It looks more like "The Empire Strikes Back" than "The City Hall Report," but Annapolis officials insist their new cable TV show is no grudge match.
The show, which will air for the first time Dec. 10, comes shortly after former Mayor Dennis Callahan started his own cable TV show. Mayor Alfred A.
Hopkins defeated Callahan in last year's Democratic primary, and there's been no love lost between Callahan and the Hopkins administration since.
Both shows appear on United Cable TV Channel 15 in Annapolis.
Does the city's show have anything to do with Callahan's?
"Of course not," City Administrator Michael Mallinoff said. "The timing is inauspicious, but the show is something we've been mulling over for a long time."
Not so, says Callahan.
"That's totally untrue," Callahan said. "They were very upset that I had a show and they wanted equal time."
Andy Ciesielski, United Cable's local program manager, balked at using the word "upset," instead saying the city's show was "inspired" by Callahan's show.
Anyway, the inevitable Callahan questions aside, the show is called "The City Hall Report." Mallinoff said the purpose of the show is to let the public know what's going on inside the city administration and various city departments. In the spirit of Sgt. Joe Friday, Mallinoff said the show will give "just the facts, Ma'am."
The show also is in keeping with the administration's desire to maintain a low profile and stay out of the newspapers, something they believe led to Callahan's defeat.
"The goal of it is to be a conduit to the people, without having to go through the newspapers," Mallinoff said. "We don't write letters to the editor."
Mallinoff will be host of the half-hour show. On the first show, Hopkins will talk about what he hopes to accomplish over the next three years.
On subsequent shows, department heads will talk about what's going on in their departments.
In the middle of each show, the city will run a calendar of events and meetings. The show will also cover events with a remote camera.
"It's a venue that's provided to us at no cost, and it's a chance to let people know what's going on," Mallinoff said. "It's a way to report, in a very unglamorous way, what we're up to. We're not big on press conferences or news releases."
The city will do a new show every two weeks, and each show will run six times: Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Fridays at 10 a.m.
Callahan's show, "Maryland on the Half Shell," is taped weekly, and is aired Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 12:30 p.m.