TV Q&A: WPXI shifts Benson; Bashir off after crude remarks

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Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions online every Friday in Tuned In Journal blog at Here's a selection of recent queries.

Q: What happened to Kevin Benson on early morning and noon weather? Why did WPXI need an additional weather forecaster?

-- Frank, 66, Pittsburgh

Rob: Mr. Benson moved back to a weekend morning and evening schedule.

"When he agreed to join the weekday team a year and a half ago, we planned it to be a temporary move," said WPXI news director Mike Oliveira last fall. "He's such a great guy and a great forecaster. Obviously, we'd love to have him on every single day, but we can't. He was gracious enough to help us out on that shift and he did a fantastic job. I know he's excited to go back to the newscasts that made him so popular with our viewers."

It appears moving Mr. Benson to weekdays back in April 2012 was mostly an effort to try to push Mike LaPoint out the door; Mr. LaPoint departed in January 2013.

WPXI's newest weather hire, Valerie Smock, is handling weekday mornings and Scott Harbaugh took over at noon.

Q: What happened to Martin Bashir on MSNBC?

-- Charlotte, 75, Sewickley

Q: I loved watching Martin Bashir on MSNBC, but I noticed he has not been on the last few weeks and I could not find his show with the guide. Has he left MSNBC and, if so, is he on another channel?

-- Sandra, 71, Greensburg

Rob: Mr. Bashir stepped down in December after making crude remarks about Sarah Palin.

Q: In the fall I noticed -- especially on NBC -- references to a "fall finale" for TV series. Is this something new? Is it an indication that the show will be canceled? Or, does it mean that it is a fall (season) finale and the show will return soon?

-- Sharon, 53, Pittsburgh

Rob: Broadcast channels are taking a page from the cable playbook. After cable networks started breaking a show's season into two parts -- "The Walking Dead" airs a batch of episodes in the fall and another batch in the spring -- broadcast networks followed suit as a way to signal to viewers that a special fall finale episode, possibly with a cliffhanger, is airing and more episodes will return in the new year.

Q: Why is it that we continually see specials such as "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show," and all women in comedies and dramas in low-cut tight shirts but we can never see stars such as LL Cool J or Shemar Moore shirtless? Why the discrimination? Women watch these shows too!

-- Linda, 49, Cecil

Rob: While it's certainly true that women remain the more objectified gender in prime time, men are often shown shirtless these days, too. Just ask anyone who watches Stephen Amell on "Arrow" or his cousin Robbie Amell on "The Tomorrow People." Last fall on Twitter they appeared to be having a running contest to see which one would be shirtless more often on their respective series.

Q: I like to watch the programming on Audience Network on DirecTV. On the show "Call Me Fitz," is the woman who plays Jason Priestley's mom Linda Gray from "Dallas" fame? They don't list her on the opening or closing credits. She sure looks like her. --

-- Steve, Becker, Minn.

Rob: No, actress Joanna Cassidy plays the alcoholic mother of Mr. Priestley's character.

Q: I have been trying to find out if TLC's "Craft Wars" with Tori Spelling has been canceled. I assume it has since a new episode hasn't aired since August of 2012.

-- Paul, 39, Baldwin

Rob: TLC confirmed "Craft Wars" has indeed been canceled.

Q: Seems like new programs are starting all the time. I'm thankful for your dates and times of programs in new fall seasons. Seems like now we need a schedule for all seasons. Will you be doing one for this spring and summer. I and my DVR thank you more than I can tell you!!

-- Robert, 63, Harwick

Rob: It's a gushing river of new programming that never runs dry. I ran a midseason (winter/spring) list of new/returning shows in December, and I'll have a summer preview in late May or early June.

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