Channel 4 has decided to drop a half hour of its evening news at 6:30 and replace it with the syndicated "Access Hollywood."
The change kicks in on April 11, and general manager Steve Wexler e-mailed me this explanation: "'Access Hollywood' has a strong track record in this market, it helps us focus our resources better on our afternoon and early evening local news, which still starts at 3 p.m.
As part of the deal, Channel 4 will also pick up "Access Hollywood Live" this fall. The hour-long show will replace "Better" in the 2 p.m. hour.
Both shows have been airing on Channel 12. "Access Hollywood" is currently consigned to the 12:30 a.m. weeknight slot.
It's clearly a ratings decision, that half-hour of news pulled in nearly 40,000 area households, an 8 percent share of available TVs, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers for the February ratings period. In February 2010, the audience was nearly 48,000 homes, a 9 percent share of the available audience.
That doesn't account for more detailed demographic information that Channel 4 would have had access to in making the decision to drop local programming.
The half-hour of news, normally anchored by Mike Jacobs and Carole Meekins, was beaten by both "Wheel of Fortune" on Channel 58 and "Entertainment Tonight" on Channel in the 6:30 p.m. half-hour during the February sweeps.
Here's a sample of what you'll see on "Access Hollywood," if you're not familiar with that show:
On TV: Channel 12's weather team of Mark Baden, Sally Severson, Jeremy Nelson and Luke Sampe will present a program on the volatility of spring in Wisconsin at 1:30 Sunday at the Pilot House of Discovery World. Aimed at families, the program is free with discounted $12 admission price at the museum.
- Channel 10 will air a public discussion featuring Milwaukee County Executive candidates Chris Abele and Jeff Stone at 10 p.m. Friday. It repeats at 9 a.m. Sunday
- MTV has ordered two more seasons of "The Real World," bringing the "reality" TV pioneer to its 28th season.
- ABC's "Good Morning America" actually wants Chris Brown back, after he threw a tantrum following Tuesday's show. Robin Roberts says an invitation has been extended.
- Now that she's a judge on NBC's "The Voice," Christina Aguilera has joined Twitter.
- Speaking of Twitter, it was insensitive Twitter jokes about Japan that lost Gilbert Gottfried his Aflac gig. The insurance company pulled the quacking duck ads and is an old 2005 spot done in the style of silent movies until it comes up with a new quacker. Meanwhile, the Aflack Duck has its own Facebook page.
Remembering Elizabeth Taylor: A couple of specials are already scheduled to mark Wednesday's death of film legend Elizabeth Taylor.
Biography Channel has "Bio Remembers: Elizabeth Taylor," a two-hour special, at 7 tonight.
Turner Classic Movies is planning a 24-hour marathon of Taylor flicks, starting at 5 a.m. Sunday, April 10, with "Lassie Come Home." Films include "National Velvet," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" and concludes at 3 a.m. Monday with "Ivanhoe."
You can find the complete schedule at the TCM Web site.
Fox Movie Channel plans a 24-hour marathon of Taylor's "Cleopatra."
CBS and ABC chose to lead their Wednesday night newscasts with long pieces on Taylor's life, while NBC stuck with Libya.
Her most famous TV appearance probably came on "The Simpsons," where she gave voice to baby Maggie:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. 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 OnMilwaukee.com.
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.