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November 17, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 15

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We’ve reached a whole new level of sweeps and rampaging-deer coverage - a story about the high number of deer-related stories.

It’s all so very, very meta. The latest offering was Channel 3’s airing on Thursday's noon news of a “Today” show report called “Deer Gone Wild.” Reporter Kevin Tibbles gave us all the highlights of the past week - the deer in the Target store; the deer with the pumpkin stuck on its head; the deer in the bank.

Plus, he found a few new ones: A deer humping (yes, there’s no other way to describe it) a high school cross-country runner in Bend, Ore. (pun intended); a jealous deer that tore the head off a plastic deer lawn ornament in Wisconsin, and a deer in an unidentified locale taking a dip in a backyard swimming pool. Henry Campa at the University of Michigan was quoted as saying: “This is the breeding season. The bucks, this time of year, have got only one thing on their mind, and it’s not looking for food.”

And, as Tibbles’ voiceover warned: “When bucks and does are looking for love, anyone caught in the middle better watch out.”

Including local TV viewers.
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Animals dominated Thursday night’s news coverage, as well. Or, more accurately, human beings behaving like animals. And I’m not just talking about all the stations doing sports features on the barbaric “Ultimate Fighting” event (pictured above right) this weekend at Arco.

No, three of the four stations led the late news with the yahoos waiting in line outside stores for the chance to buy Sony PlayStation 3 (What were you thinking, Channel 13, leading at 10 p.m. with the Stockton toddlers saved from drowning?)

Anyway, News10 showed tape from Milwaukee of a human stampede at a Wal-Mart. And, of course, there was the armed robbery at the Elk Grove GameStop store. Battle pay should go to Fox40’s Nina Melhaf, Channel 3’s Richard Sharp and News10’s Monika Diaz for enduring the assignment.
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I was clucking my tongue at these tent-sitters in front of the stores, telling them to get a life (as if TiVoing local news shows all night is such a great life!) until Channel 3 anchor Edie Lambert made a good point: “Well, they are getting paid by the hour.” I did the math: The guy who has spent 96 hours camped out for the PS3 said he figures to get at least $2,500 on eBay for the PS3, so he’s making $26 an hour. Guess that’s justification for living like animals on the hard pavement all week.

Other animal stories:

* Channel 13, at 6 p.m., reported on a cat named Mimi in Brazil that allegedly gave birth to puppies three months after, in the words of Pallas Hupe, of “mating with a dog.” The photo that 13 showed was absolutely freaky. DNA tests are pending.

Quipped weather guesser Dave Bender: “It just goes to show you - Nickelodeon was on the cutting edge because they had a show named ‘Cat Dog.’ ”
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* The third story Channel 3 presented at 11 p.m.: A man was arrested for bringing three crocodiles in his carry-on baggage on a flight. Lambert: “They could use more teeth in their security.”

* In the category of lack of animal evolution: Fox40 aired a report about a Nevada town passing a law to outlaw the speaking of a foreign language within city limits. Quote from one Neanderthal resident: "We're in America. We're speakin' American English."

* True crime: Channel 13 reports on robbers in Miami who broke into a pet store and stole Yorkshire terriers.

* Channel 13’s tease for a “special report” to air Monday: “Animal CSI.” (Apparently, airing “Weather CSI” wasn’t enough.)

All this animal coverage makes a guy want to chuck it all and move somewhere obscure to get away from it all - say, Ellsworth, Kan. That was Channel 13’s “special report” last night. So desperate is the town for residents that it is giving away land, paying as much as $3,000 for people with kids to come, and offering a free golf club membership.

Kurtis Ming went and checked it out.

For good or ill, Kurtis came back.

In other non-animal news:

* All the stations had interviews with the family of the Sacramento Marine killed in Iraq. But, it should be noted, Channel 3's late news on Wednesday night was the first to interview the family.
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* Channel 3's Dave Walker on a proposal to sell the Golden Gate Bridge for corporate sponsorship: "The Golden Gate brought to you by the Golden Arches."

* And finally, we thought we were going to see some “Ultimate Fighting” on the set of Fox40 Thursday night when sports guy Jim Crandell jokingly chided weather guesser Kristina Werner for her verbal gaffe earlier in the broadcast (Werner: “It’ll be the same, similar - oh, that’s the same word - situation tomorrow....”).

Crandell said the Kings were not the “same similar” team they were the previous night. Werner gave an anguished smile and some sort of a hand gesture before the camera cut to a tight shot of Crandell. Several replays on our TiVo showed that, technically, it wasn’t a vulgar hand gesture, but the viewer could get the meaning.

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