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Kotalik to start new year back home

Liz Kotalik will put the final touches on her three-year KGUN TV stint at year's end and launch the next step in her television career in her hometown.

Fortunately, her hometown is a couple hour drive up I-10, and in a top 15 market.

Kotalik, an anchor for Good Morning Tucson and KWBA TV's Good Morning Tucson Extra, has accepted a position with Fox 10 in Phoenix, where she will handle morning reporting duties and substitute in an anchor capacity when members of the first team take some time off.

"I've been watching Fox 10 since I was a little girl," Kotalik said. "The people I've been working with are people I feel like I've known so well and I've grown up with. Meeting the main anchors was surreal thinking I could be working with these people. Even though I will now, it still hasn't sunk in."

KGUN opened the door. Upon her graduation from ASU, the local ABC affiliate offered Kotalik her first paid gig. She started at the bottom, but soon the station recognized her talent and potential and ultimately promoted her to the morning anchor desk.

"I've had so many opportunities at KGUN," Kotalik said. "I worked my way up from multi-media journalist, going around and lugging my own equipment to being the morning anchor. I'm so grateful for that opportunity. And that's what's so great about KGUN. I'm not the only person who has been able to take advantage that they hire and promote from within, and that's been great. I've been able to learn what I like and learn about myself as a reporter and anchor in my three years here. I'm so grateful for those opportunities. I'm going to miss KGUN."

She'll miss Tucson as well.

"It's just such a beautiful place. It's so different than Phoenix," Kotalik said. "I know they're in the same state and it's only two hours away. It's not a small city, but I like the feel. Everyone knows each other, and you don't get that as much in Phoenix. It's such a big city. I'm going to miss the margaritas at Mi Nidito. I'm going to miss the Catalinas, Mount Lemmon, I'm going to miss my friends. I made a lot of friends that I'll be friends with for the rest of my life in Tucson."

But for a variety of reasons, an opportunity in Phoenix is too good to pass up. At the top of the list, being close to her family again.

"Phoenix is home. My whole family is here," Kotalik said. "My sister will be going to ASU, my brother is here, my grandfather just moved here from Connecticut where he has lived my whole childhood. I'm excited for that aspect of going back home."

Kotalik's first day at Fox 10 in Phoenix is Jan. 11.

Villarreal provides original movie review content for KGUN website

Phil Villarreal, the journalist who for years defined versatility in reporting for the Arizona Daily Star, until the Star decided it didn't have the budget for someone who could write about a variety of things, has been given a Tucson media platform to again pen material about one of his passions: movies.

Villarreal is crafting movie news pieces for KGUN9.com.

He is no stranger to the medium, and a familiar voice in a variety of renowned online outlets devoted to cinema, video games and technology trends.

Villarreal showcased the same kind of versatility at the Star in a career that spanned more than 17 years. During that time, he covered pretty much everything the paper needed, from sports to movie reviews to features before concluding his stint with the daily as metro reporter.

He is an assignment editor at KGUN in addition to the movie news material he provides, which acts as additional original content for the local ABC affiliate.

Chris Edwards has done it again

Maybe I'm watching the wrong TV these days, but it feels like it's been awhile since I've seen an updated Tucson Appliance commercial. Business owner Chris Edwards has made himself something of a celebrity by virtue of his goofy local ads.

He certainly stepped up, in a fashion that only seemingly he can, with the Star Wars parody that features a cast of quite a few, dressed like cosplay characters who didn't want to turn in their costumes after last month's Tucson Comic-Con.

Edwards has 30 seconds to figure out a way to let you know that he can sell perfectly good appliances with some exterior cosmetic issues for less than big box stores. He generally chooses to get that message across through wacky pop culture parodies. His foray into the Star Wars universe, where he dons Jedi garb to battle a light saber wielding big box Darth Vader, certainly sets a bar.

Whether that bar is high or low hardly matters. Upon initial viewing, the response is more like, "oh my, what is Chris Edwards doing now?"

You don't exactly watch for the Industrial Light and Magic quality special effects, or for the THX quality sound—indeed, in his Star Wars spot, when the whole cosplay crew reads the Tucson Appliance tagline "Where low prices are just the beginning," it sounds more like garbled Chewbacca dialogue—but it doesn't much matter because he seems like such an engaging guy.

And by all accounts that's exactly what he is. There aren't a lot of stories about Chris Edwards: mean person. Instead, most folks admire his philanthropy and community generosity, and that makes putting up with 30 seconds of local kookiness a whole heck of a lot easier.

And it's a hell of a lot more entertaining than watching Phantom Menace in any format.

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