Saturday, January 13, 2007

Live interview gone awry: or why producers should stay on top of things

Video of Paula Abdul’s live appearance from New York on a newscast of a Seattle TV station is all over the internet right now. Some bloggers are speculating she was drunk … others think she was high on drugs … her spokesman swears she wasn’t under the influence but rather that she was tired and that technical difficulties were involved.

I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

Abdul was promoting the next season of “American Idol” on the Fox affiliate in Seattle. I know it’s very big to do news-entertainment crossover promotions (on any network), but it’s still cheesy and annoying. She was set to talk about the “Idol” auditions in Seattle – which is sort of news – but not really.

It has been entertaining for the internet world, sure. Funny for those who aren’t fans of Abdul. And funny in general.

And it’s been publicity for the station. But is it good publicity?

I do love that the anchors just couldn’t stop laughing at Abdul at the beginning.

But I had a major problem with the whole thing. The “interview went on for more than three minutes. The producer of the newscast wasn’t in control of the situation. He or she let the anchors and Abdul keep going. I know there was a budgeted time in the newscast for the live interview and the producer would have had to scramble to fill the hole.

But I think this is one case where the producer should have stepped in and had the anchors end the situation as gracefully as possible. That a producer’s job – to rearrange things if necessary and to keep going with the newscast.

I know the station had probably booked a certain amount of satellite time for the interview and wouldn’t be able to get that changed. It would cost the same amount of money to go through with the whole interview as it would to cut it short.

But things weren't going that well. This shows the dangers of live interviews. While they are often useful and informative, here it was a huge risk. The anchors did a fairly good job of sticking to questions and trying to keep Abdul on track. However, there was no telling what she was going to do or say, and the anchors had to play reactive roles rather than staying in charge of the interview.



At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point about the producer, but I don't think he/she should have stepped in unless she was swearing or doing something along those lines. Abdul knew what she was getting into when doing the interview. If she was drunk or high, then that's her problem.
I think the news anchors sometimes coddle the interview subjects by asking them easy questions to make sure the subjects look ok. That's really not how it's supposed to be. They are there to ask the questions the general public would ask if they were there...not to make Abdul look good by gracefully ending the interview.


At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Anonymous TD said...

LA...I totally agree with you. The producer should have really cut that interview short. I felt that the anchors were kind of egging her on and chuckling in between asking her questions. I know that FOX is a little on the campy side sometimes, but that was embarrasing for Abdul and it reflects badly on the station itself. Exploiting someone for good television is just not right to me.

At Sunday, January 14, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I agree with JE.

If the producer wasn't going to cut it short, I feel the anchors should have at least changed the course of the interview.

By politely ignoring her clear intoxication, the anchors looked almost as out-of-it as Abdul. What would it have taken for the anchors to address it? Projectile vomiting toward the camera lens?

My guess is the women were afraid to deviate from the script. Can't you just imagine the wrath of Abdul's publicist?



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