News Column

Pop culture Q&A: Syndicated shows, different Gails, 'Alamo' running time

April 30, 2013


Q: While in Florida on vacation, my wife and I had a heated discussion that we just settled upon our return to Ohio. In the Orlando area, "Live With Kelly" is on NBC and "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" are on ABC. I said they are on the same channels in Akron and my wife disagreed. I apologized to her because "Live with Kelly" is on ABC in Akron and "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" are on CBS in Akron. How can this be?

A: Because the shows you mentioned are not network shows.

Television stations get their programs from several sources. They make their own, such as newscasts, or in cooperation with other stations owned by their company. If they are affiliated with a network like ABC or CBS, they get that network's shows. And they acquire programs in syndication: shows sold to individual stations in different markets. This last group includes the likes of "Live," "Jeopardy," "Wheel of Fortune," "Dr. Phil" and the talk shows hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Katie Couric. Because they are sold to separate stations, they may be on the ABC affiliate in one market and the CBS, NBC or Fox affiliate in another.

In addition, both syndication and network agreements can change within a market. So, in your travels, you will find your favorite shows connected to different networks.

Q: I have noticed that the John Wayne movie "The Alamo" has lost almost 30 minutes of battle scenes since it was on the big screen. What happened?

A: Movies get tinkered with, by directors, producers, studios and distributors, even after they have premiered in theaters, There's a box set of "Blade Runner," for example, with four different cuts of the film, and many movies offer unrated and extended versions for DVD and Blu-ray release. With "The Alamo," it gets complicated, too.

According to "The Movie Guide" by James Monaco and others, this film was originally set to run 192 minutes for its premiere, but the people making it _ including John Wayne, in his lone effort as a director _ concluded that was too long. It was then edited down, although film references differ on how much was cut; the end result appears to have been a 140-minute version, although I suspect some TV stations airing the film trimmed more of it to fit their desired time slot.

In any case, when it went to VHS, some footage was restored, making it about 161 minutes. A later VHS release and a Laserdisc version ran 202 minutes; another VHS claims to be the restored, original director's cut but runs about 167 minutes. DVD releases have been around 161-167 minutes, according to the times listed on The Instant Video version on lists a running time of 202 minutes. And, even after looking up all that, I have no idea which edition is the best.

Q: I read the question and answer regarding Gail Russell and her not having a television series in the '50s. If I am not mistaken, she did have her own series titled "Annie Oakley" in which she played Annie Oakley.

A: There's a Gail force in this question and answer, but it's not Russell. Actress Gail Davis starred in "Annie Oakley," a 1954-56 series. According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows," Davis was a good rider and trick shot in real life who "was discovered by Gene Autry, who featured her in nearly 20 of his movies (and) 30 of his own program's episodes" before putting her in her own series. Fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" may recall her as Karen Moore, a woman Andy dated who was a champion skeet shooter. A member of the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Davis died in 1997.


Mailbag updates: The Kevin Spacey series "House of Cards" will find its way to DVD and Blu-ray on June 11. The second season of "Longmire" will begin on May 27 on A&E.


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