By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published May 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Watch Tim Cuprisin's On Media on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411, with new episodes posted Fridays.

Milwaukee Public TV is launching some new locally-produced shows over the next few days, a vital move if public television is to remain a viable option on an increasingly crowded menu of TV choices.

This first is a pretty conventional cooking show focusing on a health-conscious version of Alamelu Vairavan's native Indian dishes. 

Starting this weekend, "Healthful Indian Flavors with Alamelu" airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays on Channel 10, with a repeat at noon Sundays on Channel 36. Next week, "Arts Digest," which is just what it sounds like, premieres at 8 p.m. Monday on Channel 10.

There's nothing surprising about Vairavan's half-hour cooking show, other than it does demonstrate that the flavors of Milwaukee has matured beyond stereotypes. What is, perhaps, surprising about her technique is that she uses ingredients, vegetables and meats, that are not exotic. What turns them into something special is the spicing and techniques.

Recipes are available online and in Vairavan's cookbook, "Healthy South Indian Cooking."

The episode that I screened is not the one scheduled for Saturday morning's premiere. But the three dishes prepared focused on ground turkey, brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes. It's the technique that transforms them.

Vairavan is a likable teacher and approachable TV personality, and MPTV is moving in the right direction by adding her to the lineup. 

The episode I saw featured the host getting out of the kitchen and into a local Indian grocery store as she picked up some of the ingredients not always easy to find in your local supermarket. I hope there's more of that.

And some of the names of the dishes and ingredients are hard to decipher when heard through Vairavan's lilting accent. An easy way around that would be to pop the unfamiliar terms on the screen.

But those minor concerns aside, "Healthful Indian Flavors with Alamelu" is a fine addition to the Saturday cooking show lineup -- and a great move by Milwaukee Public TV.

If you want to read more about Vairavan, check out this piece by my OnMilwaukee.comrade, Julie Lawrence.

On TV: With the networks revealing their fall schedules next week, rumors are running hot and heavy and the latest is that NBC is canceling "Law & Order," which has aired since September 1990. NBC hasn't confirmed anything yet, but the show could be ending its run in a tie with "Gunsmoke" as TV's longest-running drama.

  •'s Michael Ausiello is reporting that ABC is canceling "FlashForward," "Scrubs," "Better Off Ted," and Alyssa Milano's new "Romantically Challenged." But he says "V" will get another 13-episode season to start moving that alien invasion story along.
  • In other buzz, NBC's proposed "Rockford Files" remake, with Dermot Mulroney trying to be as cool as James Garner, isn't going to make the schedule. That's the best TV news this week.
  • The final numbers are in and Betty White's "SNL" visit drew 12.2 million viewers, which is phenomenal, since Saturday is the loneliest night of the week, in terms of TV viewing, especially late at night. By way of comparison, ABC's "Modern Family" hit a season high Wednesday night with 10.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers.
  • Speaking of Betty White, my request for suggestions on the next veteran performer to host the show brought the usual names on Twitter and Facebook, people like Abe Vigoda and Cloris Leachman. The surprising ones: Dame Judi Dench, Candice Bergen (one of the earliest "SNL" hosts), and Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of The Andrews Sisters.

Ted and Lisa and me: The latest installment of the weekly TV version of OnMedia features former Channel 4 traffic reporter, and "American Idol" watcher, Lisa Manna rating the latest group of "Idol" finalists, with Manna talking about some of the big problems with this season of TV's biggest show.

The show is available on Time Warner Digital Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411. Yes, you have to be a Time Warner subscriber to see it, but because people have been asking for it, here's last week's edition, a conversation with Channel 6 anchor Ted Perry, to give you a feel for the show.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.