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Dear Oscar: You're Welcome

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 31, 2006

Once again, the Academy Award nominations are out, and once again we should expect a big thank-you from the Oscar folks to those of us who watch television.

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''Veronica Mars,'' ''My Name Is Earl,'' ''The Office,'' ''CSI''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2006

I did like the twist in the middle of ''Veronica'' -- when we found out she wasn't as innocent as we have come to expect from watching shows that aren't as well made as ''Veronica.'' And it was a nifty way to tie up some storylines, while starting a new one for Wallace. But I set a high bar for ''Veronica'' and it didn't always reach it. The end suggested the FBI is all done with Veronica, when there seemed to be enough evidence to keep interrogating her as a witness if not as a suspect. And I hope that the settling of this story means that at some point we'll get back to the bus mystery.

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Odds and Ends

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2006

Not a bad start to Monday. The mail included the DVD set of ''Action,'' the terrific 1999 comedy starring Jay Mohr as a driven and foul-mouthed movie producer. And he's even fouler on DVD, since the audio is now unbleeped. Although the show didn't last long on Fox, it's worth a look -- a sharp look at the entertainment business, with real names dropped (there's a great O.J. Simpson bit in the premiere) and celebrity cameos (Keanu Reeves, Salma Hayek). The DVD is due in stores on Feb. 21.

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ABC News Update (New Material Added, Sunday Evening)

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 29, 2006

The following was in this morning's e-mail:

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''Book of Daniel''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 27, 2006

I may watch ''The Book of Daniel'' tonight, no thanks to NBC. I have one or two episodes stored on my DVR that I haven't gotten to yet. Since the network has pulled the show, apparently permanently, I'll just have to watch the recorded telecasts instead of NBC's substitute.

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Yay, Oprah!

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 26, 2006

I'm watching the Oprah Winfrey interview with James Frey and am so loving it. (I've also added things here as the show went along.) It's a great common-sense interview, plain and direct questions that require plain and direct answers. She is making Frey look like an even bigger weasel than he seemed on ''Larry King Live.''

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Tanned, Rested and Ready

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 26, 2006

Well, two out of three, since I'm not much of a sun -- or sunlamp -- worshipper. But I am feeling livelier, thanks to a good night's sleep and some early work completed. I've had time to ponder questions that were in my head last night but didn't make it to these pages. Questions like, where did Jack come up with an extra tarp? Wouldn't you think they're already in use. I'm beginning to think that there's either this really cool junkyard we haven't seen on the island, or stuff is still washing ashore from the crash.

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''Lost'' and Other Wednesday Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 25, 2006

I wanted to like ''Lost'' more tonight than I did. Part of that is my weariness with Charlie's lost-puppy saga -- the big wet eyes, the whole please-love-me thing. (Of course, Charlie's need for affection fit nicely with the blossoming of other relationships among the survivors -- and gosh, would it be nice to see Hurley find a little love.) But part of it may also be that I'm just tired, so tired in fact that I'm going to save my recording of ''Veronica Mars'' for tomorrow.

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If I Were King

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2006

I've been thinking tonight about what I might do if assigned to combine the WB and UPN schedules under the new CW banner. The thought has not thrilled. Although there are shows I like on both networks, there aren't enough to fill even the 13 hours of prime time that the CW will have. And there are some nights I pay no attention at all to The WB, like Sundays. (Sorry, ''Charmed'' fans.)

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I Don't Like Tuesdays

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2006

A week ago at this time, I was in my driveway, picking up papers that had spilled out of my briefcase before the rain soaked them beyond recognition. The papers were from a meeting that I had left a little while before. I had taken off from work that day in part to prepare for that meeting. It did not go as I hoped.

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Stay Tuned For ''Supernatural Veronica,'' ''Everybody Hates Gilmore''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2006

Big TV news today. UPN and The WB will cease to exist this fall, with their respective owners combining into a single operation to be called The CW. (That's apparently supposed to stand for CBS/Warner, the network's owners. But I kept looking for another meaning: Conventional Wisdom? Childish Ways? Cash Wanted?) A story about the change is here. I'm adding the official announcement below.

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A Bad Back and Looking Back

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 23, 2006

Sunday evening I picked up a box, took a step and felt a sharp, harsh twinge of greeting from my lower back. Since then I have been communing with a heating pad and learning all the different ways it can hurt to move.

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More ''Earl,'' ''Office,'' Goodbye, ''West Wing''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 22, 2006

It's a regular Sunday in most of the world, including the House of Heldenfels. But out west, the TV critics' press tour goes on, and today NBC had a mixed bag of announcements for the folks there, and those of us getting the network's e-mail.
The good news: ''My Name Is Earl'' and ''The Office'' have been renewed for 2006-07. ''Earl'' has been one of the delights of the current season. ''The Office'' has been very good, too, though a bit uneven and more ratings-challenged. But NBC is apparently happy with ''The Office's'' performance on Thursdays, and so picked it up.

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Anthony Franciosa

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 21, 2006

I crossed paths with Anthony Franciosa only once. The actor, who has died, was on a 1984 press tour -- my first such excursion to Hollywood -- to promote ''Finder of Lost Loves,'' an attempt by producer Aaron Spelling to find another ''Fantasy Island'' or ''Love Boat.'' Although the memory can play tricks, I remember Franciosa as pleasant but not saying much, with more of the press session carried by his co-star Deborah Adair.

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The Rock Paper Scissors Movement Continues!

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 20, 2006

Hello to everyone who is here because of the link from www.tvtattle.com. (And thanks, Tattle, for linking to my late-night ravings about ''Lost,'' found below under ''Ladies and Gentlemen, M.C. Gainey.'') Feel free to browse.

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More Allie G! Less Emily's Reasons!

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 20, 2006

ABC will bump ''Emily's Reasons Why Not'' and ''Jake in Progress'' again on Monday, instead double-running ''The Bachelor: Paris,'' with a replay of this week's episode at 9 followed by a new episode at 10. (Update: ABC has officially killed ''Emily's Reasons.'')

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''Everybody Hates Chris''/''The Wonder Years''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 19, 2006

One of the best episodes of ''The Wonder Years'' had young Kevin going to his father's office and seeing, up close, what made his father such a grump at home. Tonight, ''Everybody Hates Chris'' used much the same theme. Chris, needing money for a leather jacket, worked for his father at the old man's newspaper-delivery job, and saw his father through other adults' eyes. As was the case on ''The Wonder Years,'' he also got a taste of how a paycheck puts a limit on personal independence and dignity.

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The Wicked Pickett

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 19, 2006

The Midnight Hour has come for the last time for Wilson Pickett. Word just came to the office that he has died. In that incredible group of singers that came out of Atlantic Records in the '60s -- Aretha, Otis, Sam & Dave* -- Pickett more than deserves inclusion. However many demons he had in life, I'll carry his raspy vocals in my mental MP3 as long as I have memory.

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The Redemption of Ryan Seacrest and Other ''Idol'' Wisdom

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 19, 2006

Well, I have now caught up on the first three hours of ''American Idol.'' So, as Al Franken would say, what have we learned?

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Ladies and Gentlemen, M.C. Gainey

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 18, 2006

Sometimes we know too much about television. Take, for example, M.C. Gainey. He's a steady, sturdy character actor who appears in a lot of things, and is good enough that somewhere along the line I made a note of his name. And noticed when he popped up on ''Lost'' before, for the taking of Walt.

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''Trading Places''!!

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 18, 2006

I've been going through the season premiere of ''American Idol,'' collecting ideas to elaborate on later. One is how Ryan Seacrest is finally bearable, as if all his other TV deals make him secure enough to be a lot snarkier than I remember him being -- refreshingly so. But first ...

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Oh, Yeah, Now I Feel MUCH Better...

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 18, 2006

So I gave myself a nice wallow in two weeks of ''Gilmore Girls'' and, as is so often the case, I found myself laughing and trying to keep up with the cultural references. (Russ Tamblyn and Peter Brook on the Yale Daily News staff? Did someone have to explain the Frances Farmer line to Alexis Bledel?) Which was fun, with reservations. Yes, Keiko Agena is swell as Lane, and I liked seeing her briefly morph into an even scarier version of the angry Mrs. Kim, and I like as well what Emily Kuroda does as Mrs. Kim. And just the idea of Paris Geller in any scene makes me happy, so imagine my delight at seeing Liza Weil taking Paris through what looks like a prelude to her very own Caine Mutiny.

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A Small Upset, Relieved

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 18, 2006

The last couple of days have been interesting in ways I'll talk about another time -- albeit ways that have nothing to do with television, except in their keeping me away from the tube.

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Fox Says Bye-Bye to '70s, Malcolm

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 17, 2006

From the Fox press bundle today:

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A Little Bit of Flipping in the Night

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2006

Well, I watched fragments of the Golden Globes, but I really couldn't take it for long. Even if someone deserving wins one of those prizes, I understand too much about where they come from to think of them as an accomplishment. I can't even muster much energy for pondering the idea of the ''foreign press'' giving awards to a couple of non-Americans for playing Americans (i.e., House and Elvis). And the modern commercial load is so great, I kept hitting commercials (and promos for NBC series) when flipping to the Globes.

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''My Eggs Are Rotting''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2006

Tonight's viewing decisions are going to be tougher than I expected. I'm not too concerned about the Golden Globes, which I try to ignore because, well, they're a joke. A highly publicized joke to be sure, but still a joke. And I have a review disc of tonight's ''24'' if I feel compelled to watch more.

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Bikini Model Image Awards?

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2006

I'm still laughing about the following press release, as big a monument to delusional self-importance as I expect to see -- well, this week:

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Shelley Winters

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 14, 2006

I think Shelley Winters is one of those performers whose place in your personal history depends on when you saw her. If, for instance, you knew her only from her talk-show appearances in her later years, you would remember her as a big woman and a brash talker, too loud at times for the mellow confines of bedtime TV. If you saw her in her occasional appearances on ''Roseanne,'' you would think of her as an old lady who might well have sprung from the comic's off-camera family.

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Now I Really Know It's Friday the 13th...

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 13, 2006

On Thursday, I wrote a column for Saturday's Beacon Journal about FX beginning reruns of ''Over There.'' Because the reruns begin Saturday, I referred to ''tonight'' in the story. Then, because of some other things that needed to get in the paper, my column got moved to Friday. Unfortunately, the time reference in the story did not change. I wrote a correction to appear in tomorrow's paper. But, to make matters worse, TV Tattle (www.tvtattle.com) has linked to the story. So I have also sent a note to TV Tattle explaining the mixup. (Update: TV Tattle has noted the correct night with its link.) What fun.

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One Last Shot for ''Arrested Development''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 13, 2006

Fox has decided to give ''AD'' one more airing, a two-hour ''season finale'' burning off a bunch of episodes on Feb. 10. Yes, that's a Friday. You didn't think Fox was going to move around the shows it likes, did you? And my calendar-savvy colleague Alan Sepinwall has pointed out that Feb. 10 is also opening night for the Olympics.

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''House'' Calling

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 12, 2006

Playboy magazine will have a ''20 Questions'' session with ''House's'' Hugh Laurie in its February issue (on sale tomorrow). Here are some excerpts the magazine sent along:

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New Story Links

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 12, 2006

If you're looking for the Mo'Nique story, it is here. (Enjoy, Eric.)

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''Lost'' Again

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 11, 2006

I don't know if I have said this before, but ''Lost's'' episode tonight reminded me once again how the show is sometimes like watching Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler -- Leonard hanging back, letting Hagler dominate most of a round, then revving up in the final moments to impress the judges. While there were many good things in the episode, which focused on Mr. Eko, it felt a little too methodical at first. Eko's back story was interesting enough, and there was a nice twist ending the speculation that he had actually been on the drug plane. Still,it was as if it knew the audience had been away for a long time (since the show had gone through an extended rerun period) and needed to be brought gently back into the story. (The recap telecast preceding it was part of that re-entry process, of course, and I saw first-hand how important those shows are. As we caught the remainder of the recap, my wife looked at one scene and said, ''I forgot that!'') And I have to say that the smoky entity just looked silly,

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James Frey Fallout (Updated)

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 11, 2006

Forgive me if the following gets a little jumbled in spots, I wrote some of it earlier today, added some material later, added more while watching a recording of the CNN interview (since I had watched ''Lost'' in real time), then added MORE when the Oprah call came in. I also did a little rewriting along the way. I hope it basically makes sense.

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Rudi Bakhtiar Update

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 11, 2006

For all of you who have written asking about Bakhtiar, here's today's news, via a Fox News Channel release:

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My Own Private Press Tour

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 11, 2006

Many of my colleagues are in Pasadena at the moment, taking part in the January TV critics' press tour. I'm not there. C'est la vie. I'll put a mint by my pillow tonight and dream of tour.

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Random Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2006

Kicking around in my head: Is Jeff Conaway the new Ozzy, or the new Danny? I've been watching the former ''Taxi'' co-star on ''Celebrity Fit Club 3'' and have mixed feelings about his presence on the show, even though I am skeptical of any actor on a reality series. More about this another time.

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(Accompanied by a Gnashing of Teeth)

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 9, 2006

This is the gnashing part: I was hip-deep in a project for my church last night and managed to forget ''The West Wing'' -- forgot to watch, forgot to record, the whole works. Am still kicking myself over that one. A ''West Wing'' watcher at work gave me a rundown, but it's not the same.

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Some Days Are Better Than Others...

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 9, 2006

In a review of critic John Simon's work, the New York Times on Sunday included this line from Simon: ''Selective patrons cannot even imagine what horrors reviewers are exposed to, night after nightmarish night.''

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''Over There'' Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2006

FX will begin reruns of ''Over There'' on Jan. 14. Since fans of the show have been very passionate, including in a lot of comments for this blog, I talked today to Chris Gerolmo, co-creator of the Iraq-war series with Steven Bochco. I expect to have a story derived from our interview in the Beacon Journal next week. But given all the interest in the show in the blogosphere, I decided to post a few notes here.

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Akron Newsmaker of the Year

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2006

''NewsNight Akron'' has picked its local newsmaker of the year. Here's the announcement:

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Lou Rawls

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2006

I won't pretend Lou Rawls should be thought of as a TV guy, although he was a familiar presence through his telethons and his voicing beer commercials.

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And That Means Your Little Dog, Too!

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2006

I'm not usually one to give away plot developments. But a letter from Fox made me want to.

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The Window Opens

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 4, 2006

My heart's still pounding from the end of the Rose Bowl, won by Texas in thrilling fashion. (I watched the early part on ABC, then listened to the later stages on ESPN Radio, where the drama kept me from drifting off to sleep.) But those of you who don't care a fig about football should care that the game is done, because it means we get back to regular television.

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Overwired Nation and Other Notes

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 4, 2006

I suppose I should be grateful to my cable company for my complete loss of service at about 10:50 p.m. Tuesday. After all, that way I got some sleep because I wasn't drawn into watching Penn State-Florida State all the way to its late-late-triple-overtime end. Nor did I get caught up in the miners' story nightmare, with the declaration of a miracle turning eventually into bitter reality.

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Late-Night Football

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2006

As should be evident from the posts just before this one, I returned to work in earnest on Monday. In addition to the things I wrote about, I also watched several episodes of the new season of ''The Shield,'' in anticipation of a press-conference call about the show today. (The series begins its new season on Jan. 10. I've seen four episodes and they're good.) I spent some time in the office, which had a weekend-like emptiness, since many people were taking the holiday; I was trying to clear some of the piles on my desk and gathered mail and videos to organize at home.

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The Return of ''Scrubs''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2006

I can't tell you if Tuesday's return of ''Scrubs'' is any good, because NBC didn't send out those episodes for review. It DID send out two episodes airing on Jan. 10, along with a selection of scenes from coming episodes.

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''Rollergirls''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2006

I am old enough to remember roller derby as a game that was part of weekend-afternoon TV, when all the games seemed to come from the Kezar Pavilion, and where in my memory the announcer is extolling the glories of the San Francisco Bay Area Bombers. I also remember the presentation of the game in the 1972 Raquel Welch movie ''Kansas City Bomber,'' which is far from Welch's worst movie, and one with a pretty good performance by her. And I have tried to forget NBC's 1978 TV series ''Roller Girls,'' a terrible sitcom which co-starred Joanna Cassidy; since she's a pretty good actress, I hope her reason for doing the show involved a mortgage payment more than a sense that the show was actually good.

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''The Book of Daniel''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2006

The other day, another Beacon Journalist forwarded me a cranky e-mail about ''Book of Daniel,'' the NBC drama premiering Friday. It came from one of those groups that apparently stopped liking TV around the time it stopped being in black-and-white (which, after all, is the way such groups view all issues, including appropriateness of content). Whoever wrote the letter -- and I'm not giving the group the benefit of extra publicity by naming it -- had not obviously not seen the show, since there was a big error in its description. But this group is claiming that ''NBC demeans Christian faith'' because the show involves a clergyman with some human flaws, family and friends who were also flawed, a gay regular character and another character who is at the very least bisexual.

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