Tuesday, September 17, 2002

ABC pushes start of season

        ABC starts the TV season a week early with three new shows today - and two out of three aren't bad.

        The ones to watch are 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and Push, Nevada. In between comes Bonnie Hunt's Life with Bonnie.

        Here's what to expect:

        8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (8 p.m., Channels 9, 2): Think of John Ritter's new TV dad role as trying to keep his two teenage daughters (Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson) away from guys like Jack Tripper, his old Three's Company character.

        The ABC sitcom, based loosely on W. Bruce Cameron's best-selling 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, (ABC recently changed the title to match the book) has just the right mix of cool teen attitude and realistic teenage vulnerability.

        Father doesn't always know best, of course, but he's there when his 15-year-old worries that she's not pretty enough, or his 16-year-old gets dumped by a guy at the mall.

        Mr. Ritter tells one prospective boyfriend: “You make her cry, and I'll make you cry.” Talk like that should keep us laughing on Tuesdays.

        Life with Bonnie (8:30 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2): It's hard not to like Ms. Hunt, the actress from Jerry Maguire, Beethoven, The Green Mile and Dave.

        But TV success has been elusive for the Second City comedian. And her new ABC sitcom won't change that streak, even though she has rounded up her old Second City gang again (Holly Wortell, Mark Derwin) from her short-lived Bonnie Hunt Show on CBS.

        On ABC, Ms. Hunt stars as a harried mother of three young children and Chicago TV show host. Neither her home life nor her TV workplace (with David Alan Grier as her producer) is believable.

        Again, viewers may love Bonnie - but not this show, particularly when it moves Oct. 1 to its regular time slot, 9 p.m. Tuesday, against 24, Frasier, The Guardian and Smallville.

        Push, Nevada (9 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2): When a casino accounting ledger showing a substantial theft is faxed to the IRS, was it an accident? No, it was a clue.

        ABC's new mystery series about a casino theft in a weird Twin Peaks-type town, where everyone makes love at the same hour, has been layered with clues by its creator, Oscar-winner Ben Affleck, and partner Sean Bailey (HBO's Project Greenlight).

        While our mild-mannered hero, IRS agent Jim Prufrock (Derek Cecil), investigates casino manager Silas Bodnick (Jon Polito), viewers are supposed to watch for hints in repetitive numbers, telephone numbers and Web sites. (Call Bodnick's fax number, and you'll get his recording.)

        Mr. Affleck promises that somebody will win the cash reward (you have to watch to find out how much), even if the show doesn't run 22 episodes. And airing opposite CSI and Will & Grace at 9 p.m. Thursday, Push could get pulled.

        ABC repeats the pilot at 8 p.m. Thursday. The second episode, which introduces former Tristate resident Kevin Crowley (Daddio, Backdraft, Hoffa) as Jim's father, follows at 9 p.m.

        Another Marconi: Jim Scott's Marconi Award for best large-market radio personality over the weekend gives WLW-AM (700) its second consecutive such award.

        Bill Cunningham won the honor last year at the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention. Gary Burbank also has won the award twice (1990-91).

        “This may be a record. I can't think of any other station that has three Marconi winners on its staff,” says Darryl Parks, operations director for Clear Channel's AM stations here.

        Channel 12 award: WKRC-TV reporter Frank Graff and photojournalist Chris Hursh have won a national Emmy award for their Cincinnati riot coverage last year.

        The spot news award for “Cincinnati in Black and White: Riots Day One” was presented at the 23rd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in New York last Tuesday. Mr. Graff stayed in New York to report from Ground Zero on Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of 9-11.

        They also won a regional Emmy last spring for the story.

        Around the dial: ESPN premieres Beg, Borrow & Deal, an Amazing Race-type cross-country reality game show, at 8 p.m. today.

        E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/kiese


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