Primetime Q&A: Odd times an old tactic to keep viewers


Why are certain prime-time programs starting before or ending before or after their normal time? Recently “Lost” ran past the normal 10 p.m. ending time. “ER” looks like it is scheduled to begin at 9:59 instead of 10 p.m. This practice is very annoying because you are forced to either miss part of the program you were watching on another network or miss the beginning of the other show.

Several people asked about this, probably as a result of an extended “Lost.”

But it’s not a new tactic. “ER” has been airing at 9:59 for years. “Everybody Loves Raymond” ran until 9:31 and “Two and a Half Men” does likewise. “Deal or No Deal” recently ran until 9:01.

Although in rare cases the extended length results from producers wanting a bit of extra time to tell a story, the general reason is to keep you from channel-flipping on the half-hour.

But it does create problems for viewers, and for people recording shows. Although some listings do indicate odd start and finish times for shows, your best bet is to set your time for extra minutes before and after a show.

A few years back I enjoyed watching “The Dead Zone” with Anthony Michael Hall. When will it be on again?

A new season is due on June 18.

Is “Rescue Me” going to have any new episodes? I think it’s a great show.

The third season will begin on May 30 on FX.

My daughter was up sick early in the morning one Saturday and we saw a wonderful documentary on a 40-year-old retarded man named Jon and his family; they were from North Carolina. If possible, could you please help find the name of the program.

You saw “The Teachings of Jon,” a documentary about a man with Down syndrome, directed by the man’s sister, Jennifer Owensby. You can get more information, including how to order a copy, at

Could you please tell me if Ron Orbach is any relation to Jerry Orbach? I watch “Law & Order” and Ron has been on that program at different times.

According to several Internet references, stage and screen actor Ron Orbach is a cousin of Jerry.

Can you tell me if “NewsRadio” can be seen anywhere. My boys and I used to watch re-runs on the USA Network all the time but have not seen it in years. Hopefully, you will have some good news for us all.

Would you settle for mixed news? I could not find a current listing of telecasts of the NBC comedy, which starred Dave Foley. But the first three seasons are available on DVD – the first two in a single set, the third in a separate set.

A few years back, I saw a movie on TV at Christmas time. Reba McEntire played in it. She left home against her father’s wishes, to make a career of her own. She was on a bus traveling when they ran into a snowstorm. There was an old man on the bus who was a diabetic. Good movie. I don’t remember the name. Could you help me find the name and where I might buy it?

The movie was called “Holiday in Your Heart,” but it did not star Reba McEntire. It featured LeAnn Rimes and Bernadette Peters and was based on a book of the same name, co-authored by Rimes. The movie is not currently available.

Will you please give me the address for TNT? I have to let them know how I feel about these terrible “Law & Orders” they are playing. They have many wonderful older ones and they won’t play them. I don’t know what happened to “Law & Order” since Benjamin Bratt left but something did.

You can write to TNT PR, 1050 Techwood Drive N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318. I also passed along your complaint, and was told some Bratt episodes will show up in the telecasts at 3 and 4 p.m. weekdays. You may also want to investigate the DVD releases of the first four seasons.

Do you have a question or a comment for the TV mailbag? Write to me by e-mail to or regular mail to the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309.