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TV Notes: 6/29/02

Saturday, June 29, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Wrestled away

It's not just the 'F' that's missing from World Wresting Entertainment (formerly World Wrestling Federation) these days. Daily Variety reported this week that UPN's "WWE Smackdown!" lost 35 percent of its teen male audience when the first five months of 2002 are compared to the same period in 2001. The audience for TNN wrestling shows also declined.

TV observers blame the decline on a lack of stars (The Rock is making movies, Steve Austin walked out) and reality shows like "Dog Eat Dog" and "Fear Factor" that are drawing fickle young viewers away from wrestling.

Local on 'Worst Case'

When TBS debuts its new reality show "Worst-Case Scenario" at 9 p.m. July 10, it will include a local story of survival.

The show uses a mix of home video footage and newly recorded interviews to re-create the day in September 2000 when Andy Judy of Morgantown went skydiving near Connellsville Airport and got his jumpsuit snagged on the plane's step. The plane ultimately landed, dragging Judy behind.

The series, which is sure to draw comparisons to NBC's "Fear Factor," purports to show viewers how to survive "worst case scenarios" and is based on "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook," published in 1999.

New TV doc

Pennsylvania's first physician general, who quit 15 months into her tenure in 1998 because she said Gov. Ridge's administration too often put politics before public health, is getting a TV gig.

Dr. Wanda Filer, who is both a practicing general physician and a health correspondent for WGAL in Harrisburg, will tape 90-second syndicated "HealthFiles" segments for local TV stations across the country.

Todd Leyland, marketing director for "HealthFiles," said the segments will be run in local newscasts or alongside commercials and are currently cleared in 20 percent of the country. The goal is to reach 40 percent by the time the segments launch this fall.

Leyland said producer Max Films of Lancaster County is currently negotiating with the Hearst-Argyle chain about its stations running "HealthFiles." Hearst-Argyle owns Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV.

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