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Smallwood, Perlman headline Ch.4's morning changes; Fox's "Pines" a winner

Channel 4 is making some morning changes after the end of the May sweeps, which so far haven’t gone well for “Wake Up!”

Brittni Smallwood, who has been anchoring “Weekend Wake Up!,” will be moving to weekdays to be a second reporter on the morning program from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Channel 4 and then anchor the 8 a.m. hour on sister station WNLO-TV.

Newcomer Marissa Perlman will be replacing Smallwood as the anchor “Weekend Wake Up!” Perlman had been a candidate for the night-side weekend anchor position that went to newcomer Callan Gray.

In a memo to his staff, News Director Scott Levy wrote that “everything should be in place by June 8th.”

During the first two weeks of the May sweeps, Channel 2’s “Daybreak” has substantially expanded its first-place lead over Channel 4 from a year ago.

In a series of texts to this blog, Levy explained the strategy behind the moves.

“Brittni is an experienced anchor and reporter who has connected with viewers on ‘Weekend Wake Up!,” wrote Levy. “She will be a great addition to our current morning team and will continue to provide News 4 viewers with enterprise reporting.”

He said of Perlman, who was an anchor at an Elmira station where Levy had been the news director: “Marissa brings an engaging personality and energy to ‘Weekend Wake Up!’”

And what of newcomer Dave Greber, who had been my favorite for the nightside weekend anchor slot?

“Viewers can expect to see Dave behind the desk as a fill-in anchor,” wrote Levy.

After watching the intriguing pilot of the new Fox series "Wayward Pines" directed by M. Night Shyamalan's (“The Sixth Sense”), I had to wonder why the network hadn’t carried it during the regular prime time season.

Based on an international bestselling series of books by Blake Crouch’s, the pilot that airs at 9 tonight on WUTV has an excellent cast and is chilling and scary enough to get viewers back next week to uncover what is behind a conspiracy that isn't revealed until near the end of the hour.

It stars feature film actor Matt Dillon as a Secret Service agent who is stuck in an eerie Idaho town after an accident on his way to find two missing federal agents. Carla Gugino is one of the agents, Terrence Howard ("Empire") has a small role as the sheriff, Academy Award winner Melissa Leo is a strangely upbeat nurse and Juliette Lewis is a bartender who helps Dillon’s character navigate the oddities of essentially being kidnapped in Wayward Pines.

The film features Shyamalan’s trademark camera work, which heightens the fear factor and suspense. I’ll certainly go back to “Wayward Pines” next week and hope it is as intriguing for the rest of its 10-episode run.Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4



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