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Z on TV
Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV
CNN's Rachel Nichols dares to question the imperious Roger Goodell

Check out this condescending, smug and imperious answer from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to CNN correspondent Rachel Nichols when she asks if NFL-led-and-paid-for investigations of NFL matters have an inherent conflict of interest.

Of course, they do.

But Goodell says, of course, they don't.

And off he goes talking about "integrity." He must believe if he says it enough someone will start to believe he has it.

Oh wait, NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth is a true believer. Remember Collinsworth kissing Goodell's ring during the second round of the playoffs and saying how he never doubted Goodell's "integrity" through the whole sorry, nasty, bungled Ray Rice affair?

Good for Nichols for standing up in the middle of a sea of softballs thrown during a pre-Super Bowl press conference out in Phoenix -- and daring to risk Goodell's wrath.

I hope CNN is behind her on this and doesn't cower before Goodell like NBC.

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Watch this year's Super Bowl? No, thanks.

I watched the first Super Bowl in 1967, and it was one of the great TV viewing experiences of my life.

The resonant, rock-steady call of play-by-play announcer Ray Scott and the 35-10 throttling that my beloved Green Bay Packers gave the brash Kansas City Chiefs was all any teenage sports fan could hope for — and then some. The pageantry, primitive as it was by today's outrageous standards, was pretty exciting to a 17-year-old boy.

I have watched every Super Bowl since, hoping to recapture that TV high. But I won't be watching this one Sunday on NBC.

I made that decision during the divisional-round AFC playoff game Jan. 10 between the Ravens and the New England Patriots, when the NBC cameras showed Roger Goodell in the stands during a timeout and NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth praised the NFL commissioner's integrity.

Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels joined the PR effort by telling viewers that an internal review paid for by the NFL had, "after analyzing millions of pages of...

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Delighted to have 'The Americans' back on FX and the dark streets of D.C.

“The Americans” returns tonight for the start of Season 3 on FX, and I’m right back in Ronald Reagan’s America with Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) Jennings.

After decades of writing about TV, it still pleasantly surprises me how I can lose track of a fine TV series after its season ends and then, after watching only a few seconds of the new season, be pleasurably transported back to its fictional universe. And it feels like I never left.

Some fast update without spoilers:

The pressure builds on Elizabeth and Philip to start socializing their 14-year-old daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), to becoming a “second generation” spy for the motherland. And Elizabeth and Philip don’t exactly agree on how to handle this.

Stan (Noah Emmerich) gets some news on Nina (Annet Mahendru) and some advice on living in the moment.

And Special Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) gets a very bloody nose.

I have been trying  to figure this series out for two years.

Part of the success involves some...

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Tim Tunison named news director at WBAL-TV

Tim Tunison has been named news director at WBAL-TV, according to Dan Joerres, president and general manger of the Hearst-owned station.

Tunison, a graduate of Ithaca College, has been assistant news director since 2005.

He succeeds Michelle Butt, who left WBAL last week to become general manager at a Hearst station in North Carolina.

“Tim has done outstanding work for our station in various roles,” Joerres, said. “His appreciation for localism, coupled with a commitment to investigative journalism, will enable us to continue to build upon WBAL-TV’s position... in our viewing area.”

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Kevin Spacey wins SAG award as best drama actor

Kevin Spacey won the Screen Actors Guild Award as outstanding actor in a drama series Sunday.

It was his second major award in two weeks for his performance as Frank Underwood in the Maryland-made political thriller "House of Cards" from Netflix. He also won the Golden Globe as best actor in a drama series.

Spacey was not at the awards ceremony, which was televised on cable channel TNT.

The other nominees from Maryland-made productions lost Sunday.

They included Robin Wright as best female actor in a drama series for her work in "House of Cards" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as best female actor in a comedy for performance in HBO's "Veep."

Viola Davis, of "How to Get Away With Murder" (ABC) won for best female actor in a drama, while Uzo Aduba, of "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix) won as best female actor in a comedy.

"House of Cards" was also nominated for best ensemble performance in a drama, while "Veep" was nominated for best ensemble performance in a comedy.

"Downton Abbey" (PBS) won...

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Duff Goldman 'Ace' of two Food Network shows now

At the start of Duff Goldman's new Food Network show, "Kids Baking Championship," which premieres next week, eight pint-sized pastry-chef contestants are lined up onstage to meet their co-hosts, Goldman and actress Valerie Bertinelli.

As the two make their entrance and approach the kids, a trembling boy whispers to the child next to him, "I didn't think they were real."

I don't know about Bertinelli, kid, but Goldman is definitely real.

The last time I saw Goldman, back in 2011, he was winding up the last season of "Ace of Cakes," the Food Channel show that made him TV-famous, and was about to open a new bakery in Los Angeles as a complement to the home office in Baltimore. He held nothing back about the life passage he was navigating.

I asked him if he was nervous about the big L.A. gamble, and his unprintable answer involved being so "scared" that bodily functions were altered.

With Goldman, you get it raw with almost no showbiz blah-blah-blah.

And so it was again when we reconnected this...

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