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TV Note: 'Pop Across America' to stop in Pittsburgh

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Got ketchup?

Do you want to drink it?

If so, you're a shoo-in for TNN's new traveling talk show, "Pop Across America," which stops in Pittsburgh next week. The program, hosted by comedian Steve Marmel, broadcasts from the back of a flatbed truck, and seeks to capture the essence and flavor of the cities it visits.

In the case of Pittsburgh, that flavor will have a tomato tang.

"Pop Across America" wants a Pittsburgher to break the record of a Topeka, Kan., man, who drank a 14-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup through a drinking straw in 33 seconds.

The competition will be held next Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Market Square.

A "Pop" crew will be in town all next week, taping segments at various locations around town. The ketchup chugging is just one bit being taped for two half-hour episodes.

The talk show part will be taped July 20 at 8 p.m. in parking lot No. 4 of PNC Park. It's open to the public and the first 500 people who show up will be admitted.

"Pop Across America" premieres on TNN Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. The Pittsburgh episode of the show will likely air in late August.

Pittsburgh on 'Best Of'

Producers for Food Network, which began airing on AT&T cable systems last week, will be in town next week to tape segments for "The Best Of" that will air later this year. The half-hour show visits different places each week to find the "bests" in several categories.

The Pittsburgh restaurants that will be featured and their "Best Of" categories are Tessaro's in Bloomfield ("Neighborhood Eats"), Hyeholde in Moon ("Off the Beaten Path"), Old Europe on the South Side ("Meat"), The Cafe at Frick Art & Historical Center ("Museum Restaurants"), Gandy Dancer Saloon & Oyster Bar in Station Square ("Late Night Bites") and Betsy Ann Chocolates in West View ("Candy").

No gotta regatta

WPGH, which has had a two-hour prime-time broadcast from the Three Rivers Regatta for the past two years, won't be back at the Point for a third go-around.

Channel 53 regional manager Dick Singer said the decision not to continue what was billed by previous station management as a signature annual event was made before the regatta encountered financial difficulty this spring.

"When we started looking at the things we were doing this year, we just decided the costs were too prohibitive and the man-hours it took to put it on are way beyond what we can do as a local television station," Singer said. "It takes the attention of the staff off the ball, which is running the station on a day-to-day basis and our news product."

WCWB gets backup power

Last spring WCWB began to earn the disdain of area viewers who liked the station's WB programming, but grew frustrated with its tendency to go off the air whenever rain fell.

At the time, station management promised a backup generator would be ordered to correct the problem. And so it has. Regional manager Dick Singer said a backup generator has been installed and running for about a month.

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