1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 1 (USA)
16 x 60 minute episodes
Hank Zaret (John Shea) is the new news director at WNDY, Channel 12, a (fictional) local Midwest television news station. He has been sent by executives at the network which owns the station to bolster its sagging news ratings.
His goal is to make “News 12” number one in the ratings – although it is currently tied for fourth place with reruns of Mister Ed.
Hank – who got his start at WNDY years before as an intern – returns to a station in such financial trouble its staff have nicknamed it “WIOU”.
Neal Frazier (Harris Yulin) is the anchor of News 12 and earns $1.3 million a year. Neal is an overbearing lothario with an inflated ego and a wandering eye, especially for younger women.
His co-anchor is Kelby Robinson (Helen Shaver), a dedicated journalist who had once been Hank’s lover. She is 37 years old and desperately trying to protect her job from the younger, glamorous reporters who covet it. Kelby has been in local television news for 12 years.
Floyd Graham (Dick Van Patten) is the station’s veteran weatherman. He takes advantage of his celebrity status by promoting his restaurant (“Floyd’s Restaurant”) on the show. He caters to senior citizens, who he feels “are his numbers.”
25-year-old field producer Ann Hudson (Jayne Brook) has a nose for news but has a tendency to freeze up on the air if there’s a technical mishap while she is reading copy (she does the “Newsbreak 12” reports). Ann wants to be taken seriously and to become an on-the-air reporter. She is dating wealthy yuppie Rick Singer (Steven Eckholdt). News intern Willis Teitlebaum (Wallace Langham) has a crush on Ann.
Longtime executive producer Liz McVay (Mariette Hartley) felt she had been passed over when Hank was hired. She very much wants to be the news director but has missed out on the job three times in the past year.
Reporter Eddie Brock (Phil Morris) is an ambitious newsman with minimal scruples when it comes to furthering his career, and reporter Taylor Young (Kate McNeil) is a recent arrival from Tampa with a mindset almost identical to Eddie’s.
She is determined to replace Kelby and become the co-anchor, and she knows her beauty gets her numbers and uses her sexuality to acquire ratings.
Unprincipled cameraman Marc Adamson (Eric Pierpoint) works with Taylor to further both their careers.
Lenny Lubinsky (Kevin Conray) is WNDY’s sportscaster. His claim to fame is having been the only white player on the local NBA team’s roster – although he never played more than the last 15 seconds of a game.
Tony Pro (Joe Grifasi) is WNDY’s fast-talking public relations director, and Kevin Doherty (Robin Gammell) its anxiety-ridden general manager, fearful that if the ratings don’t get better, he’ll be out of a job.
Although no city was ever mentioned, with the call letters WNDY, this series could have been set in Chicago. Despite lavish praise from critics and a cast that gave WIOU a very real look, the ratings for the series were even lower than the news ratings for fictional WNDY.
The series never found an audience and was cancelled with five episodes never aired.
Dick Van Patten