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Fall Premieres and Other Myths

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What used to be the fall ritual of sitting down and checking out all the new shows that had promise has become a big, collective snore. We've been promo'ed to death in the past few weeks, enticing us to check out new fare and new old fare, including NBC's Coupling, which looks like little more than a Friends clone with fresher faces.

Call it a consequence of the billion-channel universe, but do we really care about fall premieres anymore? I look forward to the beginnings of NFL and college football, but everything else is a crapshoot. From the armchair quarterback position of someone who watches the promos just like you do, sitcoms look interchangeable. Cop shows and lawyer show commercials look like Saturday Night Live skits. And Lord, please: no more autopsies.

The disposable summer rerun season becomes a disposable fall, with little cutting through the clutter.

With the fall TV season here, local affiliates tweak and upgrade here and there. There are changes in the wind for some local news affiliates. With ABC's cancellation of the soap Port Charles, WSOC-TV has decided not to add a half-hour of syndicated fare and is expanding its noon newscast to an hour starting October 6.

And the safe bet (famous last words) as we went to press, is that WBTV and WJZY will join together for some newscastin'. WJZY, owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting, has been looking at options to get itself in the Charlotte news business without the huge expense of a news operation start-up for an independent station.

Logic points to WBTV, which got out of its WTVI 10pm situation awhile back, and no matter how the ad dollars are shared, it would like a piece of the 10pm newscast advertising dollars. WSOC is already in the game on WAXN, and Fox18's whole operation is centered on its 10pm. No word on when it would begin or who the anchor team will be.

Also at WBTV, we're glad to see an actual TV SHOW versus an infomercial running in the 9am slot. Live with Ali and Jack debuted last week, the latest talk show entry in a genre that's slowing down in terms of new entries. It might be tough to unseat Regis and Kelly in local Nielsen ratings.

CH, CH, CH, CHANGES. . . Surviving any radio station for 10 years is a feat, as Lite 102.9's Mike Berlak knows. Sad to say, he's out as Lite's program director. He also served as ops manager for Clear Channel's five Charlotte stations since 2000. Nick Allen, from a Greensboro Clear Channel station, takes over. . ."Fitz" Chad Fitzsimmons is the new marketing director at Kiss-FM, and as such, had teen star Hillary Duff at a bowling party at Concord Mills September 16. . .Anyone else irritated by the "King of Queens" promos Fox18 is running over Panthers games?. . .And you have to laugh at the irony: Record companies putting out crap music suing 12-year-olds for downloading crap music, while lowering prices to get consumers to buy more said crap music. I have no sympathy for millionaire musicians, but a copyright is a copyright. Techno whiz Moby nails it down for us, once and for all, on his website: "File-sharing is a reality, and it would seem that the labels would do well to learn how to incorporate it into their business models somehow. Record companies suing 12-year-old girls for file sharing is kind of like horse and buggy operators suing Henry Ford."

Color us surprised to learn of retired WBTV news reporter Mike Cozza's new gig. The former government bulldog-type is now putting pedal to the metal as a Park Watch coordinator. His $28,000 county job has him riding a bike and patrolling the Clark's Creek/Mallard Creek Greenway. Talk about a change of vocation. And if you don't clean up that doggy waste, pet owners? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Charlotte chapter of Habitat for Humanity is getting some national exposure this month in a five-part series airing on the DIY cable network. Hosted by former This Old House host Steve Thomas, Lending a Hand: Habitat for Humanity chronicles the building of a single Habitat house in town from groundbreaking to house dedication less than three months later.

It also tells the story of Habitat volunteers and the homeowner, who works alongside them to create her home. Adero Burbridge, a single mother of two, is a central part of the five half-hours, as are the people volunteering their time to swing a hammer and slop a paintbrush. Queens University of Charlotte and Time Warner Cable were among the local entities that provided the man and woman power, and Hugh McColl and Habitat founder Millard Fuller are also interviewed.

The programs were done by Cornelius-based production company Tentmakers Entertainment for DIY, sister network to HGTV and Food Network. This is also shameless self-promotion, as yours truly is the show's producer/writer. (That's why it's at the end of the column).

Stay tuned...

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