OFF LIMITS

Fried couch potatoes: Judging by all the ridiculous hype and hoopla that preceded, and coincided with, and followed the network affiliation switch Sunday morning, we have indeed become a nation of vidiots.

Not entirely, of course. Some folks at the daily papers were smart enough to figure out that the changeover offered not only a chance to run lots of nitwitted, star-studded stories, but also an opportunity to sell advertising a-go-go in special sections that wrapped around the station switch. And, of course, it gave the stations endless excuses for promoting themselves and the swell network shows that would soon be aligned with their local broadcasts.

KUSA, in particular, was full of fluff about the Friends-ly NBC shows that now air on Channel 9. The story was given such weight, in fact, that it was a surprise not to find Jerry Seinfeld and Helen Hunt anchoring the ten o'clock news on Sunday. As it was, the station had its weeknight first string of Adele Arakawa and Ed Sardella ("Uncle Ed," according to Jay Leno ) holding viewers' hands--and remotes--through these trying times. And, of course, there's that handy 800-number hotline, although so far it's failed to answer this question: Why are channels 9 and 7 now airing Meet the Press and This Week With David Brinkley in the same 9 a.m. time slot on Sunday morning?

But apparently the switch was too much even for those already tuned into the TV business. During a rare attempt to actually report some news on Channel 9's Sunday-morning broadcast, anchor Neal Browne narrated an item about how the publishers of Detroit's strike-bound dailies--the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News--were using helicopters to pick up papers and avoid pickets at the plant. As Browne spoke, Channel 9 backed his words with video clips of people fleeing burning, bombed-out buildings.

Detroit is no Bosnia. TV news, on the other hand, is indeed a vast wasteland.
(The strike has become a full-employment act for journalists who don't mind crossing picket lines for promises of big pay increases and small job security. Offers have been flowing to reporters at the Boulder Camera, which, like the Free Press, is owned by Knight-Ridder, but writers elsewhere are also being wooed. Those with a fear of flying need not apply.)

Cash and carry on: Given last week's revelation that completion of DIA's automated baggage system is still way behind the airport's way-revamped schedule, perhaps the city should have held onto some of the old Stapleton equipment it auctioned off last Friday. Those "38 conveyor systems" and "17 baggage carousels" could come in handy. And if restaurateur Sam Arnold convinces Denver to turn Stapleton into a prison, it might be useful to have those "24 control gates," too. (Good riddance, however, to the "23 tree planters"--Arnold wants to keep the prisoners close, not coddle them.) "I'm puzzled," Arnold notes. "We're paying Texas $50 a day per prisoner to jail hundreds of our Colorado bad guys...yet we have an unused, paid-for, multimillion-dollar complex." Arnold has put his money where his mouth is, offering a thousand bucks for the architect who comes up with the best preliminary plan to convert Stapleton into a prison. But then, what else would you expect from a man whose restaurant is named the Fort?

Stanza by your man: First, Chief Deputy DA Craig Silverman was sending verse to Westword. Then his boss, Bill Ritter, wrote poetry to the Denver Post (in response to a Ken Hamblin column). Silly us...

We thought that we would never see/
Lawyers who wrote anything for free.

 
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