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BC Beat

With Anne Becker, Michael Malone and Marisa Guthrie

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Disney Goofs on Home Theater Hazards

When Disney/Buena Vista shows up at this week's 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company might get a cool reception from all the home theater/video vendors on hand.

Just last month, Disney released in theaters a cheeky new animated short called How To Hook Up Your Home Theater. An update of the company's classic "How To" shorts from the 1940s, Home Theater depicts a hapless Goofy as he suffers the all-too-familiar hazards, frustrations and indignities of buying and installing a new high-definition TV set.

Vendors like Pioneer, Samsung and Sony, at CES to exhibit their top-of-the-line HDTVs, may be miffed at being the target of Disney's satire. But the Consumer Electronics Association, the organization behind CES, isn't concerned.

"With more than 50% of American households now owning a digital television, we are delighted to see that Goofy has joined the ranks of consumers enjoying the unparalleled picture quality and surround-sound audio experience of DTV," says Jason Oxman, CEA's VP of communications and member relations.

And if installing your home theater is making you feel a bit goofy, Oxman offers this advice: "For those who can't quite get their paws around self-installation, assistance is always available from your favorite local consumer electronics retailer, or online at"

On the Trail

Manchester, N.H., station WMUR is employing a fresh-faced college student to draw young viewers to its coverage of this week's New Hampshire primary.

Joel Holland, a 22-year-old economics/finance major at Babson College, is the Hearst-Argyle station's " campaign trail reporter." His specialty is offbeat interviews that often show a different side of the candidate, such as Republican Ron Paul discussing his battles with claustrophobia.

WMUR is using YouTube and Facebook to spread Holland's reportage for its online "Your Fate '08" feature to Generation Xbox. "The whole point of doing Your Fate '08 is getting our message out to as many people as possible," says WMUR News Director Andrew Vrees. "We're doing the things younger users say they want to see more of."

Holland knows something about reaching the kids. As an eighth grader, he interviewed some 150 celebs, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, for a children's educational Website. "We were mastering the concept of what works for young viewers," Holland says.

Given his recent interview with Mike Huckabee supporter Chuck Norris, it seems he's nailed it. Holland asked him to name his favorite "Chuck Norris Fact," those virally shared tall tales about the action hero's toughness. Norris gamely replied: "They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn't tough enough for his beard."

Sober News

Media critics love to lament the tabloidization of TV journalism. But if the broadcast networks' newscasts are any indication, serious beats sensational—by a long shot.

Last week, Andrew Tyndall, who analyzes TV news in his online Tyndall Report, released his 2007 Year in Review, which ranks the Top 20 news stories—by airtime—among the three nightly newscasts.

While it's no surprise that the Iraq war was the year's top story, at 1,157 minutes total, Tyndall also noted "how strenuously all three network evening newscasts avoid tabloid, celebrity, human interest or boldface stories."

No such story cracked the Top 20. The death of Anna Nicole Smith, perhaps the year's most salacious story, ranked No. 129 of 253 stories that received at least 10 minutes of coverage, with a mere 21 minutes from ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.

"If you wanted to make a serious point about it," Tyndall adds, "when [ABC anchor Charles] Gibson and [CBS anchor Katie] Couric left their morning shows [ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today], the news changed them more than they changed the news."

Of course, schlock is still plentiful in the a.m., he says: "That stuff is bread and butter for the morning shows."