Q: We just finished watching "Unbelievable" on Netflix and really enjoyed it. Will it be back for another season?
-CRYSTAL VIA E-MAIL
Rob: Sorry, it won't. It re-told a case that was based on a real-life story and then was done. The excellent and recent Peabody-winning “Unbelievable” was always intended as a limited, one-season series.
Q: Will "Chrisley Knows Best" be back or is it shelved after their tax problems? And if it is back, when will it air?
-SHEILA, NEW CASTLE
Rob: I thought the show had been canceled after his tax fraud charges but apparently not (the case was settled last year). Season eight will air sometime in July, but no exact date has been announced.
Q: With the TV show “Cops” canceled on Paramount Network, will you be able to see the upcoming Season 33 on a another network or streamed online?
-VALERIE VIA EMAIL
Rob: It’s hard for me to believe those episodes will never see the light of day but at this point it’s too early to say. Viacom’s PlutoTV streaming service still shows “Cops” reruns so it’s possible they might turn up there at some point. I could also see streamer Fox Nation buying the episodes if the contract between Viacom and the "Cops" production company allows the episodes to be sold elsewhere.
Q: How does the Independent Film Channel (IFC) get away with showing movies uncut and unedited seeing as they are not a premium pay channel? These are at all hours of the day and night. They have uncut and uncensored Rated R movies like "The Departed," "Halloween," "The Hangover', etc. with violence, nudity, coarse language, etc. I'm not actually bothered by any of this; I'm just wondering how they get around all the censorship hurdles not being a premium pay channel. -ZACH VIA E-MAIL
Rob: You have to dig into FCC nitty-gritty to get at the explanation but it comes down to this: Obscene content is not protected by the First Amendment, but the content Zach describes is merely indecent or profane and not technically considered obscene. And while cable is beholden to advertisers, if the advertisers don’t care, it allows cable channels to go further than broadcasters, which have more stringent rules to follow.
Even the FCC notes that while obscenity is not allowed on cable, “the same rules for indecency and profanity do not apply to cable, satellite TV and satellite radio because they are subscription services.”
We’ve written before about how the F-word has crept into basic cable, including USA and Syfy. IFC is just following suit, although I suspect although these films probably have some editing and there may even be different editions for when the shows air in different time periods as there are for “Chappelle’s Show” on Comedy Central.
Q: With all of Western Pennsylvania now in the "Green Phase,” why is it that some news anchors are still working from home, particularly Peggy Finnegan and Alby Oxenreiter of WPXI, and all of the meteorologists on KDKA. I mean there is no phase beyond Green, so what exactly are they waiting for to return to the studios?
-ZACH VIA EMAIL
Rob:Contrary to popular behavior, the pandemic is not over. Earlier this week COVID-19 cases were rising in 21 states. At the time Pennsylvania was not among those states but even in the green phase state and Allegheny County health representatives recommend the need for people to continue to wear masks, work from home if available and physically distance themselves from others.
Anchors sit next to one another. They can’t physically distance. It’s sensible for local TV stations to continue to be cautious about the number of on-air talent in the studio at one time.
Q: Why do some of these local news station managers rarely ever give a straight answer – or sometimes any answer -- to your readers’ questions? Do they realize what a turn-off that is?
-JOEY VIA EMAIL
Rob: Evidently they do not. Or perhaps they do and they don’t care.
Being a news director is a stressful job. I’m sure they sometimes see me and the questions from viewers like a fly in the ointment.
But I would say generally news directors at Pittsburgh TV stations have been remarkably responsive to me and to viewers who send in questions to this column. Some more than others, or course, but given that the phrasing of viewer questions tends to be negative or nosy, for the most part they take the questions in stride (FYI: When asking questions, a neutral tone is more likely to elicit a more straightforward response).
Of course, they should answer these questions because if you’re coming into viewers’ homes via the public airwaves – and constantly encouraging viewers to watch your newscasts through on-air promos -- that’s an intimate experience that will over time result in questions not only about on-air talent but about the process of news gathering and broadcasting, too.
Once you’re on TV you’re a public figure. In a media market like Pittsburgh, the local celebs are the news folks on TV and the sports figures. Those who go into broadcasting know this so they know to expect compliments as well as criticism. And anything that impacts what viewers see on air is fair game as long as it doesn’t get too personal. (When a viewer asks if an anchor or reporter is pregnant, I do ask the question – people can see it, or suspect it, because it’s on TV! – but if the answer is no, then I reply to the viewer individually and do not use the question in the column.)
For the most part news directors over the years have generally understood the role of the TV critic and have responded pretty well to viewer questions via TV Q&A. One news director did tell me to tell viewers with questions to contact that news director directly but just as that news director surely would not accept that response if a reporter from his or her station was told that same thing when asking questions of a public official, I just ignored it and continued to send questions.
I was very upset to see Susan Koeppen & Rick Dayton let go. I thought they both did excellent jobs. I especially liked Susan. As for Heather Abraham and/or Kym Gable…pass on both.
I realize that every station goes through changes from time to time. I was most disappointed with the most recent departure of Susan Koeppen and Rick Dayton, two of the most professional anchors that you have had on KDKA in a long time. Someone noted in the remarks about the possibility of Heather Abraham moving up the ranks, and possibility of hosting “High Q.” Rick was the greatest in this role. Heather is the most unprofessional and unpolished person that I have ever seen on any TV station. “PTL” is too much for her to handle. Tired of her playing with her hair, bringing up her kids in every conversation and not knowing which end is up when Rania is doing her cooking. She should have been booted when Jon Burnett left the station.
-J.R. VIA EMAIL
As a long time viewer of KDKA News, I agree that it is time for Stacy Smith to retire. I have also noticed for at least the last 6 months, a number of production errors, including captions that don't match the picture or story, recycled video footage and anchors getting cut off in mid story. Have the experienced producers retired or has the number been reduced?
-RICH, MOON TWP.
Hello just wanted to express my opinion on “Master Minds” on GSN. It is the most boring show ever and worse yet the hostess has such a shrill voice, I can’t hardly understand anything she says. Wondering if anybody else shares my opinion.
-AUDREY, WEST MIFFLIN