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On Lauren Brill, Gronk, PBS and local people making names for themselves

This is what I’m thinking:

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know I never was the biggest fan of Channel 4 sports anchor and reporter Lauren Brill.

So I’m not surprised that the criticism I have sent her way for three years meant she declined my request to reveal her future plans after leaving Channel 4 at the end of July.

I really didn’t blame Brill for being over her head in this sports-crazed town as much as I blame past management for hiring her in the first place with little experience after working for a cable channel devoted to covering high school sports.

She needed a few seasons in Elmira or a similar size market to iron out her presentation flaws that made her an instant channel-changer in some households. As I noted in October, she improved some but it was too late to overcome first impressions and give her credibility.

In fairness, Brill has her fans who believe I’ve been too critical and hold female sports reporters to a different standard than I do males in that role.

I imagine Channel 2’s Jonah Javad would dispute that claim since I was a little rough on him early before he turned me around.

Brill didn’t get some of the advantages at Channel 4 that Channel 2 has given its young sports reporter Heather Prusak.

Brill was thrown into the role of No. 2 in Channel 4’s two-person sports department. Prusak, who quickly has proved to be a stronger presence than Brill on sports reports and lately on the anchor desk, was given behind-the-scenes guidance by Channel 2 for months before she got TV visibility and eventually a chance at anchoring as the No. 4 on-air person in a sports department that includes Adam Benigni, Javad and Stu Boyar.

Brill apparently decided to leave Channel 4 before the station decided whether to renew her expiring contract. According to sources, she wanted to leave Channel 4 well before her contract expired but was prevented to by station management. A similar thing happened to meteorologist Amelia Segal before she left for a job in Washington, D.C.

Brill’s apparent attempt to leave early has led to speculation that she has another job lined up.

She didn’t make my recent list of the Top 10 reporters and anchors likely to go to a bigger market. But several months ago, a Channel 4 reporter told me to never underestimate Brill’s ambition, drive and confidence in attempting to get to a bigger market.

If she has landed a better job, I wish her luck. I also wish Channel 4 luck in finding her replacement.

Its sales pitch to prospective sports anchors and reporters will be interesting now that it has dropped the 6 p.m. sportscast and has fewer on-air sports members in town than its rivals.


While we are on sports, the “Celebrity Family Feud” episode featuring the Gronkowski family against the family of actress Holly Robinson Peete airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. The program has been a summer hit here and nationally.


Now that it is so much easier for TV viewers to stream PBS, I would think that WNED-TV would have to seriously consider dropping the number of times it has delayed airing national PBS productions such as “Driving Miss Daisy” starring Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones. PBS streams its national programs 24 hours after they air, which means Western New Yorkers can watch “Daisy” well before Channel 17 gets around to airing it at 9 p.m. Aug. 21. However, Channel 17 president Don Boswell says streaming hasn’t hurt the channel. He added that the majority of PBS stations don’t air programs when they are scheduled nationally.


There is a Buffalo contestant in the new late-night competition show on TBS, “Funny or Die Presents America’s Next Weatherman,” that airs starting Aug. 8. Jennifer “Jazzy T” Williams, who left her role as afternoon host at WBLK-FM earlier this month, is one of the contestants competing for $100,000 and an appearance forecasting the weather on CNN’s “New Day.” (CNN and TBS have the same owner). What did you expect, Kevin O’Neill? Williams, 33, who is originally from Detroit and a graduate of Michigan State University, joined WBLK in 2012. The reality series was filmed in March through mid-April in Los Angeles.


Remember Paul Cassidy, the last general manager at Channel 7 before the station went downhill? His daughter is making quite a name for herself in Hollywood.

Carolyn Cassidy, who attended Nardin Academy until her senior year when her father left Channel 7, is now heading programming at 20th Century Fox TV. She recently was named senior vice president of current programming for the television production division of 20th Century Fox. It supplies programs to the Fox Network and other networks.

In an email, Cassidy’s father said Carolyn “was always interested in TV.” He added that “I never pushed her, but encouraged her. She did the rest.”

In announcing Cassidy’s promotion, Jonnie Davis, the president of creative affairs for the company, said Cassidy “has been a tremendous asset to our comedy development efforts. She’s as smart and strategic as she is passionate about our series, and we think under her strong leadership and oversight, our current shows – which are the studio’s lifeblood – will continue to thrive and grow.”

A Harvard graduate like many others in high-profile TV jobs, Cassidy joined 20th Century Fox in August 2009 as vice president of comedy series and was promoted to senior vice president four years later. According to a release, her résumé includes involvement in the development of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” as well as Fox’s upcoming “The Grinder.” The release added that she also developed “New Girl” and “Last Man Standing.” She began her TV career at NBC, working on “Will & Grace,” “The Office,” “Las Vegas” and “Ed,” and also was a comedy development executive at ABC Studios.