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THE TINY SCREEN: Bob Costas Just Says No:

In this world of media whores, you never know who to trust – and you never think, for a second, that any of them considers what they are spouting at us 24/7. If they can’t beat ‘em, they have to join them and may the best ratings win.

That’s why it’s all the more remarkable that Bob Costas took a stand last week. He just said no. No, he doesn’t want to do yet another show on Natalee Holloway, the teen who went missing in Aruba, nor cover, on the same show, yet more meditation on the BTK killer.

He released the statement that he politely declined, stating that he wasn’t comfortable with the material. For their part, CNN, which owns “The Larry King show” on which Costas was supposed to appear as guest host, brushed off the Costas incident as no big deal. It was able to replace him and, in all likelihood, no one even noticed or cared.

But then news reports began to surface that Costas had turned down the opportunity to pore over the details of the missing white woman yet again and his refusal to partake became even bigger news than whatever nonsense would have come out of the “Larry King” episode (nothing that you hadn’t heard a hundred times before).

So here’s to Mr. Costas for taking a stand and, in so doing, making it known to the networks and to the public that someone out there gives a damn what kind of news he’s reporting to the world. This in light of the Prime Time Live report nailing the racist news coverage of only white women, while other women of color, who go missing all of the time, are completely ignored.

It must feel awful to be someone as obviously intelligent as Costas, and perhaps others, to constantly feed the beast – the public hunger for “missing girl news” after having gained such an appetite for it when Lacy Peterson went missing. And what a relief that someone finally drew a line.

It’s a slow news period, so naturally old stories must be kept alive to develop some sort of cult following like this one has. And the news shows, specifically FOX, but CN’s “Larry King” as well, will not let this one go, even though the trail has long since gone cold, even though there are more horrible stories going on in Iraq every minute, even though there is nothing beneficial that can come out of replaying the same clips over and over again.

They give the people what the people want or else they make the people want it by dishing it out constantly, making more of the story than is there. Who wouldn’t feel enormous sympathy for the mother of Holloway? But with no developments in the case, how can they keep the story alive?

So if you didn’t feel the need to single out any of the talking heads for any reason you have one now. Bob Costas: The Man Who Said No.

To be fair, this summer has been stone cold dead for good television. Most of the new shows have all but bombed, except “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC, the surprise hit of the season. Household viewer-ship was down 6% compared with this time last year. No one watched many of the new reality shows, including “The Law Firm,” which has now been bumped over to Bravo after low ratings. And reruns of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” also failed to gain in numbers. People who are hooked on those shows already saw them once – they aren’t the kind of shows you watch twice.

And if you think it’s been bad for the networks, imagine how we viewers must feel! Indeed, when the only thing mildly interesting to watch is “Dancing with the Stars” you know you’re in trouble.

Notable TV This Week

Thursday, August 25

Evolution (**), with David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, 8 p.m., ABC.

Sweet Home Alabama (***), 8 p.m., FOX.

Drive-In Movies, Clips from drive-in movies of all genres and historical photos and footage from the mid-1930s to the present, 9 p.m., KCET.

Soundstage: America, 10 p.m., KCET.

Friday, August 26

All About the Benjamins (***), 8 p.m., UPN.

Entrapment (***), 8 p.m., TBS.

Reservoir Dogs (****), 8 p.m., IFC.

Strange Days (***), 9 p.m., FMC.

Saturday, August 27

Diana’s Legacy, 8 p.m., BBCAM.

The Mexican (***), Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, 8 p.m., ABC.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (****), 9 p.m., TCM.

Prince William & Harry, BBCAM.

Prince William’s Women, not that there are many to report, 10 p.m., BBCAM.

Sunday, August 28

History of the World Part I, 7:30 p.m., FMC.

Jaws 2 (*), 8 p.m., SPIKE.

Stone Cold, with Tom Selleck and Mimi Rogers, 8 p.m., CBS.

Mystery! The Inspector Lynley Mysteries III: In the Presence of the Enemy, 9 p.m., KCET.

Monday, August 29

Lilo and Stitch (****), 8 p.m., DISNEY.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (***), 8 p.m., IFC.

The Closer, 9 p.m., TNT.

The Terminator (***), 9 p.m., ABC.

Tuesday, August 30

The Sundowners (***), 8 p.m., 7:30 p.m., TCM.

Salvador (***), 8 p.m., IFC.

The Prisoner of Zenda (***), 9:30 p.m., TCM.

“Pickles, Inc.”, The lives of eight widows in the Arab-Israeli village of Tamra in Galilee, 9 p.m., KCET.

Wednesday, August 31

The Maltese Falcon (****), 7:30 p.m., TCM.

Casablanaca (****), 9 p.m., TCM.

American Masters: F. Scott Fitzgerald, 8 p.m., KCET.

Fatal Attraction, “I won’t be ignored, Dan,” 8 :30 p.m., TNT.

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