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TV Notes: Study says TV comedy can teach teenagers

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Teenagers can get sex education as well as laughs by watching TV series such as "Friends," a new study found.

Watching or discussing a show with an adult reinforces or clarifies the lessons carried by television, according to the study by Santa Monica-based Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group.

"We've always known that teenagers get useful information about sex from factual reporting and advice-oriented media, but now we know they can get this information from entertainment television programs as well," said Rebecca Collins, lead author of the report.

"That's important because entertainment programs, especially highly rated ones like 'Friends,' reach many more teens," Collins said in a Rand statement.

Researchers interviewed about 500 teenagers shortly after an episode of the hit NBC series that included a pregnancy caused by condom failure. The show aired in October 2001.

In the episode, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) becomes pregnant after having sex with ex-boyfriend Ross (David Schwimmer).

Ross expresses surprise, noting that he'd used a condom. Twice during the episode, characters say condoms are "only 97 percent effective."

The episode was watched by 1.67 million 12- to 17-year-olds, the study said, citing Nielsen Media Research information.

Most of the teenagers surveyed remembered that the episode mentioned condom effectiveness. But teenagers who watched with an adult or talked about the episode with one were about twice as likely to remember the information correctly, the study found.

Viewers recalled the lessons six months later, according to the study in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics.

The research was part of Rand's Television and Adolescent Sexuality study.

Among those who recalled watching the episode, 65 percent remembered that it involved a pregnancy caused by condom failure.

Of those who discussed the episode with an adult, almost half remembered condoms being described as more than 95 percent effective -- nearly twice as many as among teenagers who did not discuss the show with an adult.

(Lynn Elber, The Associated Press)

'Coupling' canceled

"Coupling" has come undone.

The racy NBC comedy about the mix-and-match romances of six single friends was canceled after four episodes.

"Coupling" was already on hiatus when NBC decided to cancel it. To cover its 9:30 p.m. Thursday time slot during the crucial November ratings sweeps, the network is "supersizing" the sitcoms "Friends," "Will & Grace" and "Scrubs" -- adding a few minutes to each.

No decision has been made on what will replace "Coupling" after sweeps.


Harris doc on WQED

"One Shot: The Life of Teenie Harris," a documentary by filmmaker Kenneth Love on the late Pittsburgh Courier photographer who recorded the local African-American community between the 1930s and the 1970s, will air at 8 p.m. tomorrow on WQED.

Harris is also the subject of an exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Art, which acquired his archive of approximately 80,000 prints and negatives two years ago. Visitors are invited to help identify the people, places and activities in more than 300 photographs displayed in "Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project," which will run through Nov. 16.

(Mary Thomas, Post-Gazette Art Critic)

McIntire not on WTAE

Channel 4's plan to have former PCNC "NightTalk" host John McIntire offer election commentary on the 11 p.m. news last night fell apart due to what WTAE news director Bob Longo called "complex wrinkles" in the noncompete clause that was part of McIntire's contract with PCNC/WPXI.

"We chose, at the end of the day, to respect this contract," Longo said.

McIntire left PCNC last month; he would not have been paid for his appearance on Channel 4. The non-compete clause in his contract prevents him from working for another station in Pittsburgh for nine months.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

Rogers doc to air

"Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor," a documentary commemorating the life of the host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," premiered in May and will be rebroadcast, with some editing changes, on WQED at 8 p.m. Nov. 19 as a 90-minute fund-raising special.

The show will be available to PBS stations nationwide to air at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 1.


Channel surfing

WPXI will no longer run "The Talent Agency" at 1:35 a.m. Monday. That syndicated program will be replaced by two episodes of the classic sitcom "Taxi" ... Two Pittsburgh natives -- William Morse and Elizabeth Vitalbo -- are among 10 finalists who will compete for a role on the CBS soap "Guiding Light" on "The Early Show." Morse will screen test Monday and Vitalbo will test Tuesday. They were picked by the show's casting director at an open casting call at the University of Pittsburgh.


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