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TV Q&A: Why was there an exclamation mark on the door of the Golden Girls’ house?


Trib Total Media TV writer Rob Owen answers readers’ questions every Wednesday at TribLive.com in a column that also appears in the Sunday Tribune-Review.

Q: I was watching reruns of The Golden Girls and noticed an exclamation mark on the inside of the front door. Does it mean anything to the series?

— Deb, via Facebook

Rob: Sometimes I get questions and I know exactly which source to go to. In this case, it’s my Television Critics Association colleague Jim Colluchi, who wrote the book Golden Girls Forever. He did not disappoint and said he had heard the question before writing his book, so he looked to the show’s set artists for an answer.

“The show’s original production designer, Ed Stephenson, spent a lot of time working in theater in Florida, and so he fell in love with a particular Florida look, a wood called cheeky cypress. He wanted to do it again with the Golden Girls set,” Colucci said. “But often the sets are made from plywood and then painted in a trompe l’oeil style to trick the camera into thinking it’s a different – and often more expensive – material. Sometimes a tile-like countertop is actually just plywood with a tile appliqué glued onto it.

“Pekki cypress is especially expensive, so the set was built from a different tree, and then decorators came in to add the faux wood texture. In the case of the door, the texture of the wood they had inadvertently painted looked like an exclamation mark, which no one seemed to notice at the time – only the fans, since the show was repeated so often.

So the answer is it was an accident! Colucci concluded. “Doesn’t mean anything, although I wish it had some secret meaning!”

Q: Will Aquafina – Nora of Queens return?

— Beth, McCandless

Rob: The show was renewed for a third season in May 2022, and to my knowledge, Comedy Central has not turned down the renewal. A premiere date for the third season has not been announced.

Q: My question is about the ethics of KDKA-TV’s coverage of the tragic death of Police Chief Brackenridge earlier this month. As the tragedy was just beginning to unfold, the KDKA began tweeting the name and rank of the deceased officer, citing “sources”. Shortly thereafter, KDKA began using his name and title on air, again referring to “sources”. During this time, WPXI and WTAE continued to remain anonymous. But what was really disturbing was that the KDKA was broadcasting live a press conference with the Allegheny County Police Superintendent. Near the end of this report, the reporter asked the superintendent for the names of the wounded officers, and he stated that proper notices to the families had not been made and refused to name them. Immediately after that, the KDKA continued to name the deceased officer on live television and on the Internet.

Is it really so important for the KDKA to “be the first” and not wait for the official words of the authorities? What if, say, the KDKA misspelled the name and misreported the chief as deceased—or if his family really hadn’t been notified yet? How terrible that would be.

— Tyler, via email

Rob: It would be terrible. I have no inside information about what the KDKA knew and when they found out, or why they used the name before officials made it public.

In some cases, a reporter’s job is to report what they know when they know it, especially when it comes to a public figure. The biggest journalistic sensations of all time came from reporting that was not based on official public statements. But in other cases, especially when it comes to something as important as the identity of the murder victim, reporters should wait until notifications about next of kin appear. This particular example lies between the right of the public to know about the murder of a public figure and the need to allow time to notify a private family.

Tyler’s conclusion is that the family was not told anything. Another possibility is that the KDKA knew the family had been notified, even though officials did not name the deceased.

I shared Tyler’s question with KDKA News Director Sean Hoder, but he declined to answer directly, stating: “KDKA strives to be right and be a committed member of this community. We are working to be a stronger community partner and source of accurate information every day.”

You can contact TV writer Rob Owen at [email protected] or call 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask questions about TV by email or phone. Please provide your name and location.

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