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TV Notes: 11/22/03

Saturday, November 22, 2003

WQED debuts its new teleconference center

At Tuesday's board meeting of WQED Multimedia, the first in its new state-of-the-art Elsie Hilliard Hillman conference center, the focus was on the company's new digs.

With modern audiovisual technology, automatic closing blinds and wall-mounted cameras for teleconferencing, the room offered many surprises. At a total cost of $490,000, it was made possible by a grant of more than $451,000 from the Hillman Foundation. Other grant money covered the additional cost for teleconferencing technology. The station earns revenue by leasing its space to companies in need of a teleconferencing center.

At the end of its 2003 fiscal year on Sept. 30, WQED reported $62,587 excess revenue over expenses in its unrestricted operating activities. Combined with temporarily restricted activities of $931,487, WQED showed revenue of $994,074. Across all activities in 2002, WQED had a net loss of $192,565, due mostly to the downturn in the investment market.

Chief operating officer Robert Petrilli said WQED had its fourth straight year of a positive operating net position and seventh straight year of positive operating cash flow. Also, 2003 marked the fourth straight year of revenue growth on an operating basis.

The station still carries debt of $2.4 million, including fees of $1.5 million in a revolving credit facility to Citizens Bank and $900,000 in fees to PBS (the station made a deal with PBS to pay that off after the sale of WQEX). WQED also owes $4.5 million to its own endowments.

Revenue for WQED's Education Resource Center -- which offers programs in literacy, work force development, arts and culture and community education -- grew from $129,000 in 2000-01 to $763,000 in 2002-03 with $1 million in revenue projected for 2003-04. On a net basis, the ERC operates on a break-even basis the same as the rest of WQED.

Upcoming projects for television include:

Producer Rick Sebak's latest local special, "Things We've Made," which premieres Dec. 4. Sebak has two national projects in the works: "Unusual Buildings" for 2004 and "Cemeteries" for 2005.

A pledge period running from Nov. 29 to Dec. 14 will attempt to raise $405,000.

A new edition of "Live from Studio A," featuring covers of Beatles songs by local artists (including The Clarks and Hermie Granati), will air at 10 p.m. Dec. 1 as part of the pledge drive.

Actress Carol Channing will be at the WQED studios Dec. 6 to host a broadcast of "Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway," originally taped in 1969. The program will air nationally in March.

Work continues on "The War That Made America," a documentary about the French and Indian War, with further announcements coming in early December. The first draft of the script is complete.

European broadcasters plan to cover the Pittsburgh Symphony's performance at the Vatican in January, and WQED is working to acquire the rights to present that telecast in America. It may also be packaged as a DVD.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

No 'Bachelor' proposal

Estella got the rose and a ring -- but not a proposal.

On ABC's "The Bachelor" Wednesday night, Bob Guiney made his choice, picking Californian Estella Gardinier and sending a fellow Michigander, Kelly Jo Kuharski, away in tears.

Guiney hedged his bets at the end. He bought Gardinier a ring but asked that she wear it on her right hand.

"It represents my promise to you to see where we can go," he said.

It was good enough for Estella. She practically shouted at the camera: "I want the whole world to know how in love I am with him!"

Bachelor Bob never spoke the l-word to Estella, at least not on camera. It was certainly a love-fest in the other direction; both Kuharski and Gardinier continually professed their love for him in the syrupy, two-hour buildup.

(Associated Press)

Holiday TV listings

As always, listings for holiday specials airing on television will be published in the Thanksgiving Day edition of the Post-Gazette on Thursday.

(R.O.)

WPXI's parade plans

A week from today Channel 11 will broadcast the 23rd annual "Celebrate the Season Holiday Parade" from 9 to 11 a.m. News anchors David Johnson and Peggy Finnegan will host. It will repeat on PCNC at 7 p.m. Nov. 29.

This year's guest stars: Soap star and Pittsburgh native Lamman Rucker and Jimmy McGuire from the "Jeopardy!" "Clue Crew."

(R.O.)

Channel surfing

USA Today reports Fox is considering resurrecting the animated cult hit "Family Guy" for an additional 35 episodes to premiere in January 2005 ... Greensburg native Katie Stewart, 25, will be featured next week on ABC's "Primetime Monday" (8 p.m.) in a segment on four women living in New York City ... ABC News has named Elizabeth Vargas the new anchor of "World News Tonight Sunday," replacing Carole Simpson, who left ABC News earlier this year.

(R.O.)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

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