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Somebody's A-Sleeper at the Switch at 9News

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The amount of time 9News has to fill each weekday morning is enormous. First, the station must create two hours worth of programming for the 5 a.m.-7 a.m. time slot immediately preceding the Today show. Then, the outlet does it again from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on its sister station, Channel 20.

How do staffers manage it? Repetition, for one thing. Personnel cycle through weather and traffic updates multiple times during each programming block, and also read and re-read the morning headlines. But they also draw upon canned material that primarily exists to eat up seconds. Of course, this approach works best when the footage doesn't draw attention to itself -- and a segment on Woody Allen's 1973 film Sleeper that ran during the 5 a.m. portion of the February 4 broadcast most certainly did. The results were laughable in at least a couple of different ways.

While promoting his latest film, Cassandra's Dream, Allen was asked about filming part of Sleeper in Colorado, and he responded with a handful of polite comments, saying he enjoyed his time in the state and liked demonstrating that his comedy style worked as well in the great outdoors as it did in smoke-clogged nightclubs. This material was then stretched out with not one, not two, not three but four prolonged clips from Sleeper, only one of which focused directly on the so-called Sleeper House -- the clam-shell shaped abode still visible off I-70. The results ran for well over two minutes.

Amusing? Well, Sleeper is a mighty fine flick -- one of Allen's early, funny ones, to paraphrase a self-deprecating line from a subsequent feature, 1980's Stardust Memories. Problem is, Cassandra's Dream opened in Denver way back on January 18, meaning that the closest thing to a news hook came and went more than two weeks previous -- and according to the Mr. Movietimes website, it's no longer playing at an area theater.

Still, the package burned up a good chunk of 9News airtime, and apparently that makes it worthwhile to the station -- if not necessarily to the viewer. -- Michael Roberts

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