Thursday, March 28, 2002


Huggins discusses erroneous reports

        Sports anchor Brad Johansen — who told Channel 12 viewers at 5:30 p.m. Friday that Bob Huggins is “leaving the University of Cincinnati, and will be going to coach West Virginia” — met one-on-one with the UC basketball coach Monday to discuss his erroneous report.

        When the WKRC-TV sports director asked if the coach had told anyone he was going to West Virginia last week, Mr. Huggins replied: “I don't recall, but I wasn't talking to a lot of people then.”

        Last Friday, Mr. Johansen announced: “A lot of UC fans are going to be very disappointed. I have just learned that Bob Huggins is going to be leaving the University of Cincinnati, and going to accept a position at West Virginia . . .

        Later he said: “I want to make sure that at this point everybody understands this deal still has to be worked out on paper, but Huggins has made the decision that he is going to go . . . West Virginia has OK'd Bob Huggins to bring his entire University of Cincinnati coaching staff. That may mean the University of Cincinnati will not only be looking for a head coach, but an entire coaching staff.”

        Hours later, Mr. Huggins called Channel 9 sports director Dennis Janson and denied the report, which was also posted on Internet sites operated by CBS Sports, Fox Sports and The Sporting News.

        When Mr. Johansen asked why West Virginia officials would say they had Mr. Huggins, if they could get him to sign a contract, the coach said: “I don't know who would have said that. We weren't talking about contracts on Friday,” according to Mr. Johansen.

        Says Mr. Johansen: “I said "until any deal is signed, anything is possible.' I'm happy it worked out for Huggs and UC, and I'm glad he's staying.”

        In a Channel 9 staff memo, News Director Bob Morford said: “The WKRC-TV talent have been covering their tracks non-stop since (Friday), reminding people that they reported the paperwork still had to be done and that obviously wasn't completed. Horse hockey. They blew it, and blew it badly.”

        What's up, doc: It's the beginning of the end for ER's Dr. Mark Greene.

        Tonight is the first of two consecutive new episodes about the deteriorating health and marriage of Dr. Greene, in preparation for original cast member Anthony Edwards to leave the series in May.

        Producers won't say when Mr. Edwards will depart. But they have said he won't leave in the last episode on May 16. That's the ER way.

        George Clooney left during February sweeps in 1999, and Julianna Margulies exited with two shows remaining in May 2000. Eriq LaSalle and Michael Michele vanished last December.

        “We have never had an actor leave the show during the final episode of the season. We don't think that's good . . . for us,” says John Wells, executive producer.

        “It leaves (viewers) with the question, all summer long, of "Gee, I wonder what the show will be like without that actor who has been so integral to it?' Which we don't think is in the show's best interest.”

        The main African-American character, Dr. Benton, was hastily dispatched in December because producers did not want to lose both Mr. LaSalle and Mr. Edwards at the same time.

        Mr. LaSalle “really agonized” over his decision to leave, and told ER writers after they were “very far into the planning of the entire season,” Mr. Wells says.

        “We thought he was going to be with us longer, and we knew we were losing Tony, and we didn't want to be doing both of them at the same time, which is part of the reason why (Dr. Benton's exit) felt a little hurried,” Mr. Wells says.

        In today's show (10 p.m., Channels 5, 22), Dr. Greene and his estranged wife, Dr. Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) continue to awkwardly bump into each other at work. TV Guide says Dr. Corday “begins to realize that Susan (Sherry Stringfield) may hold the key to her estranged husband's disturbing behavior.” Translation: Dr. Susan Lewis knows more about Dr. Greene's brain tumor than his wife.

        Next week, Dr. Greene “discovers that his aggressive illness is hampering his coordination,” NBC says.

        Another Peabody: WCPO-TV and Laure Quinlivan won their second Peabody Award in three years when the one-hour Visions of Vine Street special was honored Wednesday by the University of Georgia.

        Ms. Quinlivan and Channel 9's I-team also won a Peabody in 2000 for reports on Paul Brown Stadium construction.

        Peabody judges called Visions of Vine Street, broadcast in December, a “model investigative documentary from a local television news organization that informs its citizens and contributes to improved life in its community.” Channel 9 was the only U.S. commercial TV station among the 34 winners, from 1,100 entries.

        Other winners were ABC News (for coverage since Sept. 11); Nightline;HBO's Band of Brothers, Wit; Fox's Bernie Mac Show; NBC's Third Watch; CNN; National Public Radio; and Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues and Little Bill.



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