ED KILGORE 2, Station Officials 0. That's the score in Kilgore's battle to rid WGRZ-TV of one commercial and to appear on another advertisement.
Channel 2 quickly and quietly dropped the distracting one-minute commercial it had inserted in the middle of Kilgore's 11 p.m. weeknight sportscast. The commercial was moved elsewhere within the newscast.
"I think they felt like it was disruptive," said Kilgore. "They wanted to see if it would work and if it didn't."
Kilgore was against the commercial and his attitude came through one night when he said, "back already?" after the break.
His second victory came when Channel 2 officials decided to allow him to act as a commercial spokesman for a local golf club.
"I had to present my case (to station officials)," said Kilgore. "Their initial reaction was not to let me do it."
Kilgore said he believes former General Manager Ray Maselli and News Director David Baer relented "as a favor to me."
"I really wanted to do it and convinced them it wouldn't hurt my image and was sports-related," said Kilgore. "I have no problem with it and don't think any viewer would."
Kilgore added that Baer's approval had restrictions. The news director had to approve the ad copy and he also prohibited the ads from running around Channel 2's newscasts.
While Channel 7's Rick Azar and Channel 4's Van Miller have done commercials for years, Kilgore had stayed away from them for more than a decade because of management policy and his own feelings.
"I was sorry I did a couple of them," said Kilgore. "In an old one, I held sparklers in front of a car and said there was a fireworks car sale. I just winced every time I saw it."
Ideally, sportscasters would act as journalists and avoid endorsing products or companies. But TV people have become personalities as much as they are reporters, and there is a national trend to allow them to pitch products.
During last year's Super Bowl, a variety of NBC announcers popped up in commercials for everything from flowers to airlines to beer.
If Merlin Olsen, Dick Enberg and Bob Costas do it, I suppose there's no reason for Kilgore, Van Miller and Rick Azar not to do it too.
Everything is working out perfectly for CBS during the National Basketball Association playoffs. The Final Four teams are all in the top 15 television markets in the country, as Los Angeles is second, followed by Chicago (3), Detroit (7) and Phoenix (12).
CBS probably is rooting for a Los Angeles-Chicago final that would pit the Lakers' Magic Johnson against the Bulls' Michael Jordan.
The incredible Jordan ride through the playoffs continues this weekend, with CBS carrying the Bulls-Pistons games today and Monday.
CBS can't get a better game than WTBS had a week ago Friday night when the Bulls ousted the New York Knicks in an incredible contest that also featured the incisive commentary of Pistons coach Chuck Daly.
The game featured a bizarre four-point play by the Knicks' Trent Tucker -- a three-point play and a dumb foul -- that tied the game at 111 with six seconds left. The reaction shot of an anguished Bulls coach Doug Collins after the stupid foul was a classic.
"The Knicks just came back from the dead," said TBS' Bob Neal cleverly. "This is an out-of-body experience."
Daly predicted earlier that an official's decision might decide the game if Jordan headed for the basket. Jordan was fouled with four seconds left for the Bulls' winning points.
Neal and analyst Steve Jones failed to explain just what Knicks guard Mark Jackson was trying to do defensively against Jordan before the Bulls' star received the ball.
Last weekend was as an armchair fan's dream. Besides the Knicks-Bulls finale, Montreal's controversial double-overtime victory over Calgary in Game Three of the Stanley Cup finals and Sunday Silence's photo finish win over Easy Goer in the Preakness were featured.
Announcers for CBC and ABC both earned A grades for their willingness to take a stand during controversies.
CBC's Harry Neale and Dick Irvin strongly disagreed with referee Kerry Fraser's decision to call a penalty on Calgary's Mark Hunter that led to the Canadiens' winning goal.
"In overtime (of a playoff game), no, no," said Neale.
"I couldn't agree with you more," said Irvin.
In the post-game show, opinionated Don Cherry said: "My heart bleeds for (Calgary coach) Terry Crisp. I feel sorry for them. I'm a little upset at the penalty, but I'm not going to get into it."
Of course, later Cherry got into it. He said of Hunter: "It wasn't his fault. It was just a check."
In the Preakness, ABC's Al Michaels quickly took the suspense out of a claim by Easy Goer's jockey that his horse was interfered with by Sunday Silence. After looking at the replay, Michaels quickly said he saw no reason to change the results of the race.
That might have sounded like an easy thing to say. But too often, announcers look at clear replays and are afraid to make a decisive call.