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TV Notes: 11/3/03

Monday, November 03, 2003

VCR Plus Web site

For viewers who still set their VCRs using the VCR Plus numbers in the Post-Gazette's TV listings, there's a new Web site that may prove useful. Go to to register and then look up VCR Plus numbers for programs airing on channels that have a VCR Plus channel number designation. (See the cable conversion chart in TV Week.)

(Rob Owen)

"Schmo" finale scores

The finale of Spike TV's "The Joe Schmo Show" starring Mt. Lebanon's Matt Kennedy Gould delivered strong ratings Tuesday. "Joe Schmo" averaged 3.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched program on Spike TV since the network re-branded itself in August.


A local "Proposal"

When Michael Dojcak proposed to Melissa Keiser at the Fox Chapel Yacht Club, where the pair met while working, they weren't alone. A crew from TLC's "Perfect Proposal" was on hand to record the moment, which airs Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. The proposal was filmed over Labor Day weekend in one of the club's parlors that was transformed into an indoor garden.


More cable HDTV

Comcast has announced plans to add high-definition channels for premium networks Starz and Cinemax at some point in the future. Last week Comcast added two pay-per-view HD channels, INHD on Channel 774 and INHD2 on Channel 775.


Late night change

WPXI will no longer run "The Talent Agency" after midnight Sunday at 1:35 a.m. That syndicated program will be replaced by two episodes of the classic sitcom "Taxi."


ABC investigates Jesus tonight

ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas concedes her network is stepping into a theological minefield with its one-hour exploration of whether Jesus Christ had a wife.

The ABC News special, "Jesus, Mary and DaVinci," is scheduled to air tonight at 8.

"You can't talk about this subject without intriguing people or offending people," Vargas said. "We're trying to do it as respectfully as we can."

ABC screened the special for some reporters and religious leaders on Thursday. The program is based on the best-selling novel "The DaVinci Code," which claims to be partly grounded on historical fact.

The book asserts that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife and that she fled Jerusalem with his child following his crucifixion.

The story was kept alive for centuries by a secret society that included the painter Leonardo DaVinci, who supposedly inserted clues about it in his art, the book claimed.

The ABC special outlines the theories and speaks to several theologians who either discount the story or assert that it is possible.

The show unravels like a mystery perpetuated by secondhand gossip. Vargas said ABC found no proof that Jesus had a wife, but couldn't completely discount it, either.

Vargas, who was raised a Roman Catholic, said her own parents said to her, "Oh, my goodness, what are you doing?" when they found out she was working on the story.

"For me, "Vargas said, "it's made religion more real and, ironically, much more interesting -- which is what we're hoping to do for our viewers," she said.

It drew some immediate criticism, particularly from a representative of the Catholic League, who said ABC News relied too heavily on the opinion of Father Richard McBrien of Notre Dame, who believes Mary Magdalene's importance has been historically understated and that it's possible she was his wife.

"I think it was not sufficiently balanced," said Joseph DeFeo, policy analyst for the Catholic League. "The majority of the people who spoke believed in either the plausibility or the outright truth of (book author) Dan Brown's claims. The facts themselves scream out that this is a crackpot theory."

The show even drew criticism from Nikki Stephanopoulos, mother of ABC News correspondent George and the communications director for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. She said the special might offend people who believe that women have a more prominent role in the church.

(David Bauder, Associated Press)

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