Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

November 30, 2006
What about Univision?

Lo Seinto (sorry!) for leaving out Channel 19, Sacramento's Spanish-language station, in our earlier posting, below, on sweeps ratings.

At 6 a.m., Channel 19's morning news drew an 0.9 rating/4 share. At 6 p.m., Noticias 19 had a 2.7 rating and 5 share. And, at 11 p.m., Noticias 19 finished with a 2.0 rating and 5 share.

Stay tuned for the demographic results next month. Channel 19 traditionally does well in the younger demographics, such as the 18-to-34-year olds.

November 30, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: The results

Well, the numbers for November sweeps are in, and Channel 3 won all of the time slots. Still, except for 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, the station hardly dominated as it had in the past. And even at 5 and 6, KCRA's ratings are significantly down compared to its figures from last November.

(Quick refresher: Ratings chart the percentage of all homes with TVs; shares measure the number of TV sets turned on at a particular time.)

In the (cliche alert) "all-important" late-news category, Channel 13's 10 o'clock news easily beat Fox40. At 11, Channel 3 beat News10 by 2.3 ratings points and 6 shares. And if you compare Channel 13 at 10 p.m. against Channel 3 at 11, KCRA ekes out a .7 victory.

But remember, the numbers for a demographic breakdown (most notably, the 25-to-54 demo, which advertisers covet) don't come out until next month. Last May, Channel 3 beat News10 overall for late news, but News10 bested KCRA in the 25-to-54 demo.

Shameless plug: Be sure to read the Media Savvy column on Tuesday in The Bee's Scene section for a full analysis of local sweeps results.

In the meantime, more numbers:

5-6 a.m
Channel 3: 2.0 rating/16 share
News10: 1.6/10
Channel 31: 1.5/11
Channel 13: 1.5/10

6-7 a.m.
Channel 3: 4.4/20
Channel 31: 2.9/13
News10: 2.4/11
Channel 13: 1.5/7

7-9 a.m.
Channel 3 ("Today" show): 4.0/13
News10 ("Good Morning America"): 3.1/10
Channel 31: 3.6/12 (from 7 to 8 a.m.); 3.0/10 (from (8 to 9 a.m.)
Channel 13 ("The Early Show"): 1.6/6
Fox40: 0.4/1 (from 7 to 8 a.m.)

11 a.m.
Channel 13 (“Young and the Restless”): 4.4/15
News10: 3.5/12

News10: (“All My Children”): 3.7/12
Channel 3: 3.7/11
Channel 13: 3.4/11

4 p.m.
Channel 3 (“Oprah”): 6.6/16
Channel 13: 3.2/8

5 p.m.
Channel 3: 9.5/20
Channel 13: 3.6/8
News10: 3.3/7

6 p.m.
Channel 3: 8.9/16
News10: 4.0/7
Channel 13: 3.9/7

6:30 p.m.
Channel 3: 7.3/13
News10 (“Jeopardy”): 6.3/11
Channel 13 (“Entertainment Tonight”): 5.9/10

10 p.m.
Channel 13: 6.5/12
Fox40: 3.6/7
My58TV: 1.6/3

11 p.m.
Channel 3: 7.2/18
News10: 4.9/12

7-9 a.m.
Channel 3: 4.0/13
Channel 31: 2.4/10 (from 7 to 8); 2.9/8 (from 8 to 9 a.m.)

9 a.m.-10 a.m.
Channel 31: 3.8/10

5 p.m.
Channel 3: 5.6/11
Channel 13: 3.4/7

6 p.m.
Channel 3: 7.6/14
Channel 13: 2.8/6

10 p.m.
Fox40: 4.2/8
Channel 13: 4.0/8

11 p.m.
Channel 3: 5.9/14
News10: 3.5/8

7-8 a.m.
Channel 3: 2.8/11
Channel 13 (“CBS Sunday Morning”): 2.1/7
Channel 31: 1.8/7
News10 (“Good Morning”): 1.6/7

8-10 a.m.
Channel 3: 4.2/11
Channel 31: 2.8/8 (From 8 to 9 a.m.), 3.0/8 (from 9 to 10 a.m.)

5 p.m.
News10: 4.4/8
Channel 13: 4.6/8

10 p.m.
Channel 13: 6.7/13
Fox40: 3.8/7

11 p.m.
Channel 3: 6.3/16
News10: 5/13

November 30, 2006
Busy tonight?


If you're out and about tonight and have a hankering to check out a fashion show - and, really, who doesn't? - the place to be is The Park Ultra Lounge at 15th and L.

Tara Floor, co-owner of the new Article boutique and spa/salon (on Del Paso Boulevard), and her husband, Andrew, will be leading the runway with some really fabulous fashions - clothing you probably haven't seen in these parts.

Anyway, the show starts at 10 p.m. (which is perfect for all you fashion-lovin' night owls), with doors opening at 8:30. Tickets are $20, and music will be provided by "djspider."

My colleague Lisa Heyamoto says The Park "rocks," so with a runway fashion show added to the scene, it should be quite the event. Floor says the crowd could be in the high hundreds.

Wear black!

(On a side note, Article will celebrate its grand opening from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. The stylists will be doing makeup and there will be massages offered, plus drinks and food. The salon is at 1616 Del Paso Blvd.)

November 30, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: The End


Day 28.

The end-of-show, feel-good story (this was on cuddly News10, of course) on school kids in Elk Grove knitting for the needy had just finished at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Anchor Dale Schornack: “You know, you can say those are handmade with a lot of love.”

Cristina Mendonsa: “Ah.”

Schornack: “Just like this newscast.”

Mendonsa: “Ah, man, that was so cheesy.”

Schornack: “It’s the end of ratings. We deserve a little cheese.”

Yes, it was nice to see that our local TV news organizations did not let November sweeps go out with a whimper. There was plenty of cheese to go around, plus some good reports.

But first, pass the cheese.

Hmmm, should I begin with Channel 13’s Kurtis Ming bullying an annoying sales clerk to the point of almost pistol-whipping the dude? Or maybe Brandi Hitt butchering a story so badly that she dissolved into a puddle of giggles? Or how about Channel 3’s Mike TeSelle, beefcake reporter, going topless? Or, well... let’s just go chronologically.

* My mind is still reeling from Channel 31’s “Good Day Sacramento's” truly pointless act of blowing up a car on the air Wednesday morning. They strapped a load of explosives to a sedan placed in the Nevada desert, had reporter Chris Burrous fire 50 rounds from a submachine gun and blow the durn thing up.

Gee, what’s next for “GDS” - blowing up the car in a crowded marketplace? Considering that the REAL news is fraught with reports of car bombs in Iraq and in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, isn’t it, oh, I don't know, just a tad insensitive of “GDS” to do this?

* So Channel 3’s TeSelle, the guy who actually volunteers to go to Blue Canyon to freeze his assets off, is assigned to report on the cold weather at 5 p.m. Wednesday night. He does the usual stuff, interviewing shivering people with insights such as “brrr.” He talks to experts about covering plants during a freeze. Then, to explain how you have to run your pool pump to avoid having it crack, TeSelle himself cracked. He stripped to a swimsuit and jumped in a pool. (Nice pecs, Mike, but stop by a tanning salon next time.)

Anchor Lois Hart to TeSelle: “Boy, that’s a long way to go just for a story. I hope you got a bonus out of this.”

TeSelle: “I just have to jump into my stories.”

Dave Walker: “At least you didn’t get in over your head, Mike.”

* It wasn’t pretty watching Hitt totally melt down at 6 p.m. on Channel 13. At the end of the broadcast, she started reading from the script about Snoop Dogg's arrest. She made a lame attempt at Snoop-speak, then garbled words so badly we thought she was speaking in tongues.
Finally, she quit and said to her co-anchors, “This is a Tony Lopez-written story. He does it so well. And I just can’t deliver it.”

(There’s no shame in that, Brandi. The story was just too big for you.)

Anchor Pallas Hupe: “Oh, you did OK.”

Hitt: “I tried.”

* At 6 p.m., News10 almost pulled off the unthinkable during sweeps - an entire newscast without a crime story. Only one of 16 stories was crime-related (on robberies in Stockton, a voiceover report that lasted only 20 seconds).
* Fox40 gave us our critter fix. Late in the 10 o’clock newscast, it hit us with four straight stories: (1) Shamu the whale attacks a trainer at Sea World; (2) a naked, drug-addled man was attacked by a gator in Florida; (3) a Florida family had its puppy sold out from under them, and (4) a San Diego man takes pet ashes and turns them into artwork.

What, no deer stories?

* Boy, I don’t want to be caught in a dark alley with Channel 13’s Ming. The man is menacing. Wednesday night, the intrepid consumer reporter was trying to help a woman and her son get a refund on a cell phone from a chuckleheaded clerk. The clerk taunted the woman, holding up the check and waving it around.

Voiceover of Ming, dropped an octave: “Then, I showed up... .”

Shot of Ming knocking on the door and then asking the clerk: “Where’s the check?”

Clerk: “In my back pocket.”

Ming: "You know what? We’re going to roll this video camera the entire time and your face is going to be plastered all over television if you’re not going to give this lady her check.”

Clerk: “That’s OK.”

Ming: "You’re OK with that?”

So OK, apparently, that the clerk then locked the door on Ming, who proceeded to call the clerk’s manager.

At last, the clerk relented and deadpaned to the woman as he handed over the check: “Thank you for choosing Metro PCS. You have a wonderful day.”

*Channel 13’s Ron Jones said robbers in Stockton were “armed and dangerous.” That reminds me of the old Dennis Miller (back when he was still funny) line: “What else is he going to be, armed and gregarious?”

OK, enough cheese. The local stations actually finished strong with some good reporting.

* Channel 13: Anchor Sam Shane reported on a woman, already in prison, who’s running a surrogate-mother scam. One Bay Area couple, Shane reported, was bilked out of $40,000.

Shane played it straight - no "Minglike" theatrics where he becomes bigger than the story. We’d like to see Shane do more special reports.
* News10 spent the first 10 minutes of its 11 p.m. newscast with a special report on “The Achievement Gap” (see screen grab, at right) between rich and poor schools in Sacramento. Dana Howard did a thorough, interesting and fair report and didn’t rely on flashy graphics or scary music.

* Channel 3’s Lynsey Paulo (a consumer reporter who is seriously cheese-deficient) reported on deaths of children caused by dentists during procedures and the lack of action by the state Dental Board.

* And, finally, one last count of my newest pet peeve, alliteration: “Wiggle Woes” (Channel 3), "Plastic Present” (Channel 13), "Garden Grinch” (Channel 13) and “Surrogate Scandal” (Channel 13).

Well, that’s it, thankfully, for November sweeps. Come back soon (probably this afternoon) for the actual results of the ratings period.

As for me, I’m going a take a little break from local news and instead watch the most trusted man in fake journalism.

November 29, 2006
They done blowed up that car real good

Late-breaking sweeps update: I don't quite know how to spin this, because I'm still in disbelief, so I'll just state the facts as passed along by a friendly reader:

Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento" took sweeps to a new level today - it blew up a car using a machine gun.

Don't believe me? Watch it here.

Did I mention that, thank goodness, sweeps end tonight?

November 29, 2006
This takes the bag

After some recent unfashionable allegations about L'Image Boutique selling fake Gucci handbags at high-end prices, I felt a visit to the Pavilions store, owned by Ana Divac (Vlade's wife), was in order.

Would there still be bags to be bagged up and taken home? Or would the shelves be filled with only designer perfumes and makeup collections?

Well, there are still bags to be had at L'Image, though the labels I saw were certainly not outrageous, at least not the ones sitting out on stools; I couldn't get to the ones in the glass cases. A couple of bags by Hype, which is sold online (, for less than $200) and certainly not an exclusive designer label, were available. The other bags were handsome, but I didn't see anything resembling Prada or Fendi.

Rumor is this store is shuttering right after the holidays. But inventory is high when it comes to perfumes and cosmetics. So, if there's a fragrance you've been buying there that you can't get elsewhere, the best bet is to buy, and buy now.

The sad thing is, the salespeople seem genuinely nice, and there are some lovely candles and gift sets, but someone really goofed when it came to managing this venture. It could have been a gold mine for cosmetics divas.

November 29, 2006
He's back, sans stone

Paul Robins, host of Y92.5 FM's "The Paul Show," returned to the airwaves this morning, one day after being rushed to the hospital with a kidney stone.

Not only was Paul back, but he put a photo of the kidney stone (ouch!) on the station's Web site. He told listeners that passing the stone was like child birth - not that he'd know, of course.

November 29, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 27

Blown off by The Sacramento Bee? We’ll see about that later on tonight! Right here on CBS13 news at 10!
- Channel 13’s Kurtis Ming

Yeah, it’s about time “Call Kurtis” blew the lid off The Bee’s corruption. We’re all a bunch of plant thieves, wastrels and roustabouts.

Tuesday night, Ming, the station’s consumer reporter, did a piece on a south Sacramento homeowner who had front-lawn statues and plants stolen in the wee hours of the morning, right after, it seems, the morning newspaper was delivered. So the man installed surveillance cameras and caught a man stealing plants not 45 seconds after a Bee delivery person dropped off the paper.


Well, not really.

Turns out the man’s newspaper carrier is a mother-and-daughter team, and it was a man who stole the plants. Still, the homeowner “called Kurtis” when The Bee refused to pay for the cost of the pilfered landscaping. Ming, that investigative bulldog, successfully cajoled The Bee’s upper management to cut a check. Little matter that newspaper carriers aren’t employed by The Bee (they’re independent contractors) or that there was no proof that the carrier stole the plants to begin with.

Kurtis seeks justice - and big ratings! He will NOT be ignored.
(Kurtis' next Big Bee Scoop: Our mascot, Scoopy, is behind the burglary spree in Lodi! Just kidding.)

In other sweeps developments:
* Obligatory Sex Story: Channel 13’s Brandi (With an "I") Hitt reports that eating vegetables improves your sex life.

Brandi: “What’s not happening in the bedroom may be what’s cooking in the kitchen. Could a change in diet be what you need to light up your libido?”

Lose the Viagra, pass the green beans.

* Obligatory Animal Story: Several stations, most notably Channel 3, reported on the theft of a rare bird, named Trouble, from a pet store.

* Anywhere But the Set: The trend spreads of newscasts going to other parts of the building to file reports. Channel 13 sent reporters to the lobby, the newsroom, the hallway and, yes, Tony Lopez even reported live from the men’s room Tuesday night (as predicted here a week ago). And now, Channel 3 has started reporting from “Studio B,” which is next door to the main set. KCRA has had reporters in the newsroom and at the “severe weather center.” But Studio B is new.

* Banter of the Night Award: To Fox40’s Thomas Drayton and Donna Cordova, after a story that claims women talk more than men (20,000 words a day, compared to 7,000).

Donna: “Maybe that’s why we live longer. We get it out there.”

Thomas: “I’m not going to touch it.”

Donna: “We talk it through.”

Thomas: “You see?”

* Alliteration Alert: To Channel 13's “Dodging Disaster,” “Bad Business” and “Recorded Ripoff.”

* Artistic Location Shot of the Night: Channel 3’s Richard Sharp, reporting on which two high schools in Sacramento might close, cut between the two schools in mid-sentence. He started the sentence in front of one school, ended it in front of the other.

* Weather Hyperbole: News10 led its broadcast with the “painfully cold” weather, as anchor Cristina Mendonsa said. Reporter Dave Marquis: “You can feel the chill cutting right through you.”

So then they threw it to weather guesser Patty Souza, who told us the weather in downtown Sacramento was 43 degrees.

These people obviously have never lived on the East Coast.
* And finally, in a story about a Tracy family getting evicted because of community redevelopment, Channel 13’s Mike Dello Stritto quoted a local man who identified himself as “Grizzly Adams” as saying, “I think it’s stupid... .”

Wait. Grizzly Adams?

C’mon. Anyone with pop culture knowledge knows that’s a TV character.

Just to be sure, I did a database search for Tracy and its surrounding areas and, not surprisingly, found no one by that name.

And yes, sweeps is finally getting to me.

November 28, 2006


I'm happy to report that the "Couturshion" fashion show held earlier this month at Destiny Church in Sacramento was packed. And that's good news for the participants (some shown above), 15 of whom were raising money for a fun-filled fashion trip to New York right after Christmas.

I wrote about the fashion show a few days before it happened. Kitty Griffin, who heads Progressive Women of Excellence Inc. in Sacramento, helped coordinate the show through PWOE's INNERvention Community Outreach Program. After a much-needed rest, she checked in to say the show was "great."

"The energy and the response from the audience was wonderful," she says. "They were very interactive. And there were a couple of people from the fashion industry in attendance, one of whom said he hadn't seen such disciplined youth."

The models/designers, some as young as 6, put in a lot of hard work. They designed the clothes and spent countless hours rehearsing for the show.

"The girls were so excited that their hard work paid off," Griffin says. "This was the first time they showed their creations. Getting standing ovations was so special for them."

Griffin says the group got pretty close to its goal. "We raised almost $10,000, which is maybe $1,800 off from what we needed."

As of now, the group's lodging and tickets to see a Broadway show are mostly covered. Now they're working on the airfare.

Unfortunately, I won't get to go, but it will be the experience of a lifetime for these young ladies. If you're interested in helping them get off the ground, so to speak, donations are still being accepted at (916) 392-9692.

November 28, 2006
The Paul Show, sans Paul


Regular listeners to "The Paul Show" on Y92.5 FM this morning were ear-witnesses to some on-air drama.

It was just after the show started at 5:30 a.m. Host Paul Robins (left) told listeners he wasn't feeling well and that he was going to lie down. Turns out, Robins was suffering from a kidney stone (ouch!) and was taken to a local hospital. Co-hosts Lori Sacco and Kelly (no last name) took over.

According to Mike Berlak, Y92.5's program director, Robins is back home this morning.

"It takes something like that to get Paul to leave his show," Berlak says. "I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up tomorrow morning."

November 28, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 26

Terry Gross.JPG
Et tu, Terry Gross?

So I’m driving into work this morning, feeling more than a little weary from watching all the crime and sex during local TV news sweeps. With just two days of sweeps month left, I decided to cleanse my media palate, as it were, by tuning into NPR and highbrow interviewer Gross (pictured left) on “Fresh Air.”

And what do I hear just as I punch the pre-set button?

An author talking about “raunch culture” and something about “Girls Gone Wild” videos and “hos (whores) on rap videos waxing cars with their body parts.”

Yikes! You just can’t escape it!

Anyway, back to TV sweeps.

Channel 3 did its “special report” Monday night - part 2 of the series airs tonight at 11 - on online sexual predators. Pamela Wu told us these guys (and they’re almost always guys) “groom girls for sex.” She interviewed a woman who says that, as a girl, she was wooed by an older man online but was saved by a computer game that told her of the dangers. Now the woman works for the organization that makes the game.

I liked the report - mostly straight-ahead, no eerie synthesizer music - though at this point in sweeps, I had the feeling I’d seen this report before.

The other interesting thing Monday night were the stories that the stations chose to lead the late news.

Fox40 led with a home invasion in south Sacramento (the only station to report it). Channel 13 led with a report called “Preying on Patriotism,” a bogus e-mail scam from a “soldier.” (No other station reported that). Channel 3 led with whether the Iraq conflict should be called a “civil war.” (It was one of the rare times any station has led a newscast with reports from Iraq). And News10 led with a dispute in the Bay Area 'burb of Lafayette over a roadside Iraq war dead memorial and whether it was an anti-war statement or a pro-troops statement. (Again, it was the only station in Sac to cover it).

What does this tell us?

I’m too tired to suss it out. But how about this? On nights when there’s no obvious lead story, we get the most diverse news of the month. And - I think - that’s a good thing.

Other highlights:

* I’m proud of our local reporters for finally realizing the marketing gimmick that “Cyber Monday” truly is.
* I also had been really proud of our local weather guessers for not succumbing to hoary meteorological cliches. But Channel 13’s Angelique Frame (right), during a live shot from Blue Canyon, broke the spell: “It was a winter wonderland...enough white stuff to even make a snow man.”

* Banter of the Night Award goes to News10’s Dale Schornack and Patty Souza (left). After a report on “Cyber Monday,” Schornack turns to the weather guesser and the two talk about Souza’s penchant for online shopping.

Dale: “You are depriving people of seeing Patty Souza at the mall in a T-shirt and tennis shoes.”
Patty: “No makeup. And look at her wrinkles!”

Dale (turning to the camera): “She has no wrinkles.”

Patty: “I do! Wait until we get high def.”

* Banter Award runner-up goes to Dave Walker and Lois Hart, spouses and anchors on Channel 3. After KCRA’s Cyber Monday report, Walker mumbled something about shopping for kitchen products.

Lois: “That’s not what I want.”

Dave: “...You don’t want to get anywhere near the kitchen.”

* Alliteration of the Night: To Channel 13’s Kurtis Ming on this tease: “Rebate reality or mail-in migraine?”

* Compelling story: News10’s Tim Daly on what it’s like being a Cal-Trans worker doing construction on a freeway with big rigs bearing down on you. We’ll never complain about having to watch TV again for work. These Cal-Trans guys have got it a lot worse.

Compelling story II: Fox40’s Louisa Hodge reported on a wedding at the Sacramento County clerk’s office that was threatened to be postponed due to a fire alarm. Seems the bride and groom, who were in their traditional East Indian garb, had to catch a flight this morning. But the clerk eventually married the two off.

* And finally, what happened to Channel 13’s Kris Pickel? We’re watching her do a live shot from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart when suddenly she says, “Sorry” to someone outside of the shot. Then, the camera goes off.

November 27, 2006
To bob or not to bob

OK, so maybe I've been a little harsh, coming down on our local TV newscasts every day during sweeps month.

So, in the interest of fairness, let's come down hard on national newscasts. Check out this video, immortalized on YouTube, of a Fox Network "Live News Flash." Apparently, reporter Martha MacCallum and the crew were not aware that they were on the air.

This video answers the question: What do TV folks talk about right before they go on the air? Their hair, of course.

Sychophantic staffer to MacCallum: "I love the bob. I think you had the best bob ever."

MacCallum: "I can always go back to the bob."

Staffer: "I just felt it was the most effective bob."

Stay tuned to the end, when MacCallum does a quick read-through of the news. Hilarious.

November 27, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Days 23-25


Sorry for posting this so late, but I’ve been online all morning buying, buying, buying. After all, it is the vaunted “Cyber Monday,” as local TV news tells us. So, no one’s getting any work done.

Am I being hyperbolic?

Of course. But I’m just taking my cue from the newscasts.

With Thanksgiving behind us, I feel as if I’ve been watching the Home Shopping Network. “Black Friday” reports led the local news in the early evening on Friday, and only the killing of an off-duty cop in Fairfield prevented the story from leading the late news.

(Is it just me, or could local stations rerun tape of previous “Black Fridays” - the stampedes toward the entrances, the long lines to check out, the add-nothing quotes from shoppers - and no one would know the difference?
buy nothing
Hey, I’ve got nothing against capitalism. But I could sort of sympathize with the granola-crunchers who touted Friday as “Buy Nothing Day,” only because it would’ve spared us from live shots at the malls.)

Channel 3 took advantage of its studio at Arden Fair to bring us the news from that mall all day - except for the late news, when Edie Lambert holed up in the actual studio.

The Arden mall location (a.k.a. “the KCRA Experience”) works for Channel 3’s noon news, when Walt Gray and Co. cook with Biba and mix lifestyle and the headlines. But doing the 5 p.m. news with Dave Walker and Lois Hart from there was a bit much. Channel 3 spent its first 10 minutes talking about shopping, with four reporters (yes, FOUR) weighing in.

Here are some lasting images: Suzanne Phan holding store coupons up to the camera, like an informercial host; Mike TeSelle nearly trampling a woman in line in Roseville; Dann Shively hovering over malls in his copter, giving us shots of parked cars.

Quoth traffic reporter Adrienne Bankert: “Arden Fair Mall needs all the help it can get with parking.”

What, as if that’s a breaking news story? I’ve never been to that mall when parking has NOT been a problem.

Meanwhile, at Channel 13, anchor banter revolved around a report that men are outspending women at the stores. And at News10, George Warren gave us the results of a new poll, “commissioned by America Online” (gee, there’s a non-biased observer), that reports 80 percent of people will shop online. And News10 timed a woman to see how long it would take her to purchase her items at a Best Buy in Stockton. (Answer: 20 minutes.)

Hyperbole of the night goes to Fox40’s Louisa Hodge: “By the time you park your car, you’re almost too exhausted to shop.”

But my favorite “Black Friday” image was Fox40’s visual of a man’s foot being run over by a woman in wheelchair as they made their dash to the entrance. The station replayed it three times, as if it was the Zapruder film.

For good measure, Fox40 showed a Virginia shopper punching out another guy in line. Yeah, Merry Freakin’ Christmas.

Good news: Only three more days of sweeps remaining.

And, in the shameless plug category, I’m going to take myself to task for telling you to be sure to pick up The Bee’s Scene section on Tuesday for our print-version of local TV news sweeps madness.

November 24, 2006
I want to shop!

Associated Press

If I'm blogging, then that must mean I'm not among the throngs who are shopping till they drop on this Black Friday. No, I didn't camp out on Thanksgiving Day and eat a turkey sandwich while in line, like some folks at a Best Buy store in West Patterson, N.J. did, according to the Associated Press.

Truth is, I haven't gone shopping on Black Friday in about six years. It's not a holiday, you know. But, for some reason, today's clear skies and crisp temperatures make me long for a line and a bargain.

Yes, online is easy, but I like seeing Santa and having a half dozen bags hanging on my arms. I want to rub elbows with folks sniffing fragrances at the cosmetics counters and watching guys get uncomfortable in Victoria's Secret. Not to mention, see people eating burgers and fries because they're turkeyed out.

So, if you've been out there, looking for a parking space - shopping lists in hand - hope you had fun! Wish I were there.

November 24, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 22


You know, if this anchor thing doesn’t work out, Dave and Lois might be able to find work on the Food Channel.

“Chefs” Walker and Hart, those lovable Channel 3 anchors, shed the serious news personas on Thanksgiving and spent a significant portion of the 6:30 p.m. newscast weighing in on the Italian sweetbread, panettone.

We’re only going to give you a partial transcript of Dave and Lois’ bread banter, but you’ll get the idea. The exchange typifies the mood that was on almost all the Thanksgiving newscasts. For one day, sweeps-month concerns were relaxed and, for the most part, the crime coverage was on holiday.

Anyway, after airing a report on bread, a holiday delicacy, Lois brought out a slice of panettone and said: “In the interest of journalism, I had to try it. It’s sort of like fruitcake, but not really. It’s not as dense.”

Dave: “It’s not anywhere near like fruitcake. It’s much better. It’s sort of spongy with a sourdough texture to it.”

Lois: “Sort of lemony, too.”

Dave: “All different colors...I’m going to eat.”

Then, Channel 3 cut to a story on holiday sales at Tower Records, after which the anchor duo returned to live, team coverage on the bread beat.

Dave: “No way panettone is like fruitcake.”

Lois: “I mean, just that it has fruit in it.”

Dave: “Those are hard things, Lois. These are much sweeter.”

Lois: “Softer.”

Cut to a story about Black Friday shopping, after which Dave wrapped up the panettone coverage by turning to Lois and saying: “What if we did a story about brussel sprouts? Would you be as excited?”

No response from Lois.

In non-panettone Turkey Day news:

* News10 led its 11 p.m. newscast with reporter Monika Diaz calculating how many calories anchor Dale Schornack consumed during Thanksgiving dinner (4,120) and how many miles Schornack would have to walk to burn off the calories (42 miles).

Quipped Schornack: “TV adds about five pounds.”

When News10 went to a break a few minutes later, Schornack pulled out a piece of pumpkin pie and feigned taking a bite.


* Story that all four stations covered: A gaggle of turkeys caught on surveillance tape on a New Jersey train station platform, apparently “trying to escape their fate.”

* More late-breaking turkey coverage: Channel 13 aired a story on a one-eyed turkey who is a family’s pet.

* That turkey that President Bush pardoned? It went to Disneyland.

In non-Thanksgiving news:

* Fox40’s truncated 10 p.m. newscast was not exactly as warm and fuzzy as its competitors. It led with Nina Mehlhaf reporting on a wheelchair-bound man mugged on the Tower Bridge, then followed it a couple of stories later with a cheery piece about one Alzheimer’s patient murdering another in a nursing home.

* Tease of the Night, from Channel 13’s Mike Dello Stritto: “That fire in the fireplace might make you sick!”

* Channels 3 and 13 went beyond Thanksgiving to air features about the Hmong New Year’s celebration at Cal Expo.

* News10's Dan Adams filed a report on the small earthquake in Hawaii - from Hawaii, where he was vacationing. Geez, we know News10 is a non-union shop, but making a guy work on his vacation? (Actually, Adams volunteered.)

* And finally, what would Thanksgiving be without a sex offender story? Thanks, Fox40, for airing that report about the man in San Mateo who held a girl captive for months in his basement.

November 23, 2006
Hittin' the sauce - and it ain't gravy

With Thanksgiving being today and all, I thought I'd give myself a little challenge to see if I can unearth some delicious cocktails that incorporate all the elements of the traditional holiday menu - nominally, at least. Here are my hard-won findings, just in time for your post-feast feast:

The Dirty Bird (Not so much a cocktail, but my very favorite thing to order at one of my favorite bars in Seattle, and I just had to share):
One shot of Wild Turkey
One tall boy of Pabst

Almond Gravy:
One part coffee liqueur
One part Amaretto almond liqueur

Cranberry Apple Martini:
Two parts cranberry vodka
One part Sour Apple Pucker
3/4 part cranberry juice

Pumpkin Pie:
2 parts Kahlua
1 part Bailey's Irish Cream
1 part Goldschlager

Sadly, I couldn't find anything that remotely involved green bean casserole. Or stuffing, but I hoped you wouldn't notice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2006
Local TV Sweeps: Day 21

“It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Tom DuHain, Channel 3, at 5 p.m.

“ of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Cristina Mendonsa, News10, at 5 p.m.

“On the busiest travel day of the year... .”
-- Sam Shane, Channel 13, 6 p.m.

“It’s one of the busiest travel days of the year.”
- Kye Martin, Fox40, 10 p.m.

Well, there you have it. That hoary old cliché about the night before Thanksgiving being (all together now) “the busiest travel day of the year” easily beat out “all the fixin' s” (only News10’s Dale Schornack and Channel 3’s Lynsey Paulo chimed in with that one) for the most-used phrase Wednesday night.

In the early-evening news, Channel 3 and News10 were in full Thanksgiving mode. Ten of the 14 stories News10 reported at 5 p.m. were Turkey Day-related, and Channel 3 at 5 p.m. devoted 14 of its 17 stories to the travel, the traffic, the cooking, the obligatory pardoning of the turkey by President Bush.

Only Channel 13 stayed with what it does best - crime, fires and accidents. The first seven stories that Channel 13 reported were of that nature, including this heart-warming yarn: A senior citizen in Marysville was bound and gagged in her home and had her turkey stolen. Oh, and her car, too. The tease to the story was classic: “TERRORIZED OVER TURKEY.”

Thanksgiving traditions reared their head on several newscasts. News10 reprised its practice of sending a reporter to a local market and asking kids how to cook a turkey. And it never fails to amuse. One kid’s confident response: 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.” Coincidentally, News10’s next story was about safety tips for cooking the bird. Schornack: “Raw turkeys can be a breeding ground of bacteria.”

(Speaking of traditions, this is jumping ahead in chronology a bit, but this morning on “Good Day Sacramento,” they replayed the annual heartwarming tape of Mark S. Allen taking a turkey to a strip club. Don’t ask why; it’s “Good Day.” It doesn’t need a reason.)

Anyway, back to Wednesday night. All the regular anchors were on hand - no cutting out early during sweeps month. But some were openly phoning it in. Check out this exchange between weather guesser Mark Finan and anchors Lois Hart and Dave Walker at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 3:

Walker: “Millions of people are on the road, Mark. Any weather conditions to worry about?”

Finan: “If everyone’s on the road, why are we broadcasting?”

Hart: “They watch on computers on the road...or on the handheld whatever.”

Finan (incredulous): “OK.”

Hart (school-marmish): “This is important, Mark.”

Finan looked suitably chastened.

Other sweeps observations:

* Channel 13 weather guesser Dave Bender at 10 p.m.: “As far as liquid precipitation in the high country, not a lot.”

Liquid precip? As opposed to SOLID?

* On Channel 13’s safe-shopping package, reporter Ron Jones endured a simulated mugging as he pretended to talk on a cell phone in a parking lot.

* A scooplet for Channel 3: At 5 p.m., it showed the machine that TSA screeners use to process baggage at the airport. Walker made sure we knew it was a scoop. “And now for exclusive video. KCRA was the only station allowed past the security checkpoint.”

* Fox40’s sports guy Jim Crandell never ceases to entertain with his witty asides and inside jokes. Wednesday night, he reported a story about how the Tribune Company might sell the Chicago Cubs. “If the Tribune does sell, I think they need to split the money between all Tribune employees.”

Yes, Fox40 is owned by the same company.

* News10 burnished its reputation as the “good news” station by linking via satellite a U.S. Army officer with her family for a long-distance reunion. Mendonsa said there wasn’t a dry eye in the newsroom. Schornack: “We’re a bunch of softies.”

* And finally, the tease of the night goes to Channel 13’s indefatigable Kurtis Ming: “Never pay taxes again! All you have to do is become your own religion!”

November 22, 2006
Once a year ...

Sacramento Bee/Michael A. Jones

Nothing says the holidays to a theater critic as much as the proliferation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It is easily the most produced play (in some version or another) in the United States each year. I haven’t counted this year's entries, but we are quite lucky to have our own locally grown adaptation (by playwright Richard Hellesen and the late composer David DeBerry) playing again at Sacramento Theatre Company. Of course "A Christmas Carol" is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday theater productions.
Three years ago, I came up with the idea of a photo shoot combining various disparate characters in a fun salute to the numerous holiday-themed productions in our area. The spread would come out on the Friday after Thanksgiving as a sort of holiday season kickoff. It went so well (thanks to the photographers, designers, actors and costumers) that we’ve continued it in some variation each succeeding year since. This year’s theme is “The Usual Suspects” (courtesy of art director Val Mina) which really needs no more explanation. The photo spread has been pushed to Sunday’s Ticket+ and here’s a taste.

November 22, 2006
Plenty to be thankful for ...

Ah, Thanksgiving Eve - the night before the big feast. Shouldn't this day be just as big of an event as Christmas Eve?

I think so - after all, what better way to ramp up into the 2006 Holiday Season?

And I don't mean by watching "America's Next Top Model" - set the TiVo and enjoy the show Thursday while you're waiting for the Tofurky to roast.

Instead, get out of the house tonight for Old Ironsides' annual pre-Thanksgiving show. This year's lineup is a blockbuster one with Jackpot, An Angle and Ghosts of California.

All this for just $10 - and not a nosy relative in sight. Show starts at 10 p.m. and is 21-and-over only.

Visit the Old I site for more info.

November 22, 2006
Dressing and dresses

jcrew.gifNothing beats multitasking on Thanksgiving Day: Watch the Macy's Parade, truss a bird, watch a football game, baste a bird.

Are we done yet?

Not quite. How about a little online shopping?

I've received quite a few e-mails offering tempting deals, including one of my favorite shopping destinations, J.Crew (check out its Web site here - if I shop on Thanksgiving Day, sometime between bites, that is. Deals on shipping, discounts on merchandise and the ability to do all this in the confines of my home, in my pajamas.

So, even though there's a store in Downtown Plaza and at Roseville's Galleria, maybe I'll just click on Thursday and visit a store on Friday.

FYI: The Downtown Plaza J.Crew is conveniently located at the end of the mall where the Christmas tree will be lit Friday evening. Festivities usually get underway around 5 p.m. Best seat? Right inside the Hard Rock Cafe fence. But get there early - crowds gather in a hurry.

And hey, how do they all know I don't get dressed until after the bird is cooked?

November 22, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 20

Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling

What’s this?

Some perspective?

During sweeps month?

Now there’s a surprise.

But such an unlikely occurrence happened Tuesday on News10’s 11 p.m. broadcast. After leading with the verdict in the Mario Garcia trial - as all stations did, with good reason - News10 then took a different course.

Whereas Channel 13 spent 10 minutes on Garcia, covering every possible angle, and Channel 3 and Fox40 devoted several sidebars to Garcia, News10 switched to reporter Mark Hedlund for an in-depth look at how Sacramento “streets are not as deadly as in the past.”

Yes, that’s surprising. Because, if you watch local TV news for any amount of time, you’d get the impression that we live in a crime-infested hellhole replete with rapists, serial killers, nefarious sex offenders, arsonists and reckless drivers.

But Hedlund, who has been working the crime beat for 25 years at News10, gave viewers some much-needed historical perspective. He showed numbers proving that there actually has been less crime in Sacramento this past year than in years past. You want to talk high crime? Try 1993, when there was 145 murders - 13 per every 100,000 residents.

And Hedlund quoted a Sac State criminologist, who told us we’re much safer here than in the past: “You sort of need to take a breath and take the long view.”

Long view?

Local TV?

You must be kidding.

Now, about the coverage of the Garcia verdict: As I pointed out in Tuesday afternoon’s posting, Channel 13 beat the other stations in reporting that Garcia was found guilty of first-degree murder. This is a big story, but Channel 13 spent 10 of its 24 minutes at 6 p.m. on this lone report.

And it was a little self-serving for 13 to do a victory lap both at 6 and 11 p.m. by detailing how reporter Bridget Cannata scooped the competition by text messaging the verdict from the courtroom, where cameras were not allowed.
As anchor Pallas Hupe finally intoned halfway through the 6 p.m. broadcasts, “There are other stories out there tonight.”


Channel 3 was late to jump on the verdict when it was announced a few minutes after 2 p.m. It stayed with the soap opera, “Passions,” instead of breaking in for a report.

But KCRA redeemed itself Tuesday night with its thorough - but not overkill - coverage. It was the only station to get one-on-one interviews with the parents of victim Christie Wilson. Dave Walker and Lois Hart talked to the mother, Debbie Boyd, at 6:30 and then reporter Leticia Ordaz interviewed both parents at 11.

Not that the parents said much tht was new. The only scooplet Channel 3 had was Boyd’s declaration that she’d be willing to cut a plea deal with Garcia if he would tell authorities “where he left the body.” But it’s the prosecutor, not the victim’s family, that decides sentencing.

As Hupe so sagely said, there was other news last night:

* Late in News10’s 11 p.m. broadcast, anchors Dale Schornack and Cristina Mendonsa teased to a story on that annoying magician David Blaine pulling another stunt - this time escaping from shackles while suspended four stories above Times Square.

Cut to a commercial...and it just so happens to be a commercial for Target, featuring David Blaine. (Target is sponsoring the stunt.) Return to News10, which then runs its story on Blaine.

Some might call it “synergy;” I call it nauseating.

Credit an embarrassed Schornack, however, for pointing out the advertising/editorial melding: “That was the news story you just saw. The commercial was two minutes ago.”

* Tease of the Night, during Channel 13’s late news: “We’re flipping the bird Wednesday on ‘Good Day,’” gushed Julissa Ortiz.

* Tease of the Night, runner-up, during Channel 13’s late news: “Commode Concerns,” barked reporter Kris Pickel. (It was a story about high sewer rates in rural Cascade Shores, a story that News10’s Dan Adams aired on Nov. 10.)

* And, finally, the dry wit of Dave Walker reared itself again. At 6:30, he interviewed a geologist who was talking about a tsunami that they think hit Lake Tahoe 15,000 years ago.

Walker: “So no casinos were there at that time?”

November 21, 2006
Cruisin' in the Maldives


Not that I get all my news from "Entertainment Tonight," but it looks like the show was all over the wedding this weekend of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

"ET" reporter Jann Carl had set up shop outside the matrimonial castle and, because I wasn't invited, she's the one who tipped me - and anyone else who was watching Monday night - as to the couple's honeymoon whereabouts.

Earlier on Monday, I had posted an item on Katie's wedding gown and left you with two burning questions: Where is the couple honeymooning? And when did everyone clear out?

In addition to getting comments from wedding guests such as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones - as well as bugging the heck out of Brooke Shields and Will Smith - Carl informed us that TomKat left the building, er, castle at 5 a.m. and were whisked away in the dark of night for the fabulous Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Were the guests still partying when the couple left, or were they just playing Dungeons & Dragons in the "entertainment room?"

Of course, baby Suri, Carl reported, went along with her parents to the island getaway. Funny thing, Tom's ex - Nicole Kidman - and her new husband, Keith Urban, also honeymooned island-style post their recent wedding.

November 21, 2006
Channel 13 gets high-tech Garcia scoop

Just minutes ago, the Mario Garcia verdict - guilty of first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of Christie Wilson - came in. And Channel 13 scooped the TV competition by getting on the air with it first.

And Channel 13 did it via text messaging, with reporter Bridget Cannata inside the courtroom. That enabled 13 to get on the air a good three minutes before News10 went on the air with reporter Mark Hedlund, reporting the guily verdicts on the steps outside the courtroom. (Hedlund told viewers he ran outside to give viewers the news.)

What about Channel 3? Well, on this day, it was "Where the News Comes Last." KCRA chose to stay with its soap opera, "Passions." So, while Cannata was texting and Hedlund sprinting for his live shot, on Channel 3 we had the character Fancy calling beloved Luis from her hospital bed. "Does Luis have feelings for me or what?" Fancy asked. Alas, Fancy got Luis' answering machine. Eventually, Channel 3 ran a scroll across the bottom of the screen, annnouncing the convictions.

This was a clear scoop by Channel 13. Cannata interacted via BlackBerry with anchor Sam Shane in the newsroom. They commented about the mood of the family ("cheering") and Garcia ("no emotion.")

November 21, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 19

Warning: This blog posting contains strong language and disturbing images.

Not really. We’re actually trying to keep it clean here today. But it’s going to be hard, because several local TV news reports Monday night were definitely R-rated.

Sure, a couple of them ran a disclaimer such as the one above, moments before launching into video of Michael Richards’ now-infamous and profane tirade. But you’d have to have a pretty quick remote-control trigger finger to change the channel and miss the first swear words.
It wasn’t just the former “Seinfeld” star who pushed the envelope. Channel 3’s Dave Walker had a hilarious blooper-reel-worthy slip of the tongue himself at the end of the 11 o’clock broadcast. KCRA also aired a harmless, but nonetheless scatological segment featuring Walker, consumer reporter Lynsey Paulo and a toy doll. And perhaps the most disturbing story of all – Nazi gingerbread men.

But first, let’s recap the Richards story.

Channel 13 went way, way over-the-top on this story. It led both the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts with it. At 10 p.m., it spent a whopping 6 minutes, 37 seconds on Richards. And, because I’m always looking for ulterior motives and hidden agendas, I suspect it was because Jerry Seinfeld and Richards (via satellite) were on that night on David Letterman’s show, which also happens to be on CBS.

Conversely, Channel 3 briefly covered the Richards story at 5 p.m., but didn’t have any mention of it at 11 o’clock. Curious. Richards’ tirade definitely qualifies as a story, so conspiracy theorists such as me might think Channel 3 didn’t want to give Letterman any props for scoring the appearances since, of course, Jay Leno airs right after the 11 p.m. news - on NBC.

News10 had it about right, devoting 56 seconds to the story. (Fox40’s report, by the way, was 2 minutes, 27 seconds.)

Now, about the content of the reports: All the stations ran grainy footage of Richards going off, complete with the F-word just barely bleeped out (c’mon, the bleeping didn’t fool anyone) and either little Xs or stars covering other offending words, including the N-word. But in one of the night's biggest bad decisions: Channel 13 didn’t X out the N-word in the closed captioning.

Channel 13 also covered the story from every conceivable angle - some might call it thorough; I call it overkill. Tony Lopez interviewed the head of Sacramento’s Urban League. Kris Pickel interviewed a local comic. Lopez told us all about the Web site, which broke the original story. And, as a sidebar, they plugged a new children’s book about the N-word.

Meanwhile, Channel 13 waited until almost halfway into its newscast (the 12th story) to report on the victim of the serial rapist speaking out.

On to other bleep-worthy items:

* At 11 p.m., the irrepressible Walker had a slip of the tongue while introducing a story about a 50-year-old can of Coors beer found in San Diego.

Said Walker: “And as we wrap up the newscast tonight, some of you just might be crapping open - uh, cracking open - a cold beer.”

Co-anchor Edie Lambert cracked up. Walker soldiered on. “Take it any way you want,” the unflappable Walker said. Lambert, still laughing, then took over: “I’m going to leave that alone.”

At the end of the report, which relayed how badly the beer smelled and tasted, Walker offered this assessment: “I think I had it right the first time. That is a crappy can of beer.”

This is why Dave is so beloved in Sacramento.

* At 6:30, Walker and Paulo put on something of a comedy routine during a Call 3 segment on testing holiday toys. Paulo handed Walker the Hasbro Baby Alive doll, telling Dave: “She eats, drinks and, well, you know what.”
baby alive.jpg
A mock horrified look crossed Walker’s face. “You have to wonder about the toymaker. What were they thinking about when they do something like this?”

But then Walker got into the spirit of the experiment, saying KCRA would give viewers “the straight poop.” Then anchor Lois Hart chimed in: “I’m betting it’s not terribly realistic, what comes out.”

Paulo: “It kind of is.”

Hart: “I’m with Dave. What were they thinking?”

* What's the deal with Fox40’s obsession with Nazi stories? A week or so ago, it reported about a high school soccer team somewhere in the Midwest that played a Hitler speech before a game. Monday night, it featured an artist in Ohio who got in trouble for a display of Nazi gingerbread men in a store window.

* Awful tease, great report: Channel 3’s scare-the-do-do-out-of-you tease - “A breast cancer nothing can detect!” - turned off at least a few female viewers I know. But the actual story, reported by Lambert Monday night, was excellent health reporting. Kudos to Channel 3 for devoting 3 minutes, 50 seconds to the report.

studio 60

* A wag of the finger, however, to Channel 3 for wasting 2 minutes, 1 second (but, hey who’s counting?) of precious 11 p.m. airtime to a puff piece on going behind the scenes at NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

* LOL sound bite of the night: Sac Mayor Heather Fargo was asked by Fox40 sports guy Jim Crandell how to keep the Kings in town and fund a new arena. Fargo: “Maybe every player in the NBA takes a 1 or 2 percent reduction in their pay and that money goes into an arena-building fund.”

Yeah, like that would ever happen.

* And let’s end with the obligatory animal story of the night (bears, not deer, in this case): Fox40 reported on a Vermont man mauled by a black bear before he killed it. Cue the video of a bulldozer carting off the carcass of the 600-pound quadruped.

November 21, 2006
Who pulls the strings at 'Good Day Sac'?

TV critics say that anchors are nothing but vacuous talking heads. They're wrong, dead wrong. "Good Day Sacramento" on Monday showed that anchors Marianne McClary and Nick Toma aren't talking heads; they're puppets.

Check out this video. It's the best work Marianne and Nick have done in months.

Meanwhile, remember to check out Media Savvy in today's Bee for insights into what makes a good, respected local TV news anchor team. Hint: It has nothing to do with puppetry.

November 20, 2006
Christmas music, 24/7

Yes, it's that time of year again. The stroke of midnight Thursday just won't be the start of Black Friday, the Christmas shopping extravaganza. It's also when KKFS (103.9 FM) begins its 24-hour non-stop playing of Christmas music. The marathon of glad tidings and joy will end on Dec. 25 at midnight.

What? No radio at your desk? Log on to the station's Web site.

November 20, 2006
After the 'I dos'

AFP photograph

So, what did you think of the dress? Of course, we're talking about the Armani wedding gown of Katie Holmes - or is that Katie Cruise?

I heard a couple of folks say it didn't have that "wow" factor they were hoping for, but that she did look very pretty. My thoughts? The dress really suited Katie, and I liked the idea that his shirt was made from some of the same fabric. Cute, huh?

I rang up Sanea Sommerfield, co-designer of Miosa Couture wedding gowns on J Street, to get her opinion. She agrees that Katie's personality and look is more classic and elegant than, say, flashy Hollywood glamour.

"The dress portrayed that," Sommerfield says. "Any designer working on a wedding gown has to focus on the woman's personality and not what she, or the groom, wants her to wear - if (the designer) does that, the dress loses its beauty."

She adds that Katie is more "girl next door. She's not so much the starlet type. She's much more understated, and she's young, too (27)."

The images I saw of the happy couple were interesting for another reason. I think Armani didn't want the dress to overwhelm Katie - or Tom. Because of their closeness in height, it also appears as if Katie scrunched down a bit so as not to top her new husband. The pics definitely had sort of a sweet prom feel to them.

But who picked the photo location? It looked like maybe the dungeon of the castle.

Getty Images

As for the wedding guests, we saw a whole lot more of folks like Jennifer Lopez (right) and Victoria Beckham (left), flitting from one event to the other, than we did of TomKat - although we did get a nice peek at them pre-ceremony. Beckham, who reportedly attended the wedding sans her husband (he had soccer practice, natch), and Lopez are both shown either shopping or heading to the airport the day after the nuptials. Gotta make one last stop at Dior in Rome before flying home.

Next burning question: What time did they clear the castle?

Last burning question: Will Tom and Katie honeymoon with the kids?

November 20, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Days 16-18

If there is one story that just screams sweeps, it is the tale of woe involving a Salvation Army bell ringer named Corey Trepagnier (pictured below).

This story on Friday night had it all, and all four stations ran with it: (1) A bell-ringer gets robbed at knifepoint in front of an Albertsons in East Sac; (2) Said bell ringer is a disabled Iraq war vet; (3) Oh, did we mention he’s a native of New Orleans, rendered homeless by Hurricane Katrina?; (4) And he just looked so sad, with two black eyes and bruises on his face. (The Bee ran a four-sentence regional digest item on Saturday.)


At 5, 6, 10 and 11, the stations couldn’t get enough of Corey’s plight. Cue the B-roll footage of fire fights in Baghdad and flooded neighborhoods in Katrina. Go for an extreme close-up on Trepagnier’s face. Channel 13 led its 6 p.m. newscast with the story, Fox40 led with it at 10 p.m., while Channels 3 and 10 put it in the middle of their newscasts.

In the early reports (5 and 6 p.m.) of the story, we had a nagging problem with it. None of the stations mentioned why Trepagnier had bruises all over his face. It wasn’t from the robbery, since the perps just pulled a knife and Corey gave them the pot o' money (about $40). It made a cynic like me wonder about the veracity of Trepagnier’s story. So I did a quick Lexis database search, and the dude checked out: former New Orleans resident now living with his aunt in Sacramento.

Still, I wanted to know the nature of the bruised face. Channel 13 and Fox40 didn’t give a reason in their 10 p.m. reports but, at 11, Channels 3 and 10 both reported that Trepagnier suffered the facial wounds from a recent seizure he suffered. Seems Corey sustained a head injury in Iraq and he gets uncontrollable seizures.

Geez. A sad story just gets sadder.

The only happy ending? It’s a ratings bonanza for local TV.

On to other Friday-night sweeps highlights:

* At last, a positive story about Stockton, which is treated as the go-to place for crime-reporting by our local stations. Channel 3’s Rich Ibarra did a “heartwarming” report on an 87-year-old school crossing guard.

* Channel 13 ended its 6 p.m. newscast with a story about an asteroid that NASA scientists think might hit earth in 2036 if the agency doesn’t take measures to redirect the big rock. Quipped anchor Sam Shane, aping the scare-people-during-sweeps routine: “Be very, very afraid...Isn’t this a bit of a stretch?”

* Most-underrated regular segment in the local TV news market: News10’s Jonathan Mumm’s “California Postcard,” a travel-history segment shot in high-definition. Learning about the history of the Empire Gold Mine in Grass Valley was a nice break from all-crime, all-the-time.

* Channel 3 anchor Lois Hart after wrapping up a story on the mania surrounding Sony’s PlayStation 3, introduced the next story thusly: “No coincidental segueway here... .” It was a story on childhood obesity.

* Yes, there was another deer story. No wacky antics this time, though. Fox40’s Lonnie Wong reported on the dangers of cars vs. deer. “There’s no doubt who wins when a car strikes a deer,” Wong says. Cut to video of a deer slamming into a car - or was it vice versa? - with an audible thud. (Quote from my 9-year-old: “Turn it off, Dad! Bambi’s mom's dead!”)

* Mini-scoop: Three of the four stations aired reports on the rash of burglaries in downtown Lodi, but only Channel 13 reported (and had video) of the perp on the surveillance camera later getting arrested.
* Pallas Hupe (pictured left) on Channel 13 airs occasional commentaries, provocatively titled, “Why Should I Care?” Most times, thankfully, we do care.

* More on Hupe: It looked as if she was delivering the commentary in the station’s lobby. Channel 13 has a habit of having anchors and reporters deliver stories throughout their West Sac building – the newsroom, the set, the engineer’s quarters, the hallways. I’m still waiting for Tony Lopez to report live from the men’s room.

* And, finally, this from the weekend, when I gave myself a break from watching local news to watch ... national cable news!
The coverage of the TomKat wedding was just out of control. All the cable channels treated it as a breaking-news story. Geez.

November 17, 2006
TomKat marriage patrol

Associated Press

Well, I'm officially on TomKat watch - from afar, that is. An entire continent and multiple time zones. But, if I can't be in Rome, I can roam the wires for the goings-on in Italy.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are set to tie the knot Saturday, reportedly at the 15th-century Odescalchi Castle in the small town of Bracciano, just north of Rome.

And over the past two days, air traffic has been busy hauling in the celebs who are said to be attending. Couples such as: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, David and Victoria Beckham, and Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. And, get this, Oprah apparently didn't get an invite (maybe he broke her couch), but - surprise, surprise! - Brooke Shields (Cruise's postpartum nemesis) did. She reportedly arrived with hubby Chris Henchy.

Everyone seems to be ensconced in a fancy hotel in Rome, where, Thursday night, the happy couple hosted an "intimate" dinner. Even baby Suri was on hand for the festivities (as shown above).

As of this posting, I'm hoping the lovebirds haven't sold the exclusive rights to their wedding photos to oh, say, Vanity Fair or People, because then the rest of us won't get to see anything until they're published.

If the wedding is open for all to see, check back here at 21Q to see Holmes in what is sure to be a fabulous Armani gown! FYI: We hear he's wearing Armani, too.

November 17, 2006
She's baaaack!

Donna Asch.JPG Jewelry designer Donna Asch (shown left) returns to Sacramento for another of her well-attended trunk shows featuring her Magnetix line.

Asch will be at Serendipity Boutique from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The store is at 5362 H St., next to Selland's Market.

PUR_0001.JPGI first met Donna about two years ago when she stopped by The Bee to show me her unique collection. She had created the Magnetix magnetic jewelry line after she was forced to streamline her personal stash of jewelry before going on her honeymoon.

The collection features interchangeable magnetic pendants. Each piece is handmade, and there's such a variety of styles. If you're looking for a gift for someone who appreciates interesting pieces, check out the trunk show, meet Donna (who is really, really nice) and take home a treat.

Prices are $30 for a single pendant and also $30 for a starter necklace.

November 17, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 15

deer face.jpg
We’ve reached a whole new level of sweeps and rampaging-deer coverage - a story about the high number of deer-related stories.

It’s all so very, very meta. The latest offering was Channel 3’s airing on Thursday's noon news of a “Today” show report called “Deer Gone Wild.” Reporter Kevin Tibbles gave us all the highlights of the past week - the deer in the Target store; the deer with the pumpkin stuck on its head; the deer in the bank.

Plus, he found a few new ones: A deer humping (yes, there’s no other way to describe it) a high school cross-country runner in Bend, Ore. (pun intended); a jealous deer that tore the head off a plastic deer lawn ornament in Wisconsin, and a deer in an unidentified locale taking a dip in a backyard swimming pool. Henry Campa at the University of Michigan was quoted as saying: “This is the breeding season. The bucks, this time of year, have got only one thing on their mind, and it’s not looking for food.”

And, as Tibbles’ voiceover warned: “When bucks and does are looking for love, anyone caught in the middle better watch out.”

Including local TV viewers.

Animals dominated Thursday night’s news coverage, as well. Or, more accurately, human beings behaving like animals. And I’m not just talking about all the stations doing sports features on the barbaric “Ultimate Fighting” event (pictured above right) this weekend at Arco.

No, three of the four stations led the late news with the yahoos waiting in line outside stores for the chance to buy Sony PlayStation 3 (What were you thinking, Channel 13, leading at 10 p.m. with the Stockton toddlers saved from drowning?)

Anyway, News10 showed tape from Milwaukee of a human stampede at a Wal-Mart. And, of course, there was the armed robbery at the Elk Grove GameStop store. Battle pay should go to Fox40’s Nina Melhaf, Channel 3’s Richard Sharp and News10’s Monika Diaz for enduring the assignment.
I was clucking my tongue at these tent-sitters in front of the stores, telling them to get a life (as if TiVoing local news shows all night is such a great life!) until Channel 3 anchor Edie Lambert made a good point: “Well, they are getting paid by the hour.” I did the math: The guy who has spent 96 hours camped out for the PS3 said he figures to get at least $2,500 on eBay for the PS3, so he’s making $26 an hour. Guess that’s justification for living like animals on the hard pavement all week.

Other animal stories:

* Channel 13, at 6 p.m., reported on a cat named Mimi in Brazil that allegedly gave birth to puppies three months after, in the words of Pallas Hupe, of “mating with a dog.” The photo that 13 showed was absolutely freaky. DNA tests are pending.

Quipped weather guesser Dave Bender: “It just goes to show you - Nickelodeon was on the cutting edge because they had a show named ‘Cat Dog.’ ”

* The third story Channel 3 presented at 11 p.m.: A man was arrested for bringing three crocodiles in his carry-on baggage on a flight. Lambert: “They could use more teeth in their security.”

* In the category of lack of animal evolution: Fox40 aired a report about a Nevada town passing a law to outlaw the speaking of a foreign language within city limits. Quote from one Neanderthal resident: "We're in America. We're speakin' American English."

* True crime: Channel 13 reports on robbers in Miami who broke into a pet store and stole Yorkshire terriers.

* Channel 13’s tease for a “special report” to air Monday: “Animal CSI.” (Apparently, airing “Weather CSI” wasn’t enough.)

All this animal coverage makes a guy want to chuck it all and move somewhere obscure to get away from it all - say, Ellsworth, Kan. That was Channel 13’s “special report” last night. So desperate is the town for residents that it is giving away land, paying as much as $3,000 for people with kids to come, and offering a free golf club membership.

Kurtis Ming went and checked it out.

For good or ill, Kurtis came back.

In other non-animal news:

* All the stations had interviews with the family of the Sacramento Marine killed in Iraq. But, it should be noted, Channel 3's late news on Wednesday night was the first to interview the family.
* Channel 3's Dave Walker on a proposal to sell the Golden Gate Bridge for corporate sponsorship: "The Golden Gate brought to you by the Golden Arches."

* And finally, we thought we were going to see some “Ultimate Fighting” on the set of Fox40 Thursday night when sports guy Jim Crandell jokingly chided weather guesser Kristina Werner for her verbal gaffe earlier in the broadcast (Werner: “It’ll be the same, similar - oh, that’s the same word - situation tomorrow....”).

Crandell said the Kings were not the “same similar” team they were the previous night. Werner gave an anguished smile and some sort of a hand gesture before the camera cut to a tight shot of Crandell. Several replays on our TiVo showed that, technically, it wasn’t a vulgar hand gesture, but the viewer could get the meaning.

November 16, 2006
'Teacher Man' and 'Talking Woman'

Frank McCourt is staging nothing short of a media assault on Sacramento.

Tune in to KCTC (1320 AM) today at 4 p.m. Enid Goldstein, the afternoon talk show host, will have the famed author of "Angela's Ashes" in the studio to talk about his new book, "Teacher Man." You also can catch all 20 minutes of his interview with KXJZ (90.9 FM) reporter Donna Apidone on the station's Web site.

The real reason McCourt (pictured left) is in town: He will be at the Crest Theatre at 7:30 tonight as part of the California Lecture Series. KXJZ's Jeffrey Callison, a Scot, will handle the evening interview duties with McCourt, an Irishman. It should be a battle of the endearing, lilting accents with those two.

And, if you didn't catch it, click here to read the great Q&A The Bee's Bruce Dancis had with McCourt.

November 16, 2006
Handbag hoopla


For shame, for shame. What is the world of accessories coming to when your knockoff handbag costs as much as the real thing?

Last night, Channel 13 reported on its 10 p.m. newscast that Ana Divac, wife of former Kings star Vlade Divac, could be in big trouble for allegedly selling fake Gucci purses at her Pavilions boutique, L'Image.

And here's where the bag burst: The fakes supposedly were being sold at high-end prices. For example, a real Gucci "Penelope" bag (shown left) sells for about $1,550 at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

I recently did a story on handbags and mentioned that knockoffs are all over the place. And women do buy them, and the designers being knocked off aren't too happy about it. Thing is, the vendors selling the bogus bags aren't asking for a mortgage payment in return for a fake Fendi.

According to the TV report, Gucci filed a civil suit against Ana early last year, telling her, as Channel 13 says, "to knock it off."

The warning must not have sunk in because now, the Sacramento District Attorney's Office is getting involved, which could mean criminal charges. As for Ana, she doesn't even live in the country anymore.

Since it opened about three years ago, L'Image Boutique has stocked its shelves with high-end cosmetics, fragrances and other goodies that customers couldn't find anywhere else in Sacramento. Fancy handbags, including Prada and Fendi, were an added bonus.

But it's no bonus - and certainly no bargain - if your Fendi is a fake and you paid the ultimate price to tote it.

November 16, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 14

Well, we've reached the halfway point in the local TV news sweeps month, and the only thing keeping your weary and wary correspondent going is Visine and vodka. (See, the local news habit of using alliteration is rubbing off on me).

Several e-mailers have asked how I'm holding up after watching and analyzing five hours of news every day. At the risk of being self-serving (because this blog is not about me, after all), let me sum up the way I feel by quoting a man interviewed on Channel 13 last night.
It was a story about a sea lion in San Francisco's Aquatic Park that has the nasty habit of biting swimmers. An attacked swimmer said: "I don't know what it was. But it felt kind of slimy."

I can relate. I sometimes don't know what I'm watching, but it feels kind of slimy.

That said, there's been a lot of good journalism practiced so far in sweeps month. We just didn't see it last night, when selling sex as news made a comeback.

* Channel 3's "special report" was about "reclaiming your virginity," a movement by some 29-and-under women and men to abstain from sex until marriage.

First, this story was new, say, in the early 1990s, when The Bee first reported on it. Second, Adrienne Bankert's report just scratched the surface of the phenomenon. She quoted a few 20somethings, including one woman who said, "If I'm going to have sex with you, that's your privilege." That's about as deep as it got. A UC Davis professor added little insight into why this supposed trend is taking place.

I don't want to say the report was exploitative, but showing clips of sweaty, skin-revealing young people freak dancing and then talking about abstaining from sex in the voiceover seems a touch cynical.
The only thing new was Paris Hilton's apparent vow not to have sex for a year - yeah, as if we really believe that.

* Speaking of sex, Channel 13 picked up on the bra-that-turns-into-a-tote-bag story that Fox40 aired several nights before - only Channel 13 had lingerie-clad Japanese models showing how it's done.

* Channel 13 tried to titillate viewers with a feature on "the same-sex dance craze sweeping Sacramento."

Yes, gays like to ballroom dance! Who knew?!? Reporter Tony Lopez asked all the probing questions, such as this one to a lesbian couple: "When two women dance, who leads?"

In non-sex-related news:

* Props to all the channels for not going overboard on the sleazy O.J. Simpson "If I Did It" book and interview revelations. Fox is going to air an exclusive interview with Simpson on Nov. 27, and Fox40 (a Fox affiliate, of course, but owned by the Tribune Co.) should be credited for not automatically hyping it. In fact, anchor Thomas Drayton told viewers that the station had yet to decide whether it would air the interview and urged viewers to state their opinion in a Web poll on whether they'd watch. (FYI: 76 percent said they would not watch.)

Drayton: "We will certainly take those numbers into consideration."

* More props to Fox40 for keeping the streak of deer-related stories alive. It aired the deer-in-the-bank piece that Channel 13 "broke" the night before.

* News10 led its 11 p.m. newscast with the debate in Tracy about the University of California's plans to build a biological weapons lab in that town. Anchor Dale Schornack said it was "a story you'll only see on News10."

Uh, no. Channel 3 aired the story near the end of its 6 p.m. newscast.

* But News10 did get a clean scoop over all the other channels in reporting that a Marine from Sacramento had died. News10 reported it at 6 p.m.; the others on the late news.

* Curious (and bad) choice for a lead story on Channel 3 at 11 p.m.: It was about a 76-year-old Citrus Heights woman who was dragged by a purse thief's car in a parking lot. The woman sustained a broken ankle. Reporter Richard Sharp called her "a human speed bump." Niiiicccee. And the story was touted as being "new tonight," but then Sharp told us the incident happened at 9:30 a.m.

* Channel 3 again shamelessly plugged another NBC show, this time "Medium." Yeah, we know why they do it. You tease the report during the actual show in hopes of luring viewers. The station will do it again tonight with "ER." This practice is nothing more than infomercial fodder.
* News10, by the same token, continued to report "Dancing With the Stars" as legitimate news.

* LOL moment of the night: Fox40 quoted Justin Vierra, assistant community director for the city, in a story about the new lofts unveiled at 18th and L streets: "They actually mentioned, specifically, that it looks like Soho, New York."

Uh huh. Sure.

* Channel 13 gets TV's scoop on bounty hunter Leonard Padilla getting robbed and then hunting down the miscreants himself to recover his impressive cache of guns and knives. Highlight: Reporter Rafer Weigel toting Padilla's sawed-off shotgun.

*And now, to blatantly steal from Jon Stewart, here's your moment of zen, courtesy of Channel 13's Japanese tsunami coverage:

Weather guesser Dave Bender: "We could have them here...Well, not here in Sacramento. If we did, I'd tell you about it."

Anchor Sam Shane: "We'd lead the newscast with it."

November 15, 2006
True Love always finds a way

As I had mentioned in Tuesday's Coming Distractions column, the True Love Coffeehouse returns today! In fact, festivities commenced just minutes ago. I, for one, am super-duper excited that owners Kevin and Allyson Seconds have resurrected their popular cafe.

HA-EXTERIOR.jpg As you may recall, the old TLC shut down about two years ago after the Seconds lost the lease on the building.

Now, they're in a new locale just around the corner, at 2315 K St. Doors opened at 5, with an art show featuring works by Kep from the Groovie Ghoulies, and live music with Anton Barbeau and Bobby Jordan.

Getting the True Love back - finally - brings back a lot of wonderful memories of the old digs (pictured in a shot by The Bee's Hector Amezcua). There's the time that Allyson threw Kevin a big birthday bash and the whole cafe surprised him with a cake and a rowdy round of "Happy Birthday." That was right after the cafe opened in 2001 and I think everyone was still really giddy about the place, with its couches, tiny wood tables, artwork and games - a real home away from home.

Then, that first summer, it seemed like I spent every other waking hour there. The back patio was the perfect place to enjoy an iced coffee and the cool Delta breeze. Sometimes I'd just order a small salad and sit on the couch in the front of the cafe and people watch.

Of course, there were always great music shows, too, including the weekend "waffle jams" at midnight featuring - you guessed it - waffles from the self-appointed Waffle King, Tom Hutchinson.

(The Waffle King even had his own theme song that went like this: "He's quiet, he's a riot, yeah the King is all right/but he's only making waffles late late at night.")

Then, there was Barbeau's infamous 23-hour "Anton-a-thon, showcasing the pop artist and a ton of his friends performing, yes, 23 hours straight. For some reason, my most vivid memory of that event is dragging my unshowered self over to the cafe early in the morning to catch a friend's set and being greeted by local promoter Jerry Perry, who had his hand stuffed in a box of cereal. I think it may have been Count Chocula.

Some of my favorite shows there, however, were the Christmas Eve sets. In the interest of full disclosure, my husband Cory usually played those shows with his band, the Haints, and let me tell you, there's no better gift than being able to tell your family (politely, of course) that you have to leave the get-together early because of a Very Important Commitment. And, best of all, once we got there, it always felt like we'd just moved from one family to the next. Only this one doesn't expect presents or make certain comments (again and again and again.)

Ah, memories. I really hope the holiday tradition is picked up again this year. In any case, I can't wait to see what the new TLC brings.

Welcome back.

November 15, 2006
Maria mania

Associated Press

I hope a reader named Liz is checking out 21Q. That’s because I got a hot tip on Maria Shriver’s election-night dress; Liz was hoping to find the dress for her daughter’s wedding next summer.

I now know who the designer is. I even know what type of fabric it’s made from. Alas, the one-of-a-kind dress is hanging in the first lady’s L.A. closet.

But there’s good news!

Karen Sanders at the Polo Ralph Lauren store in Pavilions contacted me after reading my postings on “The Dress.” She e-mails: “The designer is Ralph Lauren, of course.”

The dress is from Lauren’s spring 2007 collection, she adds, but from this point on, it gets a little tricky.

“The lamé jacquard fabric (for Maria’s dress) was available in a skirt and pant, which I will carry in the store,” she says. “But the same fabric was not made in the Deacon Dress, which is what Maria was wearing.”

The store’s version of the dress, which will arrive in late January or early February, will be in a lamé hopsack fabric, which is a bit more coarse.

Still, Sanders says that, even in the hopsack, the Deacon Dress is “stunning.”

So, Lauren lovers, next year you will be able to purchase a skirt or pant in the Maria fabric, but not the dress. Or, you can get the dress, but not in the same fabric.

For more musings about Maria, Arnold and other pressing fashion topics, I'll be joining Kitty O'Neal at 6:20 tonight on KFBK (1530 AM). And she's always stylish, even with a mike.

November 15, 2006
The little radio station that could


KDEE (97.7 FM) in Rancho Cordova, one of only two low-powered FM stations in the area (KDRT 101.5 FM in Davis is the other), is starting to make airwaves in its little corner of the Sacramento radio market.

The nonprofit, noncommercial station run by the California Black Chamber Foundation last month hired former CBS radio producer Frontis Abney to head programming. And change has been immediate. Abney dropped the station's jazz format and replaced it with urban adult contemporary. Plus, on weekdays, the station runs informative talk radio programs on social and civic issues.

"We're playing Luther," Abney says. "That's Luther (pictured, left) when he first came out, not (the more commercial) Luther Vandross. We'll play a lot of groups you don't hear much on the radio. We've got a 3,000-song database, so you'll never hear the same song twice."

Earlier this week, for instance, KDEE aired a one-hour tribute to Aretha Franklin, featuring songs and commentary. Next week, during the talk segment, Abney plans to spend all five days on home-buying issues for those in the area.

One thing the new KDEE won't play is hip hop.

"This is a station for grown-up folks with grown-up tastes and issues," Abney says.

The problem, of course, is that the FCC will only let KDEE and other low-powered FM stations broadcast at 100 watts. So listeners in Sacramento (and, heck, anywhere except Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights) are out of luck. But Abney says he plans to have the station's Web site streaming its programming by next month.

November 15, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 13

We're breaking into one of these homes! Live! Will it be yours?
- Channel 13 promo

The good news: It wasn't your home. Or mine.

More good news: The much-hyped "special report" on Tuesday night turned out to be far less cheesy than we had feared. In fact - dare we say it? - much of it was informative.

Aside from the hope of a ratings bonanza, the station's reason for breaking into a house on live TV was to show how most people don't bother to lock their doors or take any other precautions against bad guys. Having Sheriff John McGinness (pictured, right) on hand to provide play-by-play commentary during the break-in added a whiff of credibility, as did the handy tips McGinness imparted to dissuade thieves: leave men's work boots and a dog bowl outside your front door; buy a dog; keeps lights on outside your house, and engrave all your valuables.

Now, for the actual break-in, reported by Mike Dell Stritto - yeah, there was some cheese. There was a clock displayed in the top righthand corner of the screen to time the "criminals," who were wearing dark hooded sweatshirts and skulking around like they were in an outtake from a B-movie. Cameras inside the house showed them grabbing laptop computers, ransacking the kitchen for ID-theft items such as credit card or checking receipts. And then the bad guys stole the homeowner's car keys and dashed away in the owner's red sports car.

Dello Stritto breathlessly told us the entire break-in took 1 minute, 25 seconds -about as long as it takes for a smoke break. And the kicker: The "thieves" turned out to be consumer reporter Kurtis Ming and "Good Day Sacramento's" clown Mark S. Allen (left). It was not the first time in recent months that Allen has interacted with the sheriff's department. But, we digress.

On to less sensational "special reports" on rival news shows Tuesday:

* Channel 3 spent the first five minutes of its 11 p.m. broadcast on investigative reporter Josh Bernstein's piece about how the Department of Health Services is failing to investigate in a timely manner the majority of nursing-home complaints it receives and how fines imposed by DHS are often greatly reduced to avoid litigation.

Nice, solid reporting. The nursing home report by no means broke new ground - The Bee and other media outlets have long reported problems at DHS - but it's important for public agencies to be held accountable.

But a word about the presentation of Bernstein's report: Where was the eerie synthesizer music? The quick-cutting, jerky camera shots? What about the alliteration-saturated copy? All the usual sweeps fluff was missing. All we got was the news. And you know what? It managed to keep our attention, sans the bells and whistles.

One question for Bernstein: Josh, was that a minor "faux-hawk" hairstyle you were wearing? That's treading on Mark S. Allen turf, buddy.

* News10 led its newscast with a special report by Dan Adams on Jerry Brown's efforts as mayor of Oakland to put "Shot Spotters" - audio sensors detecting gunfire - on stoplights, overpasses and businesses in Oakland and how he might (emphasis: might) want to expand that program statewide now that he's been elected California's attorney general.

That brings up some thorny privacy and other ACLU-type issues, which makes Adams' report newsworthy. But News10 didn't do a good enough job establishing whether Brown does, indeed, want to install "Shot Spotters" throughout the state. At the end of the report, anchor Cristina Mendonsa told viewers that Brown was unavailable for comment, but that "the California Department of Corrections confirms Brown has been in contact with them."
And that means what?

So far, this sweeps period has been long on crime but short on sex - the other ratings staple.

Channel 3 tried to alleviate that dearth Tuesday night near the end of its broadcast. Teasing (and yes, that's an obvious double-entendre) to tonight's special report called "Born Again Virginity," anchor Edie Lambert said, "A new trend among young people - people who are reclaiming their virginity."
Cut to anchor Dave Walker: "And then there's the other extreme." Walker then proceeded to introduce a story about two Southwest airline passengers who were arrested for trying to join the "Mile High Club" - i. e., having sex during a flight.

Walker: "You get coach, first class or no class."

Fox40 reported the "Mile High Club" story, as well, but the obligatory "talker" of the night was how a donation of "Talking Jesus Dolls" was rejected by Toys for Tots. Anchors on Fox40 and Channel 3 resisted the temptation to add personal comments. Good for them.

And what to make of this? Boreal, the ski resort, opened Tuesday, and all the stations were there. But the best report was not by a reporter. No, News10 sent only photographer Tom Whitaker to Boreal and he filed a package without reporter voiceover (or any reporter involvement, for that matter) that was more entertaining than reports by Brian Hickey (Channel 3), Angelique Frame (Channel 13) or Lonnie Wong (Fox40).

Whitaker interviewed teens and college students about where they were supposed to be ("I've got a midterm today," one said) instead of frolicking on the slopes.

But News10 gets a wag of the finger for shamelessly plugging "Dancing With the Stars" - during sports (the Emmitt Smith angle) and as a show-ender.

Finally, it wouldn't be a sweeps night - at least not for us - without a deer story. Channel 13 ran a story it called "Bambi Busted" - a deer that wandered into a bank in Pittsburgh. Anchor banter after the story revolved around the remarkable glut of deer stories in the news. Quoth Sam Shane: "I guess the water-skiing squirrel got retired."

November 14, 2006


Has the UGG phase fizzled? Uh, that would be no! A recent shopping stint showed that UGGs are not only still keeping feet cozy on the streets of Sacramento, but the brand is reinventing itself - one pair at a time.

I stopped at several stores and found a variety of new styles, just in case one pair is just not enough. There are UGGs with fringe, beads, studs, embroidery and - as usual - in a mix of heights, including to the knee and the UGG Classic Mini, which, if you're into layered leg looks, is really cute (and one of the cheapest at about $99).

The UGG boots (shown above) are available at Franco Ferrini in Pavilions. You'll also find them at other local boutiques and department stores. And, yes, you can wear out a pair of UGGs. My chocolate-brown ones from last year had two holes in them! A quick trip to the shoe repair and they're good to go another season.

Still, for fashion's sake, a new style might be in order. Maybe the Locarno boot, which is inspired by a leather bomber jacket with straps. The top has an exposed shearling cuff. But - the Fluff Momma version looks a little bit too much like something Chewbacca might sport.

November 14, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 12

Before we deconstruct the offerings for Monday night's sweeps, let’s do what the station’s do and “tease” to what’s coming tonight:

* Lock your doors and bar the windows! Channel 13, we kid you not, is going to break into someone house - live! - to show how easy it is to, er, break-and-enter right through the front door! (Steve Charlier, the station’s news honcho, assures us that the homeowner knows that a TV crew will be breaking in.)

* Finally, after 12 days of sweeps, Channel 3 will unleash bulldog investigative reporter Josh Bernstein. He’ll be doing a report on nursing-home abuse and the Department of Health Services' reaction - or lack thereof.

And now, what happened Monday night...

* KCRA? “Where the News Comes First”? Well, not on this night.

In the shameless-plug division, it doesn’t come much more blatant than Channel 3 sending reporter Pamela Wu to Santa Clarita (in SoCal) to “report” on the TV show “Heroes,” which just happens to also air on NBC.

Among the news nuggets we learned: the blood that Hayden Panettiere (pictured left), who plays the perennially dead cheerleader in the show, lies in during each episode is actually made of sugar and food coloring. And, in the most naked ratings pitch, the actress said, “Thank you for watching ‘Heroes.’ Continue watching. It gets so much better.”

Channel 3 spent 2 minutes, 11 seconds on that report. The time the station spent on the Mario Garcia trial at 11 p.m.: 42 seconds. (It should also be noted that Channel 13 plugged a new CBS show, "3 lbs," with a canned interview with star Stanley Tucci. That lasted 41 seconds at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast.)

* Here’s another reason why sweeps month gets a bad name: Reporter-generated news stunts.

Channel 13 did it Monday night with Tony Lopez, the 4 p.m. anchor who, dressed as Santa Claus, stood out in front of Ikea asking for donations to a bogus charity, “The Salvation Navy.”

Oh sure, we know. The station justified the manufactured report by saying it will warn easily duped people into thinking twice before forking over their money this holiday season. And Lopez was quick to point out that he and his crew either gave back all of the money or donated it to a real charity. Yeah, right, Tony. You got that in lieu of a raise, huh?

Lopez looked kind of sheepish reporting this story. He tried to justify himself earlier Monday when appearing on sister station's “Good Day Sacramento” to pimp the story.

Said Lopez: “I was worried about my credibility, you know, because, you know, I anchor the 4 o’clock news on CBS 13. You see this guy in a Santa outfit. But then I remembered Katie Couric. She dressed up as SpongeBob on the ‘Today’ show and she’s got a pretty good job now.”

No worries, Tony. You’ve got just as much credibility with us as before.

* Top stories on Monday’s later news: All four stations led with the serial rapist in North Natomas. (There was no mention of it in Tuesday’s Bee.)

* At the urging of sports guy Danny Pommells, Channel 3 anchor Dave Walker sang a few bars of “Proud Mary” at 6:30 p.m. Co-anchor Lois Hart threatened to join in, but backed off.


* Maybe Pommells needs to go back to his alma mater, Temple University, for a refresher course. At 6:30, when introducing a piece about San Francisco’s failed Olympic bid, he said, “I wasn’t much for science in school, but in chemistry they say that for every action there’s an equal and positive reaction.”

Chemistry, Danny? Try physics.

* Channel 3’s Tom DuHain did a fine report, as part of the station’s “Road to the Future” series, on the growing traffic jams on Highway 99 and I-5. Blame Elk Grove’s growth. By 2035, DuHain reported, it might take more than an hour to get from Elk Grove to downtown Sac.

* Channel 13: “Bears are on the attack in Nevada County.” (The evil bear apparently killed a family’s beloved goat, named Trouble.)

* Fox40: “Death Row inmates have MySpace pages ... and they may be interacting with your kids!”


* Yo Quiero Taco Bell: Bizarre Story of the Night goes to Fox40 for a report on a Massachussetts man who bought a Taco Bell taco allegedly laced with cocaine. Anchor Thomas Drayton: “He noticed the taco was a little powdery but thought it was just the seasoning.”

That must be why the Taco Bell Chihuahua always seems so wired.

* Follow-up Award: To News10, the only station in town that aired an update on the deer in Michigan that had the plastic Halloween bucket stuck on its face. Apparently, the deer and the bucket parted ways. Anchor Cristina Mendonsa: “Ahhhh.”

November 14, 2006
KFBK back up and talking

Update on our earlier posting below: As of 3:12 p.m. today, the phone system at KFBK (1530 AM) and KSTE (650 AM) is back up and operational.

That sigh of relief you hear comes from Kitty O'Neal, Jay Alan and Bruce Maiman, KFBK hosts who were facing the prospect of doing their shows as monologues - without contact from the outside world.

November 14, 2006
Phones fail at KFBK, KSTE

Uh oh. The live in-studio phones at talk stations KFBK (1530 AM) and KSTE (650 AM) went silent this morning, throwing the sister stations on Ethan Way into panic mode.

Armstrong & Getty did their entire show - five loooong hours - without a single phone call, which is amazing considering how reliant A&G are on listener interaction. The noon news had no stories from reporters out in the field. And, as we write this posting, afternoon host Tom Sullivan is going it solo in an extended monologue. Phil Cowan, the mid-morning talker on KSTE, was smart and brought guests into the studio.

"We're just doing a lot of talking without any outside contact from reporters or guests," says Alan Eisenson, the frantic operations manager for both Clear Channel stations. "Tom might decide to go with a 'Best of' show after a while. We're hoping to get the phones back before the afternoon drive time and (Bruce) Maiman (at 7 p.m.)."

So, what happened?

"It's still unclear," Eisenson says. "The phones just went down. And no one has come yet to fix it."

In other (non-related) KFBK news, the station has taken Rush Limbaugh's evening replays off the air and replaced him in that slot with "Coast to Coast With George Noory."

"Noory's ratings were explosive on KSTE, No. 1 in Sac at that time slot, and we figured it'd be better to get him onto a station with a powerful signal at night," Eisenson says. "At night, KSTE is only 1,000 watts."

November 13, 2006
New bar alert

Another day, another new bar comes to Sac. Which, of course, I love.

I’m going to a press event to check out Cabana, which used to be Buddha Bar, which used to be K Bar. We’ll see if this one sticks. It’s supposed to be a tropical-themed place, which might be a welcome motif as winter approaches. In any case, I think the occasion will call for a margarita.

I’m also going (finally) to check out Twisted 88’s, the new dueling piano bar in midtown, this weekend. I can’t say that the prospect of a piano bar exactly thrills me, but I’ve heard from several people of discriminating taste that the place rocks. And not just musically.

November 13, 2006
More and more Maria

Associated Press

It's been less than a week since the election and, already, California's first lady -who already was the first lady - is attracting a lot of attention. Certainly, ever since I wrote last week about her fondness for sheaths, especially as seen on election night, I've received e-mails and calls about everything from her attire to her coif.

Everyone has an opinion.

In fact, one e-mailer was interested in the dress Maria wore at the victory celebration; she wants to wear it to her daughter's wedding next year. Several other readers indicated that they felt she was making the right choices with her hair, although another wanted me to intervene. Well, that's not going to happen.

What is likely is that Maria will have a much higher fashion profile these next four years. Shown above, she's about to take off with Governor/husband Arnold for a post-election trip to Mexico.

I can't believe we've got two months to go until inaugural time. I promise to try and have answers as to her attire before then.

November 13, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Days 9-11


Other than "special reports," what really defines sweeps month for local TV news is how the stations handle their top stories - the ones that lead the newscasts.

For example, take Friday night (please, please, take it): Channels 3, 13 and 10 all led with the rain that was forecast for Saturday morning. This just in! There were a few trickles felt on Friday night, too!

Only Fox40's 10 p.m. news went a different, more newsy route, leading with an exclusive interview with Crystal Mitchell, the widow of slain Sacramento County sheriff's deputy Jeff Mitchell.
Reporter Jonathan Carlson had a good "get," as they say in the news business. Now, the scoop could have been because Fox carries "America's Most Wanted," and the "AMW" crew had been in Sac to do a segment on Mitchell. But, still, a scoop's a scoop. There wasn't a whole lot of new material, but one quote from Mitchell's widow did resonate: "I actually thought he was safer out there (in a rural area)...There are really much harder places in Sacramento. I guess I had a false sense of security."

And now, back to the weather.

TV news just looooves the weather. Channel 13 went all out, sending reporter Dennis Shanahan to Blue Canyon - where not a flake of snow was to be found. But the crew trekked up to Truckee to talk to some snowboard-repair workers. Quote of the report from one of them: "At this point, it's kind of a tossup. Some people think El Nino will kick a--. Uh, you know, really rain down."

Channel 3, meanwhile, had reporter Mike Bond standing in front of a giant pile of leaves. Then, they rolled tape from a local hardware store, where people were supposedly stocking up on tarps, rakes and insulation material.

Gee, you would've thought a torrential downpour had hit.

new deer.jpg

Rain aside, the other obligatory story on Friday night concerned the deer in Michigan that had a plastic Halloween bucket stuck on its head. Fox40 and News10 both jumped on it, but only News10 had the presence of mind to recall that, on the previous night, stations ran video of a deer caught in a Target store in Iowa. Natutrally, News10 gave us both videos - a two-fer.

Other highlights:

* Channel 13's Serene Branson had an interesting report on an independent movie theater in Davis, and colleague Ron Jones did a fascinating (if a tad sensational) report on girl gangs in Stockton.

* Fox40: "Dirty cell phones could make you sick!"

* News10's Mark Hedlund at 6 p.m. reported on sweetheart benefits deals for Elk Grove's city manager and city attorney. Great civic journalism. You don't have to live in Elk Gove to be outraged.

* Banter of the Night Award: To Channel 3 at 11 p.m. Anchor Chris Riva, transitioning to sports, did a fist bump with sports guy Del Rodgers. Then Riva asked Rodgers why he always refers to weather guesser Mark Finan as "My Main Man Mark Finan." Said Rodgers: "We went to college at the same time (at the University of Utah). We graduated the U, hung out in the same dorm. No stories there."

* Banter of the Night, Runner-Up: After Channel 13's Kurtis Ming finished the "Buy It and Try It" segment, in which he demonstrated how a plug-in jewelry cleaner shined his watch, anchor Sam Shame took a look at the timepiece. Shane cracked up when he noticed that Ming had not reset the watch for Daylight Saving Time. "Do you realize," Shane asked, "your watch says a quarter to 12?" Ming shrugged.
* And finally: On Saturday morning, "Good Day Sacramento" had a freelance news anchor you might remember - John Alston. Yes, the former Channel 3 anchor was a last-minute sub. Considering that Alston is all about news and "GDS" is all about entertainment, Alston fit in pretty well when bantering with host Chris Burrous.

Alston: "So this is what 7 a.m. on a Saturday feels like."

November 13, 2006
More changes at KFBK

Lori Lundin - one of the most experienced reporters at KFBK (1530 AM) - is moving on to New York to become an anchor at Fox News Radio.

Her last day was Friday but, being the trouper that she is, Lundin agreed to cover the Mario Garcia trial today for KFBK on a freelance basis to help out her now-former station. Lundin starts at Fox on Nov. 27.

"It's really been emotional," Lundin says. "It was hard to tear myself away from all the wonderful relationships I've built among my co-workers and the media people here in Sacramento. But I felt like, at this point in my career, I couldn't pass up a network offer."

KFBK's Kitty O'Neal threw a farewell bash Friday night at Spataro, owned by O'Neal's hubby, Kurt. Many current and former KFBK reporters showed up.

November 13, 2006
Revealed! What TV news reporters do while waiting for a live shot!

A popular video circulating on YouTube today (until receiving the cease-and-desist order) showed Channel 13 newsman Mike Dello Stritto working hard to prep for his smokin' hot live shot.

Anchors Brandi Hitt and Pallas Hupe tossed it to Dello Strito, who is caught on camera smoking a cigarette. And he blows the smoke out of the side of his mouth, Bogie-style. The best part is how Hupe gamely tries to refrain from laughing.

Late this afternoon, CBS corporate brass requested that YouTube - and we at 21Q - take down the video because the material is copyrighted. Which we have done. We can certainly understand why the station doesn't want anyone to see the clip.

November 10, 2006
Frame works

spadeframesThey might not be as much of a status symbol as sunglasses but reading glasses, which I personally must use at work and also because I flunked the eye test at the DMV, can be just as fashionable, as I found out Thursday while perusing the options at Medical Vision Technology's optician store in midtown.

Mind you, my pupils were so dilated that it's a wonder I could even find the frames, much less select a pair. However, the nice folks there are more than willing to hold your hand and guide you around the room.

MAJ KATE SPADE.JPGAnyway, I chose a pair of frames by designer Kate Spade (shown right). They're really cute, and I want to support her future endeavors, especially after the recent news that her company was snapped up by Liz Claiborne for about $124 million in cash.

Now, Spade can really focus (hah!) on her handbags, shoes, home stuff, other accessories, etc. All the things I can only aspire to afford.

November 10, 2006
That's why they call them "Talent"

nick and marianne.jpg
One of my favorite parts of the fabulous Web site for channels 13 and 31 - aside from their blogs, which those slackers are woefully tardy in updating, by the way - is called "Rough Cuts," which is basically a bloopers reel for "Good Day Sacramento."

The latest entry is titled "Blindfolded Nick Breaks a Plate." In it, we see anchors Marianne McClary, Nick Toma and Mark S. Allen (all a.k.a. the Talent) taping a promo, with McClary feeding Toma a cinnamon roll in the station kitchen when disaster and hilarity ensue.

Here's my question: So Nick breaks the plate. It shatters at his and McClary's feet. Shards are everywhere, not to mention sweet-roll droppings. But Toma, McClary and Allen do not bend down and clean any of it up. Noooo, we see two behind-the-camera guys rushing in to remove their mess.

Oh, I know what you're thinking: I'm just jealous because I don't get the diva treatment here at The Bee. When I spilled a cup of iced tea in the company cafeteria, I had to go on my hands and knees to mop it up, when I really wanted to snap my fingers and have my behind-the-scenes editor grab the sponge. Alas, all she does is clean up my writing.

November 10, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 8

So I’m watching Channel 13’s 10 p.m. newscast Thursday night, and the top five stories are crime- or accident-related. No problem there. It’s sweeps, after all, and KOVR has a tradition of leading with crime.

But then came this tease, spoken by a voiceover artist who sounds just like the guy who recorded all those negative political ads: “The crime scene! The clues! The investigation! Dave Bender tracks California’s killer storms!” Then, cut to Bender, looking way too serious for a weather guy, intoning: “One. Piece. Of. Evidence. At. A. Time.”

Then comes the all-caps graphic: “CSI: Weather.”

Well, I was floored. Channel 13 had managed to make even the weather into a crime story. Well done, guys.


As it turns out, despite the “CSI” gimmick, Bender’s “special report” was not that sensational and actually pretty darn interesting. It detailed how the National Weather Service investigates storms to determine whether they were tornadoes or just “downbursts.” It has something to do with the direction at which trees topple. Bender, one of the most likeable on-air personalities in the market, made it entertaining and informative.

But I’ve got to comment on Channel 13’s “special report” teases, which are nothing short of works of high art. They've debuted two teases for future “special reports” that try hard to scare you but succeed only in making us chuckle:

* Fade in to a shot of a suburban neighborhood. The voiceover begins: “In five days, we’re breaking into one of these homes – live! Will it be yours?” Switch to images of a gloved hand pressed up against the outside of a bedroom window, and a shadowy figure peering through the blinds. “Are you prepared? In five days (lengthy pause) on CBS 13 News at 10.”

* Fade in to what appears to be a public service ad, with a familiar logo and, in the background, a plane landing on an aircraft carrier. “The Salvation Navy,” the voiceover begins, cheerfully. “Helping you help others.” Then the screen breaks up. The voiceover grows ominous. “Except it doesn’t even exist! Did you give to bad Santa?” Then the kicker: A closeup of Channel 13 anchor Tony Lopez, dressed as Santa. And he winks at us.”

OK, on to other newscasts.

News10 finally joined the “special report” fray Thursday night with anchor Cristina Mendonsa’s look at nanotechnology (rendered at right). No crimes were committed. Mendonsa interviewed a UC Davis professor specializing in the science, which the prof nebbishly defined as “nano is a prefix meaning 10 to the minus nth - really small.”

Uh, will this be on the test?

Anyway, Mendonsa shows us how “going small” can help consumers. How about a self-cleaning kitchen countertop, folks? Yup, Mendonsa stood in front of a gleaming countertop and enthused, “Nano particles of titanium oxide are embedded in the counter top. When it hits UV light, they kill bacteria and the countertop is instantly sanitized.”

Mendonsa missed her chance to sex-up the report. She could’ve said “Nano killers! Bacteria has no chance!”

Channel 3 did go for the beefcake in its report on male body image, and how we poor schlubs will risk death for six-pack abs.


As Adrienne Bankert reported with a gleam in her eye, “There’s nothing wrong with men wanting to lose weight, getting those washboard abs and bulging biceps. The question is, how bad do you want it?” She interviewed a guy who overdosed on steroids and nearly died, then ended the report with a quick-cutting series of sexy, flat men’s bellies. The final shot: Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing.

Bankert then threw it back to the anchor desk, where Dave Walker, looking amused, said: “Six-pack abs? I got those - a six pack of beer.”


The one story that all four news stations jumped on was the deer that frolicked in the Target store in Iowa. They all spent nearly a minute watching the eight-pointed buck roaming the aisles before finally taking off.

Quipped News10’s Dale Schornack: “Just wanted to see if they had anything for a buck.”

November 9, 2006
Breaking blue news ...

As I reported earlier today, Starbucks has officially heralded in the holiday season with its signature red cups.

And because an investigative reporter's work is never done, I decided to look into the matter a little further by taking a trip down to my neighborhood 'Bucks. (And by "neighborhood," I mean the one down the street from The Bee).

Sure enough, my grande dark roast coffee was served in a red cup - but with a bonus! The cardboard sleeve is blue with snowflakes!

News you can use, folks, news you can use.

November 9, 2006
A&G YouTube update

At last, we have a witty entrant for KSTE (650 AM) morning talkers Armstrong & Getty's ad contest on YouTube. (See above.)

But another new one, featuring a head of lettuce in a toilet bowl - don't ask! - is the worst of the dozen posted so far. No way we're sharing that one.

November 9, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 7

And you notice I’m not showing the tape again, because how many times do we have to see guys kicking each other in the groin? You know what I mean?
– Fox40 sportscaster Jim Crandell (left), on the Raiders’ Tyler Brayton being fined by the NFL for kneeing a Seattle player.

Jim, Jim, Jim. You just don’t get it.

This is sweeps month, man! Get with it! Crime sells. Sex sells. Gratuitous video of groin shots sells, in spades.

But, no, Crandell decided Wednesday night to have some integrity and not show the groin shot when talking about Brayton. And, to answer the question he asked (somewhat rhetorically) on the 10 p.m. show: You should air the groin punch four times in 20 seconds. That’s what competitor News10 did on its 11 p.m. broadcast.

Still, on Wednesday night, Crandell notwithstanding, we noticed that Fox40 is starting to loosen up and get with the sweeps-month gestalt.

Some examples:

* Its second lead story was about a child molestation arrest in Folsom.

* It won our award for Most Bizarre Story with a report about a high school soccer team in Gastonia, N.C., that got in trouble for playing an audio tape of Adolph Hitler’s “On to Victory” speech before the team faced off against an opponent.

* It reported that bee stings are good for us. Yes, people are using bee venom to treat conditions such as back injuries.

* And, to close the newscast, anchor Donna Cordova said: “Women everywhere are being encouraged to stuff their bras.” It was a report out of Japan about a bra that, when you turn it inside out, becomes a tote bag (see photo).

Remarked Crandell: “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

Anchor Thomas Drayton: “What do we do when guys go shopping? I don’t want to know.”

Over at Channel 13 at 10 p.m., there was another scare-the-stuffing-out-of-you “special report.” This time, it was Kurtis Ming’s investigation into a plastic surgeon (Brian West, pictured below) with an alcohol problem who allegedly has disfigured patients but hasn’t been reprimanded by the state medical board.

It was a weird feeling of deja vu. All that talk of flesh-eating infections, the gross video of women’s disfigured limbs, the righteous indignation Ming exuded.
Then it hit me: This was a Channel 13 “special report” from LAST NOVEMBER. Yup, the same story, albeit updated. Back then, they called it “Plastic Disasters.” This time, no catchy name, but Ming recycled (or “repurposed,” as the current journalism catchphrase goes) the report.

The new stuff was that the “drinking doctor,” West, had landed a job in Long Beach. Ming and a Channel 13 photographer stalked him and chased him down three flights of stairs, throwing questions at him. Cheesiest of all, we saw Ming sprint down a hallway to catch West as he was driving out of the parking garage.

Other highlights from Wednesday night:

* News10 reporting on the tallest man - at 7-feet, 9-inches - in the world. Anchor Cristina Mendonsa: “Wow, look at his hands. He could palm someone’s head.”

*Channel 13’s Rafer Weigel, charged with the task of getting public reaction to Donald Rumsfeld’s departure, breathlessly reported: “The manager of the gas station where we parked also came out and says he blames the media (for Rumsfeld’s ousting).”

No word, apparently, from the convenience store clerk.

*Kudos to News10’s Bryan May and Fox40’s Nina Melhaf for getting interviews with Kings owner Joe Maloof regarding the arena issue.

But Fox40 quoted a Kings fan, Jim Abernathy, as saying: “They don’t have a Houston franchise anymore and they may not have a franchise in Sacramento. That would be kind of sad.”

Memo to Abernathy (and to Fox40 producers): The NBA does have a team in Houston – the Rockets.

* And THIS IN TODAY: A train derailment near Baxter coincided with the start of the noon news. So channels 3 and 13 - heated rivals at that hour - naturally led the broadcast with it. Details were sketchy on both shows, but Channel 3 covered the story better for one reason: It has a helicopter and Channel 13 does not.


So, while LiveCopter 3's Dann Shively (above) hovered over the seen, giving us live pictures, Channel 13 had Chris Burrous on the phone and a fuzzy webcam view of a fire truck traveling north on I-80, presumably to the site of the derailment. At one point, Channel 13 anchor Michelle Kane asked a Union Pacific spokesman, via phone, "What about the fire? Have we heard any news on the fire?"

No problem. Just tune into Channel 3, where Shively showed that wasn't much of a fire.

TV news is a visual medium and today's story proves once more that a helicopter is essential in breaking-news situations.

November 9, 2006
Red alert

Yes, it is officially That. Time. Of. Year.

Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus /Chrismukkah.

They're here and the signs are clear.

No, we're not talking about the aisles of holiday decorations at Target or the festive, Christmas-themed TV ads popping up between episodes of "Gilmore Girls" and "The Office."

No, we're not even talking about the crazy neighbor who puts up holiday lights over Labor Day weekend.

It's that you know it's officially the holiday season when Starbucks rolls out its annual supply of red coffee cups.

Because nothing says seasonal cheer like sipping that extra-foam, no-whip gingerbread latte out of a poinsettia-red paper cup.

Starbucks even has a Web site - - devoted to its tradition. You can use the site to create personalized e-greetings or learn more about global holiday celebrations.

Nice idea, but why do I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those hoilday seasons that feels both excruciatingly long and goes away too fast?

Make mine a black coffee, straight up. I'm going to need it.

November 9, 2006
Fashion fallout

Well, there's less than four weeks left for "Fashion House" on My58. And now, even I must admit that this show, which I had tried to convince at least three other viewers in the My58 viewing area to watch, has hit rock bottom.

And I do mean hit hard.

I did my civic duty Tuesday night and took in the election returns on the more serious-minded networks. I don't know what happened Monday night, but I think I watched football.

So Wednesday night was the first night in a week or so that I could catch up with "Fashion House." And what started as a show about, uh, a fashion house in L.A. has turned into a show with two women (Bo Derek, Morgan Fairchild) exchanging no fewer than six face slaps in a county jail visiting room; a guy getting snuffed out with a plastic bag, and this real low-life character operating a credit-card fraud business out of something that resembles the studio junk lot where "Sanford and Son" was filmed.

Hey, I'm all for the fashion and the passion, but bumping off folks was not what I had signed up for. And Bo's character in jail, with women making booze out of water and fruit stored under a mattress? I'm starting to think the writers have fallen off their stilettos.

The network has announced that "Fashion House," and its lead-in show, "Desire," will wrap up on Dec. 5. After that, two more passion in prime-time shows will debut.

I guess I'll see this one through, if nothing else than to see if sweet Michelle gets her design dreams off the ground. After that, I'm making no commitments to the new stuff. Besides, I'd rather watch Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown on "It's a Wonderful Life."

November 8, 2006
Playing hardball at Channel 3

Tuesday's Media Savvy column about Channel 3 anchor John Alston's departure from the station after it rebuffed his salary demands prompted an e-mail to us from former KCRA meteorologist Steve Swienckowski.

Swienckowski shares his story of negotiating with Channel 3, he says, to illustrate that the station has a long history of playing hardball when it comes to salaries.

His e-mail (trimmed and sanitized for a PG audience) reads:

"Although the names have changed, my KCRA story is similar, but made even more colorful with the addition of one very key player: former KCRA owner Jon Kelly.

"It was November of 1991 and I was the weekend meteorologist at KCRA. News Director Bill Bauman took me to lunch and offered me the Chief job. I was shocked. They had told me all along that Rick Griffin would remain as Chief and I had been sending tapes around the country looking for a better job.

"I was even more shocked by the money: $70k. Now, mind you, this is seventy thousand dollars a year to be the Chief Meteorologist at the top-rated, powerhouse station in Sacramento (even stronger in 1991 than it is now). At the time, I was already earning nearly $53,000.

"So, I discussed it with friends and family. My co-anchors at the time, Dave Walker and Lois Hart, urged me to ask for more money. They assured me that this was all part of the game when it came to the mercurial Jon Kelly: He makes an offer, you counter, and the two of you settle somewhere in between -probably closer to his offer.

"So, I asked for $80k.

"Not long after that, Bill Bauman said, 'Jon's waiting for you in his office.' Soon after I sat down before him, Kelly started with this: 'Bobby Bonilla signs with the Mets for twenty-nine million dollars. What kind of a message does that send to people like you, Swienckowski?!'

"It's true: Just days before my meeting with Kelly, Bonilla did indeed become the richest man in baseball. But, what kind of a message did that send to me? I suppose, I should have played more baseball."

Shortly thereafter, Swienckowski was out of a job. (The Bee's Dan Vierria ran a story at the time, detailing the impasse and with Bauman declining to comment.)

Maybe if Alston had spoken to Swienckowski, he would've learned that KCRA is where the news comes first - and salary considerations are apparently much further down the list.

November 8, 2006
Sensational sheaths

Associated Press

Now that it's for sure that Maria Shriver is going to continue as California's first lady, we've all - meaning all us girls - have got to work on our biceps, triceps and any other "ceps" like never before.

That's because Maria is in love with sleeveless dresses, as evidenced by what she wore to vote on Tuesday morning and the glitzy, glam number she wore to the governor's victory celebration Tuesday night in Beverly Hills (shown above).

And why not? She can pull off the look with such confidence - whether it's clapping, waving, hugging, holding her husband's arm up in victory, what have you.

Let's face it - Sacramento and the rest of the state are in for four years of high fashion, formally commencing with the inaugural galas in January. Stay with me as I dig deep to find out what Maria will wear. Certainly, this time around, the festivities will be, er, more festive than 2004.

Now, I just need to figure out how she stays warm. And I probably better find a ball gown - sleeveless, of course.

November 8, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Election Edition

That old Woody Allen line - “90 percent of life is just showing up” - held true during the election-night coverage by the local TV news teams.

Channel 3 came out the clear winner (except at the very end; hang on, we’ll get to that), primarily because it was the only station to broadcast continuous coverage during prime time (8 to 10 p.m.).

News10, Channel 13 and Fox40 all decided to air regular programming, so that by the time they hit the air, Channel 3 already had broken the news on all the big local and state races.

News junkies appreciated that Channel 3 preempted programming. But let’s be honest - it’s not as if NBC (fourth place in the ratings) really had much to lose. On News10 at 6 p.m., anchors Dale Schormack and Cristina Mendonsa went to great lengths to assure viewers that “Dancing With the Stars” would air as scheduled.

Mendonsa: “Don’t worry. You’re not going to miss a rumba or cha-cha with the stars.”

So, between 8 and 10 p.m., Channel 3’s competitors had to settle for cut-ins on commercial breaks. Meanwhile, Channel 3 was the first to report Arnold Schwarnzenegger’s victory (big shock!), Measures Q and R’s defeat (another shocking development!), Jerry Brown’s win as attorney general, and the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives.

Nearly two hours before the competition, Channel 3 also reported the Maloof brothers’ vaguely threatening (regarding a move) statement, and it covered the press conference announcing that Q and R supporters would start a non-profit foundation to push on.

Once the other channels joined the fray, Channel 3 was still dominating. It moved ahead, talking about other, closely contested races, while the rest played catch-up.

Still, Channel 3’s landslide coverage was derailed at the last minute. Blame Jay Leno. At 11:45 p.m., Channel 3 signed off and went to the “Tonight Show.” Bad timing. Had the station waited another 15 minutes, it would’ve been able to report on Charlie Brown’s concession on the 4th District congressional race.

For the record, Channel 13 was the first to report that Brown had conceded. But it signed off minutes later and chose David Letterman over live coverage of Brown’s speech. Only News10 stuck around long enough to air Brown’s bowing out live. It didn’t sign off on coverage until midnight.

OK, enough of who beat whom. Here’s our random thoughts and memorable sound bites from the night:

* 5 p.m. - Channel 13’s Tony Lopez, ignoring that the polls would still be open for three hours: “Angelides is expected to give his concession speech sooner than the usual 11 p.m.” Cut to Kris Pickel at the Angelides headquarters: “They’re still expecting a victory speech here.”

* 6 p.m. - Lopez already is speculating that Schwarzenegger will run for mayor of Los Angeles after his second term. He had no sources to back up the claim.

* 8:45 p.m. - Channel 3’s Dave Walker: “The governor is like one of those action heroes he plays - falling off a cliff and landing on his feet.”

* 9:45 p.m. - Walker on the Senate races, channeling his inner Dan Rather: “Tight races here. Tighter than a new pair of shoes.”

* 10 p.m. - Fox40 spends 10 minutes on the election (with no graphics scrolling across the screen), then devotes the rest of its hour-long newscast on non-election stuff. Strange. But, hey, it’s counter-programming for those tired of politics.

* 10:15 p.m. - Channel 3 goes live to Angelides’ concession speech, while Channel 13 airs a commercial and News10 does a rehash of the Pombo-McNerney race.

* 10:20 p.m. - News10, late coming in, is the first to “dump out” (a TV news term) of Angelides’ speech. (Hey, why stick with a loser!)

* 10:30 p.m. - News10’s Mark Hedlund, covering the Brown campaign, gets our award for sartorial splendor with his red, white and blue tie.

* 10:40 p.m. - A rare misstep by Channel 3: It runs a graphic showing John Doolittle beating “Warren.” Warren?

* 11:05 p.m. - News10’s Cornell Barnard at the McNerney headquarters: “A few people here are taking it out on me that results aren’t coming in faster.”

* 11:15 p.m. - After News10’s Hedlund quotes Doolittle as saying the media is the cause of his close race against Brown, anchors Mendonsa and Schornack had some fun with that.

Mendonsa: “In this campaign, Doolittle has given more interviews than before. Maybe he’s learned that we (the media) don’t bite.”

Schornack: “And the ones who do have had their shots.”

And finally, at 9:45 a.m. today, News10 (OK, actually ABC’s Charles Gibson) was first to report that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would be resigning.

On Channel 3, the “Today” show stayed with its “turkey tips” segment. On Channel 31, “Good Day Sacramento” was cooking lumpia, the Filipino dish. Five minutes after ABC broke the story, “GDS” finally cut to the Rumsfeld news. The “Today” show was the last to report it.

November 7, 2006
A big day for democracy

Wow. It's hard to believe it's finally here. Today, a big day, a huge day, really - a monumental event, if you'll indulge a gal a little well-meant hyperbole.

It's something that this country has been waiting for since that dark day in 2004, when fate handed us something so shockingly unacceptable and asked us to stand behind it, to support an agenda we couldn't possibly believe in, and to watch as everything we knew and loved came predictably crashing down.

Yes, this is a day that will go down in history as the day that we, the people, were finally heard, and our country - nay, the world - belatedly got what they had been so desperately seeking: Britney Spears is divorcing Kevin Federline.

It's been a long time coming, to be sure. Two long years, in fact. And now, we will rise up in vindication at justice finally being served, as a girl (still not yet a woman, IMHO) who happens to be a fabulous dancer (not so much at the singing) finally comes to her senses and does what we all know to be the right thing.

It's a good day, this first Tuesday in November, and a little celebration is certainly in order. I feel like there was something else going on today, but I can't really remember what.

In any case, if you want to know where to find me, I'll be out on the town, pounding the pavement to bring stories of this democratic victory to the people. In a land this free, a home this brave, it's the least I can do.

November 7, 2006
Angelides' attire


In fairness to both sides in the governor's race, I'm now taking a look at what the Democratic candidate's family wore to vote today. That would be the Angelides camp.

I believe they earn a bit of a dressing down for dressing so down, especially Julie Angelides and daughters Christina and Megan.

Jeans? Really?

I kind of got the impression that they were heading to English 101 at Sac City this afternoon instead of the polling location at the Eskaton Monroe Lodge, also on Freeport Boulevard. Julie Angelides definitely dressed the part of co-ed in denim and big belt.

This, in stark contrast to first lady Maria Shriver's high heels and fitted dress when she voted down in LA LA land this morning.

I guess I was looking for something in-between from the candidates' wives. Not so fussy, not so frumpy. Perhaps a nice red dress and matching wrap - like the one I wear when it's time to pick a president every four years. It looks good with one of those "I Voted" stickers.

As for Phil Angelides, he opted for his usual uniform of a button-down shirt, blazer and khakis. Nothing to ruffle anyone's fashion feathers.

You're probably saying to yourself: "Who cares what everyone wore to vote?"

Well, maybe no one. But remember: You only get one chance to make a first impression - even if it's in a voting booth.

November 7, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 5

'Twas the night before the election, and all of our local news stations had the good sense to devote some of their broadcasts on Monday to the issues.

Ah, but do not fear. There still was plenty of time for sweeps-month whimsy. And one child molester story, but plenty of other crime to freak us out.

The best story for pure entertainment value - one that The Bee ignored this morning, by the way - was the burglar in Sacramento, who was caught by the cops with his pants down. Great visuals of the "perp walk," with the dude shuffling along in his skivvies. And the voiceover from our local reporters didn't disappoint, either.

Over at Fox40, Thomas Drayton (left) tried to keep a straight face when introducing the piece.
Drayton: "Let's go to Teri Cox in the newsroom with more on this bad guy in boxers."

Cox: "Not a pretty sight, Thomas."

Channel 3's Deirdre Fitzpatrick, reporting on the same story, may have a future as a comedy writer.
"He could've come out with his hands up. Instead, he came out with his pants down. Caught red-handed and nearly bare-bottomed, Captain Underpants got nipped by the dog and tucked into the squad car."

Great stuff. But then, Channel 3 had to go and ruin it with yet another plug for its "Crime Tracker" software on its Web site.

Meanwhile, several of the stations had "special reports."

* Channel 13: Pallas Hupe reported on overcrowded prisons, complete with a visit to a facility in Solano County where, after the slo-mo shots of tattoed bad boys behind bars, she quoted prisoners as saying the place is a "hell hole" and "like living in a sewer dump."

more prison.jpg

* Channel 3: Fitzpatrick again, this time with a story called "Cruise Crime." As Edie Lambert ominously said in the introduction, "Your safety on the high seas may be highly compromised." Fitzpatrick then interviewed a woman who said she was raped by a Royal Caribbean Cruise security guard, but the man went free because the ship was in international waters and no one had jurisdiction. It was a thorough report, but a little cheesy when Channel 3 showed "re-created scenes" in black and white of a hand grasping a woman's arm.

Other "highlights": Fox40 on "Mom Jeans" that make women lose 10 pounds (!); Fox40 on "procreation vacations" in the Bahamas, where couples wanting to have kids can frolic and have fertility specialists at their beck and call; Channel 13 on yoga at your desk, and Channel 3 with a report on a Delaware man, a convicted child molester, who was forced by a judge to wear a T-shirt saying: "I am a registered sex offender."

And what about News10? At 6 p.m., six of the station's 12 stories were about the election races. At 11 p.m., five of the 14 stories were on politics. And no, it didn't have a peep about the pants-down burglary suspect.

November 7, 2006
Ratings verdict in on KFBK's Maiman

KFBK (1530 AM) figured it was going to suffer a ratings dip when it replaced conservative evening talk show host Mark Williams with middle-of-the-road talker Bruce Maiman.

But Maiman's numbers in the just-concluded Arbitron period were more like a swan dive than a mere dip.

Overall, Maiman finished 15th in his time slot (7-10 p.m., weeknights) with a 2.1 share. (Shares measure the percentage of radios turned on at a particular time.) By contrast, his conservative talk radio counterparts on KSTE (650 AM) - Bill O'Reilly for the first hour and Dr. Laura Schlessinger in hours two and three -finished 7th at 4.0.

In the 25-to-54-year-old demographic, the most important for advertisers, Maiman did even worse, finishing 17th with a 1.4 share.

What were Williams' ratings in his final three Arbitron books (winter of 2006, and fall and summer of '05)? He ranked third with a 5.5 share overall, and first at 7.1 in the key advertising demographic.

Still, Alan Eisenson, operations manager for both KFBK and KSTE, isn't worried about Maiman's performance.

"This is not unusual in talk radio, whenever you make a change," Eisenson says. "It's not like a music format change, when you know the type of music and artists playing right away. With talk radio, it takes time to build an audience. But once you get that audience, they are there to stay."

In other words, Maiman is here to stay on KFBK.

November 7, 2006
First family fashion

Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver voted shortly after 9 a.m. today at the Crestwood Hills Recreation Center in Los Angeles. In tow was their son, Christopher, 9.

My question is this: Maria always looks pulled together, but I was a little thrown by her choice of voting apparel.

How tight was that dress? Why would she wear high heels on such unstable ground? And what's up with the multiple necklaces?

I didn't see anyone in Sacramento dressed this way while standing in line to cast a ballot!

I checked in with a pool reporter at the L.A. polling location. And the reporter says Maria looked "lovely."

From my vantage point, looking at wire photos at my desk, Maria's dress appeared to be chocolate brown, very fitted and nipped at the waist. She paired it with high heels in a snakeskin cream-and-brown combo. And then there were those multiple necklaces with beads and the cross she's so often seen wearing. A burgundy satchel handbag completed the voting ensemble.

No, no staid red, white and blue outfit for this girl.

I'm told by the reporter that Maria navigated the walk over with style. Either she knows something about wearing heels on gravel and in grass, or she's just deft of feet.

If you're wondering about Arnold's attire, it was a simple gray, windowpane-checked suit. He went casual, with an open-collar blue shirt - sans tie. Of the three members of the first family, son Christopher was the most dressed down. Tuck that shirt in, young man!

In the interest of non-partisanship, stay tuned to see if I can get an apparel update on Julie Angelides' voting attire.

November 6, 2006
Channel 13 to balance political commentary

Here's an update on our previous postings here and here concerning Channel 13's use of Republican political strategist Rob Stutzman as a "nonpartisan" political analyst.

The station still plans to use Stutzman, Gov. Schwarzenegger's former aide and currently on the GOP payroll as a consultant, on election night. But - and this seems a change in policy - Channel 13 also will have a Democratic analyst to add balance.

That Democratic voice, as announced on the air Friday by Channel 13 anchor Sam Shane, will be Jason Kinney, co-founder of the "California Majority Report" Web site and an advisor to many Democratic candidates.

Steve Charlier, vice president of news at channels 13 and 31, says he sought a "political insider" rather than a "political science professor."

"Somebody who really knows what's going on," Charlier says.

November 6, 2006
'Mister Rogers' is outta the neighborhood


So I'm passing along this e-mail from reader Susan Vanderbout of Citrus Heights, lamenting that "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is no longer airing as part of the children's morning programming on Channel 6 (KVIE).

Man, did I build up a full head of steam. It was not going to be a beautiful day for David Hosley, KVIE's president, when I asked him why he hates our dear, departed Fred Rogers.

As it turns out, Hosley ducked my calls (OK, in reality, he was on vacation), so I left a meek voicemail instead for someone to call me back and explain this heresy.

David Lowe, KVIE's vice president for marketing and development, promptly ringed back and was as calm and soothing as Rogers himself in explaining why the "Neighborhood" was kicked to the curb.

(Sacramento-area viewers who also get San Francisco PBS affiliate KQED are out of luck, as well. "Mister Rogers" is off the air there, too.)


"We did our schedule change in the fall, right after Labor Day, and we haven't heard too many (complaints) from viewers," Lowe says. "The thing was, we had access to new programming. 'Curious George,' for instance. From 8 to 10 a.m., we have sort of a live host, 'Miss Lori,' who introduces the animated shows. So people who like real people talking will be happy...We've even got one of 'Mister Rogers' ' sweaters hanging in the background on the set."

Replaced by a monkey? That's harsh. Also, by a big red dog, too. A second half hour of "Clifford" runs in "Mister Rogers' " old spot.

Well, the empty sweater on the set apparently is not sufficient enough for viewers like Vanderbout, who writes in her cyber missive: "Fred Rogers used to say that we can do a lot of harm or a lot of good by what we put on television. He chose to do good, leaving a legacy of programs for our children to watch. However, this legacy will go to waste if these programs aren't aired anymore. This would be a tragedy."

Lowe's response: "I'm a fan of 'Mister Rogers,' too. It's really the parents, more than the kids, who enjoy that show for the nostalgia."

November 6, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Days 2-4

Cue the creepy synthesizer music and the sound effects of cell doors closing.


Yup, tonight at 10, Channel 13 will present another ratings-generated special report, "Behind the Barbed Wire." It's a story by anchor Pallas Hupe (left) on prison overcrowding and, from the previews we saw this morning on sister station Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento," you'll see a lot of overweight, shirtless men living as cramped as sardines in a converted prison gym.

A rating bonanza? We'll see. But Hupe gets the Tease of the Day award for this promo: "I'm Pallas Hupe. This summer, I went to prison. No, I wasn't convicted. I was on assignment."

Meanwhile, for the sake of our sanity, we'd vowed to take weekends off during sweeps month. But, we did tune in to Friday night's newscasts. And - big shock -there was more crime.

Specifically, child molestation is becoming a major sweeps theme.

Channel 13, coming off its exclusive interview with convicted sex offender Timothy Boggs, ran a special report on one of Boggs' victims, Rickie Morton, now grown up but still dealing with the trauma. Instead of scary music, the station used sympathetic acoustic guitar and violins for Morton and showed him walking his dog and tearing up at appropriate moments. But whenever the channel cut to a graphic of Boggs, it switched to black-and-white images and menacing music.

Quote from Morton: "I had a whole plan I was going to shoot him."

Quote from reporter Serene Branson afterward: "He's had a lot of therapy."

Not to be outdone, Fox40 led its Friday-night newscast by sending reporter Tim Sakahara to a showing of the documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" in Lodi. That's the movie about the Catholic clergy abuse scandal involving the Rev. Oliver O'Grady (below, right), which rocked the area in the 1970s.

Quote from a movie-goer: "I can't believe this happened in our beautiful community."

Ominous coda from Sakahara: "(O'Grady) is rumored to be back in Canada - something that fears and terrifies his victims."

Channel 3 didn't go the molester route, but its second story Friday night was about a stolen car that caused a traffic snarl. That, of course, was a good excuse to do a shameless plug for "Crime Tracker," the station's new Web feature where you can find out how many crimes have been committed in your Sacramento neighborhood.


News10 on Friday night didn't have a single sensational crime story. What the heck were they thinking?

Needing some fodder, we tuned into News10's special "election preview" on Sunday night - OK, we cheated and broke our weekend ban - and saw Jennifer Smith and Dana Howard go over the races with workmanlike precision. But they did supply a measure of whimsy by airing "The Proposition Song," written by California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander.

Here's a lyrical excerpt (Bra-vo! to News10 for putting the sex offender issue to music):

It's 'The Proposition Song'/Cuz the ballot's too darn long/So why don't you sing along...1E is followed by 83/Confusing but it's true/Sex offender laws will change if we pass Prop 83/84 protects our state from floods/It's a lot like Prop 1E.

And, finally, this from an e-mailer this morning: "Why did 'Good Day Sacramento' devote most of its 9 a.m. hour to the 'breaking news' of a fire in San Bernardino?"

No, it wasn't some sweeps stunt. "GDS" is obsessed with fires. It'll cover a fire anywhere in the U.S. as long as it has a sister station with a helicopter.

November 3, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 1


We keep a close eye on local TV news during the November ratings period (a.k.a. "sweeps") so you don't have to.

Here's how Day 1 (Thursday) went: Crime, crime and more crime. Most of it sex-offender-related.

Channel 13 had the big scoop of the day with an "exclusive" interview with Timothy Lee Boggs (left), the sex offender who was released recently and had trouble finding a place to live.

This was, indeed, the first interview Boggs has given, so kudos to reporter Serene Branson (below, right). And Channel 13 made sure we all knew it was an "exclusive," teasing to the story all day with scary synthesizer music.

You can check out Boggs' interview on Channel 13's Web site, but here's the quote of the interview from Boggs: "I wake up one morning and think, 'Gee, I'm a child molester.' "

Before airing the interview, Branson was debriefed by anchors Sam Shane and Pallas Hupe and said, "Boggs wants to convince you he's not a monster." The interview itself was a fascinating look into the mind of a sex offender, but we could've done without the eery music, shots of a rumpled bed and empty swings on a children's playground. Way too over-the-top for us.

Channel 3 went the crime route, as well. On its 5 p.m. broadcast, it introduced a new service on its Web site called "Crime Tracker." As reporter Mike TeSelle breathlessly reported, with a few quick clicks of the mouse, you can find out all the crimes that have been committed in your community - providing you live in Sacramento. Oh, and there's a 30-day lag in the reporting of crimes on the Web site.

TeSelle took a laptop to the mall and showed young mothers the site. "Wow, cool," exclaimed one. That stunt smacked of blatant sweeps self-promotion. Channel 3 had a little embarrassment, too, when TeSelle tried to call up an address live, but the site froze. "Hit enter, and in an instant you'll see ...," TeSelle said. "Uh, if it doesn't freeze on me here...Well, we've got a small problem."

At 11 p.m., the always-compelling Channel 3 consumer reporter Lynsey Paulo had a report on HOW YOUR REALTOR MIGHT BY A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER AND YOU DON'T KNOW IT!!!!

Actually, it was a much less sensationalistic report than the teases promised. Paulo had solid reporting. But - and this is a big but - Channel 3 was a day late on the story. Channel 13's Kris Pickel aired the exact same piece on Wednesday night, a day before sweeps began.

Fox40 and News10 - to their credit or detriment, depending on your thinking - just delivered the news Thursday night, reliable and nonsensational as usual.

And today, the Web sites of Channel 13, Channel 3 and News10 all offered live streaming video of deputy Jeff Mitchell's memorial service at Raley Field.

November 3, 2006
Need beads?


For all of you plan-ahead holiday shoppers, I guess it's never too early to start marking folks - and their gifts - off your list. If there's a bead-lover among family and friends, both of our area Bead Shoppe stores are hosting sterling silver trunk shows this weekend.

What will you find? Unique sterling silver and gold vermeil beads. And they come from afar - as in as far away as Bali and Turkey.

Trunk show dates and times are:
- 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at the Roseville Bead Shoppe, 2030 Douglas Blvd., Suite 45., and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the same Rosevile location.

- Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at The Bead Shoppe in Folsom, 2770 East Bidwell, Suite 500.

November 2, 2006
High fidelity

Don't get me wrong - I love my iPod and the ease of digital downloads, but that said, I'm still a record store kind of girl at heart.

But with fewer local options (I'm sorry - but it just feels kind of wrong to shop for music at area discount stores), it's getting more difficult to get my browsing fix without driving to San Francisco.

So that's why I'm happy to share this info with you: This Sunday, KDVS 90.3 FM is hosting a record swap at the Fools Foundation (1025 19th St.).

The event runs from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and it'll cost $3 to get in - a small price to pay for the joy of rummaging through albums, CDs, singles, zines, posters, videos and more.

Because, seriously kids, in this age of digitized sanitation, there's nothing like getting your hands just a little bit grubby during the pursuit of that consumer high.

November 1, 2006
More Morbidity

And here's more on that Morbid Curiosity reading. KXJZ "Insight" host - and 21Q fan, we might add - Jeffrey Callison tells us that Morbid Curiosity editor Loren Rhoads will be on Callison's show at 2 p.m. Friday, calling in from San Francisco to talk about the publication.

But wait - there's more. So-called "normal guy" (and really, we want to know how exactly one defines "normal" when we're talking about morbid things) John Domeier will be in the studio on Friday, reading from his piece "The Fruit of All Evil."

"Insight" airs daily at 2 p.m. - tune into 90.9 on your FM dial.

November 1, 2006
The Morbid details

Halloween may be over, but there's still plenty to be grim about. Specifically, I'd suggest you check out the Morbid Curiousity reading at Luna's Cafe on Saturday.

Morbid Curiosity, for the unitiated, is/was an annually published literary magazine spotlighting the, well, ins and outs of all things dark, dangerous and morbid.

The latest issue of the San Francisco-based magazine is reportedly its last, so don't miss out on this chance to hear some of its contributors read their works.
Among them: comic Keith Lowell Jensen, writer/actress Becca Costello and "normal guy" Joe Domeier.

Morbid Curiosity editor Loren Rhoads will emcee the event, and collage artist M. Parfitt also will be there.

The reading - which is free, by the way - starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at Luna's (1414 16th St.) For more info, call (916) 441-3931.

November 1, 2006
'Most Wanted' in town

A producer and film crew from "America's Most Wanted," which airs locally on Fox40, is in town this week to cover the shooting death of Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey Mitchell.

Fred Peabody, the producer, says a short segment will air this Saturday at 9 p.m. on the show's "Fallen Officer" segment. There is a chance, he adds, that a full segment about the search for Mitchell's killer will air on Nov. 11.

"We can't get it on the air as quickly as TV news crews because of (production schedules)," Peabody says. "But there is a lot of interest in this case and we want to help out."

Unlike a news organization, "AMW" is not bound by reportorial objectivity. Its primary purpose, Peabody says, is to help catch bad guys.

"When an officer is killed in the line of duty, we consider that a high priority for us," Peabody says. "Even though this case has received a lot of attention locally, it raises the profile (of the case) by having a national program like ours reporting on it.

"We've found in the past that being on 'America's Most Wanted' raises the psychological pressure on the shooter. This guy realizes there's nowhere in America he can go now without being recognized."

Among the cases that "AMW" has helped solve: Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping and the apprehension of accused pedophile Eric Rosser in Thailand, Peabody says.

November 1, 2006
John Alston speaks


John Alston, the Channel 3 main anchor (6 p.m. and 11 p.m.), who left the station Friday after he could not come to terms on a new contract, says he isn't looking to leave Sacramento.

"I'm not selling the house," Alston tells us. "I just socked in a cord or so of firewood. I plan on staying. I like it here, and I'm talking to other people (in the market)."

Hmm, could Alston be headed to News10, where former KCRA meteorologist Patty Souza wound up after her contract at Channel 3 ran out? Or maybe Alston will land at Fox40, which is looking for another morning anchor to team with Jennifer Parker?

All we know now is that he's left a gaping hole to fill at Channel 3, with November sweeps starting Thursday. Elliott Troshinsky, KCRA's honcho, says the station is "juggling its lineup" for the month, but you're likely to see Chris Riva team with Edie Lambert at 11 p.m., and Dave Walker and Edie doing the 6 o'clock news.

As they say in the news biz, stay tuned. And be sure to read more from Alston about his departure from Channel 3 - and who might replace him permanently at the station - in Tuesday's Media Savvy column in The Bee.

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