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TV Notes: 'AgeWise' gets new look as 'LifeQuest' for all ages

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

WQED's "AgeWise" returns for its 14th season Saturday with a new time slot and, more importantly, a new title. The weekly series will now be known as "LifeQuest" and will air at 5:30 p.m., an hour earlier. It still repeats at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Host Eleanor Schano said she has wanted to rename the program for years because of the response she received from the community. "AgeWise" was thought of as a program primarily about staying healthy in the golden years, but Schano found that it appealed to a broader audience.

"I saw people in their 30s and 40s who said, 'I love the show, but I'm not allowed to watch it. It's for old people.' That would make me so furious! It's amazing what a name can do. Perception is reality," Schano said yesterday. "I don't believe there are any old people. I think my viewers are ageless. ... I'm not aiming at the Britney Spears generation. We don't have our navels pierced, our jeans are a little higher, but I still wear jeans."

With 13 years of equity built up in the "AgeWise" name, Schano said there was some resistance to a title change, but focus groups and research confirmed the notion that the show's appeal was not limited to older adults.

"The new name reflects what we've been doing all along, offering information that leads people toward a happy, healthier way of living," said Deborah Acklin, WQED's senior vice president of production and technology.

"LifeQuest" will include more pieces taped on location, and will put a greater emphasis on medical news with a news desk on the set (Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield continues as the local underwriter). A new interview area will be used to discuss topics that will run the gamut from fitness to politics to fashion and entertainment. An entirely new set has been built with a Southwestern Mission-style theme. Viewers may not see the completed set on the season premiere Saturday because, Schano said, the furniture has yet to arrive.

"People know what it's like moving into a new house -- you don't have any furniture!" she said.

The premiere, to be taped tomorrow, will feature state Sen. Jane Orie discussing her plan for bailing out the city of Pittsburgh. Schano also has taped an interview with Joe Hardy, the owner of Nemacolin Woodlands, who is running for commissioner of Fayette County. She also interviews Midge Rendell, wife of Gov. Ed Rendell.

"If I sound enthusiastic, it's because I'm bursting at the seams. I'm so anxious for this premiere," Schano said. "I felt with the 'AgeWise' name I had to be kind of buttoned-down. I had to put on my television persona. Now I'm going to be who I am."

'Dead' lives on

Premium cable network Showtime has renewed "Dead Like Me" for an additional 15 episodes. The drama, about a young woman who dies and becomes a grim reaper, premiered this summer to positive reviews and decent ratings.

Production on the new season will begin early next year. No air date is set, but next summer seems likely.

ABC nabs Lynch first

Katie Couric will get a live interview with former POW Jessica Lynch on Nov. 12, but ABC's Diane Sawyer will get Lynch first, interviewing the West Virginia woman Nov. 11 in a special edition of the newsmagazine "Primetime." Then on Nov. 14, Lynch will sit down to chat with David Letterman on CBS's "The Late Show." Her media tour continues Nov. 17 when Lynch and the co-author of her book, Rick Bragg, appear together on CNN's "Larry King Live."


Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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