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November 14, 2006
Local TV News Sweeps: Day 12

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Before we deconstruct the offerings for Monday night's sweeps, let’s do what the station’s do and “tease” to what’s coming tonight:

* Lock your doors and bar the windows! Channel 13, we kid you not, is going to break into someone house - live! - to show how easy it is to, er, break-and-enter right through the front door! (Steve Charlier, the station’s news honcho, assures us that the homeowner knows that a TV crew will be breaking in.)

* Finally, after 12 days of sweeps, Channel 3 will unleash bulldog investigative reporter Josh Bernstein. He’ll be doing a report on nursing-home abuse and the Department of Health Services' reaction - or lack thereof.

And now, what happened Monday night...

* KCRA? “Where the News Comes First”? Well, not on this night.

In the shameless-plug division, it doesn’t come much more blatant than Channel 3 sending reporter Pamela Wu to Santa Clarita (in SoCal) to “report” on the TV show “Heroes,” which just happens to also air on NBC.

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Among the news nuggets we learned: the blood that Hayden Panettiere (pictured left), who plays the perennially dead cheerleader in the show, lies in during each episode is actually made of sugar and food coloring. And, in the most naked ratings pitch, the actress said, “Thank you for watching ‘Heroes.’ Continue watching. It gets so much better.”

Channel 3 spent 2 minutes, 11 seconds on that report. The time the station spent on the Mario Garcia trial at 11 p.m.: 42 seconds. (It should also be noted that Channel 13 plugged a new CBS show, "3 lbs," with a canned interview with star Stanley Tucci. That lasted 41 seconds at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast.)

* Here’s another reason why sweeps month gets a bad name: Reporter-generated news stunts.

Channel 13 did it Monday night with Tony Lopez, the 4 p.m. anchor who, dressed as Santa Claus, stood out in front of Ikea asking for donations to a bogus charity, “The Salvation Navy.”

Oh sure, we know. The station justified the manufactured report by saying it will warn easily duped people into thinking twice before forking over their money this holiday season. And Lopez was quick to point out that he and his crew either gave back all of the money or donated it to a real charity. Yeah, right, Tony. You got that in lieu of a raise, huh?

Lopez looked kind of sheepish reporting this story. He tried to justify himself earlier Monday when appearing on sister station's “Good Day Sacramento” to pimp the story.

Said Lopez: “I was worried about my credibility, you know, because, you know, I anchor the 4 o’clock news on CBS 13. You see this guy in a Santa outfit. But then I remembered Katie Couric. She dressed up as SpongeBob on the ‘Today’ show and she’s got a pretty good job now.”

No worries, Tony. You’ve got just as much credibility with us as before.

* Top stories on Monday’s later news: All four stations led with the serial rapist in North Natomas. (There was no mention of it in Tuesday’s Bee.)

* At the urging of sports guy Danny Pommells, Channel 3 anchor Dave Walker sang a few bars of “Proud Mary” at 6:30 p.m. Co-anchor Lois Hart threatened to join in, but backed off.

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* Maybe Pommells needs to go back to his alma mater, Temple University, for a refresher course. At 6:30, when introducing a piece about San Francisco’s failed Olympic bid, he said, “I wasn’t much for science in school, but in chemistry they say that for every action there’s an equal and positive reaction.”

Chemistry, Danny? Try physics.

* Channel 3’s Tom DuHain did a fine report, as part of the station’s “Road to the Future” series, on the growing traffic jams on Highway 99 and I-5. Blame Elk Grove’s growth. By 2035, DuHain reported, it might take more than an hour to get from Elk Grove to downtown Sac.

* Channel 13: “Bears are on the attack in Nevada County.” (The evil bear apparently killed a family’s beloved goat, named Trouble.)

* Fox40: “Death Row inmates have MySpace pages ... and they may be interacting with your kids!”

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* Yo Quiero Taco Bell: Bizarre Story of the Night goes to Fox40 for a report on a Massachussetts man who bought a Taco Bell taco allegedly laced with cocaine. Anchor Thomas Drayton: “He noticed the taco was a little powdery but thought it was just the seasoning.”

That must be why the Taco Bell Chihuahua always seems so wired.

* Follow-up Award: To News10, the only station in town that aired an update on the deer in Michigan that had the plastic Halloween bucket stuck on its face. Apparently, the deer and the bucket parted ways. Anchor Cristina Mendonsa: “Ahhhh.”

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