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TV Note:4/2/02

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

April Fools in TV land

For its annual April Fools' Day prank, the TV humor Web site http://www.teevee.org/ created an elaborate fake newspaper, the Television City Chronicle, which reports on the fictional denizens of TV Land as if they were real.

A story by "Daniel S. Tiger" reports an accountant named Fred Rogers left work every day at 3 p.m., entered his home, changed his shoes and entered "what a team of psychiatrists at Carnegie Mellon's Institution for the Mentally Ill describe as 'the land of Make-Believe.' "

Another article, written by "Vivian Vance," says police suspect band leader Ricky Ricardo of attacking his estranged wife, Lucy MacGillicuddy, and kidnapping their son, Ricky Jr.

In the faux paper's corrections column, editors retract a report that Texas oil heir Bobby Ewing died. "We apologize for the error, which was the combination of sloppy fact-checking and a particularly vivid dream."

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

WTAE locks in anchors

Wendy Bell, who has filled in on WTAE's morning newscasts since Sam Merrill returned to his previous station in Michigan at the end of February, was named morning co-anchor by news director Bob Longo yesterday.

Bell anchors alongside Kelly Frey in the market's only newscast with two female anchors.

"It is a little unusual," Longo said. "I don't believe it's been tried in Pittsburgh before."

Longo said ratings have been solid since Bell was added to the morning news. "In fact," he said, "they've increased."

Bell will do occasional consumer reports for the 5 p.m. news during sweeps periods, but Longo said he'll begin the search for a new full-time consumer reporter later this week.

"We'd continue to like to have more Wendy more often, but there's only so much Wendy to go around."

WTAE has also hired a weekend evening co-anchor to replace Shawn Yancy, who left last year for a job at the Fox affiliate in Washington.

Shiba Russell, most recently an anchor at New York cable channel "News 12 The Bronx," will join Ted Koppy at the anchor desk later this month. She'll also report three days a week.

Russell is a graduate of the College of New Rochelle and received a master's in journalism from Northwestern University in 1998.


Local, local, local

KDKA-TV anchor Jennifer Antkowiak is pregnant with her fourth child. Her due date is in early October.

Former CNN vice president of news and planning David Bernknopf, a 1976 graduate of Chartiers Valley High School, has founded Atamira Communications in Atlanta with former "TalkBack Live" host Bobbie Battista. The new company will coach executives, corporations and politicians "to better manage their message."

Pittsburgh native David Elisco serves as series producer on "The Shape of Life," a new multi-part series about the beginnings of animal life that premieres tonight at 9 on WQED/WQEX.

"America Talks ... Robert Morris Listens," a documentary made by Robert Morris University students about reactions to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will air on WQED/WQEX after midnight Friday at 1 a.m.

WTAE medical editor Marilyn Brooks hosts "Healthy 4 Life: Time Won't Wait" (8 p.m. Thursday) about how to feel and look younger. The ABC programs pre-empted by the special will not be shown at a later time.

Carol Kane and Randy Quaid star in a comedy pilot for Fox called "The Grubbs" about a lower-middle-class family living in a Pennsylvania steel town. A Fox spokeswoman says the town will be fictional and has yet to be named.


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