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COMMENTARY

Alan Pergament: Jeff Glor's new boss, the triple threat of Mahershala Ali and more

This is what I’m thinking:

Jeff Glor has a new boss.

The president of CBS News, David Rhodes, who chose the Town of Tonawanda native to be the anchor of “The CBS Evening News” a little more than a year ago, is leaving in March and being replaced by the first woman to lead the division, Susan Zirinsky.

Zirinsky has been at CBS in a variety of roles for 46 years and may be best known as the inspiration for Holly Hunter’s character in the 1987 movie “Broadcast News.”

Her ascension to president has led to speculation about plans for Glor’s newscast as well as “CBS This Morning,” since both shows are struggling nationally in the ratings.

Zirinsky has a lot on her plate, including finding people to run “60 Minutes” and the morning program.

Glor’s newscast is a poor third nationally, which is nothing new. CBS has been third through several anchors. It was No. 1 in Buffalo during the November sweeps, which illustrates one of the biggest barometers of how the national newscasts do.

WIVB-TV (Channel 4), the local CBS affiliate, gives Glor’s 6:30 p.m. newscast a strong lead-in as the No. 1 newscast locally at 6 p.m. CBS affiliates don’t often give lead-ins as strong as Channel 4 does.

I would expect Zirinsky to act like a new general manager of a National Football League team and patiently assess what improvements needs to be made throughout CBS News.

It would appear to be unlikely that changing talent is high on her immediate priority list and that it would even help. Stability is the name of the game in network news and Glor deserves much more time in the anchor seat to see if he can right the ship nationally.

But hey, you never know.

From Jeff Glor to 'The CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor'

•••

I was a Mahershala Ali fan long before he won a supporting actor Golden Globe playing a gifted African-American pianist in the movie “Green Book,” so I naturally was looking forward to his starring in the third season of HBO’s “True Detective.” It premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday with two episodes.

Ali doesn’t disappoint, essentially playing three roles. He plays a detective, Wayne Hays, who was an investigator in a missing children’s case in small town Arkansas in the 1980s; revisits the case in the 1990s with a legal team; and in 2015 with a true crime television crew when his recall as an old man is shaky as he continues to be haunted by the case.

How can you go wrong with three Alis, all with different hair styles to enable viewers to differentiate between the characters? In all three time periods, Hays is pretty serious and barely cracks a smile.

Stephen Dorff co-stars as his white partner, Roland West, who rides along with him to discuss a variety of topics, including racial issues. Carmen Ejogo steals every scene she is in as Wayne’s wife, Amelia, who has written a book about the tragedy and that threatens their relationship.

Mahershala Ali in HBO's "True Detective." (HBO/TNS)

As stylish as ever, the first five episodes of “True Detective” may make viewers forget about how disappointing season two had been.

However, some of the dialogue can be difficult to understand and the jumping around time periods can be a little confusing.

Any viewer who is disturbed by the slow pace of the series should know that things come into a clearer focus by episode five and promise to make the final three episodes worthy of your time.

•••

NBC’s “This Is Us” returns Tuesday for the first time since Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) sentenced Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to the couch after he refused to drop the political race he promised to end if she had enough.

I am on record as saying I found that plot line abrupt, especially since Beth and Randall have had the perfect marriage until now.

I began thinking about the plot line while I read the excellent Michelle Obama autobiography “Becoming” while I was on vacation.

It seemed Michelle and her husband, Barack, had a similar conversation about the fear that politics would overwhelm family considerations before Michelle reluctantly agreed to let him run for offices.

The book undoubtedly came out after the “This Is Us” episode was written, but I couldn’t help but think the plot line is playing out the way it might have if Michelle told Barack he couldn’t pursue political office.

•••

If you’re not a fan of playoff football being played Sunday, I suggest you try the Netflix movie “Bird Box,” starring Sandra Bullock as a mother protecting her children from being driven crazy by looking at something in the air. Her character must remain blindfolded and keep two children blindfolded as well to survive. The film has a couple of big holes – characters mysteriously show up – but it is scary good. I’ve been to plenty of movies in the theater that weren’t as riveting.

•••

One of my more popular tweets while on vacation suggested Claudine Ewing anchor more on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2). And I’m not just advocating she anchor on weekends, where local stations typically place minority anchors. Ewing deserves a weekday spot at say 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. She has a great voice, a great personality and doesn’t insert herself into the stories like some other anchors in the market.

Claudine Ewing (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

•••

I had to laugh at back-to-back emails I received after my critique of analyst Mark Kelso on Bills radio broadcasts during the Bills 42-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the season finale. I criticized him for talking too much in between plays and providing analysis that is too technical.

“You could not be more wrong about Mark Kelso’s Bills radio color commentary! Is that succinct enough for you?” wrote Tony. He turned out to be a friend of Kelso’s.

“Great analysis!  Kelso ruins the game by talking way too much. Is the team aware of this?  I have actually turned the game off to get a break from him. Good job,” wrote Jim.

Clearly, Kelso is either loved or hated as an analyst.

•••

Out of curiosity, I watched a replay of Beth Mowins doing play-by-play and Steve Beuerlein providing analysis on the CBS broadcast of the Bills-Miami game. I wanted to see if all the criticism of Mowins on social networks was warranted.

If fans can get past her voice – and that’s apparently a tall order for many critical men and even some women – she did a fine job. She misidentified a few players, notably thinking Kyle Williams recorded a sack when it was Trent Murphy. But that happens to every play-by-play person. Other than that, Mowins illustrated that she does her homework, asks the right questions, has a decent excitement level and generally does everything you’d expect a play-by-play person to do.

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