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Ch. 4 names Gray weekend anchor; Dunkleman jokes about "Idol" demise

The winner of Channel 4’s auditions to replace Lou Raguse as nightside weekend anchor is ... Callan Gray.

Channel 4 News Director Scott Levy announced the decision to his staff late Monday.

Gray was chosen over two other newcomers -- Dave Greber and Marissa Perlman – who have had weekend tryouts since Raguse left in March for a job in Minneapolis.

Like Perlman, Gray is a Syracuse University graduate. She arrived at Channel 4 from a small station in Bristol, Va. and freelanced at a Binghamton station before that. She has morning anchor experience.

Levy said that Gray will officially start her new role on May 23.

“In her short time already at News 4,” wrote Levy in a text to Talkin’ TV, “Callan has demonstrated solid reporting skills, news judgment and passion.”

Asked to comment on her anchor skills, Levy added: “Callan has a natural presence behind the desk and has a style that allows her to connect with viewers.”

The choice is somewhat of a surprise.

Greber has a more authoritative style and would have been my choice. Perlman, who worked at an Elmira station when Levy was the news director there, has much more energy than Gray, who could use a lot more of it as an anchor.

It turns out that former “American Idol” co-host Brian Dunkleman of Ellicottville won’t be that hard for Fox to find.

After the end of “Idol” was announced Monday, a Fox executive joked, “Where’s Brian Dunkleman?” and jokingly added that she would invite him to participate in the celebratory 15th and final season if he could be found.

Dunkleman, who was dropped after the first season so host Ryan Seacrest could go solo, jokingly tweeted Monday: “I knew ‘American Idol’ would never last without me.”

According to a friend, Dunkleman remains an active comedian based on the West Coast and should be easy to find.

One other thing of note came from the Fox schedule announcement Monday. The megahit “Empire” will have 18 episodes next season divided into two equal parts of nine episodes separated by a part one cliffhanger. The first season had 12 episodes. Most series have as many as 22 episodes.

Last week, I mentioned that CBS was promoting “Person of Interest” as a hit even though it was considered on the bubble for cancellation. It reportedly has been renewed for next season along with two other bubble shows – the new version of “The Odd Couple” and the new edition of “CSI,” called “CSI:Cyber.” The original “CSI” reportedly is going to conclude next season with a two-hour movie.

Why would the low-rated “Cyber” survive and the original get the boot? It is more probably than not that the original is being canceled because it is a lot more expensive to produce than "Cyber" after running for 15 seasons starting in 2000.

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