‘PIX Morning News’ misuses first-ever studio audience during live newscast

Watching the last portion of Monday’s “PIX Morning News” on WPIX/Ch. 11 — a newscast with its first-ever studio audience — one word kept popping in my mind: Why? “Take a look behind me everybody,” anchor Sukanya Krishnan said, noting there were people behind her, “Wooo-hoo.” There they were, all lined up against the studio’s walls, sitting on chairs better suited for a doctor’s office and looking just a bit uncomfortable. The faux excitement wasn’t enough to mask the underlying questions: Why have an audience of fans come in and then make them sit watching the backs of the anchors? And, more importantly, why have an audience for a newscast at all? Monday marked the first time the show brought viewers into the studio to be part of the magic, which, on the surface, isn’t a horrible idea. It was the execution of the idea, though, that was horrible. Throughout the show, anchors Krishnan and Frances Rivera teased viewers about the soon-to-appear audience, and cut to the station’s Dunkin Donuts-backed bus outside where they were all being plied with coffee and treats. They made their appearance onstage with 20 minutes remaining in the show when Krishnan slapped their hands and ran around the studio the same way Jeremy Lin does on the court after sinking a three pointer. Soon after, Rivera was interviewing Flo Anthony about the latest on Whitney Houston and then later she was chatting with reality TV stars Victoria Gotti and Kesha Nichols. All the while, the studio audience looked on, chatted among themselves and added an odd twist to a newscast. “We’re doing it talk-show style,” Rivera said at one point. That the audience was there for a reality show-flavored segment is all too ripe for jokes. Now, no doubt, there will be folks who say ‘Why not try this?,’ led by the management at the station. On Monday, the studio Continue Reading

Jacque Reid, former BET news anchor, makes move to LX TV’s ‘New York Live’

WPIX/Ch. 11 took its new 5 p.m. newscast for a test drive Thursday night and gave those near a computer a shot at seeing it. Although "PIX 11 News at 5" doesn't launch until Monday, the station did a test run Thursday afternoon online. As could be expected, there were a handful of glitches and missed cues in the Jodi Applegate-anchored show. Smooth would not be the way to describe the test. Then again, that's why the station was doing it, to get the bugs out before Monday. For instance, at the midway point Applegate did a headlines of the day segment, similar to how she opens the 10 p.m. newscast. Each of the remotes came off awkwardly because of timing delays and missed starts. A moment when Applegate referred to what was happening on Twitter fell flat, too. As news director Bill Carey told the Daily News earlier in the week, the show will be high on advocacy pieces. The test included a "Help Me Howard" segment, from Howard Thompson, and a piece on flooding from Monica Morales in which she ended by saying they would stay on top of the state DOT and DEP to get action. Like every other show, the prototype Ch. 11 report added a segment about trends online, and had commentator Lionel weigh in and make jokes along with Applegate. Irv (Mr. G) Gikofsky contributed a weather forecast. The test show appeared to use less of the news studio than does the 10 p.m. show, and had more of an industrial feel. Applegate stood before the large screen for headline segments, but in others was jammed between cubicles. Also included was a remote with former Daily News writer Nicole Bode, of news site DNAInfo.com, talking about safety figures around the city. In keeping with the female-targeted show, Applegate asked Bode where women should feel the safest. It's unfair to fully weigh in on the good, the bad and the ugly for a test broadcast. What is fair to say is that for folks who like the station's 10 p.m. newscast, the 5 o'clock show will be familar. Continue Reading

Broadcast veteran Magee Hickey making news again with move to WPIX/Ch.11 after brief hiatus

Market veteran Magee Hickey is back on the air - this time at WPIX/Ch. 11. As first reported here, Hickey and WCBS/Ch. 2 parted ways in May after she was told her contract would not be renewed. She first appeared on Ch. 11's 10 p.m. newscast on Friday, where she led the coverage. Hickey was back Monday night and is expected to work as a fill-in during summer vacation cycles. At Ch. 11, she's back working with news director Bill Carey, whom she worked for at Ch. 2 and was fired by in 1996 as part of a one-day cut of seven on-air staffers. Hickey started working on-air in New York in 1982 at WNEW/Ch. 5 (now WNYW). She was later at WABC/Ch. 7, WWOR/Ch. 9 for a week and WNBC/Ch. 4. She returned to WCBS in 2003, where most recently she was a correspondent on the early morning news. "Preparing to go into work now for my second day at PIX 11 News at 10," Hickey wrote on Facebook Monday. "Everyone's so great there; looking forward to being part of the team." Dots all ... Amy Cohen has been promoted to executive producer of Ch. 5's 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts. She fills a slot left open when Jerry Andrews was named managing editor of news. She's been a producer on the evening newscasts since 2008. Speaking of Ch. 5, today at 9:30 a.m. Denise Richards visits "Good Day New York" to talk about her new book and her work on Spike TV's "Blue Mountain State." It's a safe bet she'll face a Charlie Sheen question, too. ... The TV Guide network has picked up a new series called "The Hollywood Moms' Club" that will star Alison Sweeney and Ali Landry. It's about a group of celebrity moms who talk about their lives, career and families over dinner. Guest moms will appear in each episode. The pilot will air in November. ... Beyoncé will perform Thursday on ABC's "The View." ... Sirius XM '80s on its Channel 8 will mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of MTV by having hosts (and former MTV VJs) Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman and Nina Blackwood Continue Reading

‘PIX Morning News’ Thomas’ English muffin segment underscores problem of promos-hiding-as-news

Eventually, news executives will realize viewers would care more about their product if they were not repeatedly beaten over the head with fluff - some questionable - pretending to be news. For now, though, it's just a dream. Earlier this week, the "PIX Morning News" spent four minutes on a dumb segment that was a spinoff from a Thomas' English muffins recipe contest from Ch. 11's Web site. It started with Lisa Mateo rushing through the isles of Shoprite in search of items to make pizza muffins. The segment ended, sadly, with Tiffany McElroy and Sukanya Krishnan back in the studio standing next to a Thomas' display and waving their hands like game-show models. Fact is, the entire piece felt like it was out of "The Price Is Right," and the price was right for Thomas', but lousy for viewers. The Thomas' commercial-as-news comes after a string of questionable travel segments tied to promos from the Dominican Republic that Ch. 11 ran previously. Ch. 11 isn't alone in the promos-hiding-as-news mess. That title goes to the Fox stations, WNYW/Ch. 5 and WWOR/Ch. 9, which never miss a chance to promote one of their shows on a newscast. Wednesday night, for example, Ch. 9's new half-hour newscast included not one, but two pieces on Wendy Williams, reruns of whose show lead into the 11 p.m. news. The first was legitimate about her announcement she would leave radio, although it was billed as "Breaking News" two hours after the press release went out. Later, Ch. 9 aired a piece on Williams' wish list for potential guests for her talk show. When the Williams item was over, anchors Brenda Blackmon and Harry Martin each embarrassingly tried Williams' trademark "How You Doin'" line. Doing those pieces the day a show launches is fine, but a week and a half in, not so fine. The Ch. 9 pieces, mind you, came after Ch. 5's 9 a.m. hour of "Good Day New York" also did two pieces on Williams (Williams airs after "GDNY"), one a "Wendy Rewind" with a clip from Continue Reading

Tube Talk: On local TV, happy news is here again

Jim Dolan, WABC/Ch.7's roll-up-the-sleeves and work reporter, earlier this week was standing by the FDR trying to put a good spin on the pending closing of the roadway for repairs. Joe Torres, sitting in for Bill Ritter at the anchor desk, tossed to Dolan in the field to ask viewers to imagine the pending traffic chaos and frustration. "Joe, that all sounds so negative," Dolan said. "I'm a glass half-full kind of guy, and the good news here is there will be no traffic problems on the northbound FDR, north of Houston St., for roughly the first time since, oh, the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. Go figure, nobody was celebrating that tonight." With that mind-set, it is time for some good news. And there sure was plenty this week. Haven't heard of any layoffs locally - yet there were a couple of fun stories: found out Sam Ryan was staying at WCBS/Ch. 2, and there were a couple of spots worth mentioning. For example, WNYW/Ch. 5 staffers are having fun Googling and then ogling images of fill-in traffic reporter Christina Stoffo. Not that anyone is complaining, mind you, but some of the shots online show a side much, ah, different than the meek business wardrobe she's sporting on "Good Day New York." Try it. Speaking of "GDNY," Brett Larson, whose second cup of coffee segments are being reworked for the better, asked 25 models if any of them would date Greg Kelly. One held up her hand. "I'm flattered," Kelly said. "The other 24 girls can take their chances with Derek Jeter and we'll see what happens." We're betting Jeter has better luck, but that's just a guess. Also at Ch. 5, it was loads of fun to see Charles Leaf run after former Bernie Madoff pal Jodi Crupi earlier this week in his exclusive about how investigators are on her tail. Anything, of course, that forces Leaf not to scream into the camera, like, well, running, is a good thing. And, not to be forgotten, Ch. 5 had Bert Ammerman, the brother of one of Pan Am Flight 103's Continue Reading

Changes are abound at WPIX/Channel 11 and ‘PIX Morning News’

A local morning anchor, bemoaning what was happening with the evening newscasts around town, recently said the place to be was working the morning shows.There, he said, ratings were still good, and more importantly, the bean counters seeking to cut costs didn't seem to get up that early. But while his show isn't under the microscope now, the folks at WPIX/Ch. 11 certainly are. The station has quietly begun an overhaul of "PIX Morning News" to make it more news-driven with, overall, less fluff. The changes are being led by Steve Charlier, who heads station operations for Ch. 11's owner, the Tribune Co. The transformation is happening as the station operates without a news director. The previous news director, Karen Scott, left last month. One insider calls the atmosphere at Ch. 11 "demoralizing," saying there are changes every day to spruce up the news operation. Entertainment news is one area that is changing in the mornings at Ch. 11. Entertainment correspondent Emily Frances recently moved to the evening beat. As a result, rather than have one person do celebrity interviews, they're being spread around. Moreover, the early part of the "PIX Morning News" has grown to be more news-driven since the transformation began. Every morning, the anchors read some of the news from the desk, then cut to a correspondent in the newsroom to add more. Likewise, most days Lisa Mateo, who had been doing traffic in the studio, is now outside doing pieces around the city. Not all the lighter things are gone. Thursday, for instance, Tamsen Fadal and Sukanya Krishnan were exercising with Denise Austin. Later, Krishnan sang the theme song to Kim Coles' sitcom "Living Single." The reason for the Ch. 11 focus on mornings is simple: The station is in a dogfight with other morning shows for viewers. Yet, as the morning anchor noted, most other shows in the morning arena are tooling along virtually unchanged. "There's nobody on the morning that's like, 'I'm going to lose my job,'" said a Continue Reading

Marvell Scott trades sports news for sports medicine

Dr. Marvell Scott's run as a weekend sportscaster at WABC/Ch. 7 is officially over. Scott, who told the Daily News in May he would return to the station after an extended vacation, will not. Instead he'll focus on his medical practice. "I'd been dealing with taking extra vacation to pursue medical endeavors," Scott said yesterday. "I came to the realization that medicine had to be my major pursuit in the short term." Scott, who specializes in sports medicine, said he's in the final stages of his education and has a fellowship at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton, N.J., that requires too much time to do both. "I've been pursuing medicine and television now, together, for 13 straight years," Scott said. "There are no hard feelings between ABC and myself. This was very difficult. ABC has been with me throughout the years." Scott's biography and picture have been removed from Ch. 7's Web site and news director Kenny Plotnik is seeking a replacement. Plotnik would not comment on Scott's exit yesterday. "Marvell has decided to leave WABC to focus on his medical practice and pursue other opportunities," a Ch. 7 spokesman said. Scott's absence raised questions because he was away for so long, because it came during a key ratings period, and because in a business known for internal gossip, there was little discussion of what happened. Scott said he has also fielded questions from athletes and his patients about where he's been. "I wouldn't say there was fallout," he said, "just some deep soul-searching. When you go through situations, it's always a good thing. It forces you to reevaluate your life - personally, professionally and spiritually. When you put yourself in that position, you tend to come out knowing more about yourself." He said he's not giving up on TV, just taking a break. "I'm as excited and passionate about being a reporter and sportscaster as I have ever been," he said. "Sometimes you have to make a decision." Continue Reading

Veteran local TV news director Karen Scott leaving WPIX/Channel 11 after 16 years

Karen Scott, who for 10 years has been news director at WPIX/Ch. 11, is leaving the Tribune-owned station. The surprising move comes just a couple weeks before Ch. 11 is set to launch a new 6:30 newscast.  The station is also preparing to debut a look for its newscasts, including a new studio set-up. In a memo to staffers, station general manager Betty Ellen Berlamino said Scott, a 16-year-veteran of the station, resigned. "She has been a hard-working, loyal employee and someone I've been proud to not only call my colleague, but also my friend," Berlamino said in the email. While at Ch. 11, Scott oversaw the expansion of the morning show, and name changes as well. "When she started, the station was doing seven hours of news a week and her departure will find us at 33 hours per week when we launch our early news on September 14," Berlamino said, adding she will be missed. Scott's last day is Friday. No replacement has been named - yet. Insiders at the station were stunned by the move. Word is there were tears in the newsroom when staffers were advised of the change. "Everyone who knows her, knows she never would have resigned," said one Ch. 11 staffer, who requested anonymity. Another said Scott was the "best news director I've ever worked for." The departure comes at a key time for Ch. 11. Besides the 6:30 p.m. news, the station's morning show, "The PIX Morning News," is dealing with the maternity leave of key anchor Sukanya Krishnan and the departure of Tiffany McElroy, who asked to leave - and was granted an out - after five years, so she could move to Philadelphia with her husband. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Ch. 11 drops CW tag and goes back to WPIX

WPIX/Ch. 11 is changing its image - again. After years of being the WB11 and now the CW11, the station will revert to being called WPIX/Ch. 11. "We really think that the station has a very rich history," said station president and general manager Betty Ellen Berlamino. PHOTOS: 60 YEARS OF WPIX Management started to think about the move during the recent celebration of Ch. 11's 60th anniversary, said Berlamino. "The words WPIX and PIX just have a very positive meaning and a very good place in people's hearts here in New York. "WPIX is part of New York, WPIX is New York," Berlamino added. "Along the way we may have kind of forgotten that." The station began teasing a new logo over the weekend and will continue to do so until the transition is complete by year's end. So, in December get ready to say so long to the "CW11 Morning News" and the "CW11 News at Ten" and hello to "PIX Morning News" and "PIX News at Ten." The promos that began over the weekend are the first phase, Berlamino said. The goal now, she said, is to reintroduce the look to viewers. In a memo to staffers, Berlamino likened bringing back WPIX to reintroducing an old friend. The move is significant in that it downplays the CW name, and goes back to a logo and station brand that was in place for decades until 1995, when The WB launched. The CW debuted in 2005, after a merger of The WB and UPN, both struggling networks. The CW has had a slow start, but has generated good buzz and ratings this year with "Gossip Girl" and "90210." Berlamino said the shift in no way signals a move away from The CW, which is owned by CBS and Warner Bros. "We are not abandoning our network affiliation by any stretch of the imagination," Berlamino said. "We're very happy with The CW and enjoying year-to-year ratings growth. "WPIX has a strong history, and a very highly rated history, and there's no issue with the network," she added. "We are one of their strongest affiliates." Join Continue Reading

Morning ‘news’: Nix on PIX fix

Years ago, during a high school wrestling match, a teammate was slammed to the mat, horrifically dislocating his shoulder. His screams of "Put it back!" filled the silent gym. Watching the newly reformatted 8 a.m. hour of WPIX/Ch. 11's "PIX Morning News," such urgent cries seem just as apt. Based on several days of viewing - including this week, which is hampered in part by staff vacations - it is clear Ch. 11's attempt to hop on the trend train and go with a looser, less newsy, more female-flavored hour hasn't delivered the goods, yet. Indeed, the new format may alienate longtime viewers, and give a boost to WNYW/Ch. 5 and NY1, the only local newscasts on then. Surely, it is smart to shake up a format to try new things, especially in this climate. And, less news, more lifestyle is the new trend in TV - so much so, there's chatter WNBC/Ch. 4's 5 p.m. hour may be remade that way. That said, this Ch. 11 mix isn't working from a creative standpoint, at least not yet. Vacations aside, Sukanya Krishnan and Tiffany McElroy anchor the hour. They do it from stools, not an anchor desk, visually telling the viewer, "Dude, we're different." To further diffentiate the show from regular news, there are shots with anchors in the newsroom, which do not always work. For instance, last week, while Dr. Steve Salvatore did a standup piece in the newsroom, a Ch. 11 staffer was over his shoulder doing the robot dance, seemingly oblivious. Earlier this week, a woman pushing a mailcart walked behind Salvatore. It's funny but distracting. Rather than just have Larry Hoff in the field doing a fun, piece, Jill Nicolini is now doing a similar shot, thereby doubling the goofy content. One would be enough. The hour is fairly light on news, but yes, there are news breaks, not counting a dumb "Dumb News" spot, where anchors read silly news items while stupid music plays in the background. Interestingly, a cooking segment yesterday with a cast of "Dora the Continue Reading