Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment


November 6, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Days 2-4

Cue the creepy synthesizer music and the sound effects of cell doors closing.

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Yup, tonight at 10, Channel 13 will present another ratings-generated special report, "Behind the Barbed Wire." It's a story by anchor Pallas Hupe (left) on prison overcrowding and, from the previews we saw this morning on sister station Channel 31's "Good Day Sacramento," you'll see a lot of overweight, shirtless men living as cramped as sardines in a converted prison gym.

A rating bonanza? We'll see. But Hupe gets the Tease of the Day award for this promo: "I'm Pallas Hupe. This summer, I went to prison. No, I wasn't convicted. I was on assignment."

Meanwhile, for the sake of our sanity, we'd vowed to take weekends off during sweeps month. But, we did tune in to Friday night's newscasts. And - big shock -there was more crime.

Specifically, child molestation is becoming a major sweeps theme.

Channel 13, coming off its exclusive interview with convicted sex offender Timothy Boggs, ran a special report on one of Boggs' victims, Rickie Morton, now grown up but still dealing with the trauma. Instead of scary music, the station used sympathetic acoustic guitar and violins for Morton and showed him walking his dog and tearing up at appropriate moments. But whenever the channel cut to a graphic of Boggs, it switched to black-and-white images and menacing music.

Quote from Morton: "I had a whole plan I was going to shoot him."

Quote from reporter Serene Branson afterward: "He's had a lot of therapy."

Not to be outdone, Fox40 led its Friday-night newscast by sending reporter Tim Sakahara to a showing of the documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" in Lodi. That's the movie about the Catholic clergy abuse scandal involving the Rev. Oliver O'Grady (below, right), which rocked the area in the 1970s.

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Quote from a movie-goer: "I can't believe this happened in our beautiful community."

Ominous coda from Sakahara: "(O'Grady) is rumored to be back in Canada - something that fears and terrifies his victims."

Channel 3 didn't go the molester route, but its second story Friday night was about a stolen car that caused a traffic snarl. That, of course, was a good excuse to do a shameless plug for "Crime Tracker," the station's new Web feature where you can find out how many crimes have been committed in your Sacramento neighborhood.

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News10 on Friday night didn't have a single sensational crime story. What the heck were they thinking?

Needing some fodder, we tuned into News10's special "election preview" on Sunday night - OK, we cheated and broke our weekend ban - and saw Jennifer Smith and Dana Howard go over the races with workmanlike precision. But they did supply a measure of whimsy by airing "The Proposition Song," written by California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander.

Here's a lyrical excerpt (Bra-vo! to News10 for putting the sex offender issue to music):

It's 'The Proposition Song'/Cuz the ballot's too darn long/So why don't you sing along...1E is followed by 83/Confusing but it's true/Sex offender laws will change if we pass Prop 83/84 protects our state from floods/It's a lot like Prop 1E.

And, finally, this from an e-mailer this morning: "Why did 'Good Day Sacramento' devote most of its 9 a.m. hour to the 'breaking news' of a fire in San Bernardino?"

No, it wasn't some sweeps stunt. "GDS" is obsessed with fires. It'll cover a fire anywhere in the U.S. as long as it has a sister station with a helicopter.

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