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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, February 02, 2007

Random Thoughts and "Awards" from the NFL Experience

So I just got home from the VH-1 Presents Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Bash, a concert at the NFL Experience zone at Dolphin Stadium. I don't want to tell too much about the show, 'cause I don't want to pre-empt my own reporting (which'll appear in Saturday's Herald as part of our daily all-points coverage of Bowl-related events).

But I did observe some interesting behaviors and here are my thoughts and made-up awards for what I saw:
  • Biggest Pet Peeve - the way print reporters sometimes get dissed by publicists/managers/agents, etc., at celeb/special events. We sometimes literally and often practically get trampled to make room for TV cameras and TV reporters. I realize we're a visual society with an ever-shortening attention span. So some people would rather watch than read some of their news. But plenty of broadcast media wouldn't make it without print news to analyze and fall back on for in-depth reporting. Even at an entertainment event like this, a couple of the TV "reporters" have to turn periodically to their producers to find out what question to ask next. I'm gonna try that with my editor. "Um, boss, can I have someone to assist me when I go out to report a story? Someone who can stand next to me and tell me what to say or ask in case I didn't do my homework prior to the event?" I'm not holding my breath. Then again, I've got too much pride in my work to go out like that in public.
  • Dumbest Question - Whoever said there was no such thing as a dumb question should have been there tonight. Picture this: It's hot as all get out 'cause there's no circulation in the backstage media tent. The smells of sweat, butt, and overpriced cologne and perfume are pervasive. We've all waited a little longer than we were told to expect for our first group interview, with Fergie, the singing member of the Black-Eyed Peas. So we're anxious. When she arrives, about a half dozen questions are blurted at her, and she answers in good fun. Her publicist then jumps in and says "one last question." That meant one more question for the whole lot of us, not one more question per reporter. So as several of us open our mouths to speak - no doubt to ask about singing or dancing, things she actually does for a living - one local TV reporter who will go unnamed beats everyone else to the jump and with OUR very last question tells Fergie "Your fans would like to know how (or why, I forget) you're so Fergalicious." Are you kidding me? WE have one last question, and that's what you want to know? You, my "colleague," should be sitting in an audience at MTV, so you can ask the next big presidential candidate whether he or she wears boxers or briefs, or granny bloomers, or T-backs. You know who you are, tsk tsk. And you wonder, pretty as I am, why I went into newspapers. When I'm rich and famous, the first TV reporter to ask me why I'm so Jameselicious will get back-handed.
  • Nicest Celeb - Nicest one in attendance at this event, anyway. Like I said, Fergie had a solid sense of humor and took the questions - good and bad - in stride. But the coolest act came from John Legend. After putting on an energetic show he comes back stage to do interviews...but only with TV folks. According to Legend's bodyguard, his publicist, who didn't grace us with her presence, had pre-determined who could interview him. No print media outlets are on the list. I tell the very, very large bodyguard that the print-less interview list is foul and that we scribes should be given equal access for a number of reasons. To his credit, Legend's bodyguard thinks about my reasons for a moment, approaches the boss, whispers something to him, listens to a response, and then comes back to me and says Legend will speak with me. He's gracious in his answers, says "thank you" for the print folks' interest in interviewing him, and is almost apologetic over the fact that we initially got the cold shoulder. He could've said he was exhausted, waved us off and gone on his way. He stayed. He talked. John Legend earns points from me.
  • Nicest Surprise - Chicago-based rapper/poet Common makes an unexpected appearance and performs a little.
  • Funniest Sight - An elderly female event volunteer, who was at least 70 if she was a day old (unless she learned to calculate age from Jack Benny), dancing with a group of surprised (that she's shaking her booty at them) 20-somethings to Kanye West performing "Touch the Sky." She is apparently from Michigan, 'cause even better than the dancing, while she busts her moves the woman raises the roof and shouts "Detroit, what?" and "Detroit!" and "Detroit's in the house!"
  • Most "Only in Miami" Moment - Several scantily clad young ladies walk past the position where I am posted up with another reporter toward the end of the concert. I think nothing of it at first. But they keep strolling back and forth. Then one of them comes by with an angry looking young man following close behind. He isn't a boyfriend. He doesn't have that kind of carriage. After I consult with the other reporter it dawns on us that the young women are "working" and the young man is their "manager!" What's even crazier is several law enforcement officers standing nearby notice the night workers too. The other reporter asks them "so I take it you guys aren't vice?" The officers shake their heads no, and disregard the ladies and their boss. How nervy is that, to not only be on the stroll, but to do it within a few feet of the law? Only in Miami. But like my uncle used to say "(Ladies of the night) have to eat too."
  • Most Pimpish Shoes - Kanye West's leopard print and tiger striped Nikes with a red swoosh.

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  • My first job was as an intern and then assistant for one of the TV networks' PR departments. Attending the big events was one of the things that really made me realize I just wanted to write and practice PR in my hometown as opposed to publicity.

    Thanks for the insight into the event. I can't imagine how bustling Miami is right now!

    By Blogger Michael C, at 2:17 AM  

  • I've watched local TV reporters work on location and some of them are extremely prissy and high maintenence..almost as if they are more of a celebrity than the ones they are interviewing.

    The thing I like about print media is that I can email them with a complaint or a question and 90% of the time I get a personal response.

    Not so with other media.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 6:16 AM  

  • If I may combine your pet peeve with the dumb question award, in many industries the dumbest question you can ask is the boss for help.

    Personally, I think I would admire someone who asked about my sarcasticyniciliciousness - if, for nothing else, their artistic tonguework.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 6:55 AM  

  • Out of curiosity, how did she respond? And what would have been YOUR "one last question"?

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 7:46 AM  

  • That reporter who asked Fergie that question should be slapped.

    I'm going to be going around saying, "Detroit, what?" all day long, thank you very much. That cracked me up.

    By Blogger bc, at 8:23 AM  

  • Michael C., it's a mad house.

    Hammer, that's an interesting insight. Most of my print colleagues - at least those I talk to regularly - agree that they respond to pretty much all their email from readers.

    Sarc, she responded with "I'm not sure how to answer..."

    And my last question would have been "Tell me about your upcoming solo tour - have you decided who you'll be touring with?"

    BC, I had to struggle to hold back the pimp hand of the law. I so desperately wanted to break it out. Detroit, what!

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:08 AM  

  • I loooove John Legend and Common! Okay, me = officially jealous of you. And I have to ask... Stupid Question person... are they from Deco Drive?? They are, aren't they??

    By Blogger Balou, at 10:21 AM  

  • Face it. You do the legwork AND intellectual heavy-lifting and get less of the credit. There's a pyramid w/ the strongest at the base and the most visible at the top.

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:24 AM  

  • P.S. You should start telling ladies your name is "Bernelicious." Might of worked on that local reporter.

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:26 AM  

  • As one who has either been interviewed by or provided information to TV reporters many, many times, I can - with full authority - confirm that they are the most uninformed, clueless bunch ever. Overall, there is a lack of intuition, perception and depth. I would deal with some people regularly and would STILL get asked questions that 1.- they should have long known the answer to, and 2.- they should have been ashamed to have even asked.

    At least in my field, they had no clue where the real stories were - not only were they always chasing minor "scandalous" news (and even those they didn't report properly!), but they almost always approached with a bias. And no matter what you told them (because in some cases, their other sources were completely incorrect, factually speaking), they would report along the lines of their bias - which is unethical and unprofessional.

    In fact, few and far between were the ones who thought for themselves and asked interesting, compelling questions. Most regurgitated whatever a source, producer or press release told them without a second thought.

    Sad. So sad.

    By Blogger Tere, at 11:00 AM  

  • The smells of sweat, butt, and overpriced cologne and perfume are pervasive.....I'm nauseous just from the words...glad I was not there!!!

    By Blogger Claudia, at 11:27 AM  

  • So a blue-hair from my hood was kickin' it? Go granny, go granny...

    Have a great weekend!

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 11:54 AM  

  • Oh oh! I have a "Miami moment"! I was at (in?) South Beach for the Miami Art Basel art thingy (my command of English is daunting, I know) and I was shopping on Lincoln Road with all the beautiful people. I think I probably looked like a little Asian midget. Anyhow, this gorgeous Amazonian girl came up to me and asked me if her little dog looked good in this bag and if the bag looked good with her hair.

    I swear I am not making that up.

    By Blogger Lee, at 1:03 PM  

  • You are so much cooler than I am.

    By Blogger mist1, at 1:24 PM  

  • I can't believe someone actually asked her why she was so Fergalicious. Are you sure someone wasn't getting Punk'd?

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:27 PM  

  • so...why are you so jameselicious?

    Sorry. had to. :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 PM  

  • The problem with print media is that it's the modern equivalent of the buggy whip--but a few of us still drive buggies. The bedazzlement of lights and cameras draws egomaniacs like moths to a fire--too close and you will be burned to a crisp, but you will go out in a blaze of glory.

    Your problem sounds like your news organization didn't stress to the event organizers the alarming frequency with which you can rehash the same snub story. Morning edition, special nighttime edition and updates on your internet site and I'm sure McClatchy owns rights in a couple of television or radio outlets which can make a stink about their sister news organization getting the cold shoulder.

    However, this would only be possible if your news conglomerate master is principled about the issue of equal time for equal media. Rupert Murdoch's organization is only concerned with the the volume and not accuracy of its publicly projected dribble. Am I wrong to assume that the McClatchy family is similarly cynical?

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:19 PM  

  • Legend gets some great points for his gracious response. I love seeing the uncommon glimpses of goodness from people.

    And I'm still chuckling over the Jamesalicious Backhand. You should trademark that you know.

    btw, how'd you do with the workouts this week?

    By Blogger The Dummy, at 5:13 PM  

  • I would have given a freakin' LIMB and a shoe collection to have been at the Prince press conference. None of that b.s. Q&A for HIM!

    I will be that elderly woman someday. Guaranteed.

    Anxiously awaiting your Legend interview! Sounds like the dude has some class.

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 11:44 PM  

  • Hey James,

    First of all - I llove John Legend! So nice to see that he has some sense!

    Secondly, I have never worked as a reporter, but I have freelanced on the red carpet (for a rag that shall not be named!)

    I covered the Collateral premiere at the Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem and I saw exactly what you descxribed. Print reporters definitely took a backseat to the TV cameras.

    However, I did get to talk to Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett. They had bodyguards - but they weren't silly enough to pass up any media - they talked to everyone. It's called organization - and having real professionals for publicists!

    By Blogger Nichelle, at 1:34 AM  

  • the smell of sweat, butt....

    Whose? Just curious.
    Enquiring minds want to know.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 1:59 AM  

  • What a coincidence! I get asked why I'm Grizzbabelicious all the time.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 3:57 AM  

  • We know why you are Jameselicious!!!!

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 1:57 PM  

  • I can't believe I didn't even say anything about Kanye West's shoes. I don't know if those still qualify as "sneakers", being so loud and all.

    By Blogger bc, at 2:39 PM  

  • Balou, believe it or not they weren't from Deco Drive. They were from "gasp" one of the local news channels.

    Matt, Burnelicious it will be. But first I have to make sure I have alcohol on my breath so I have an excuse later.

    Tere, I'll just say amen.

    Claudia, that doesn't sound very glam, does it? I probably could've worded it differently. Same result though.

    Christina, I thought the blue-haired granny was gonna break a hip.

    Lee, having 14 months as a full-time South Florida resident under my belt, I believe every word of your story. Doesn't surprise me at all.

    Mist1, I'm trying to be you when I grow up. I'm not cool. I'm just a squirrel trying to find a nut.

    Queen, she really did ask that.

    Claire, I credit my orange juice and cigar consumption.

    BD, ya always gotta take shots at my peeps. This phenom isn't the fault of my news organization. It's the fault of American culture that has elevated folks on TV to god-like status while ignoring the outfits that lay the foundation for in-depth, long-lasting news.

    Dummy, unexpected good behavior is definitely cool to see. I'll look into trademarking the "JB-hand." And I'll be over before the day's over to give my sweat report.

    Tiggerlane, JL was a rock star and put on a great show - second one I've seen from him in two months. And when you become that lady 80 years from now you'll have to post video of that dance session online. And yeah, that Prince press conference was cool. He had folks eatin' out of his hand, I think.

    Nichelle, you're right. It's about good organization and savvy publicists. I just wish I'd seen more of both this week.

    Pamela, I am happy to say I have no idea whose butt was in the mix that night. Based on who was in the tent I could take a wild guess or two.

    Grizz, I have often wondered that about you too! How do you answer?

    Manola, do tell. I'm always looking for new one-liners to borrow.

    BC, those sneakers were blinding.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 4:01 PM  

  • "I'm just a squirrel trying to find a nut"? Brilliant!!! "[I was going] to run up on you and do a Rambo...But I didn't want to mess up this $3700 lynx coat..."

    By Blogger bc, at 6:45 PM  

  • I do think that you need a partner to run around with you and help you think of questions. I think that partner should be me.

    I'm glad to hear that John Legend is such a classy guy. I really love him. I also love his song that goes:
    "I suppose you was told by them hoes I was cheatin'
    Thinkin' my heart don't got nothing to do with my penis
    He got a mind of his own and he just be seeing shit
    And I don't wanna cheat but I don't be saying shit
    I try to jack off he ask me who is you playin' wit?
    But I know he love you he told me you was his favorite"

    Although, that song doesn't seem to refelct the classiness he apparently has.

    By Blogger hyacinths and biscuits, at 2:27 PM  

  • does anyone know how one becomes fergalicious?? I am certain my little girl will be wanting to try that out!

    Is this the one print reporter who does call the editor asking for more questions??

    Kudos on bustin' the body guards chops and Mr. Legend is a rarity!

    By Blogger dennis, at 5:11 PM  

  • All in all, I thought it was a great show; John Legend was definitely the highlight. I was surprised that there weren't more people there...

    By Blogger peter dooling, at 3:43 PM  

  • BC, feel free to use that one anytime.

    H&B, what? Are those really lyrics to one of his tunes? I swear I don't think I've heard that song. But come to Miami. You can be my assistant when I have to go and mingle w/celebutants.

    Dennis, if I find out what makes folks Fergalicious I'll let you know. And ha! I never call the ed looking for more. That's my job.

    Peter I agree on both counts. I thought the place would be overflowing, although when VH-1 aired the concert on Saturday night, creative editing made it look like the place was packed.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:49 PM  

  • yes, those are really lyrics. They're part of the song "Number One" off of his "Get Lifted" CD. Everyone who rides in my car is required to listen to that song.

    By Blogger hyacinths and biscuits, at 8:46 PM  

  • see? I would be an amazing sidekick! I know all of these things you don't, and you know things I don't. We'd be invincible.

    By Blogger hyacinths and biscuits, at 8:50 PM  

  • OK, H&B, but if it's a Batman & Robin or Men in Black situation, I'm the designated driver.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:51 PM  

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