Monday, January 31, 2000

Broo hopes to earn Ch. 5 bravos

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that sportscaster Ken Broo's return to WLWT on Wednesday will give Channel 5 news some much needed personality.

        “I can't wait to get back, and bring a little lighter touch to the newscast,” Mr. Broo says.

        His nightly “Boos and Bravos” helped Channel 5 win the late news ratings from 1987 to 1990, when he was teamed with anchors Jerry Springer and Norma Rashid and weatherman Pat Barry.

        He jumped to WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in 1990, where he worked six years before going to WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C.

        “When I was at Channel 5, we were No. 1, and it wasn't even a horse race. We had more than a 30 share (30 percent of the available audience) at 11,” says Mr. Broo, 47.

        In the past four years, things have changed. Channels 12 and 9 have been slugging it out for first place, while Channel 5 hasn't recovered from Mr. Springer's exit seven years ago. But things are looking up for Channel 5 with a new digital-ready building at 1700 Young St., a news-oriented general manager (Rabun Matthews) and his new news director (Ken Jobe).

        Mr. Broo today assumes the title of “sports director.” His predecessor, George Vogel, has been named “sports executive producer.” Mr. Vogel will oversee the sports operation, plus report and produce, in a role that sounds similar to John Popovich's job behind Dennis Janson at Channel 9.

        “We'll now have the opportunity to go out and do some sports stories we haven't been able to do,” Mr. Jobe says.

        Mr. Broo says he has been talking to Channel 5 managers since October, a month after his WUSA-TV contract was not renewed. He also had talked to Mr. Jobe at New York's WABC-TV in Sep tember, a month before Mr. Jobe came back to Cincinnati.

        Previous Channel 5 managers also approached him about a year ago, but he could not get out of his contract at the time, he says.

        Mr. Broo says his family cheered the decision to come back here. “This was home to them,” he says of Matt, 18, and Caitlin, 14.

        Since 1996, the Broos received regular shipments of frozen Skyline Chili, Montgomery Inn ribs sauce and Graeter's ice cream from friends and relatives. When he interviewed for the job here last month, he bought 40 packages of Skyline, which are stacked in his basement freezer.

        MASS APPEAL: Actress Patricia Heaton beamed when she talked about tonight's episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (9 p.m., Channels 12, 7), in which she gets on husband Ray (Ray Romano) for missing Sunday Mass.

        Writers had asked the Cleveland native what her character would say in such a situation.

        “So I came up with the line: "I go to church to thank God for you and the kids. And to pray for the strength to get through another week with you and the kids.' And it made the show!

        “Now it's becoming a matter of pride to get something in the show,” she said during the recent Television Critics Association meetings in Pasadena, Calif.

        Charles Durning appears as Father Hubley, the Barones' parish priest.

        MORE RAYMOND: The Everybody Loves Raymond cast likely will head to Italy this summer to tape two fall episodes.

        “It's a matter of budget, but I don't think they can say "no' to us at this point,” says Phil Rosenthal, executive producer. “We'd shoot exteriors in Rome, and integrate them with scenes we shoot in front of the audience (in Los Angeles).”

        Raymond ends the season in May with another flashback episode, as usual. The plan is to look at brother Robert's (Brad Garrett) divorce. Edie Falco (The Sopranos) has turned down the role because she'll be working in London when the episode is shot in April. The role has not been cast.

        WGRR-FM NEWS: Morning newsman Tony Michaels, profiled last month in Tempo, is leaving WGRR-FM (103.5) Friday for a normal 9-to-5 job outside of radio. But he'll keep doing his daily “One Man's Opinion” commentaries and “Accordion Oldie” from his home studio on the Chris O'Brien-Janeen Coyle morning show.

        “We begged him to say, but after 20 years, he's had enough of getting up at 2 a.m.,” says Chuck Finney, WGRR-FM operations manager.

        Mr. Michaels, a professional musician, started as morning news anchor in 1980 after the station, then Hamilton's WOKV-FM, dropped disco.

        RIPE PARODY: MTV skewers the Backstreet Boys and other hot “boy bands” with a parody group called “2gether” debuting today on Carson Daly's Total Request Live (3:30-5 p.m., MTV). TRL will air their hilarious video, “You+Me=Us (Calculus).”

        It's a promotion for MTV's 2gether movie Feb. 21 (8 p.m., MTV).

        AROUND THE DIAL: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (8 p.m. today, Fox Family) was Don Knotts' first big feature film role after leaving the Andy Griffith Show, where he had won five consecutive Emmys. Not only was the film inspired by a haunted house episode on Andy Griffith, but Mr. Griffith helped his buddy rewrite the script after he left the sitcom.

        “I was paid $500 for it,” Mr. Griffith told TV critics earlier this month.


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