By Alan Pergament
Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B have to be among the most popular celebrities with the Channel 2 News staff.
Because the judges on "America's Got Talent" helped the NBC affiliate do something as unusual as watching a 100-piece chorus and orchestra (I'm guessing at the number) perform last summer's hit "Call Me Maybe": Win the 11 p.m. news battle.
As hard as it is for some viewers to believe because of the invention of the remote control, the news lead-in matters.
And the two-hour premiere of "AGT" Tuesday -- which included the "Call Me Maybe" orchestra -- gave Channel 2 a huge lead-in that propelled it to a rare 11 p.m. news victory.
"AGT" averaged a 11.6 rating on Channel 2, which was about 20 percent higher than the impressive lead-in it received from "The Voice," which is nearing the end of its run. The "AGT" rating was about three times as high as the lead-in that Ch.4 received from "Brooklyn D.A." and Channel 7 received from the canceled "Body of Proof."
As a result, Channel 2 News, which consistently wins the early morning and early evening newscast battles, had an 11.4 rating at 11 p.m. Tuesday. Channel 4, which usually dominates at 11, averaged a 7.3 rating. Channel 7 averaged a 5.4 rating.
Channel 2's 11 p.m. dominance won't last. It is just about guaranteed a low rating tonight because its lead-in is "Hannibal," which is one of the lowest-rated series here. It also will be competing with the end of the first game of the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs carried on Channel 7, the ABC affiliate.
Speaking of Channel 2 News, it doesn't look like reporter Aaron Saykin will be working there too often this summer. Saykin, who has been working part-time while going to UB Law School, has earned his degree. General Manager Jim Toellner said Saykin already has been hired by a local firm and will be studying for the bar exam. "He'll be on once in a while," said Toellner. "We'd like him to be on. He is very good."
Finally, Channel 2 morning anchor John Beard is getting some love from TV Guide this week for playing himself on the Netflix season of "Arrested Development." Of the four episodes I've seen so far, the highlight of the brief Beard appearances was the scene in which he told two females that he doesn't have a mustache. That's because he used to have one. Beard also got some love from USA Today in a column that discussed the highs and lows of the "A.D." season of 15 episodes.