: “Prodigal Son” just premiered a few weeks ago on Fox and it’s doing pretty well ratings-wise. Fox ordered a full first season based on its performance the first two weeks of the season so it should be safe for a bit.

Epix canceled “Berlin Station” in March after three seasons. 

“Big Little Lies” was only intended to be one season but popular demand dictated a second season that was not as well received critically. Currently there are no plans for a third season.

Epix says no decision has been made on the future of “Deep State.”



Q: On a recent “Crossword Mysteries: Proposing Murder,” could you please tell me where the college scenes were shot? Also, was the movie shot on location in NYC?


Rob:Many, though not all, Hallmark shows film in Canada and that’s true of “Crossword Mysteries,” which shoots in Toronto. The college scenes were filmed at Victoria University in the University of Toronto. No filming was done in New York, although they could have used some NYC stock footage as establishing shots.



Q: I read your answer today about Stacy SmithDoes the same answer apply to Joe Arena?  I guess us old people get used to the same newscasters and when things change, it's the end of the world. Lol

-Dave, Conway

Q: Is Joe Arena being made the scapegoat for the WPXI morning news’ low ratings thus their new cast and rebranding?


Q: Did WPXI officially move Joe Arena to their weekend anchor and replace him with Gordon Loesch? If "yes", do they provide a reason?

Rob: I started asking news director Scott Trabandt this question in July after Arena first disappeared from the morning news. Trabandt refused to provide a straight answer about who was part of the weekday morning news team, an odd snub of Channel 11 viewers’ questions I’ve never encountered with a news director in 22 years of covering local television. 

This week his boss, WPXI general manager Kevin Hayes, did provide a response.

“We permanently moved Gordon Loesch to the mornings, and simultaneously moved Joe to weekends,” Mr. Hayes said, although Arena’s bio on the WPXI has yet to be updated. 

He did not say why the change was made – TV station managers never do – which always leaves viewers to speculate. In May sweeps WPXI was in third place in the key demo at 6 a.m., so perhaps it was a result of ratings that Channel 11 made changes to its morning newscast.



Q: I just read your piece on the hiring of Mary Ours at KDKA-TV. Is Ray Petelin still freelancing there or is he an official staff member?


Rob: We reported Petelin moved into a full-time role on staff in July

All four meteorologists at KDKA – Petelin, Ours, Kristin Emery, Ron Smiley – are now full-time KDKA staff members.



Q: Any other local media retiring by New Year’s? When Jon Burnett retired I heard several different things, including that Stacy Smith and Jon Delano may be close to retiring. I thought I’d ask you if you could spill the milk or beans.


Rob: Stacy Smith mentioned in his email about leaving the noon news -- as did the news director -- that he would be heavily involved in 2020 campaign coverage so I don't think Smith will go anywhere at the end of this year but who knows what will happen after the 2020 election (I would bet on retirement then). 

With Delano’s focus on politics, he won’t be retiring this year with the 2020 election looming.



Q: What's going on at KDKA-TV?
During the first segment of “CBS This Morning Saturday” (network news) on Oct. 19th, KDKA aired their Saturday morning news from Oct. 12th (the story was about the upcoming Columbus Day parade, along with the weather for the previous weekend). Then on Oct. 21st, they missed the 7:20 a.m. insert for local weather, and they missed it again on Oct. 22.
So, what is going on at KDKA-TV?
Just wondering.

Rob: Hmmm, sounds like someone cued up the wrong taped cut-in with the former and somehow missed the cut-in in the latter instances. Or if those cut-ins are automated, perhaps it’s a technical glitch.

I sent Brent’s question to KDKA-TV news director Kathy Hostetter but she did not respond by my deadline.

"Yes, we had a technical issue with the cut-in this past Saturday," news director Kathy Hostetter said in an e-mail this morning. "We’re in the midst of updating and swapping out some equipment, and that is how an old cut-in aired."


She did not address the issue of the two missed cut-ins.




Q: I too have been scammed by my local cable provider, Xfinity. Scammed too harsh of a word? How about “bait and switch” or extortion tactics used by these big-named companies. Let me explain. In October 2018 I entered into a “two-year contract” with Xfinity for a Super Triple Play package that included all the premium channels. Eight months later they took Cinemax out of that bundle and replaced it with a movie channel called Hitz. And if you want to continue to receive Cinemax you need to subscribe to this channel for an extra $12. Yep, that’s right, I would need to pay an additional charge to receive the premium channel that was previously included in my package. The notice that Xfinity was making this change was on the previous month’s bill in the back so most customers would certainly miss it as I had done. I was told by customer service that I can change my package anytime within the two years but if I decide to change my cable provider I would be charged an “early termination fee.” 

I would like these companies to honor their contracts. If they intend to make changes it should be done to the new signers or if a current customer decides to renew his or her contract.  


Rob: Is it super-lame that cable companies do this? Yes.

Is it lamer still that Comcast’s announcement is in small print on the bill knowing many will just pay the bill without reading it closely? Yes again.

Unfortunately, the contracts we sign with all the cable companies allow them to make changes even though those same contracts, if they are for a set period of time, do not give consumers the same right to cancel cable without penalty.

“Our agreements do make it clear that from time to time we might change our packages,” says Comcast spokesman Bob Grove. “We do this for a variety of reasons, including our ability to deliver good breadth and depth of content at the best value for our customers. HBO provides almost all of the content carried by Cinemax and remains part of this package, while Hitz provides more than 200 movie titles from a variety of top studios.”

Of course, HBO does not provide access to Cinemax original series (e.g. “Warrior,” “CB Strike”). This particular change was made at the corporate level and the self-serving nature is particularly galling: Comcast owns Hitz.



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