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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Mass Communication

Thursday
January 15, 2004

I don't ask this sort of thing very often of you readers, but please write ABC at netaudr@abc.com and ask them to keep the show Line Of Fire on the air. It'll take all of 30 seconds to do. Just one line, "Please keep Line Of Fire on ABC", that's all you need to say. I'd very much appreciate it.

See, Line Of Fire is one of those truly rare, great shows that is intelligently written, character driven and amazingly captivating. Previous weeks come into play, but not so much that you can't watch a particular week's episode and not enjoy it as a stand-alone show.

From a word of mouth standpoint, I got Stacey here at work watching, and now she's hooked. She then got Jill here watching, and she likes it... I just hope that this sort of word-of-mouth strength will be enough to keep it alive.

My friend Brook Gardiner posed two interesting (and decidedly different) questions to me in an e-mail this morning. I'll address them one at a time.

1) Do you find that people call you less often after you started loupickney.com since they can just find out what your doing by looking at the page and not actually talking to you?

It's hard to say. I think that e-mail actually has more to do with people being less likely to call than the commentary (which actually pre-dates the LouPickney.com domain name by nearly two years). Communication is a two-way street, and people want me to know what's going on in their life, too.

There sometimes is the curiosity factor from things I write from here, which has people calling me like Martin from The Simpsons saying "Tell me more" while playing the video game "My Dinner With Andre". Yes, I know that's a very obscure reference. But it's apropos. Especially when the commentary in question involves somewhat salacious details about a rowdy weekend. That seems to really bring friends out of the woodwork to get the really juicy details.

2) Do local news programs intentionally all schedule commercial breaks at the same time?

No, but it sure seems that way some times, doesn't it? Typically, newscasts (especially the 11 PM variety) are formatted the same way: 8-12 minutes of local news in the A block, 3-4 minutes of soft local or national news in the B block, 3-5 minutes of weather in the C block, 3-5 minutes of sports in the D block, and then a minute or so of pad time at the end with a "kicker" story (one of those lighthearted stories that is intended to end the show on a high note -- not kill the anchors' credibility) and then "wakeup weather" if necessary to fill the time (or one of those closing scenery shots). The rest of the time is filled with commercials.

Sometimes particularly greedy stations will use the first minute out of network to run commercials, but that is a great way to drive your viewers to your competition. So most of the time, the action starts at 11 PM for everyone.

In my nearly 6 years in the TV news biz, I never once saw my station pay any attention to the competition's commercial times and try to align them.

Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
Anchorman is a parody of 1970s TV news.

The most common complaint I heard about TV newscasts wasn't so much the timing of the commercials, but instead the teases. People by and large tell/told me that they HATE teases. But they work, and that's why they're there.

Speaking of TV news, there's a movie coming out called Anchorman that looks like it will be pretty funny... even though the lead actor is one of my least favorites, Will Ferrell. The beginning of the trailer with him drinking the scotch on the set (not knowing he was on the air) had me laughing out loud.

I read on the Drudge Report about a most improbable story about a Russian teenager and her ability to diagnose medical problems. Click here to get the details. It's an astonishing story, one of those that sounds a bit like science fiction. But what's that line about the truth being stranger than fiction? Bizarre. But if she can help people, then obviously that is a tremendous gift to have.

In one of those "don't jinx it" deals, tomorrow I'll continue what I've done the past two Fridays and wear my Peyton Manning jersey. Will that have any affect on the AFC Championship Game? Of course not. But sometimes being a sports fan can cause a normally rational person to do strange things. Now I've washed the jersey, so I'm not being a freak like that, but I'm hoping to ride the Manning bandwagon all the way to the Super Bowl. Will it work? We shall see...


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