By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
Early Show co-host Jane Clayson tells Douglas, "We're really having a great time and we appreciate our strong affiliates like WCCO." Footage of Douglas high-fiving with Early Show staffers after another successful weathercast enhances regular-
Immunity Challenge #2
Everybody loves babies! Especially when delivered by an anchor!
For months the Hometown Team pumps anchor Amelia Santaniello's pregnancy, urging viewers to make donations for a charity fundraiser advertised under the banner "Amelia's Baby Shower." When the big day comes, on April 26, fellow anchor Don Shelby takes a break from headlines to announce the arrival of Samuel Joseph. Meteorologist Paul Douglas delivers a weather report from outside the hospital where Santaniello gave birth. Shelby conducts a phone interview with Santaniello two hours after delivery. Cute still shots of hairy-headed baby color the commentary.
Shelby slickly anticipates the killjoys, who will no doubt question the event's newsworthiness. "In the interest of good journalism, tell us, how many pushes?" he asks Santaniello. (It took five.)
ADDED SHAMELESSNESS BONUS
The following night, ten minutes into the 10:00 p.m. news, substitute anchor Randi Kaye leads into a live interview with Santaniello, calling it "the moment we've all been waiting for." Five-push anecdote is repeated. A week later, when Santaniello returns to the anchor seat (just in time for May sweeps!), Shelby goes the extra mile, asking a question tailor-made to keep station management out of the hot seat: "Were you told to come back, or did you want to come back?" Carrying water after breaking water, Santaniello assures viewers the decision was hers alone. Four months later, lest viewers forget Santaniello's new-mother status, Samuel Joseph is given some face time at the State Fair.
Immunity Challenge #3
by any means necessary
On Saturday, May 6, weekend anchor John Reger previews the CBS Hallmark of Fame special Cupid and Cate," slated to air the following night. The piece includes a canned interview with apparently incoherent actress Mary-Louise Parker.
With no news peg in sight, Reger goes out on a limb to assure viewers that the drama "captures the essence of romance, family, and friends." Those paid to watch it are less kind. USA Today includes the tearjerker in a roundup of the season's worst made-for-TV movies. The Los Angeles Times predicts the soap-style flick will have most viewers "reaching for the No-Doz long before the Kleenex."
Immunity Challenge #4
Pump made-for-TV movie by any means necessary (The Sequel)
One week after the clumsy Cupid and Cate promo, John Reger finds the perfect hook on which to a hang a brief story about CBS's two-part miniseries Jesus: Papal endorsement! The weekend anchor reports that the Pope "praised the miniseries as positive programming." In keeping with WCCO's tradition of explanatory journalism, Reger carefully tells viewers, "Christians believe Jesus is the son of God who came from Heaven to save man from sin."
After the plug, Reger notes that the weather will be cool on the night Jesus airs. "It should be a nice night to stay home and watch TV," he tells viewers. In a brief followup report two nights later, 'CCO anchor Don Shelby artfully squeezes in one more reference to the miniseries, noting that the Italian version of the show included a resurrection sequence American viewers did not see.
Immunity Challenge #5
Plant a wet kiss on a major advertiser's lips, call it news, and hope no one notices
By the time May sweeps roll around, the Hometown Team's consumer reporter Kevyn Burger does yeoman work. In a cleavage-heavy "Dimension" segment called "Hometown Prom Dresses," Burger examines how the Hollywood "tramp trend" influences the fashion sensibilities of local teens come prom time. (Sample expert quote: "Breasts are kind of popular right now.") But Burger doesn't hit her synergistic stride until May 18, when she files a bold "Dimension" report on the Target Corp. In this drop-to-the-knees look at a major advertiser's "hip" new advertising campaign, viewers learn that "good retailing happens from passion, and passion comes from the gut." Burger also breaks the news that computers are used in creating TV ads.
After Burger's piece airs, co-anchors Don Shelby and Amelia Santaniello playfully take turns donning a fishing cap emblazoned with the Hometown Corporate Behemoth's bull's-eye logo.
ADDED SHAMELESSNESS BONUS
In August Santaniello declares a Target advertisement "Our Pick" for best spot aired during the Survivor finale. The kudos, along with news that 30-second ads during the last episode cost a half-million dollars apiece, provides rationale to run the ad again. "Do we get a little piece of that for running it again?" Shelby quips afterward.
Immunity Challenge #6
Declare one of your network's shows
a cultural phenomenon--before it becomes one
WCCO's zeal for covering the Survivor/Big Brother juggernaut doesn't kick into high gear until late summer, but the Hometown Team gets a quick jump during a July 5 broadcast, when part-time anchor Randi Kaye refers to Big Brother as "CBS's new hit show."
Kaye's assessment comes on the night of Big Brother's debut--before any ratings are available to confirm the show's "hit" status. While the first episode did boffo numbers on the strength of a strong lead-in from Survivor, its appeal does not endure; the show is soon losing ratings battles to reruns of NBC's Friends.