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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
Mosby's celebrity about more than just a big case

Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby is either a "national black hero" with a passion for justice or a self-aggrandizing opportunist shamefully playing politics in her handling of the Freddie Gray case.

That's the way the national media debate, which started May 1 with Mosby's Twitter-popping news conference on the steps of Baltimore's War Memorial, has sharply come into focus the past week.

And it has intensified to the point where media pundits are now watching and critiquing her every public move, whether standing onstage with Prince at a Baltimore concert or sitting down for an interview with the fashion and celebrity magazine Vogue.

The instant and polarizing nature of her celebrity on TV, in online news outlets and on social media is in part a product of her being at the center of a sensational case with national reverberations. But there's more to it than that, analysts say: Her status also speaks to what she has come to represent symbolically to some and the deeper currents...

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HBO sets Aug. 16 debut for David Simon miniseries

HBO today announced an Aug. 16 debut date for "Show Me a Hero," a six-hour mini-series written and produced by David Simon and William Zorzi and directed and produced by Paul Haggis.

Simon and Zorzi are former Sun reporters.

Here's the release from HBO:

            Your readers may be interested to know that part one of the exclusive HBO miniseries SHOW ME A HERO debuts SUNDAY, AUG. 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT).

            From creator David Simon (HBO’s “Treme” and “The Wire”) and director Paul Haggis (“Crash”), and based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Lisa Belkin, this six-part miniseries explores notions of home, race and community through the lives of elected officials, bureaucrats, activists and ordinary citizens in Yonkers, NY.

            In an America generations removed from the greatest civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the young mayor (Oscar Isaac) of a mid-sized American city is faced with a federal court order that says he must build a small number of low-income...

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Preakness overnight TV ratings down on NBC

Overnight TV ratings for the Preakness were down year to year, according to Nielsen Media Research data provided by NBC Sports.

Last year's Preakness earned a 6.0 overnight ratings, while yesterday's race did a 5.8.

The overnight rating in 2012 was 5.5. The highest recent rating was 6.8 in 2009.

Top local markets were: Baltimore, 16.8; Louisville, 11.9; Ft. Myers, 10.9; Tampa, 9.6; and Indianapolis, 9.2.





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Farewell, 'Mad Men,' Letterman — and boomers

With momentous finales this week — "Mad Men" ending and David Letterman retiring — we will see the end of two landmark TV franchises.

We will also witness two of the last great vestiges of baby-boomer culture leaving the main stage of American life. Say goodbye to the Me Generation and all its generational chauvinism, its no-decade-was-greater-than-the-'60s attitude. As far as TV and all the little screens that now surround it are concerned, no one much cares anymore how Ed Sullivan or the Beatles or "The Flying Nun" shaped the lives of these postwar children — or didn't.

Born in 1947, Letterman has long been the guys' comedian for that generation — for better and for worse.

Better, in the way he took a pop culture that worshipped the show-biz glitz of Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" and made viewers smarter about the artifice behind such TV creations. Letterman's brilliance as a performer resides in the way he mastered the desk-and-couch talk show genre and then deconstructed it with...

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George Stephanopoulos and the $75,000 oversight

George Stephanopoulos now has zero credibility on politics. And if ABC News lets its anchor and political correspondent anywhere near the 2016 presidential campaign, it will have less than zero credibility or journalistic integrity.

ABC News can issue 50 statements like the one it did today saying how it stands behind its co-anchor of "Good Morning America." And Stephanopoulos can address the situation on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the Sunday morning public affairs program he hosts, by falling on his knees and weeping while he begs forgiveness like Jimmy Swaggart on “Nightline."

And you know what? I don’t care.

As a TV journalist and political analyst, Stephanopolous is dead to me – worse than dead to me, in fact, for all the years I gave him the benefit on the doubt that he wasn’t a hopeless ideologue and Clinton devotee. And I will guarantee you that I am not alone in the contempt and revulsion I am feeling for him.

This might not be as bad as the serial lying of suspended...

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Freddie Gray coverage still hot topic on Sunday morning TV

Media coverage of the Freddie Gray story remained a hot topic on Sunday morning cable TV.

Here's a link to a conversation I was part of on CNN's "Reliable Sources" with News York Times columnist Charles Blow and guest host Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington bureau chief and director of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.

Reading Blow is essential to understanding the deeper currents of this story. He also has some kind words for coverage by the Sun in this video chat.

Over on "Media Buzz" at Fox News, host Howie Kurtz included criticism of WBAL's Jayne Miller for covering the Freddie Gray case without disclosing a major conflict of interest.

After playing a sound bite from last week in which Miller acknowledged her relationship with a deputy in State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's office and said she would "step back" from coverage because of that, Kurtz said, "Miller should have disclosed that earlier, and she never said what she means by stepping back. The...

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