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''Survival of the Richest''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2006

I finally got around to watching ''Survival of the Richest'' today -- two episodes without commercials, no less -- and man, do I want that time back.

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''The Office''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2006

One of my little pleasures during the week is watching ''My Name Is Earl'' and ''The Office,'' together the best hour of comedy in prime time.

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''Amazing Race'' Makes A Move

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2006

On Tuesday night, I not only forgot to watch ''The Amazing Race,'' I forgot to record it. I read the synopsis online but it wasn't the same as seeing people scurry. And CBS doesn't get ratings points for people reading synopses.

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''Survivor'': Nicked

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2006

I had a hard time even remembering Nick before he got the boot on ''Survivor'' tonight. I have been far more focused on Shane -- who, in spite of being disliked by everyone else in his alliance, is getting to play puppet master -- and Terry -- who with the secret immunity idol has been in a great position to gum up the works.

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''Veronica Mars''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2006

I've been waiting several weeks for a really good new ''Veronica.'' I don't think last night's was it.

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This Casting Just Might Work...

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 29, 2006

In the afternoon e-mail:

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''Commander in Chief'' Comes Back -- But ...

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 29, 2006

           For weeks, ABC has had the return of ''Commander in Chief'' scheduled for April 18. Now it will be back sooner than expected, according to this ABC announcement today:

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''Idol'': No Knockouts

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 29, 2006

A couple of days ago I said I was back, but regular readers know I haven't been really, really back. Life has just kept getting in the way. I spent most of yesterday getting my younger son through the removal of his wisdom teeth, and so found myself at the office during ''Idol'' last night. Even then, I spent the first 10 minutes of ''Idol'' doing the online test for ''Jeopardy.'' 50 questions in under 10 minutes, and I don't think there's any danger of me getting an invitation to actual auditions.

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Aaron Brown Update

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 27, 2006

Since I still get those, ''What happened to Aaron Brown'' questions months after he left CNN, here's a link to a recent MarketWatch interview with him: Aaron Brown.

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Back To the Real World

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 26, 2006

The bride and I have just returned from a few days in Las Vegas -- my first trip there. We have seen Wayne Newton. We have stared at Cirque du Soleil. We have walked into legendary casinos that felt seedy and old, and seen the new places that dazzle with their immensity and decor. We have gambled, not well. In all, the trip was quite a bit of fun, and I'll be posting more about this later.

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''Lost'': Romance and Mysteries

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 23, 2006

Why no shaving cream?

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''Idol'': Chickened Out (With Podcast Info)

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 22, 2006

Here's the info on the post-''Idol'' podcast with Amy Gustafson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

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Notes From A Viewing Life

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 22, 2006

2.I'll be in a cone of silence re ''Veronica Mars'' for the next few days, since it's being pre-empted on the local UPN affiliate for a Cleveland Cavs game. Have already made note of the delayed-telecast time -- 9 p.m. Saturday -- and now just have to remember to set the DVR.

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''Idol'' Shuffled and Dealt

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 21, 2006

I had a meeting early this evening and got home about the time Taylor was starting to sing, but held off listening until I finished some business. Then a phone call came as Kellie was singing. So, between what I saw live and what I watched later on my recording, I saw the singers in this order: Lisa, Kevin, Elliott, Ace, Mandisa, Bucky, Paris, Chris, Katharine, Taylor and Kellie.

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'"The Shield,'' Other Viewing

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 21, 2006

I've had the viewing blahs the last couple of days. I'm ahead of the game with ''The Sopranos,'' so I had already had the pleasure of seeing Sunday's episode. (And if you haven't seen it yet, please do so.) And I've already complained here about ''The West Wing'' and ''Prison Break.''

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''Prison Break'': The Stretch

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 20, 2006

Let me begin by recommending the ''Prison Break'' episode scheduled to air on April 3. It's a flashback, showing us a lot about the background of the characters, about why Michael is so devoted to his brother, and about the way that several characters ended up in prison. And, if that prison break ever actually happens, the April 3 show gives us some insight into what the convicts might do once they get out.

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''Big Love''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 19, 2006

Two people can watch the same series for different reasons. ''House,'' for example, has the ongoing appeal of the title character, played by Hugh Laurie, and his personal demons. But people can also watch for the complicated medical mysteries, to piece together the information as well as the doctors on the show.

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The Expectations Game

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 18, 2006

When I finally sat down to see Wednesday's telecast of ''Veronica Mars,'' I was ready to be dazzled. It felt as if it had been forever since there had been a new episode, and I was long past ready for one.

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Happy Anniversary

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 17, 2006

I have a long list of TV topics I hope to get to later today and in the days ahead. But before I do any of that, let me note that this is both St. Patrick's Day and my second wedding anniversary. Yup, the bride and I exchanged vows and rings two years ago -- and are looking forward to many more celebrations of that event.

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Dare You Hope? Maybe, Maybe Not (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 16, 2006

A report in today's Variety included this tantalizing passage:

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Morning News: Next ''Rock Star'' Band, Next ''Idol'' Theme

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 16, 2006

First, from CBS, the next edition of ''Rock Star'' will feature a made-up band instead of an attempt to shoehorn someone new into an established bunch of geezers. Here's some of CBS' announcement:

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''Idol'': Goodbye, Melissa (Updated With Podcast Info)

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 15, 2006

Here's the info on last night's podcast with me and Amy Carlson Gustafson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

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''Idol'': Hair, Shoes, Song (With Podcast Info)

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 14, 2006

Besides my notes below, check out the new ''Idol'' podcast with me and Amy Carlson Gustafson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It is available at:

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Adelphia Deals for the Indians

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 14, 2006

SportsTime Ohio, the new TV overseer of the Cleveland Indians, hoped that the Adelphia/Time Warner merger would happen soon enough that its deal with Time Warner would also apply to the other cable system. But STO said it was talking to Adelphia just in case the merger didn't move quickly enough, and here are the key sections in the announcement of a deal:

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Waiting For My Ox To Be Gored

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 14, 2006

Monday night I recorded the newscasts in the 6 p.m. hour on local stations because I wanted to see how they handed the changes -- or, more precisely, the uncertainty -- at the Beacon Journal.

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Mike Wallace Steps Down (Sort Of)

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 14, 2006

In the e-mail today from CBS:

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There Are Days...

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 13, 2006

This morning I arose with the remains of my cold. My bride's attempt to fight off illness continues to be a losing battle. My morning paper told me that the company owning my newspaper is being sold. Knew that was coming. Then my e-mail basket included the news that the company buying my newspaper's company did not want my newspaper, so we're up for sale again. Then I got almost all the way to work before discovering I did not have my key card. (I had dropped it in the living room, I learned when I drove back home.) And somewhere in all that, I realized that I had forgotten to record ''Grey's Anatomy'' last night.

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Back on Monday

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 12, 2006

I have been meaning to post for a couple of days but a cold has sapped my energy and my mental functions too much for me to form many complete sentences. (I think it just took me about three tries to type ''mental.'') But the meds seem to be doing their job, and I expect to have a few things to say tomorrow. Sorry about the hiatus. A word which is definitely not easy to type.

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''Survivor''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

Shane and the rest of the Casaya gang are looking more and more like the Oakland A's of the '70s. They fight and bicker and seem to hate each other -- and then go out and win championships, or at least challenges, like tonight's, which was a nasty one. On the line was reward, immunity and a chance to send someone from the other tribe to Exile Island -- where this time they would be out of tribal council and so free from ouster. So not only did the winning tribe get to send the losing tribe to council, it also got to protect a big loser from extinction.

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''American Idol'': Double Shocker

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

I would have figured Ayla Brown to be a shoo-in as one of the three best women singers on ''American Idol'' this season. Now she's gone. Gedeon McKinney seemed to be growing in appeal. Now he's gone.

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I Am a Sentimental Fool

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

I took a look at a new episode of ''The West Wing,'' which airs on Sunday. It's still following the two tracks -- the presidential campaign between Santos and Vinnick, and the international crisis where the U.S. may have to intervene -- and even finds a place for the tracks to come together. It has some good stuff in the campaign portions, where the Santos campaign has finally pulled close and Vinnick's moderation on some issues may have to be compromised to keep his campaign viable. Ron Silver and Patricia Richardson, who have been playing members of Vinnick's team, have some good scenes. Still, it wasn't a great ''West Wing,'' and I thought Vinnick had stepped out of his moderate box when he went knee-jerk in the debate episode.

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''Amazing Race'': Too Blue?

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 9, 2006

I didn't get around to this week's ''Amazing Race'' until Wednesday night, but I had already gotten a content warning from a co-worker. ''Too much sex,'' she said with a shake of her head.

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''American Idol'' Wednesday

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 8, 2006

I am thinking seriously about going back to recording ''Idol'' instead of watching it live, since that way I can fast-forward through the host, judges and cutesy stuff.

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''Battlestar Galactica'' Stuff

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 8, 2006

Sci Fi sent out this missive today. I suspect the hard-core fans know everything that's in it, but just in case...

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Gordon Parks

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 8, 2006

The death of Gordon Parks reminded me of ''Half Past Autumn,'' a fine documentary about the man, which aired on HBO in 2000.  Below is a column I wrote when the production was televised.

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''American Idol'' Tuesday

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 7, 2006

The PR machine seems to be kicking into high gear, building up the personalities, keeping an eye on the previous votes and maybe even trying to keep the votes close with some selective editing.

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''Over There'' on DVD: Quick Peek

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 7, 2006

I expect to be reviewing the DVD of ''Over There'' at length in about a week, before its March 21 release. But given the way people keep commenting on this blog about ''Over There,'' I thought I would give you some details about the set.

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Bob Woodruff/Doug Vogt Update

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 7, 2006

When news first came about the injuries to the ABC newsmen, I posted information in the blog. Once the information was getting wide distribution, I didn't see a need for more posts. Unfortunately, based on my lack of posts, a blog reader concluded that ABC was not issuing updates. Not so. In fact, here's one that came today from ABC News President David Westin.

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CBS Fall Plans

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 6, 2006

The networks officially announce their schedules for 2006-07 in May. But CBS took a big leap toward that announcement today with this announcement:

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Night of the Living Podcast

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 6, 2006

Here's the link to the podcast George Thomas and I did after the Oscars ended:

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Summing Up

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

I give Jon Stewart about a C minus as host. Not a strong monologue, and he seemed determined not to venture too far from his lectern. Too many better-on-paper jokes.

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Oscars Continue, 10 p.m. to the Best Picture Winner

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

I so hope Jon Stewart wasn't kidding about running out of film clips.

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Oscar Continues, 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

Stewart's joke about the Oscar statue and democracy was a little funny. Or I had just saved up a sympathy chuckle.

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Oscar Begins For Real.. To 9 p.m.

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

Show opens with just the sort of fancy tech that this year's best-picture nominees are a reaction against.

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Oscar Countdown continued

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

Felicity Huffman chats. Which, of course, gives ABC an excuse to show off other actresses from ''Desperate Housewives.'' Felicity gets teary at the sight, tells ABC flack that ''you ruined my makeup.'' Fair enough. This show is ruining my evening.

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Oscar Night/Oscar Countdown to About 7:37

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

Late last night I watched ''Good Night, and Good Luck.'' Today I sat through ''Brokeback Mountain.'' I am trying to get my Oscar-telecast game face on. Of course, the anticipation of all that earnestness and solemnity has forced me to cleanse the movie palate, so right now I am watching ''Caddyshack'' on HDNet Movies.

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In Front of the Set, Off and On

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2006

Today was a catch-up day. A trip to the car wash, an oil change, stop at the bank, trying to wrestle the cat into a carrier. (The cat effectively resisted with squirms and then claws, gouging the bride so effectively that we had to postpone the trip to the vet in order to stop the bleeding.) Wrapped around such merriment, some TV time.

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Something From the Mail

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2006

Last week the mail included a DVD of a new episode of ''Invasion'' due to air next Wednesday. It also had a letter from executive producer Shaun Cassidy, which I didn't read at first. When I got around to it today, I remembered what a likable guy Cassidy is. Here's the letter (and don't forget to read the P.S.):

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Friday At Last, And Lingering

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2006

Tonight the bride and I finally caught up with the most recent episodes of ''Survivor'' and ''Gilmore Girls,'' with the latter particularly weak. This morning I watched last night's ''My Name Is Earl'' and ''The Office,'' both of which are going along quite splendidly.

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Your Very Own Oscar Night

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2006

Some of you, I know, will be watching the Oscars on Sunday night. Movie critic George Thomas and I certainly will, and we're planning to podcast not long after the ceremony is over. (In advance, let me apologize for any yawns.) But a recent e-mail suggested that you don't just have to watch the ceremony; you can act as if you are there.

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''Idol'' Results: Another Logical Vote

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2006

It was odd tonight that the judges were making jokes as the eliminations were about to be announced. But it was ridiculous that Ryan Seacrest felt the need to get all strict-schoolmaster about the judges' behavior. He has long conspired in the torture of contestants, including tonight, when he kept asking singers to predict how they had fared with voters.

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''Lost''

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2006

Still wondering what message we should take from the use of Les McCann and Eddie Harris's version of ''Compared To What,'' the song playing when Locke is exercising. Great tune, of course. I've had the album for years, and saw McCann and Harris perform it at the Hampton Jazz Festival back in the '70s. I keep thinking that its use may have had to do with the line ''trying to make it real -- compared to what?''  After all, last night's episode was one that gave us another taste of Old West civilization-building on the island, with Jack and Sawyer as the cowboys staring each other down across a card game.

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''Idol'' Report Card, Late-Night Viewing

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2006

The chat with folks at the Beacon Journal on Wednesday was great fun. Let's do it again. But it was close to 10 p.m. before I got home, and viewing was backed up. The bride and I watched ''Lost,'' and I expect to have more to say about it later today. Then I dipped into ''The Sopranos.'' For now, let's just say that there are big things coming, so big that after watching the season opener, I was fast-forwarding through the next three episodes to be clear about what was happening.

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Waiting To Say Hello

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 1, 2006

I spent part of today at home, doing the podcast (see below) and catching up on some viewing for my DVD column, before coming back here to do a few things before tonight's gathering. Of course, when I got back, there was a story breaking -- about Channel 55. (See the announcement below.) That required a few phone calls and some poking through my files. As I write this, I am still waiting to see if one more phone call will be returned before I write the story.

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The CW Makes Some Deals

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 1, 2006

I was pretty sure that the new CW network (being built from the merger of UPN and The WB) would have gone to Channel 43 here, since the UPN affiliate is jointly owned with the local CBS affiliate and the cross-promotion possibilities seemed strong. I was, not for the first time, wrong. Here's the announcement of some CW affiliation deals:

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Oscars podcast

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 1, 2006

As a warmup for the Oscars -- and tonight's event at the Beacon Journal -- movie critic George Thomas and I talked some about the Oscars-as-TV for this podcast.

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