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'DATELINE' PUTS A BUFFALO FACE ON GUN VIOLENCE

The March 4 edition of "Dateline NBC" takes a look at gun violence involving young people. Unfortunately, it has a couple of Buffalo angles.

Tentatively titled "Shooting Gallery" with Maria Shriver as the correspondent, the program looks at incidents between Feb. 27 and March 4, 2000.

That was the week that Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School student Vincent H. Smith took the gun of his father -- Buffalo Police Lt. Thomas C. Smith -- and drove 1,000 miles to Kansas and killed a young sheriff's deputy there before being shot to death in a confrontation with law men.

Smith's case is one of six stories told in the program, according to "Dateline" producer Fred Rothenberg. Rothenberg, who came to Buffalo several months ago, said the piece includes an interview with Anne Gilhooly, the aunt of Vincent Smith and sister of Thomas Smith.

The story also includes the mention of the Buffalo murder of 19-year-old Abdo Nasser, who was shot in the head that week during an armed robbery of his family's Seneca Street delicatessen.

Rothenberg said the idea for the program, which has been more than a year in the making, came after a 6-year-old killed another 6-year-old in Michigan with a gun. President Clinton then went on a morning show and said that statistics show that 12 children die each day from gun violence.

"We thought, can that be?" said Rothenberg. And then "Dateline" decided to take a look at one week of gun violence, either from homicides, accidents or suicides.

The stories are followed by a debate between Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-Long Island (whose husband was killed and son critically wounded by a gunman in 1993), and Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md. The NRA grades McCarthy's voting record an F, Bartlett's an A-plus.

According to Rothenberg, the piece puts faces on the statistics.

"It can be numbing to hear statistics," Rothenberg said. "But when you see kids dying day by day, it really comes home. These are real victims with families that grieve for them. The accumulation of death is emotionally difficult. It is important to watch, hard to watch. But real."

CBS is giving David Milch and Anthony Yerkovich quite a mission -- beat "ER."

The Buffalo natives' new series, "Big Apple," will air at 10 p.m. Thursdays, starting March 1. The idea is to give it a strong lead-in on CBS' night of "Survivor" and "CSI." And "ER" is bound to be in reruns at some point after the February sweeps.

CBS also will carry "Big Apple" on two Wednesdays after "Survivor" when Thursday nights are taken by the NCAA basketball tournament.

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