If you’re a regular reader of my daily blog, you might have thought I was a little obsessive promoting Mo Rocca’s piece on chicken wings a week ago on CBS’ “Sunday Morning.”
I wrote about Rocca’s piece so often in the hope more Western New Yorkers would fall in love with one of my favorite television programs.
It didn’t happen.
The 90-minute program on Super Bowl Sunday had a decent 7.3 rating on Channel 4, but that is only in the ballpark of what the program usually gets here on the CBS affiliate.
That’s a very healthy rating for a Sunday morning program. Many prime-time programs don’t hit that figure. However, I thought the Buffalo angle might have helped the program hit double-digits last week and those watching would love it more than wings and pizza and make it part of their weekly must-see TV diet.
After all, “Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood” is the perfect Sunday program, leisurely paced with lengthy stories that usually celebrate aspects of American culture and pride.
Admittedly, my viewing of “Sunday Morning” increased after the death of Tim Russert, who was must-see TV when he was the host of “Meet the Press.” The NBC programs run at the same time.
I’m a big Rocca fan, but surprisingly his piece on the chicken wing was last week’s most disappointing feature. He also did a food segment on salsa and finished with a segment with a doctor who explained that all the fatty foods could give you heartburn or worse. I laughed at that because I haven’t had a wing since a medical crisis a few years back.
In his wing piece, Rocca sat down with Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas, lounge singer Lance Diamond and a young Buffalo booster named Bernice Radle.
I never heard of Radle before she was chosen to be one of the “cool” people in the piece. My circle of friends never heard of her, either. But hey, I‘ve never heard of half of the people in the local business weekly’s list of the Top 250 influential people in Western New York, either.
But boy did Radle dominate the segment. You could say she ate up the attention given to her, talking more than Thomas and Diamond combined. Some people think she needed to speak up because the two guys had nothing to say. However, it isn’t as if they had a chance.
Diamond seemed surprised by one of Radle’s rules pertaining to what to call chicken wings. She thinks it is bad form to call them Buffalo wings instead of just chicken wings. I’m with Diamond, though a few readers have told me Bernice is right. She also ruled that ranch dressing isn’t allowed. Dumb me. I hadn’t gotten that memo, either.
I’m sure she meant well, but a little less of Radle and a little more of Lance and Thurman would have been preferable.
I hope people watched the rest of the show because it was much more appetizing. It started with segments on the Beatles arrival in New York City 50 years ago and their influence on such future American musical superstars as Billy Joel, Steven Van Zandt and David Crosby.
Crosby told an amusing story about hiding at a Beatles news conference to learn from them how to charm the media. Sure enough, there was footage of Crosby being discovered by the assembled media.
That piece was enough to make anyone’s Sunday morning before Lee Cowan followed with a feature on Chiwetel Ejiofor, the Oscar-nominated star of the Oscar-nominated movie “12 Years a Slave.”
It was an excellent piece about the London-educated star of a powerful movie that left Western New York theaters much too soon on its original run. The film, which won the Golden Globe as best dramatic picture, is back in local theaters now.
It isn’t easy viewing since it is loaded with brutality. I’ve seen all the movies nominated for best film and thought “Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “Nebraska” all were over-rated to some degree.
“12 Years a Slave” is the one film that exceeded my expectations, largely because of Ejiofor’s performance.
His interview with Cowan – in which he described his incredible preparation for the role and his refusal to change his name – should drive more people to see the film in the three weeks before the Oscars.
After the Ejiofor interview, humorist Bill Geist offered another piece that WNYers could embrace. It was about the popularity of bowling and how bowling alleys are changing with the times to offer better food and better beer. It bowled me over, as most Geist stories do.
There was still time for a story on the late activist and folk singer Pete Seeger, who died a week earlier. The night before, I had gone to PBS’ website to watch an incredibly moving 2008 “American Masters” program on Seeger. PBS affiliates across the countries were carrying it, but WNED-TV couldn’t find room for it.
CBS had plenty of interview footage of Seeger in its piece. It was followed by a sweet commentary by essayist Bill Flanagan, who was convinced a few years earlier by his teenage son to see Seeger and some other old folk veterans perform at the Newport Folk Festival.
The Beatles, Ejiofor, Seeger and Buffalo (sorry Bernice) chicken wings – what a Sunday morning!!!
And it wasn’t done yet. The program finished, as it always does, with nature footage. This time, in honor of Groundhog Day, the footage was of a groundhog running around in West Virginia.
Today will be Groundhog Day for me, too, because I plan on doing what I do every Sunday morning: Spend it with Charles Osgood. In the words of the old indigestion commercial that chicken wing eaters know too well: “Try it, you’ll like it.”