This week's TV Q&A responds to questions about KDKA's new promo, "30 Days" and Kristin Chenoweth. As always, thanks for reading, and keep those questions coming.
-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor
Q: I've been watching KDKA-TV lately and heard they have a new slogan: "Welcome home!" I love the new slogan; it just makes me feel all warm and cuddly inside! Are they going to use it for KDKA news opens and getting a new set anytime soon like WTAE and WPXI are?
-- Ryan, Kennedy
Rob: Hmmm, why does Ryan's tone make me doubt his sincerity? His use of a technical term like "news open" makes me think he's an insider.
The new campaign is actually called "Your Home," and it brings to mind KDKA's "I See the News" ditty of 2000 and WPXI's "Tell 'Em You're from Pittsburgh" (circa 2004), spots that extol the goodness of Pittsburgh, highlight station staffers and avoid pounding on the tired "We're No. 1 at breaking news" mantra.
I caught half of the first "Your Home" spot on TV, but KDKA general manager Chris Pike invited me over to see it in full. Pike, a music buff, was most excited about the use of local musicians for the spots. Bill Deasy, (www.billdeasy.com) who previously recorded a theme for ABC's "Good Morning America" in 2001, wrote and performs the first spot, "Your Home," a song he liked so much that he plans to include it on a re-release of his album "The Miles." Pike said Deasy will perform the song publicly at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at the Jam on Walnut in Shadyside.
KDKA on-air promotions director Greg Loscar, who shot and edited the spot, made the point that the songs were written as songs first, not as 30-second jingles. KDKA has a full three-minute video of "Your Home" on its Web site (http://firstname.lastname@example.org). The song brings to mind the full-length version of The Wallflowers song that was used over the opening credits of "The Guardian." "Smiling faces / Old familiar places / Of your home / This is your home," Deasy sings. "A thousand bridges cross / Rivers where the wars were fought."
The 30-second spot features just three KDKA personalities, and Pike said the proportion will be similar in future spots. By mid-September, the image campaign will grow to include the Joe Grushecky song "Coming Home." Later, a third spot called "Long Way Home" will feature the voice of Kelsey Friday.
Pike said the goal of these image spots is to celebrate the places and people that make up the Pittsburgh region, from the city to the neighborhoods to farmlands beyond the city limits.
"We also wanted to tap into the feelings that make a home a home," he said. "People invite us into their homes every night, and we wanted to tap into the feelings of being home."
As I've said in the past, I much prefer image spots to bombastic bragging which seems to permeate TV news promos these days. Pike said he was ready for something less braggy, too.
"People are bombarded by 'bigger,' 'faster,' 'stronger' spots focusing on attributes, and my sense is people glaze over a lot of them," he said. "We're certainly proud of the product we put on the air, but I wonder about the effectiveness of touting those attributes. If people feel good about these spots, that's great."
The last time a local station launched an upbeat image campaign, WPXI's "Tell 'Em You're From Pittsburgh," I wondered if anyone would be bold enough to try humor in news promos, like the old '70s-era WTAE spots with Don Cannon and Paul Long.
"Our only hesitation is humor is hard to do well," Pike said, "as TV sitcoms have shown recently."
Back to the original questions: There are no plans to incorporate the "Your Home" theme into news opens. And no plans to replace the existing news set.
Q: How's "Dr. Phil" doing in the ratings? He's airing opposite "Days" and "General Hospital."
-- J.P., S. Fayette
Rob: In July, "Dr. Phil" was doing just fine, winning the 3 p.m. time slot on KDKA with a better rating than "Guiding Light" had in the time period a year earlier. "Days of Our Lives" on WPXI came in second, down in ratings from last year, and "General Hospital" on WTAE was third but had a better rating than last year.
Q: When will the show "30 Days" be back on the FX Network?
The FX Web site is poor, and while it has information about "30 Days," it doesn't say when it will be back for the scheduled six episodes.
-- Marcy, Pittsburgh
Rob: An FX representative said "30 Days" will return sometime in November; an exact date has not been set. Among the show's 30-day adventures: Executive producer Morgan Spurlock will spend a month living with a West Virginia coal mining family.
Q: Just a couple quick casting questions: The man who plays Don Draper in "Mad Men" (Jon Hamm, is it?) -- is he the same gentleman who appeared as the lawyer/guy with whom the Tiffy character was having an affair on "The Unit"?
Regarding the new series "Pushing Daisies" -- I saw Kristin Chenoweth's name and picture in early press releases, but there was no mention of her in a recent airing about the show. Has she resigned/been replaced?
-- Mike, Pittsburgh
IMDB.com does list Hamm as playing a Wilson James on "The Unit." Rob: Chenoweth is indeed a "Pushing Daisies" cast member. She was on the panel for the show at press tour last month. Perhaps the reason you're not seeing her featured is that she plays a supporting, not lead, role.
Q: I know the networks announce fall schedules in May, and we viewers get to find out if the shows we enjoy have been renewed. Is there a time schedule when an announcement is made about the summer series? I think the shows on this summer have been exceptional, and I wondered how they had done, in particular "Burn Notice," "Psych" and "Kyle XY."
By the way, I really enjoyed "The Kill Point." I can hardly wait for the finale on Sunday.
-- Margaret, Sharpsville
Rob: There really is no one time when cable networks announce renewals. They just do it when they're ready to buy more episodes. USA Network renewed "Burn Notice" just a few weeks after it premiered. I haven't heard about the future of "Psych" yet. I know "Kyle XY" ends its current run Sept. 3 and will be back with a new batch of episodes in January. No word yet on a second season for "Kill Point," but I expect it will be back.
PHONE CALL OF THE WEEK
"I have a son who's an inmate in the penitentiary, and when he gets the paper, the TV Week is always thrown out. Can you send him one? I can't mail him one because any literature has to come from the editor. I myself am not allowed to send a book of any kind to him. It has to go through an editor."
-- Woman caller