BTK film gets little reaction from city

If lots of Wichitans were watching CBS' BTK movie Sunday night, you'd never be able prove it.

Wichita is too small to be a metered market for automatic overnight ratings, so Nielsen would have no records of who or how many tuned in "The Hunt for the BTK Killer," said Laverne Goering, programmer at KWCH, Channel 12, which aired the CBS movie.

And national overnights are still a day or two away from being confirmed and released by Nielsen, Goering said.

And from the reaction — rather, lack of reaction — from viewers at Channel 12, it's anybody's guess whether anyone was watching BTK or tuned into the top-rated "Desperate Housewives" instead.

"I was kind of expecting to get calls," said Joan Barrett, Channel 12 general manager. "I think we had one e-mail about a week ago."

But after Barrett watched the movie herself Sunday night, she wasn't worried.

"It was only loosely based on the events that unfolded over 30 years. After I saw it, I didn't expect any calls."

The movie was not well received by those attending Monday's daily media briefing by the Wichita Police Department.

Many of the attendees were reporters who had covered the BTK case extensively. Some objected to liberties that were taken with the facts. Others thought it was just a dull, poorly made movie.

From the Eagle's BTK Web page immediately after the movie, viewers had mixed emotions. Many quibbled about dramatic liberties and a surprising number didn't like the background music.

One person caught the previews and decided not to watch because actor Gregg Henry looked too much like convicted killer Dennis Rader.

"Too creepy!" the person wrote.

Another caught the last 20 minutes and said the movie was "kind of hokey" but "the resemblance of the actor is eerie."

But one wrote that "I did like that they didn't further victimize the victims and their families. The scenes dealing with the actual murders were pretty brief and blurred."