Fox-5 attitude should set new standard for morning TV


Quite the quirky combo:

His scalp obviously suffered a psychological trauma, leaving him with a strange case of clenched hair. Her giggles, expelled like machine-gun fire, could shame Woody Woodpecker. Then there's her hubby, the weather dude with the bone-dry wit and a look that's more of a leer.

Yet among this city's cock-a-doodle-doo crew, Fox-5's daffy Dave Hall and wedded wackadoos Heidi Hayes and Ted Pretty generate a genuine morning mojo fronting Vegas' loosey-goosiest daybreak show. They're also the best-positioned in town for a TV future in which formal will no longer be normal.

Cordiality marks the safe tone of the 5 to 7 a.m. shift at Channel 8, anchored by Dayna Roselli and Dave McCann, and at Channel 13, hosted by sunrisers Lisa Remillard and Casey Smith. Channel 3's "Wake Up with the Wagners" at least taps into the family-friendly vibe. With a five-hour a.m. block, Fox-5 has waged local battle only from 5 to 7, after which the others go network. (That will change a bit: See the end of the column.) But for two hours, they counter affability with attitude.

Dave Hall: "I spent six years and 30,000 bucks on my journalism degree and what did it get me? A seat next to blondie, here." Heidi Hayes: "I spent four years and thousands of dollars to get my journalism degree and what did it get me? I have to sit next to this doofus."

Good-natured snark surges through the show and -- excepting serious headlines -- it's got a go-for-it goofiness:

Hall snacking on a banana while a giggly Hayes reads a story. ... Hayes reacting to a report about women and weeping by dabbing at her eyes. ... Hall promising to "investigate" a sexy Vanessa Hudgens photo by "digging deeper," needling a competitor, and noting of an 11-year-old who interviewed President Obama: "He's already done something you and I never will -- little brat." ... Reporter Amy Carabba, previewing the Star Trek convention, draping an arm around -- and knocking over -- a William Shatner cutout, followed by Pretty attempting the Vulcan greeting. ... And the off-the-cuff utterances of reporter Mike Doria, the loosest cannon on local TV, calling the Silver Nugget sign a "flashing turd" -- gross, but it's that spontaneity, the possibility of blurting out what's better left unblurted, that sparks this show.

They sell companionship convincingly.

Designed for distracted viewers prepping for the day, most morning TV winds up as morning radio, an innocuous background hum. Subtract the Fox-5 images and it's closer to morning-zoo zaniness -- and that's crucial to the future.

Outdated TV templates dissolve as Gen-Internet grows up online, where communication is raucous and raw. Just as straight newscasts must modernize their model with interactive elements, morning TV must unbutton its buttoned-up format and let it breathe, while retaining a civility the Internet often lacks.

Fox-5's show might not be everyone's cup of morning coffee, but its caffeinated style will be TV's new brew.

P.S.: On Monday, Channel 13 adds another hour of news at 9 a.m., evicting "Regis and Kelly," which relocates to 10 a.m. on Channel 33. ... So who wants more news? ... Hands?

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

 

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