Robservations on the media beat:
Amy Dickinson, whose “Ask Amy” advice column has been on hiatus from the Chicago Tribune since July 14, said Sunday she’ll be back in the paper “some time this week.” She declined to discuss the reason for her absence, which had her legion of fans buzzing. “The only upside to hiatus is that it is nice to be missed,” she said. “I’m hearing from lots of readers, too.” Dickinson succeeded the late Eppie Lederer (aka Ann Landers) at the Tribune in 2003. Her column is widely syndicated across the country. Dickinson’s latest book, a followup to the bestselling memoir The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, A Daughter and the People Who Raised Them, will be published in March by Hachette Book Group.
Don’t expect to find the high-powered guest list for Michael Ferro’s 50th birthday party in the Tribune’s Chicago Inc. column, but one name that would have been at the top was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Ferro, the media mogul who turned Tribune Publishing into tronc, threw the bash for himself and buddies John Canning and John Bucksbaum Thursday night at Chicago Cut. According to someone who was there, the mayor arrived late and was seated next to guest of honor Ferro. Tronc spokesman Dennis Culloton called the event “a personal gathering of friends,” telling Crain’s Chicago Business: “I don’t understand why this is a news story.”
With hugs for his colleagues and words of love for Chicago, Anthony Ponce signed off Sunday as weekend morning anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. “It really has been a true honor to deliver you the news from this studio as part of this great team we have here,” he told viewers. “Thank you all so much for your support. I love you guys. . . . I love you, Chicago. Love you.” After nine years at the station, Ponce secured a release from his contract to become a full-time driver for Lyft and interview passengers for a podcast series called “Backseat Rider,” which he plans to debut in August. Until a replacement for Ponce is named, Michelle Relerford and Susan Carlson will anchor Saturday and Sunday mornings, according to Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5.
“Life Itself,” director Steve James’s documentary about the late Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, received two Emmy Award nominations last week — one for best documentary and one for outstanding editing. “CNN Films broadcast ‘Life Itself’ all across the country, and there is not a week that goes past when we don’t receive letters at our website, RogerEbert.com, telling us what the film and Roger meant to them,” wife Chaz Ebert wrote on her blog. “But what touches me even more are the comments about how Roger’s words about empathy and putting one’s self in the shoes of a person of another race, religion, age, physical ability, economic status or sexual identity are more important today than when he first uttered them.” Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic of the Sun-Times for 46 years, Ebert died in 2013 at 70. The 37th annual News and Documentary Emmys will be presented September 21 in New York.
Ready for two hours of “Two and a Half Men” every night? That’s what’s in store for viewers of WGN-Channel 9 this fall when the Tribune Media flagship station drops its affiliation with The CW Network and goes independent. Syndicated reruns of the CBS sitcom starring Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher, which now air from 6 to 7 p.m., will be added to WGN’s lineup from 7 to 8 p.m., starting September 19. Back-to-back reruns of “Last Man Standing,” the ABC sitcom starring Tim Allen, will air from 8 to 9 p.m., leading into “WGN News at Nine.” Not impressed? Tribune Broadcasting bosses say they have bigger plans in the works for primetime, but aren’t ready to roll them out yet.