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Some questions surround Channel 4's 'Why Guy'

This is what I'm thinking:

The question concerning Channel 4's "Why Guy," Kevin O'Neill is simple: What's going on? According to sources, he has given the station his two weeks' notice.

Why? Sources say it is the result of a contract dispute over salary and bonuses that no longer will be given.

Reached Thursday, O'Neill said he had no comment and hung up. Channel 4's news director, Joe Schlaerth, hasn't returned numerous telephone calls. O'Neill, a popular fixture on the station's morning program, "Wake Up," has been at WIVB-TV since 1994.

According to sources, O'Neill told Channel 4 officials that he was joining WGRZ-TV, which was news to General Manager Jim Toellner. "I'm not currently in negotiations with him," said Toellner. "I have not hired him."

Sources say that O'Neill may be the first Channel 4 personality to become victim of a new policy by the station's owner, LIN Broadcasting, dropping bonuses tied to ratings. The same sources say that some of the station's prominent personalities were told over the summer that LIN executives believe they are overpaid because the size of the Buffalo market is declining.

O'Neill's loss would be a huge blow to "Wake Up" if a compromise isn't reached. And the dropping of bonus clauses undoubtedly will upset more of the station's high-profile personalities when their contracts are up.

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It is easy to applaud NBC's decision to try to save the Tina Fey comedy, "30 Rock," by moving it in November from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 9:30 p.m. Thursday after the return of "Scrubs."

My review of the premiere noted it was mismatched with "Twenty Good Years," the odd couple comedy starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor. I thought "30 Rock" should have been paired with "The Office."

Its new time slot may be the most difficult one in TV. "30 Rock" and "Scrubs" will face ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," CBS' "CSI" and the return of "The OC" on Fox.

However, "30 Rock" was sinking like a rock on Wednesdays (its last episode had a lowly 3.5 here) despite its share of critical acclaim. It returns with a 40-minute episode on Nov. 16 that follows similar extended episodes of "My Name is Earl" and "The Office." On Nov. 30, it follows "Scrubs," the comedy that NBC has badly mismanaged over the years. By then, "Grey's" and "CSI" are expected to be in reruns.

The network release failed to mention its plans for "Twenty Good Years," which usually means it has been canceled. One report says its last air date is Nov. 8 but it might be pulled before that.

Much was made before the season of several new shows that starred actors over the age of 50. Tambor and Lithgow join Ray Liotta of CBS' "Smith" on the sidelines. The biggest success among the old-timers so far is James Woods of "Shark."

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At 7 p.m. Saturday, Channel 2 repeats Tuesday's special, "The October Storm: Stories 2 Remember," which received an impressive 9.4 rating. The special was an excellent recap of storm coverage for the thousands of people without power during the storm who missed news coverage. Like me.

It opened with a graphic stating it was "dedicated to the people of Western New York" and added "you inspire us." The program seemed just as dedicated to spotlighting the reflections of Channel 2 news personnel about the storm.

Anchors Scott Levin, Maryalice Demler, Jodi Johnston, Pete Gallivan and the station's photojournalists were among those giving their personal observations about the storm's impact. It threatened to be a bit much at times. But eventually there was a good mix of uplifting human interest stories about ordinary people who dealt with hardships and viewer photos of damaged property -- often played to appropriate, melancholy music.

Channel 2 has made the special available on DVD, with proceeds going to charity. It will make a great collector's item and most likely will win some awards, too.

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Here's a minor surprise from Fox. When it quickly took the lame comedy, "Happy Hour," off the air, many people thought it was history. But it is returning on Thursday night for the November sweeps.

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It was amusing Wednesday night during "Lost" to see ABC's extensive promos of the upcoming Taye Diggs series, "Day Break," a few minutes after commercials for the new Denzel Washington movie, "Deja Vu." The projects have similar themes of reliving past moments. "Day Break" is the series designed to give "Lost" a break from repeats. There are only two more "Lost" episodes before "Day Break" arrives.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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