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TV Note: 'Push' promo stunt embarrasses ABC

Monday, September 09, 2002

When ABC's "Good Morning America" cut to weatherman Tony Perkins last Wednesday at about 8:30 a.m. for one of his talk-to-the-real-people bits, standing behind him were members of the Push, Nev., high school hockey team.

"I love Push, Nev.!" Perkins told America on-camera -- loud cheers from the team -- "because the guys from the Push, Nev., high school hockey team have given me this jersey!" -- holds up jersey. "Last year they went 12-and-1," Perkins continued. "They're about to start their new season this year. Lost the championship game last year but said they're going to win this year" -- more team cheers.

Then Perkins moved on to the weather.

The thing is, there is no Push, Nev., high school.

There isn't even a Push, Nev., according to the office of Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn.

"Push, Nevada" is, however, the name of an ABC drama series that debuts this fall.

The "hockey players" were actors hired by a marketing company that ABC Entertainment had contracted to promote its new prime-time mystery drama from Ben Affleck.

ABC says neither the entertainment division nor the news division had any knowledge that L.A.-based ADD Marketing planned to pull this stunt on the news show.

And, apparently, no one involved with "Good Morning America" was aware that ABC Entertainment has a prime-time show debuting this fall called "Push, Nevada," set in a fictitious town, because they had not edited what turned out to be Perkins' lengthy plug for the series by the time "GMA" aired on the West Coast.

This is not good news for ABC if even people who work there are not aware that the network has a new show called "Push, Nevada." No wonder ABC has had to hire a guerrilla marketing firm like ADD -- which specializes in "viral" marketing campaigns -- to try to promote awareness of its new drama series.

ADD is all about "being cool, indie and staying under the radar," the company's CEO, Scott Leonard, told Newsweek last year. But on Thursday Leonard would say nothing. He referred calls to ABC Entertainment, which is exactly what ABC News did, too.

ABC Entertainment said, "We feel we have a very different show in 'Push, Nevada,' and we've decided to market it in a different fashion. To that end we hired an outside company that specialized in grass-roots campaigns, and one aspect of the campaign they formulated was this hockey team in New York. However, the people implementing the campaign did not take into account the types of questions that could arise when you enact this with a different division of the same company."

(Lisa de Moraes, The Washington Post)

WPCB 9/11 specials

Cornerstone TeleVision's WPCB, Channel 40, will broadcast several Sept. 11 specials, including three different "Getting Together" programs at 8:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow and special "His Place" episodes at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow and Thursday.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

'Farscape' canceled

Sci Fi Channel has canceled its critically acclaimed series "Farscape," despite an announcement a year ago that the show had been renewed for a fourth and fifth season with "a 44-episode commitment." The show will now end next year at the conclusion of its fourth season of 22 episodes.

Network executives weren't talking but issued this statement: "There are no bigger fans of 'Farscape' than we here at Sci Fi Channel. It was one of Sci Fi's first original series and quickly became a critical and fan favorite. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to reach a broader audience, 'Farscape' has been unable to grow beyond its core fan-base. That, coupled with the extreme and growing cost of production, has led to the difficult decision to end the series at the conclusion of season four."

The cancellation didn't come as a complete surprise. Ratings for the series didn't grow, inhibited no doubt by the show's complex story, which became even more complicated in the fourth season.

Production on the show concludes this week in Australia, and any sort of resolution to the show's ongoing mythology seems unlikely.

(R.O.)

Channel surfing

Production on ABC's TV movie about the rescue of the nine Quecreek miners begins Sept. 20 in Somerset. David Frankel, who helmed installments of HBO's "Band of Brothers" and "From the Earth to the Moon" and the feature "Miami Rhapsody," will direct the film. ... Daily Variety reports that Cartoon Network has acquired rerun rights to Fox's "Futurama" for airing in its Sunday night "Adult Swim" block beginning in January. ... Soundtracks from NBC's "Scrubs" and last year's musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will both be released Sept. 24.

(R.O.)

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