TV Q&A with Rob Owen

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This week's TV Q&A responds to questions about "Dirty Sexy Money," "Greek" and Wendy Bell. As always, thanks for reading, and keep those questions coming.

-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor


Q: I was curious as to how "Jericho" did in the ratings this week. Do you have any information?

-- Sue, McCandless

Rob: It was a mixed bag. CBS crowed about the demos -- first in the time period in adults 25-54 and adults 18-49! -- but it's down 22 percent from the first-season premiere. With 7.15 million viewers, "Jericho" was third in the time period.

On the bright side, "Jericho" improved the average time slot ratings by 24 percent in adults 18-49 and 3 percent in adults 25-54.

So the results are inconclusive. If the show can hold its ratings or show slight growth, it may stand a chance. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Ratings guru Marc Berman of Media Week put "Jericho" in the losers column, saying, it lost audience from its "Big Brother" lead-in and "given it did not have to face 'American Idol,' the results should have been better."


Q: When is "Dirty Sexy Money" returning? It seems to me that the audience for this show will be gone, since it has been off the air for so long. I find the show to be quite clever and well acted written.

-- Patricia, Pittsburgh

Rob: Like many shows displaced by the writers' strike, "Dirty Sexy Money," as well as "Heroes," "Life," "Chuck," "Pushing Daisies" and "Private Practice" among others, will be relaunched in the fall.

The thinking by network executives is that the shows stand a better chance of catching on if they're relaunched in the fall with a substantial run of new episodes rather than dripping out just three or four new episodes at the tail end of the current TV season.


Q: Why is HBO ending its series "Inside the NFL?" I had no idea they decided to cancel it, for good, until I watched the show last week, the post-Super Bowl episode.

-- Tracy, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Rob: We don't cover sports on TV in this space, but since this cancellation was a surprise, I decided to let this question through.

"Inside the NFL has been a hallmark program for three decades on HBO," said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. "It has been a terrific franchise.But the television landscape has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years and we have to recognize the realities of the business. I'm not sure we had more than one competitor when the show launched in 1977."

I've read speculation that "Inside the NFL" may turn up on NFL Network.


Q: This is something that I've been thinking of for a few years now. Ever since "Judging Amy" went off the air, CBS has yet to find a consistent performer in the Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot. One would think another "CSI" (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, maybe even Pittsburgh) would have been created and put in that place. What are your thoughts?

-- Luke, Bethel Park

Rob: Selfishly, I'd love to see "CSI: Pittsburgh," especially if it meant we'd finally get the local dialect the national play that has thus far eluded it.

But thinking unselfishly, the world does not need another "CSI," and I think CBS realizes they've stretched that franchise as far as they can without damaging the concept.


Q: Is "Greek" going to return to TV or was it canceled?

-- Rade, Pittsburgh

Rob: It's back March 24.


Q: My husband and I were watching an episode of "Ghost Hunters International" on Sci Fi Channel this past week. I'm not all familiar with the shows on this channel, so I'm not 100 percent sure what the commercial was for, but I believe it was for "Battlestar Galactica." The commercial showed an enraged guy yelling "This is not my f---ing life!" Of course, we replayed our DVR a few times to make sure our ears weren't playing tricks on us and agreed that they actually did say the f-word. Is there a way that you can confirm that for us? Also, how is Sci Fi Channel able to broadcast this type of language, especially during a commercial?

-- Taryn, Pittsburgh

Rob: You heard an f-word, but not the f-word. On "Battlestar Galactica," they frequently use the made-up, alien-language profanity "frak." Previously, "Farscape" used "frel."


Q: Any word on when BBC America will go HD? And will Comcast carry it too? I checked both of their Web sites and did not find any information about it. BBCA ran a number of promotions in December but nothing since.

-- John, North Huntingdon

Rob: A BBC America publicist said the company hopes to launch an HD channel sometime in 2008. We won't know if Comcast will carry it until it is available to be carried.


Q: Do you know if shows or networks care about the type of commercials that air during their programs? I find some commercials to be so repetitive and annoying (e.g. Comcast Triple-Play) that they force me to change the channel, making it less likely for me to come back for the actual program. Are they concerned that their ratings may suffer because of the advertising that supports them?

-- Corey, Upper St. Clair

Rob: I don't think that is something most networks worry about. If they did, they wouldn't air all those pharmaceutical commercials describing unappetizing possible side effects during the dinner hour.


Q: Is Wendy Bell having another baby?

-- Sue, Pittsburgh

Rob: As usual, I was clueless on this, but the women of Pittsburgh always know. And they have the best batting average I've ever seen.

Yes, Bell is pregnant and due to give birth in August.


Q: As a diabetic myself, I've followed Nicole Johnson Baker's career as a diabetes advocate. I was curious when I read a recent post on her Web site: "As a single mother, it is unreasonable for me to try to exercise daily." She mentions being a single mother; did she and Scott Baker divorce? If so, she will be missed as one of our "famous" transplants to our city!

-- Cheryl Ann, Swissvale

Rob: According to Johnson, after being separated since summer 2006, their divorce was expected to be final today.

"I live in the Clearwater, Fla., area and am basing my diabetes consulting firm and my foundation out of Florida, Nicole Johnson, Inc. and the Nicole Johnson Foundation," she explained in an e-mail. "I am from the Clearwater area and am thrilled to be back home! I continue to work as the host of 'dLifeTV' on CNBC and write for numerous Web and print publications related to diabetes. I very much enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh and the work that I was fortunate to do with many Pittsburgh health care companies. In fact, I graduated with my masters of public health from the University of Pittsburgh in December."


Q: I was watching WTAE's 5:45 p.m. report earlier this week about seniors living in poverty and an organization trying to help them out.

I thought the report was well done, but I couldn't help but get upset when Wendy Bell finished the story with her tag. She told people that needed help to go to the WTAE Web site.

I can't believe there are many people living in poverty that own a computer and have Internet access. Would it be that hard to give them a phone number? The logic escapes me there.

Why did WTAE decide to link again to their Web site when it just made sense to give out a number to their newsroom or the organization?

-- Christian, Freeport

Rob: I had the same exact thought, but I appreciate the cover Christian's e-mail provides when putting the question to WTAE news director Bob Longo ("See, your viewers want to know ..."). He said the agency in question, Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, didn't have the manpower to handle a lot of calls.

What I continue to wonder, if Channel 4 is the place "where you come first," why not give out a phone number for Call 4 Action so viewers in need could get help that way?


Q: Why isn't "Survivor" available on Comcast's "On Demand" CBS content this season?

-- Dave, Imperial

Rob: CBS suggested it was a Comcast error. Turns out CBS was right.

" 'Survivor' was available On Demand in most areas of the region when the new season started. In a few areas, it wasn't available because the servers needed a refresh," explained a Comcast spokeswoman. "As soon as we learned about this issue, we refreshed our servers immediately in those few areas and it's now available everywhere."


FEEDBACK

When I started reading today's questions, I thought you were going to have a week without mention of Comcast or Verizon. Your column was enjoyable today until we got to Comcast/Verizon. I'm a Comcast customer.

-- Mary Jean, Pittsburgh

Rob: I've heard this comment twice now and I find it bizarre, especially because I long ago decided to segregate cable questions at the bottom of the Q&A. When I'm reading a Q&A column online and the questions are on subjects that don't interest me, I skip over them. That seems to work out pretty well.



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