In honor of Buffalo Old Home Week, it's time to focus on several Western New Yorkers whose TV success has been brought to my attention by publicists, friends and family.
*Discovery debut... Rick Siggelkow, whose credits include "Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Shining Time Station," is the creator and executive producer of a new tween series, "DinoSapien," that combines live action, animation and state-of-the-art computer images. The BBC Worldwide co-production makes its debut on the Discovery Kids channel at 1 p.m. Saturday.
According to a BBC Worldwide consultant, "DinoSapien" addresses "what if evolved dinosaurs lived today." (No, the answer isn't they would be in cable's Ultimate Fighter series.)
The two lead characters are a teen camp counselor (played by Brittney Wilson of Nickelodeon's "Romeo") and Eno, a friendly dinosaur. Eno helps the counselor try to solve the "the mystery behind her father's disappearance" while she helps him escape from two dangerous dinosaurs.
The consultant adds that Siggelkow used real paleontologists to help him with the look of the movements of the dinosaurs.
*Historical intrigue... Roy Vongtama, the graduate of Canisius High School and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who first came to our attention by participating in the ABC reality series, "The Ultimate Love Test," reports via e-mail that he continues to pursue his acting career. He said he plays a "spooked out Tibetan dude named Tenzin who dies and wakes up in the afterlife" in a History Channel program, "Decoding the Past: Tibetan Book of the Dead." It is scheduled to air July 14 and 15.
In an earlier e-mail, Vongtama reported that he just finished filming a movie, "The Bucket List," which stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, has worked on the FX series, "The Shield," and is a recurring character on "General Hospital Night Shift" on SOAPnet.
*Makeup artist... A recent story on former Amherst resident Tanya Biank's involvement in the hugely popular Lifetime series, "Army Wives," brought an e-mail from a friend about another local tie. West Seneca's Lynn Barber is a makeup artist on the show. The friend added that she won an Academy Award for makeup for "Driving Miss Daisy."
*Emmy for 'Jerry'... Speaking of awards, you may recall a brief story here about the creation of a broadband series, "It's Jerry Time," from a couple of Williamsville East graduates. It follows the strange adventures of a fortysomething bachelor originally from Buffalo and has infrequent references to Buffalo. Well, guess what? Writer-composer Jerry Zucker and director Orrin Zucker recently won an Emmy for outstanding broadband program variety series. It was their second try. A year ago, the series was nominated but lost.
*Rainbow of honors... It wasn't the only program with local ties to win an Emmy. "Reading Rainbow," which is a co-production of WNED-TV here, won its 10th Emmy for outstanding children's series and writer Ronnie Krauss won an outstanding writing award. The show, which has had funding problems that frequently threatened its continuation, has 26 Emmy awards overall. In March 2006, WNED and Educate Media-Reading Rainbow, LLC, a subsidiary of Hooked on Phonics, reached an agreement that saved the show that inspires children to read.
*TV news honors... In case you've missed the Channel 2 and Channel 4 promos, the stations' news departments won awards from the New York State Broadcasters Association recently. Channel 2 won for "outstanding locally originated newscast" at 5 p.m. and Channel 4 won for a news special, "Capozzi: Wrongly Convicted."
*Spike TV premiere... Steve Cirbus, a Buffalo State College graduate, is set to appear in a new eight-hour event from Spike TV, "The Kill Point." The series, which stars John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, premieres on July 22.
*Expert opinion... Bruce D. Patterson, the curator of Mammalogy for the Field Museum in Chicago, was an expert featured in a "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" documentary about Tsavo Lions that was carried recently on Animal Planet. Patterson attended Amherst schools and Nichols School.
*ESPN miniseries... Finally, well-known Buffalo character actors Joe Grifasi and Louis Mustillo are among the stars in the upcoming ESPN miniseries, "The Bronx is Burning," about the 1977 world champion New York Yankees. Grifasi plays Yogi Berra, Mustillo plays sportswriter Maury Allen. The series was also cast by an agency led by Billy Hopkins of Snyder. More on it later in the week.