It's not often you hear someone who has admitted an addiction to coffee enemas on national television worry about looking like a freak to the world.
But that's exactly the fear Trina Elliott confessed during an interview about her appearance tonight on TLC’s attention-getting series My Strange Addiction.
Producers from the show came to St. Petersburg last year, documenting Trina and her husband Mike Elliott’s habit of giving themselves coffee enemas multiple times in a day; the show says Trina administers them to herself up to four times daily, claiming the couple declines to travel or leave their home to indulge the habit.
Early press coverage of their episode, which kicks off the show’s fourth season at 10 tonight, has landed everywhere from ABC News to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post and the syndicated show Dr. Oz, where the couple appeared with other subjects from the show.
But the couple, who now live in Orlando, said they agreed to do the program mostly to try explaining how the enemas have offered Trina relief from constant problems with constipation and kidney stones in ways prescription drugs do not.
They don’t deny indulging the habit or that Trina, in particular, is devoted to taking at least one coffee enema daily (Mike Elliott says he hasn’t indulged the practice regularly for a while.).
Still, the pair worries about how producers crafted the episode -- pairing their story with the tale of a woman addicted to eating her cat’s hair and grooming her pet with her tongue – making it tough to see any larger message in their story.
“We’re not celebrities; we don’t get paid to be on TV,” noted Trina Elliott, 37, who said TLC did not pay them for participation in the show. “I don’t feel bad about telling the world I did this. I just hope the show doesn’t make us look like freaks.”
Their story follows a pattern regular viewers will recognize; they show off their addiction, friends and family try to talk them out of it, a doctor consults with the and they continue the behavior.
One thing both Mike and Trina Elliott insist: they never allowed producers to film them actually taking enemas, instead wearing clothes and re-enacting the procedure while covered by towels. The footage, as presented on the show, might lead viewers to think they were actually watching it happen.
“I think my exact words were, ‘Go f--- yourself,’” said Mike Elliott, 44, a freelance web designer and computer consultant, describing his response when producers from the show asked to film them actually doing the deed.
“I don’t mind talking about it, but I don’t do it in front of people,” said Trina Elliott, who uploaded a video to YouTube in 2010 talking about her difficulty in deciding to begin using the enemas to treat her health issues.
Wendy Douglas, the senior director of production at TLC, was not present at the production but said she was told the crew filmed the couple actually receiving enemas and re-enacting the procedure, using a mix of footage.
“We approach the series where we go out and shoot documentary-style, fly-on-the-wall, to capture the situation,” she said, downplaying the couple's contention that producers pressed them to refer to their experience in certain ways and contrived scenes. “In the story, you really do see this is something they support…We don’t take a position that it’s right or wrong.”
But the doctor who is shown consulting with the couple on possible health effects of their habit, Tampa physician Dr. Alan Weintraub, said he didn’t examine the Elliotts, but instead offered some thoughts based on a short interview.
Weintraub, who said the couple may have downplayed how much coffee they might be using, noted the biggest physical impact from coffee enemas is the more direct absorption of caffeine into the bloodstream. Though he said producers wanted him to be more critical, the doctor noted most people would experience the same effects from drinking a similar amount of coffee orally, though the effect would come in a rush -- which might make them feel better without offering much therapeutic value.
The Elliotts are no strangers to TV. Visitors to Trina Elliott’s YouTube page can click on a playlist with clips from the couple’s appearance on Anderson Cooper’s daytime show last year, where they were among several couples who talked about arguing in a relationship.
Now, Trina Elliot worries that doing the show “is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made” and Mike Elliott is preparing for his friends to tease him mercilessly.
“It is a show called My Strange Addiction…the whole point is to show people abusing themselves with some bizarre behavior,” said Mike Elliott. “I sorta knew what I was getting into…(but) it ended up being more publicized than I expected.”
... Read more
In crunching numbers for a freelance article, I noted a sobering, if long-held statistic: Hispanics are the most underrepresented group on television, with just 4 percent of speaking roles in the current TV season featuring such characters.
Bear in mind: according to the latest Census figures, non-white Hispanics are now 17 percent of the population, at 53 million people. By 2019, some demographers predict no ethnic group will be a majority among the nation's youth aged under 18; turning America's young people into a true melting pot, fueled by growth among Hispanic families.
So why is TV so slow to reflect these trends? At a time when NBC seems on the verge of keeling over and the network TV model is besieged from all sides, the one thing TV networks seemingly haven't tried is shows appealing to the largest group of non-white viewers in the United States.
But that may soon change. ABC on Monday announced plans for a news and lifestyle channel centered on English-speaking Latinos and developed in partnership with Spanish-language TV giant Univision, called Fusion. Already, five huge cable systems have agreed to carry the channel, planned to debut in the second half of 2013: Cablevision, Charter, Cox, AT&T U-verse and Google Fiber.
NBC is also building bridges with its in-house Spanish-language network, Telemundo, in Miami. But such partnerships likely won't create programming for their mothership channels for years.
Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, told me of two different shows under development by two different networks; one is a comedy based on John Leguizamo's life, showing his struggle to raise his kids, raised in wealth, with the same values he leaned growing up as a poor kid in the Bronx. Another, is a drama featuring two white doctors working in an emergency room serving San Antonio, where Hispanics are 63 percent of the city's population.
Sanchez hadn't seen either show, but his concerns were immediate. "(Leguizamo's show) will have tremendous authenticity and resonate with lots of individuals; especially people of color who have gone on that journey," he said. "In contrast, (the other show's) narrative will be told through the eyes of Anglo doctors and you'll have a slew of gunshot victims, other victims in the Latino roles...On the one hand, you have a progressive approach, on the other, you have a stereotypical approach."
What he didn't note: In Leguizamo's show, you also have a Hispanic man telling his own story. In the other pilot, the stories are filtered through the sensibilities of the non-Hispanic doctors.
I see similar strains in the effort by Fox News to reach Latino audiences, creating the English-language Fox News Latino site in 2010. Fox News architect Roger Ailes told the New Republic he sees that audience as a "tremendous business opportunity," despite the harsh, anti-immigration rhetoric of some anchors and the fact that Fox Business Network hired one of TV's most vocal anti-immigration personalities, Lou Dobbs, when he left CNN.
In an age of increasing digital disruption and falling audiences, it will be interesting to see how various corners of the TV industry turn from ignoring and stereotyping Hispanics to courting them.
Whether or not it works may depend on how long viewers' memories last and how effective the efforts really are. ... Read more
When the zombie apocalypse finally strikes, who can you really trust?
Do you trust the capable, moral leader who hallucinates contact with his dead wife and best friend? Or the manipulative liar whose untruths kept a community safe, while he secretly collected dead men’s heads and coddled his zombified daughter?
That question – how do you judge a humanity twisted by the horror of seeing the dead return to flesh-eating life – looms over the return Sunday of AMC’s The Walking Dead completing its third season (the channel splits its 16-episode season into two cycles).
As the season begins, heroic Georgia sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is struggling with issues that have pitted most every member of his ragtag group of human survivors against each other, while imagining his decease wife Lori is looking over his shoulder.
Meanwhile, at an outpost of survivors called Woodbury, its ruthless leader The Governor (David Morrissey) is coping with the loss of an eye and an armed attack from Rick and his crew, who shoot their way into the enclave seeking to save a member of their group taken captive.
“It’s more a question of, can Rick keep it together at a point when this formidable foe in The Governor is coming for him?” Glen Mazzara, the show’s outgoing executive producer, told the Hollywood Reporter. “People respect and defer to Rick, but everyone will come to realize he’s not the same leader who got them through winter.”
Curiously, the show’s real-life, behind-the-scenes drama mirrors its zombified stories. AMC may struggle to build trust after axing Mazzara as executive producer one year after the cable channel unceremoniously removed filmmaker Frank Darabont from the same job.
As rumors fly placing blame on the creator of the comic book which inspired the show, Robert Kirkman, Mazzara and AMC will only admit to the oft-cited vagary "creative differences." Mazzara has played the good soldier, giving interviews on the news season and retweeting stories to spread word of Sunday’s debut.
Still, with all this maneuvering, there’s a few burning questions at hand as the show returns to new episodes at 9 p.m. Sunday. Here’s my list:
1)Will Rick become a mirror image of The Governor? Secretly keeping a wall display of human heads in glass boxes, killing and torturing those he sees as a threat to Woodbury, The Governor has revealed a murderous side beneath the molasses-smooth image he presents to most of Woodbury. In Sunday’s episode, we see Rick lead an assault on Woodbury which leaves casualties; later, he returns to his crew’s prison retreat determined to kick out a band of newcomers including a new character known to fans of the graphic novel, Tyreese (Chad Coleman). As Rick struggles with visions of his dead wife, is his shattered state growing closer to The Governor?
2)Can the show keep its momentum from last fall? In December, Walking Dead notched a milestone, drawing 6.9 million viewers in the key 18 to 49 demographic for its midseason finale; the biggest number for any fall show on cable or broadcast. But cable’s habit of dividing up seasons can be confusing to viewers and has doomed lower-profile shows such as Men of a Certain Age. At a time when even American Idol has trouble matching past ratings, can Walking Dead keep bringing fans back after its winter breaks? (one possible help; news that Kirkman has created a website, debuting Sunday, that gathers together tons of Walking Dead materials, contests and more at www.thewalkingdead.com)
3)Will another major character get killed by season’s end? In the fall, we saw Rick’s wife Lori die during childbirth and T-Dog, a character who has been in the fold since the second episode, devoured by zombies. As Sunday’s episode starts Darryl Dixon, a survivalist who has become Rick’s right hand man, is forced to fight his brother Merle to the death by The Governor in Woodbury. In a series where major characters are often eliminated just to keep the audience on its toes, the question of who may die next is always looming large.
4)Will Walking Dead stop killing off its characters of color? This one is a gimme. African American characters Michonne (Danai Guirira) and Tyreese are fan favorites, so they’re likely to stay awhile, countering the show’s recent habit of killing off interesting black people. But in Sunday’s episode, Rick doesn’t trust either of them and is prepared to eject them from the prison where his ragtag group lives; something of a death sentence. Still, given that The Governor is likely to try attacking the prison, Rick may have to roll out the welcome mat for characters he doesn’t entirely trust.
That's a sweep spot fans like me – who love seeing just how twisted people can get when the chips are down, zombie apocalypse-wise – can really savor.
... Read more
You know you're in some kind of bizarro media world when a guy who hosts a fake news satire comedy show is more willing to correct his mistakes than a guy who hosts a program on an outlet which actually calls itself a news channel.
But that's what seemed to happen Thursday night, when Jon Stewart admitted on Comedy Central's The Daily Show that their comedy bit on the controversy involving the president's rationale for terrorist drone strikes was a bit outdated -- a marked contrast to the "clarification" issued by Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly denying a mistake on the very same story.
This week, a white paper surfaced outlining the legal justification the Obama administration has outlined for using drone aircraft to kill terrorist leaders -- even if they are American citizens -- without the typical due process of law. The Daily Show pleaded Wednesday for President Obama to at least show classified documents on this justification to Congress; on Thursday, Stewart admitted that, between the Wednesday show's 5:30 p.m. taping and its11 p.m. airtime, Obama agreed to do just that.
O'Reilly found himself with a different problem after a Wednesday segment with Democratic analyst Bob Beckel, in which he asserted NBC News and MSNBC were ignoring the controversy over drone strikes, saying "you haven't heard anything about this over there, neither have I, neither has my staff...we heard a lot about waterboarding, but nothing about the drone strikes."
The only problem: NBC News broke the story about the white paper, courtesy of investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, kicking off coverage of the issue on NBC Nightly News, the Today show and MSNBC as all outlets made the most of their scoop.
But on Thursday, O'Reilly insisted he was comparing the discussion of "the difference in analysis on the subject of waterboarding as compared to killing people with drones" on NBC News and MSNBC.
That may have been what he meant, but that wasn't what he said; he said NBC had "nothing" on the subject when they broke a huge story on the issue.
Beyond that, websites have already highlighted moments when MSNBC anchors have had exactly the discussion O'Reilly claims they didn't. So he may have intended to say MSNBC isn't discussing the morality of done strikes with the same fervor as waterboarding, but again, that's not what he said.
Seems an odd media world when a fake news guy is more direct in correcting his omissions than the biggest star of the most-watched cable newschannel.
Check out the video clips on it all below.
... Read more
There's something telling about the new poll released on Americans' trust levels for TV news outlets -- besides the fact that Comedy Central, the home of fake news shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, sits on the list.
It's the fact that the outlet named as most trusted by the biggest percentage of 800 people polled, Fox News, is also the least trusted.
Public Policy Polling says 41 percent of those polled trusted Fox News, compared to 46 percent who do not. Three years ago, those numbers were quite different, with Fox News trusted by 49 percent of respondents and distrusted by 37 percent. This year, public broadcaster PBS was the only TV news source to draw more trust ratings than distrust, with 52 percent of those polled saying they trusted the network, compared to 29 percent who did not.
I write about this dynamic in my new book Race-Baiter, noting a Pew Center poll which says that there is one platform which dominates how people view the news media more than any other: cable news channels.
"It is clear that television news outlets, specifically cable news outlets, are central to people's impressions of the news media," said the study. "when asked what first comes to mind when they think of news organizations, 63 percent volunteer the name of a cable news outlet...only five percent mention a national newspaper..."
What is obvious about certain kinds of cable news outlets, is two dynamics: The drive to reflect a political worldview means those who don't share that worldview will distrust the channel, even though partisanship is clearly the key to success in cable TV news.
And politically partisan cable TV news outlets often succeed the way politicians do: by demonizing and denigrating rivals.
Consider this episode, highlighted by the liberal media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, where Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly criticized NBC for not covering the recent controversy involving President Obama's legal justifications for using drone strikes against suspected terrorists.
The problem: NBC News reporter Michael Isikoff broke the story, revealing secret documents which laid out the president's justifications.
So what does that do to our view of all media, when so many people's impressions of "the media" are formed mostly by cable news?
"The business model of conservative media is built on two elements," wrote conservative commentator David Frum in a 2011 commentary for New York magazine that I quote in Race-Baiter. "Provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much."
I think Frum's notion can be expanded to channels such as MSNBC, Fox Business Channel and CNBC, all of which have indulged in politically partisan programming to varying degrees.
There's even a divide along racial lines, with the new PPP poll showing Fox News with just 29 percent of trust among African Americans -- Race-Baiter details how a focus on scary black people has been a significant part of Fox News Channels' strategy -- compared to 57 percent trust among black respondents for MSNBC, which has the most diverse anchor lineup and took a strong stand on prosecuting George Zimmerman for shooting unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin last year.
If you want to hear me talk further on these ideas, stop by my presentation at 6: 30 p.m. Tuesday, in the Main Library at St. Petersburg College's Clearwater Campus, or my luncheon speech to the Tampa Tiger Bay Club at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 15 in Maestro's, the restaurant at the Straz Center.
Because, as media grows more partisan and polarized, our cynicism about the process will only grow deeper. ... Read more
When he came to WTSP-Ch. 10 in 2009 from Jacksonville, general manager Ken Tonning inherited a station struggling with change, from the death of longtime forecaster Dick Fletcher to an online-inspired name, 10 Connects.
Four years later, Tonning has announced his own retirement, planned for July 5, capping a tenure which has seen the St. Petersburg CBS affiliate return to its old “10 News” brand while pushing the edge of traditional journalism values.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re providing information the way viewers want,” said Tonning, 68, noting that a recent change in on screen graphics, first introduced at WTSP before debuting across owner Gannett Broadcasting’s other stations, allows them to get more information to viewers. “It’s that kind of stepping out and getting noticed that makes a difference.”
Under Tonning’s tenure, WTSP has adopted a more aggressive style of news reporting (industry types often use the word “urgency”) that at times seems imported from the in-your-face attitude of South Florida TV news. That may be in part due to the increased visibility of anchor Charles Billi, a 12-year veteran of Miami’s Fox affiliate WSVN-TV; Billi now takes the anchor desk at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., also reporting from the field.
The station also raised eyebrows last year when, during coverage of a legislative battle which might have seen the University of South Florida lose nearly 60 percent of its state funding, WTSP created the Twitter hashtag #SaveUSF and took a pointed stand in its news reporting against the huge cut.
Tonning cites that story as a major example of the station’s attitude developed during his time, shrugging off questions on whether an objective news operation should have taken a position on a developing story.
“It was unusual for a TV station to jump in like that, but we asked ‘What’s right with this?’” he added. “And we couldn’t find anything that was right about it.”
The station also faced questions regarding an advertisement for a Monster Truck show which featured its morning anchors reading a mock news story. Tonning insisted such moves “never compromised our journalism standards…I’m the one who has to look in the mirror and say: have we compromised ourselves? The answer is no.”
He retires in the wake of one important victory; Gannett Broadcasting announced Monday that revenue for all its TV stations grew 45 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the year before, largely due to political ad spending.
WTSP also acquired the popular game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune this fall, hoping to help boost low ratings among key viewers in afternoon newscasts back in November’s “sweeps” ratings period.
And late last year, WTSP won 11 honors at the Suncoast Regional Emmy awards, more than rival Tampa Bay area TV stations combined.
At a time when TV companies fear disruption from digital technologies and audiences losing the local news habit, Tonning said local stations have to be more aggressive about reinventing their efforts.
“You’ve got to be so far in front of every opportunity these days,” he added. “If you look at how people used to do business…We’re doing things very differently now.” ... Read more
It sounded so odd, I waited a day or so to tell anyone outside my family.
But I watched all 13 episodes of Netflix's new original series House of Cards within one day of the series' release, plopping down on the living room couch Friday night and much of Saturday for a marathon session which left me with the urge to mimic the mesmerizing, silky Southern patios of Kevin Spacey's cagey antihero, corrupt South Carolina Congressman Francis "Frank" Underwood.
It's taken much longer to process what I've seen. Like speed-reading through a book with a spellbinding plot, binge-watching House of Cards leads to inhaling the big moments with an eye to where this is all going. Underwood is special kind of snake, manipulative enough to turn being passed over by the President for a position as Secretary of State into a much larger gambit with a tremendous prize as reward.
Turing to the audience every so often to explain his manipulations, Underwood transforms us all into secret, all-knowing accomplices, reveling in the joy of watching a man so good at being bad get exactly what he wants (the often-underestimated Robin Wright, who plays Underwood's wife Claire, provides a graphic demonstration to a male admirer how this is exactly the quality which drew her to him; explaining their odd partnership with a sex-charged flourish.)
But the great triumph of Cards is that, just as we tool along, savoring Underwood's victories the same way we cheered J.R. Ewing and Tony Soprano, the series flips the script on us, turning Underwood from an antihero to villain. Suddenly, in a single act, we are transformed from a silent cheering section, admiring how Underwood outmaneuvers the petty politicians surrounding him, to a contemptuous chorus, wondering right along with the good Congressman how things got so messy so fast.
Against this backdrop, is a telling commentary on the struggles of journalism in the modern age. As the series begins, Underwood cultivates a relationship with a young journalist, Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), who is presented as the typical young reporter in today's political thrillers -- tech-savvy, impatient with journalism convention and secretly dependent on the tips fed her by the controlling Underwood.
Watching Barnes resist the controlling hand of an editor who refuses to understand how much the new media structure has usurped his authority and influence, I was prepared for another predictable cautionary tale on the vapidity of today's social media-fueled news cycles.
But as the series progresses -- and Barnes' relationship with Underwood gets more, um, intimate -- we see the value in the old school journalism world she left behind. By the final episodes of this first season, old school journalism instincts and new school immediacy begin an alliance which threatens to expose all of Underwood's machinations just he is positioned to seize his greatest triumph.
If all of this reads as painfully obtuse, then blame Netflix itself. Not only has the company redefined TV watching in this bold experiment -- I compare it to paging through a good book, sitting on the shelf whenever you have time and desire -- it has redefined the nature of a TV spoiler.
True enough, all 13 episodes of Cards are available for anyone to see, as of Friday. But no one besides manic TV critics and obsessive Wikipedia editors (yes, the whole first season's plot is already written there) can really be expected to see them all in a few days' time.
Which will create a crisis for critics and TV fans everywhere; when is the right time to share important details, such as Underwood's real goals, the ultimate fate of ambitious, alcoholic Rep. Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) and wife Claire's conflicting loyalties? A week? A month? A year?
Netflix's strategy of not releasing any information on its streaming levels may also work against its series. One time-tested way of building audience is by convincing potential viewers that lots of other people are watching it, too. Absent data on how many subscribers are watching this series and for how long, its game changing impact may be muted.
This is a series which makes high drama of an education bill passage and preparations for a charity ball, so it's not for everyone. And even after devouring the first 13 episodes of its 26-installment run, I was hungry for more and a little unsatisfied -- a sure sign of a story built too much on plot developments and not enough on subtler themes.
Still, House of Cards achieved for me what Netflix likely intended; I can't wait for the next season, I'm eagerly awaiting the next new series they have planned (especially the Arrested Development resurrection) and my opinion of their service has risen several notches.
The TV revolution has begun. And it's coming in 13-episode chunks.
... Read more
As controversy swirled and media coverage exploded following the court verdict this week that shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem did not defame rival radio star Todd "MJ" Schnitt, jury forewoman Kristy Craig feared a lesson was being lost.
So she typed up an email to the Tampa Bay Times, eventually agreeing to become the first juror from the trial to speak on the record, stressing that a verdict for Clem did not equal an endorsement of the material on his show.
"I hated this case," wrote Craig, 36, of Tampa. " 'Hate' is not a word used often in my vocabulary, but I hated it. I hate the word 'whore.' I did not count (though, sitting through over 60 hours of testimony, I had plenty of time to), but I assume I heard the word 'whore' upwards of a hundred times. As a woman, I hate what it implies."
Her email continued: "(But) I love that I can hate the antics of Bubba the Love Sponge. I love that he can say all that sexist, worthless drivel to 400,000 radio listeners every day. I love that I can change the station."
And more: "“I love that I can wake up tomorrow and tell my students how lucky they are to live in a country where we can hate and love at the same time. I love that they can choose love. They can choose to be kind. They can choose to have class. And they can choose to love those who don’t, while hating what they do. Living with the power to choose is a sacred, powerful thing. I am grateful for it."
For Craig, the two-week trial's verdict was centered on upholding the First Amendment, giving Clem the freedom to say some pretty awful things about his radio rival and his rival's wife. And anyone who objects can change the station.
But she was most disturbed by the material aired on both Schnitt's and Clem's shows that was presented to the jury, concerned that some might view the court verdict as a validation of the content on one program over another.
"I'm not a fan, to be honest, of either party," she said in a telephone interview. "Upholding the First Amendment doesn't mean we support Bubba the Love Sponge or his opinions in his show. For me, as a woman, it was important to make that clear."
Schnitt filed his lawsuit against Clem back in 2008, saying his rival made "false, highly offensive and defamatory statements" about him and his wife, Michelle, as competition heated up between the two on morning radio.
During the trial, Schnitt testified that fans of Clem's show, known as the Bubba Army, confronted him in public and raised fears for his safety. He also criticized Clem for calling his wife a whore, leading Clem's attorneys to play audio of Schnitt using similar terms about her on his radio show.
Craig said such material was an important turning point for her.
"Two were playing that game," she said. "That, for me, sealed the deal."
Reminded thatan alternate juror said Schnitt should "put on his big-girl panties" and accept that criticism comes with his job, Craig offered her own version:
"I think they both need to put their big-boy pants on and find something valuable to talk about," she said. "However, we live in a country where you’re free to say what you want, and you’re free to sue people for it. And you’re free to get a jury of your peers to place judgment on it. I can’t complain about that while enjoying what being an American offers.”
Later, she noted, "Nobody wants to sit around and listen to two men call each other names. I work with 12-year-olds; I do that with them and try to teach them better."
And Craig had a final conclusion, written as the last line in her email to the Times:
"I love that I have some awesome CDs in my car. I am never listening to the radio again." ... Read more
The biggest problem with most reality TV shows is they rarely live up to their name.
Organizers of Gulfport's Blueberry Patch, which bills itself as the state's oldest surviving artists retreat, found that out the hard way when CMT's My Big Redneck Vacation stopped by to film an episode for the show not long after Labor Day last year.
The episode, which aired Saturday, showed producers shepherding a family from Shreveport, Louisiana -- known as the Clampets, of course -- into the Patch. The family goes on excursions to places picked by the show with no idea where they're going; the idea is to plop the family into situations where their southern culture clashes with some other sensibility. Hijinks ensue.
But some of the depictions seem off base; Gulfport is shown as an impoverished community and the Patch is referred to as a "hippie commune," though one organizer said only a couple of people live on the site. Liza Epstein, a 24-year-old member of the board which maintains the Patch, said members played up their bohemian attitudes to create scenes which would work on television.
"We knew exactly what it was they were doing and we played it up," she told me last week, for a preview I wrote published Saturday; Epstein was shown washing her feet in the family's traveling bus midway through the episode. "Everybody knows reality TV is for entertainment purposes. (Nobody) believes reality TV is real."
Still, some of the show's depictions bothered Epstein enough that she sent an email noting some of the omissions, including no mention of the Patch's founder, Dallas Bohrer.
"If there is anything we'd like the public to know about us: Although we do allow the legal-aged community to bring their own alcohol, that is certainly not our main focus. Music, art, peace, and love is our focus, as cliché as that sounds.
The hookah was their prop and there really was only apple and molasses in that bowl. We don't condone drug use of any sort and that is not something we want to be associated with.
As I said before, we are also not a commune, although there are a few residents living on the property that maintain it."
Check out the episode below to see ho the Patch comes across.
Get More: ... Read more
Here's my collection of all the bizarre tweets, images and video I came across while assembling my critique of the Super Bowl ads which was published in today's Times.
A spin through this stuff is like relieving the weirdest, wildest, geekiest Super Bowl ad blitz in recent memory.
... Read more