TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A responds to questions about a finger-tapping weatherman, "Tru Calling" and the theme song to "Third Watch."

As always, thanks for reading, and keep those questions coming.
Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor


Q:

Have you noticed that KDKA's Jeff Verszyla has been "saluting" the camera on the signature of KD's close? Kinda reminds me of PCNC's statues game. What the heck is going on?

- Dylan Wilbur, Washington

Nothing too nefarious. It appears to me that Verszyla is tapping on the desk along to the KDKA theme music and then makes a hand motion to the music as punctuation.


Q:

Now that Dennis Bowman is at KDKA, he is only on TV on Saturday mornings. What does he do all week?

- Jean Belski, Daisytown

Nothing for KDKA. As we've reported, Bowman is simply freelancing on an occasional basis for KDKA. He is not on staff.


Q:

I'd like to comment about something that drives me crazy watching local news. Why do reporters and people on camera insist on saying they are reporting from or live in "The North Hills." There is no such town I am aware of called "North Hills, PA. It could be Ross Twp., McCandless, or Shaler, but I'm sorry to tell these people that the "North Hills" is an area of town, not a town itself. Maybe the local reporters need an atlas before they leave their respective stations.

- Don, East McKeesport

When I moved here almost seven years ago, I wanted to refer to the "North Hills" in print but the Post-Gazette copy desk wouldn't let me get away with it. Why did I want to do that? Because it's very difficult to figure out where boundaries are in an area as parochial as Pittsburgh (an atlas won't always help). Just a few weeks ago, a fire that appeared to be coming from Mount Washington was reported as taking place in three different localities on three different TV stations.

I think to some degree it's a matter of not knowing the exact boundaries and rather than finding out, stations feel it's more important to get the news on the air first with a general location. But that's just a guess. I posed the question to all four local news directors, but none of them chose to respond.


Q:

I missed the last episode of "JAG." How did it end?

- Alma, Bridgeville

Mac and Harm finally got together, but one of them would have to quit his or her current job because both were assigned to different places. In the end, they flipped a coin to see who it would be. The show ended before revealing the results of the coin toss.


Q:

When and on which channel will last weekend's Press Correspondent's Dinner be shown?

- Mrs. Murray, Freedom, PA

If it's on any channel, it will be C-SPAN, but they make their schedule day-by-day and it has to be checked daily at www.cspan.org to see what will air the next day. Updates are posted daily after 5 p.m.


Q:

You may have answered this in the past but will there ever be a final movie filmed by TNT or anyone else for that matter to wrap up the "The Pretender" series? Seems unlikely since it has been three-plus years since the last "Pretender" movie.

- Ray Miller, Monongahela

I think the movies TNT made after the show was canceled by NBC were intended to wrap-up the story. I didn't watch them, but if they failed to tie things up in a bow, my guess is those plots will never will be resolved.


Q:

Will the Disney "Little House on the Prairie" be repeated? I taped it all but forgot the last week. Thank you for your great column. I appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge!

- Paula, Pittsburgh

Doubtful. But chances are ABC's latest take on the "Little House" saga will eventually be released on DVD, though it's not on any release schedules at this time.


Q:

Could you please let me know if any of the TV stations are thinking about bringing Westerns back on TV. Since "Deadwood" seems to be popular on HBO, why couldn't regular TV schedule a series like "Deadwood" (of course without all the swearing). These reality shows are taking over TV.

- Catherine Bender, Pittsburgh

To my knowledge, none of the broadcast networks currently have any Westerns in development.


Q:

I started watching "Tru Calling's" last six shows, but Fox pulled the last show. Why? Why not show the last episode and end it?

- Gregg McCloskey, Pittsburgh

Because Fox thought it could get better ratings from "The Simple Life." And, maybe, just maybe, it was a deliberate attempt to hold back an episode so when the DVDs come out they can trumpet, "includes one never-aired episode!"


Q:

I was flipping channels to see what was on TV last night and I decided to watch "Third Watch" on WPXI and I noticed the theme song... VERY CATCHY! I've heard it before on the former B94 and was wondering if you happened to know what the song name is and who the group is who made it.

- Ryan Thomas, Kennedy Township

The song is titled "Keep Hope Alive" by Crystal Method. It can be found on the group's 1997 album "Vegas."


Q:

I watch "The Shield" and think it's one of the best, if not the best, cop show ever. The one thing that stands out to me when I watch is that the uniformed officers wear their badges on the right side of their chests. Watching "Cops" and seeing police around town, they wear their badges on the left side. I was told they wear it there to cover their hearts. Does Hollywood make them switch or is it something else? Just wondering.

- Ross Ferraro, Largo, FL

I've tried for a month to get "Shield" executive producer Shawn Ryan's office to return my calls on this question with no luck. Basically, my understanding is because the show was controversial at its outset because of some similarities to a real-life scandal in the LAPD, changes were made to the design of the cop cars and the uniforms, including moving the badge from one side of the chest to the other.

COMMENTS:

Just a follow-on comment to Jean Brown's observation of Stacy Smith's news reading ability. Before moving to Virginia, I grew up in Clarion, Pa., and I remember when Stacy first started working at KDKA. My observation is that he has always had problems reading from the TelePrompTer. Outside of that, I do agree with you that he is an excellent reporter and anchor.

- Michael Shingledecker, Fairfax, Va.

This isn't a question, but it may help answer a question about Stacy Smith's recent stumbling. Some viewers have noticed that Patrice King Brown is doing it, too. The trend at all local stations is to save money by hiring news writers with little or no journalism experience, so anchors are often given copy that doesn't make sense. They end up having to "vamp." Some pull it off better than others. But KDKA has an additional problem. Producing a 4 p.m. newscast has stretched the news staff so thin that haste trumps quality, and the anchors often don't have time to pre-read their poorly written copy. Also, some anchors whose pay has been frozen or cut in recent years just don't care anymore.

- Dave, Bridgeville

Found Kris Long now at a Palm Springs, CA station (www.cbstv2.com/bioarticle.asp?id=4380§ion=bio&network=kpsp)! Going from Phoenix to Palm Springs ... how the mighty have fallen...

- Jordan, Pittsburgh



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