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Mixed Notes Monday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 4, 2013

Yes, I watched the Super Bowl, including about 90 minutes of pregame (although I was making dinner during some of that) but none of the post (so I missed the swear-fest, or maybe it was an homage to "Thrift Shop"). Early ratings news from CBS is, as you would expect, impressive: "average overnight household rating/share of 48.1/71, the highest-rated Super Bowl in the metered markets in history."

I kept an eye on the commercials, only I had already seen many of them online, so there wasn't much in the way of surprise or great delight. The Jeep/USO ad, maybe. Amy Poehler's bit about "50 Shades of Grey" was cute -- but Poehler almost always is.

I stayed off social media, at first just because I wanted to watch the game and later because I did not want to get caught in the swill. The bride was telling me about the nasty comments relating to the Newtown children singing, and I just didn't want to read/hear any more. I thought it was touching -- and lip-synched, which did not bother me; I wouldn't want those kids on that stage to mess up. Still, I was touched more by the later shot of soldiers in Afghanistan; that's a personal thing, as you know.

Alicia Keys was respectful with the anthem, neither the worst nor the best I've heard. Beyonce was Beyonce: big effects, made-for-TV staging, and a costume that teased the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction. It certainly appeared that she sang live, but also that the performance was carefully paced so she had time to catch her breath -- sing and dance, a stretch of dance only, more singing.

Then there was the game itself. CBS certainly didn't give the Ravens much love; what was it, four out of five studio guys picked the 49ers? I didn't have a team, just wanted a good game. And, in the early going, the game wasn't good but the show the Ravens put on certainly was.

And then the outage.

If I were a conspiracy nut, I would blame the mysterious problem on the NFL, wanting to give the 49ers a chance to regroup before the game became an unbearable rout. It certainly proved useful to San Francisco, and the game changed because of it. And then I did have a team to root for, because I did  not want the 49ers to pull out a win because of a prolonged technical fluke -- which I am still waiting for an explanation that goes beyond whatever vagueness was available on Sunday night. Here, by the way, is a statement CBS issued at about 10:15:

Immediately after the power failure in the Superdome, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome.  We utilized CBS’s back-up power and at no time did we leave the air.  During the interruption, CBS Sports’ Steve Tasker, Solomon Wilcots and our studio team reported on the situation as a breaking news story, providing updates and reports while full power was being restored to the dome including our sets and broadcast booth.  All commercial commitments during the broadcast are being honored.

Because, you know, in the end it's about the commercials. And that breaking news deal consisted of a lot of standing around and offering a possible timetable for the lights coming back. But what happened, folks? Why? (This explanation, better than what CBS had for the most part, still isn't entirely enlightening.)

And what were the teams really doing with that time -- besides stretching on the field?

Other notes: The bride and I spent Saturday afternoon and evening watching basketball at the University of Akron -- a women's game followed by the men's game, both wins for UA, and we cheered heartily.  

One thing that was striking, especially since last year marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, was the lack of parity in support for men and women playing the same game. I am not talking about attendance -- the men, unbeaten in the MAC, set a record while playing Ohio U, then also unbeaten in the conference -- but about the way groups nominally boosting all sports have a pecking order; the university dance team, for example, had about half as many participants at the women's game as it did for the men's game.

Then there was a giveaway whose phrasing irked me. A contest supposedly won everyone in the place a coupon for free sandwich from Chick-fil-a. But the coupon itself said the sandwich was free -- with any purchase. In other words, not free. You still have to spend something; the sandwich is provided at no extra charge. But that wouldn't sound as good on the PA system, would it?

You may have seen the news about Chris Kyle, the "American Sniper" author who was killed Saturday. The tragedy is that Kyle clearly wanted to help veterans, and had ideas about how to bond with troubled souls  -- and that his attempt at a good deed was turned back on him.

In case you missed it, on Friday Bravo has signed Anna Gunn  -- Skyler on "Breaking Bad" -- to a pilot deal. The official word:

Bravo Media announced today they have signed actress Anna Gunn to star in the lead role in “Rita,” one of the network’s first scripted drama pilots slated to commence production Spring, 2013.  “Rita” will be directed by Miguel Arteta who will also executive produce the pilot.  Bravo recently announced they greenlit another scripted drama pilot “The Joneses,” produced by ABC Studios, as part of the network’s overall strategy to expand its non-scripted original programming slate into the scripted genre.  Both pilots center on the complex dynamics of modern families.  The network plans to debut its first original scripted series in the fourth quarter of 2013.

“Anna is the perfect actress to play Rita,” said Andrew Wang, Vice President of Scripted Development and Production, Bravo.  “Rita needs to have a certain wit and strength about her, a person who is unapologetic in her point of view about her life and choices and Anna perfectly embodies all of those qualities that we are looking for in that role.”

"Anna Gunn is a phenomenal talent and we couldn't be more excited that she's going to play Rita,” said Krista Vernoff, Writer and Executive Producer.  “I know Hollywood is a hyperbolic town, but that's not hyperbole.  We are freaking out with excitement!"


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