When Chris Hardwick visits Maryville to see his brother, he spends his time driving around and on a search for some good East Tennessee grub.
"I kind of drive around and eat at Cracker Barrels," the Memphis-born Hardwick deadpanned recently. "I try to find local food, good local food. I'm always looking for some good barbecue, especially when I am in the South."
Hardwick had planned to visit his brother, Eddie Hardwick, around this time, but his work schedule has been packed. He recently starred in his first Comedy Central hour-long special, is host of AMC's "Talking Dead" chat fest and is traveling around the country doing comedy. He does about 100 dates a year.
Eddie Hardwick and his wife, Belinda, have two children, Caleb and Bella.
Since he's booked for a stand-up show next week in Nashville, Hardwick and his brother will have a quasi-family reunion with a new addition in the mix.
"My brother just had a baby," Hardwick says.
And like any good uncle, Hardwick will be the cool one — the uncle who brings the cool toys and can talk tales of all the celebrities he knows, such as Neil Patrick Harris.
For a self-proclaimed ruler of a "nerd media empire," he runs Nerdist Theater at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles and hosts the nerdist podcast. Hardwick is proud to be a nerd, albeit a tired one at the moment.
Still, he has goals of what he'd like to do next time he's in Maryville. For instance, he's never been to Dollywood.
He wouldn't mind a "Dollywood" T-shirt.
"If I know I'm going to stay a little while (for a Maryville visit), I have to get to Dollywood," Hardwick said with a laugh. "I have to get a mug that proves I have been to Dollywood."
Given its heavy media hype all over Knoxville, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," which chronicled the building of West Knoxville family Daniel and Mandy Watson's new home, managed strong ratings, but still was not the most-watched program in the market Monday.
"Extreme" drew an overnight household rating of 12.3, the kind of number that Knoxville-market power hitters such as "NCIS" and "American Idol" usually muster every week. But even that rating number was not the benchmark for the night.
At 7 p.m., a locally produced special featuring WATE, Channel 6, personalities on the "behind-the-scenes" making of the "Extreme" episode limped to the finish line with an overnight of a 3.8 rating, behind "Entertainment Tonight" (4.1) on WVLT, Channel 8, and "Wheel of Fortune (12.6) on WBIR, Channel 10.
The most-watched non-news program for Monday? That would be game-show giant "Jeopardy" (13.3), at 7:30 p.m. on WBIR.
Overall, the day's most popular shows were: "NBC Nightly News" (15.6), WBIR's 6 p.m. news (14.9), "Jeopardy" (13.3), "The Voice" (12.7), "Wheel of Fortune" (12.6) and "Extreme Makeover" (12.3).
When "Today" visited the University of Tennessee earlier this year, the installment netted an overnight rating of 11.1, which is remarkable when considering that particular "Today" show hour aired from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on a Tuesday, when most people are at work.
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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