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Through the Wire

5/18/2007 8:00 PM Eastern

'Backyard Habitat's' Rosie Shout-Out

What better unpaid promotion than to get raves from the most attention-getting hostess on morning talk TV?

Animal Planet was the beneficiary of such praise from The View's Rosie O'Donnell on May 11. After rambling on about her “relationship” with an inquisitive squirrel in her yard — better than acquisitive millionaires as a topic — O'Donnell mentioned she'd like more visitors from the wild kingdom at her suburban home.

Suddenly, an idea came to her: She asked the other panelists if they were familiar with Backyard Habitat, an Animal Planet show that adapts viewer backyards to be more attractive to birds, animals and butterflies.

“I'd love to be on that show,” she said, turning to the camera to add, “Call me.”

Great! A promotable episode!

There's only one problem: the series, hosted by David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation, is out of production, according to Patricia Kollappallil, vice president of communications for the channel.

Asked about the Rosie rave, Kollappallil said, “Oh yeah, we called her … or at least her people. We can certify a backyard for anyone.”

Is there a special in the future?

“It's the first thing we thought about,” she said. “She's a big animal advocate.”

There have been only a couple of tentative discussions, though, she said.

Rosie, Patricia: When it happens, “Call us.”

TLC's Gift to YouTube:Entertaining 'Life Lessons'

Our latest favorite time-waster is the area on YouTube devoted to submissions for TLC's “Life Lessons” video contest. The channel challenged amateurs to piggyback onto its on-air campaign by making short films for its web “Life Lessons I Learned the Hard Way” contest. (See http://www.youtube.com/tlclifelessons.)

The contest, which closed to entries on May 20, will earn the top submission, determined by online voting, a spot for the film on TLC, plus $10,000.

Lessons we've learned from looking at the submissions: a significant portion of Americans don't bother to read directions. Qualifying films have to be in a television format (not jiggly cell phone footage) and no more than 60 seconds (there are a lot of rambling auteurs out there).

That said, there are some intriguing candidates. One woman learned she'd be inundated with credit card applications for checking her credit report online, so now she opens the missives and puts all the junk mail in the prepaid return envelope to be sent to the solicitor. Others are just great titles: “Alcohol, dogs and coffee don't mix” is not as intriguing as its label.

Then there's Randall M. Rueff of Taylorsville, Ind. This frequent entrant submitted four spots just on crossing his eyes. He spends way too much time in front of his Webcam.

“Yeah, we log in every day to see what he's submitted now. He's definitely going for quantity,” laughed Doug Seybert, director of marketing at TLC.

The channel is pretty pleased with the response, Seybert said, adding that among the 200 submissions as of Friday, there were some “very intriguing” entries. The channel might approach some makers beyond the contest winner for on-air permissions, he said.

Yes, some have already incorporated TLC's logo and design elements, or use very sophisticated animation. But our favorite, after streaming a few of the “what were they thinking?” submissions, was a replication of TLC's print element, a simple brass plaque. This submission read: “Just because you have a digital camera doesn't make you the next Spielberg.”

Next!

Gotuit Gets Smacked As Akon Wasn't Locked Up Before Briefing

File this under: It's hazardous to schedule press conferences with big-name celebrities during trade shows so as to get maximum exposure for your company. Sometimes, those celebrities don't have the same timetable.

Gotuit Media, a video-on-demand service provider that lets consumers quickly select scenes or categories of videos, added a new application last week. It lets consumers go to a musician's microsite and splice together new music videos out of scenes from existing videos by the artist. (See www.Gotuitmusic.com.)

The first featured artist from Universal Music Group was to be Akon, the R&B star known for such hits as “Locked Up” and “Smack That.” So Gotuit scheduled a briefing during the Streaming Media East conference in New York to make an announcement and show a demo. Some reporters were a bit disappointed the invite's reference to a Billboard Top Ten artist meant the microsite, not Akon himself. But most said “Don't Matter” (another Akon title) when CDs got handed out.

Unfortunately, it turned out Gotuit and Universal Media Group hadn't quite locked up Akon's approval for the site, so Gotuit's publicists had to smack down the Akon angle the next day. The companies were said to be assembling another remix site late last week.

After which, we expect a call citing another Akon track: “Baby I'm Back.”

BET Doesn't Take Snub Lightly, Blasting Black Journos' Award'

Black Entertainment Television will receive an award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) during the organization's annual NABJ Convention & Career Fair in Las Vegas this August. But it's a good BET CEO Debra Lee or other network executives won't be there to accept it.

The NABJ, one of the first organizations to condemn radio shock jock Don Imus's racially tinged comments in April regarding the Rutgers University women's basketball squad, named BET as the recipient of its not-so-prestigious “Thumbs Down Award.” NABJ executives say that BET will receive the award for its paucity of African-American-oriented news coverage in 2006 and a failure to telecast live the February 2007 funeral of civil rights legend Coretta Scott King.

BET didn't wait until the August ceremonies to respond. In a statement BET declared it was “disappointed” by NABJ's action and called some of the assertions “factually inaccurate.”

For starters, BET said it covered the funeral and King's legacy.

It's also “aggressively and significantly ramped up its news coverage on a range of issues affecting the black community,” including the spot news special Inside the Imus Controversy and SOS: One Year Later, a month-long look at lack of progress in rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

The network also cited the specials Bullets and Ballots, exploring gun violence; Black is Beautiful, a critical look at the usage of the N-Word; and Sex, Myths and the Real Deal, exploring the AIDS epidemic among black people.

Your move, NABJ.

September