TV Q&A: 'Yellowstone,' 'I Know This Much is True,' 'Claws' and WPXI reporters

Thursday, 28 May 2020 12:00 AM Written by 

Q: My wife and I are fans of “Yellowstone” on the Paramount Network.

I know you previously mentioned in your summer TV preview that it returns sometime in June.

Do you know if they were able to film the entire summer season before the pandemic shut filming down?


Rob: “Yellowstone” returns for its third season at 9 p.m. June 21. My understanding is the filming was done last October but whether or not all the ordered episodes have been edited and are available to air weekly without interruption is an open question. Paramount Network representatives have not responded to Bill’s question that I first sent them last week.



Q: Is HBO’s “I Know This Much Is True” is based on a true story?


Rob: It is based on the 1998 fictional novel by author Wally Lamb



Q: I didn't see "Claws" listed for the upcoming summer shows. Do you have any idea whether any episodes were filmed before the COV19 shutdown? Thanks!


Rob:The TNT series halted production on its fourth and final season which is why it has not been scheduled to air.



Q: I must be the last person that still subscribes to TV Guide magazine. It is so inaccurate! It said last night would be the season premiere of “The Amazing Race” on CBS but it was reruns of “NCIS.” What is a more reliable place to see what is on ahead of time to DVR? Are networks changing their schedules closer to broadcast time than they used to?


Rob: Yes, they are. At one time it was an unwritten rule not to disrupt the schedule unless it just couldn’t be avoided. But with the advent of online listings – and the diminishing importance of a schedule in a watch-when-we-want environment – changing up the schedule last-minute happens with much greater frequency.

Sometimes the listings on a cable/satellite guide can’t keep up, although those usually get updated quickly. Same with the online listings which is what I recommend using.

All of that said, CBS pulled “The Amazing Race” on April 29th, almost a full month before the original “Race” premiere date of May 20th. TV Guide publishes a new issue every two weeks so it’s possible TV Guide has a really long lead time for listings, which accounts for the error.

CBS announced “Race” will air this fall on Wednesday nights.



Q: When programs on television have ratings, I.E.-TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, etc., are there consequences for mislabeling a show under the wrong rating or is it more or less of a guideline for shows/stations to follow?


Rob: No, there are no consequences for mislabeling, which is of course in the eye of the beholder. The parental guideline TV ratings is a voluntary system with the networks assigning ratings to their own programming.



Q: What are your thoughts about how Xfinity is so slow to add streaming services for their customers?

I appreciate that they recently added Hulu. But still no ACC Network, Disney+ and now HBO Max.

As much as they like to charge customers I'd think they'd be onboard if for no other reason than to please and keep existing customers.


Rob: The reason Comcast hasn’t added some streamers is Comcast corporate executives have not come to financial terms with those companies. Mass media companies prioritize finances over customers’ preferences.

Comcast did add HBO Max on Wednesday after it launched. So if you already subscribe to HBO through Comcast, you can now get HBO Max at no additional cost if you are on the X1 or Flex platforms. In the near future, new subscribers to HBO Max will also be accepted through Comcast.



Q: In the past 2 1/2 months of quarantine, I have noticed that on-location reporters for KDKA and WTAE usually, if not always, wear a facial mask when reporting.  However, it is very rare to see reporters for WPXI to be seen wearing a mask while out and about. The only one I can recall that I've seen wear a mask the most frequently is reporter Lori Houy.

Related to this query, I have yet to see County Executive Rich Fitzgerald wear a mask when being interviewed or speaking at a news conference.  Shouldn't the head of our county be showing a good example for the rest of us?  It's unnerving.


Rob: On a few occasions I’ve seen WPXI reporters doing live shots from the lawn outside the Channel 11 building, which is obviously a spot where a reporter is likely to feel safer – and be able to maintain social distance -- than reporting from the sidewalk out in the community.

Channel 11 news director Scott Trabandt says, “We have taken a number of proactive steps to make sure our crews are safe and they are not jeopardizing anyone else they encounter while working. We continue to follow the CDC guidelines for wearing masks in stores and businesses, and in areas where social distancing is difficult. At WPXI, we trust our journalists to make smart decisions for themselves, their colleagues and the community. At times, that has meant not doing live shots or reports directly from scenes where people have congregated. Many other times, our reporters have worn masks on television and their photographers have had masks on behind the camera. If viewers see someone not wearing a mask during a report, they can be assured that person has a mask, and he or she has chosen a safe spot to pass along information without wearing one.”



Q: After checking out several of the "students" listed in KDKA-TV newscasts as members of the Class of 2020 to see if they have a Facebook page, I've discovered that several graduated years ago from the high school listed, went to college and on to live in another state.  One "student" was listed by KDKA as graduating from Penn-Trafford HS this year but actually graduated more than 4 years ago, then attended the University of Pittsburgh, graduated from there and got a job in Los Angeles where he now resides.  What's the story involving KDKA passing off some of these people as actual 2020 high school graduates when they clearly are not?

Here are some others:

On the morning of May 19th this one was listed as graduating from Penn-Trafford HS this year which is highly contrary to the information on his FB page.

From 6 p.m. news on 5/20: Hannah Gossic - Moon Area High School - FB profile says she studies at CCAC

Jocelyn Marple - South Fayette HS - FB profile says she studied at Slippery Rock University. 

Ella Hill - Greater Latrobe HS - FB profile says she studied architectural engineering at Penn State's College of Engineering 

Levi Jeffries - Shenango HS - FB profile says he entered the University of Chapel Hill in NC in 2010.


Rob: I did not see these on air but if they did air as Joe describes, it indeed seems odd based on Joe’s sleuthing. How did KDKA get these names? If they were self-submitted, did KDKA not check submitted profiles? KDKA news director Kathy Hostetter did not respond to Joe’s question.

KDKA news director Kathy Hostetter confirmed that they were self-submitted and not checked by KDKA before going on the air.

“Yes, these are ‘auto-populated,’ and given the volume of submissions we received (more than 8,000) we had to take people at their word,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that some may have slipped through who were not truthful as we’ve received a tremendous amount of support for the thousands we’ve profiled so far.”



Q: Any idea when all the reporters (including the meteorologists) will be in the studio as one team and not at their homes?  Also, never saw Stacey Smith doing the news in the studio.  Was there a reason?


Rob:The timetable remains uncertain when everyone will be returning to the studio,” KDKA news director Kathy Hostetter said Monday. “Meantime, Stacy Smith returns to the studio tonight after becoming one of the first of our team to file reports from home.”

WPXI news director Scott Trabandt did not respond with a time table for a return to normal and WTAE’s Jim Parsons was out of the office but my guess is it’s also a little too soon to say for those stations just as it is for KDKA.



Q: Where has KDKA Sports Anchor Josh Taylor been?  I don't think he's been on TV since February.


Rob: Given that Taylor is a freelancer AND there hasn’t been sports since mid-March, it’s not too surprisingly KDKA hasn’t needed to use Taylor.

If and when seasons pick up again, we’ll have him back with us,” said KDKA news director Kathy Hostetter.



Q: Where is Chase Williams the WPXI-TV sports anchor? Jenna Harner talks too fast.


Rob: It’s my understanding that Channel 11 did not renew Williams’ contract although he did not respond to emails asking what happened and where he might be headed next. You can keep up with Williams via a blog on his personal website




I just read your article on the May sweeps ratings for local newscasts, and it prompted this e-mail. 
I realize certain things annoy me more than they should, and one of those things is WPXI’s “Local Steals and Deals” segment that they have been running late in the 5:00-5:30 half hour. David Johnson introduces the segment as though it is news, but it is nothing other than a short infomercial, and the one I forced myself to watch was for an Amazon Alexa product. This is not made or sold locally, and I suspect the segment is not produced locally.

Turning an infomercial into news cheapens WPXI’s integrity, and I have switched to viewing another station to avoid contributing to their delinquency.



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