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NFL: "We messed up" on revealing schedule early

By Alan Pergament

After further review, it wasn't the Buffalo Bills who mistakenly put the 2014 regular season schedule on their website Wednesday night about 30 minutes before it was supposed to be released.

"We messed up," said National Football League spokeman Brian McCarthy this morning. "It was a league-wide issue."

He confirmed the league put up the schedule early on the websites of several teams Wednesday, only to be pulled down shortly later before the official release time of 8 p.m.

Several media members on Twitter were quick to blame the Bills for another website error the day after the team mistakenly put up a draft of a story on its website about Coach Doug Marrone having cancer. The error led to the team issuing a statement from Marrone late Tuesday night in which he said he had a cancerous mole removed and that it wouldn't impact his coaching the team.

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New wrinkles impact Bills TV schedule

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo Bills fans may have been a little confused by the 2014 TV schedule announced Wednesday night.

The Fox Sports Wisconsin report two weeks ago claiming that the Bills would play Green Bay on Monday Night Football proved to be as accurate as the predictions that Donald Trump really, really was going to run for governor.

The speculation that the Bills had a good shot at playing at Detroit on Thanksgiving turned out to be a fowl ball.

And the long-held idea that all Bills road games would be carried on CBS affiliate Channel 4, the AFC network, even ended up being wrong.

The Bills season opener at Chicago on Sept. 7 and an Oct. 5 game at Detroit both will be carried by Fox affiliate WUTV in something new this year called "crossover games."

CBS is carrying some games involving NFC teams on the road and Fox is carrying some games involving AFC games on the road.

Bills don't get Monday Night Football game

By Alan Pergament

A website glitch by the National Football League briefly gave Buffalo Bills fans an early look at the 2014 schedule and there are no Monday Night Football games on it.

The only prime time appearance for the Bills is a Thursday night game at Miami on Nov. 13 on The NFL Network and the local broadcast channel that wins the bid to simulcast it.

The Green Bay game, which had been rumored to be on MNF, wil be played at 1 p.m. Dec 14 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

All the Bills games except the Thursday night game and two road games on the West Coast will be played at 1 p.m.

The schedule was taken off and other NFL team websites shortly after it was discovered but not before it was available for fans to see.

The Bills open the season at Chicago on Sept. 7 and return for their home opener against Miami on Sept. 14. They also have a Sept. 21 home date with San Diego.

The rumored Thanksgiving game at Detroit also didn't materialize. The Bills visit Detroit on Oct.5.

The schedule was returned to the website as originally scheduled at 8 p.m.

Fans might be confused by a new aspect of the TV schedule. Bills road games at Chicago and Detroit would be on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, in years past. They are on Fox this season as part of a new feature called "crossover games." Fox is carrying some games featuring AFC teams on the road and CBS is carrying some games featuring NFC teams on the road. 

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Miller-Kane series helps keep Buffalo at top of NHL ratings

By Alan Pergament

Inquiring minds want to know: How much is Western New York rooting for Ryan Miller now that he is in goal for the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs against South Buffalo’s Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks?

The primary evidence -- television ratings -- indicates WNYers are more interested in the Blues-Blackhawks series than any other Stanley Cup first-round series.

But we're not talking huge numbers for the best market in the country for televised hockey outside of a few playoff cities.

Here's the results through Monday' night's games: According to NBC, the Buffalo market is No. 1 for cable coverage on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and CNBC with a 1.7 household rating average for first-round games blacked out in the participating teams' home markets. Thanks largely to the Miller-Kane series, that's 42 percent higher than Buffalo averaged for the same period in 2013.

"Sharknado 2" update is as funny as the first movie

By Alan Pergament

Here's an update on whether the scenes filmed almost two weeks ago at Lafayette Square with extras wielding chain saws, shovels and axes were for "Sharknado 2:" The Second Coming."

A spokesperson for The Aslyum, the production company that shot the original campy success and is shooting the sequel, said Thursday that even the company doesn't know the answer yet for sure.

"It could be for Sharknado 2, it might not be," she explained from Los Angeles, where the original was set.

However, she confirmed one thing: As some of the extras in the scenes suspected, the director of the scenes shot in downtown Buffalo and at the Lockport Cave Attraction definitely was Anthony Ferrante, who directed "Sharknado" and is directing the sequel. According to a source, he was here incognito as "Carl." Ferrnate's involvement led to speculation from extras here that they were filming "Sharknado 2." In addition, Buffalo was a stand-in for New York City, where "Sharknado 2" is set.

However, the spokesperson said that Ferrante is involved in several projects for The Asylum. In addition, the company has done other programs involving sharks, including "Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octupus." (I kid you not.) And there there is the classic "Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark." (I'm not making this up.)

She added that the footage here could be what are referred to "as plates of scenes" that can be inserted into multiple movies in post-production. "They create a lbrary of stock shots," she said. 

"Sharknado 2" currently is in post-production so it won't be long before The Asylum decides if any scenes shot here will make the film that premieres July 30 on Syfy.

"I don't think they even know the answer yet," the spokesperson concluded.

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End of "Parenthood" would be a crying shame

By Alan Pergament

In the age of the DVR and On Demand, NBC's "Parenthood" is one of only three series that I watch live and don't time shift.

That's why the first thing I did this morning was to see if NBC announced that the episode at 10 tonight on Channel 2 is the season finale or the series finale.

There was no news about the ratings-challenged series and that's good news.

NBC has been promoting the episode only as the "finale," which made me concerned that the story of the Bravermans was going to end after five seasons.

It would be a crying shame.

"Mad Men," "Draft Day" are wise selections

By Alan Pergament

Sometimes I am asked more about why I chose not to write about things rather than what I have written about.

Take the case of Sunday's seventh season premiere of "Mad Men."

I tweeted that I had seen it before it aired, which had some people wondering why I didn't review it.

There were a couple of reasons why. It had been a pretty busy week. Something newsy came up every day I planned to review it.

In addition, I was a little concerned about accidentally violating the ground rules that AMC gave critics who were allowed to preview the episode.

Robitaille really isn't retiring, plans to continue on radio

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo Sabres analyst Mike Robitaille said a tearful goodbye at the end of his final MSG post-game show Sunday night.

But the 66-year-old Robitaille really isn't retiring in the traditional sense.

He might even be on his regular WGR talk show hour, "Roby Radio," at 8 Wednesday morning.

His tears Sunday night seemed to surprise him, though in retrospect they were totally understandable.

"I was signed by the New York Rangers when I was 14," said Robitaille. "When your whole life is hockey, it is not an easy thing to give up."

His tears might have confused some viewers into thinking Robitaille was giving up all his media ventures instead of just his regular MSG role.

In a telephone interview Monday night, Robitaille said he expects to do his WGR show for four or five Wednesdays during the National Hockey League playoffs, plans to be back on WGR at least for his hour show in the fall and might also appear on MSG next season on an emergency fill-in basis.

"This is a semi-retirement," said Robitaille. "I'll just have enough to do on TV to have a parking pass."

A semi-serious attempt to honor BEMA winners

By Alan Pergament

For some reason, I didn't get a release over the weekend about the winners of the Third Annual Buffalo Excellence in Media Awards (BEMAs) that were presented Friday night.

That could be because I've likened the awards to both the People's Choice Awards and to youth athletics when just about everyone gets a trophy just for participating.

Or it could be because my email is just about always full and the release couldn't make it to my mail box.

In any event, I was still able to see who won via Twitter, where all the winners were congratulated or tweeting about their wins. I hear everyone had a very good time.

And I'll try to write about the BEMAs seriously without taking too many cracks, but it is really, really hard to do.

Clearing up the Buffalo roots of "Idol" finalist

By Alan Pergament

I received the nicest correction I've ever gotten Thursday.

It came from an aunt of "American Idol" finalist Jena Irene Asciutto.

She wasn't correcting me as much as she was correcting a relative.

Linda Asciutto, who was born and raised in South Detroit, thanked me for "the nice article" Wednesday on her 17-year-old niece from Detroit.

However, she added she wanted to clear up some things about Jena's Buffalo roots given to me by a Western New York relative who she knew "means very well and is very proud of Jena's accomplishments."

Here's what Linda Asciutto wrote:

"Jena's grandfather (my father) was not Andrew, rather was Gandolf (named after his grandfather Gandolfo). My grandfather was indeed Andrea, who did hail from Buffalo. However, my dad (Jena's   grandfather) was born and raised in Detroit, not Buffalo, and my mother was in fact, Irene. Jena's       middle name was given in honor of my mother. In addition to many of the original Asciutto descendants in Buffalo, offspring are aplenty in the Detroit area as well.

"We appreciate our cousins and other relatives from Buffalo; think highly of our Buffalo roots and the time you took to write your article. No need to make any correction publicly; I just wanted to let you know."


Linda Asciutto

I emailed her back that it was my duty as a journalist to make the corrections.

I'm sure all the Asciuttos in Detroit and in Buffalo were rooting for Jena Irene Thursday night on the Fox results show when she learned her magical "Idol" ride will continue.

She now is one of the seven remaining finalists.

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Was that really "Sharknado 2" filming here?

By Alan Pergament

I ran into the filming of a movie on Lafayette Square Sunday morning that I was told had the tentative title of "Alligator Apocalypse" and was produced by the same company behind last summer's campy Syfy channel and social media hit "Sharknado." 

Extras were supposedly battling imaginary alligators last weekend at the corner of Clinton and Washington Streets with chain saws, axes, pitchforks and shovels as Buffalo stood in for New York City, where the film is set.

But was that title purposely misleading by The Asylum, which is the film's production company?

Some suspicious extras believe they were really involved in the sequel, "Sharknado 2: The Second Coming," that is set in New York City.

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