WPIX was trying to do something special for football fans on Thanksgiving Day, but instead it got itself into a nice mess, as Oliver Hardy himself might have called it.
With Channel 11 set to simulcast the NFL Network's coverage of the Broncos-Giants game Thursday night, the station decided to replace its regular fare with a daylong slate of football-themed programming.
Station executives were aware that meant postponing the 1934 Laurel and Hardy film "March of the Wooden Soldiers" - originally "Babes in Toyland" - a decades-old tradition on Thanksgiving.
Instead, they scheduled it for Dec. 19 and 25.
"I don't think we knew how big that was going to be," Zeigler said.
"We figured, we'll run this thing Christmas Day and it'll be OK."
Um, no. When a viewer uprising ensued, including a Facebook page dedicated to protesting the move, WPIX made partial amends Tuesday, announcing the movie would be shown at 9 a.m. Thursday on LATV, a Spanish-themed station that has an affiliation with Ch. 11.
Zeigler said it was "way too late to try to manipulate the programming,'' by the time fans protested, so this was the best available solution.
"We tried," he said. "I think if we would do it all over again, we'd have left 'Wooden Soldiers' at 9 and started the football stuff afterward."