TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

October 9, 2006 12:00 AM

Sometimes, if you want to get something done, you gotta do it yourself. That's what two amateur filmmakers from Wisconsin did with the second and third installments of what's quickly becoming a cult classic in the viral video world: The story of Chad Vader, the lesser-known grocery-store manager brother of "Star Wars'" Darth that runs on YouTube and on Splu.net. YouTube doesn't offer pre- or post-roll ads in front of its videos, so Chad's creators sold a static two-second ad to Buycostumes.com to run in front of the third episode, in which the Sith Lord's brother has been demoted to lowly night-shift manager. The video's creators, Aaron Young and Matt Sloan, said Buycostumes paid about $3,000 for the ad and a mention in the credits of episode two. That about covered the costs of the shoots, Mr. Sloan said. What's more, ABC's "Good Morning America" reported that the yet-to-be-released fourth episode of "Chad Vader" is among a handful of videos slated to be featured on its "Watercooler" segment on Wednesday, though the date is subject to change. The first three episodes have generated more than 3.5 million views online. -Daisy Whitney

In Their Faces

Bravo is turning up the heat on its online efforts to promote the second season of "Top Chef," but competitor Food Network's staffers won't have to turn on their computers to get the message about the show-they can just look out the window: A billboard touting "Top Chef" as the "#1 Food Show on Cable" is going up next door to Food Network's studios in New York's Chelsea district. How's that for tweaking a rival? Butter wouldn't melt in the mouth of Bravo Senior VP Marketing Jason Klarman as he downplayed any such thoughts. "We're just marketing our show," he said, pointing out the many food markets and restaurants in the area. In other promotions for the show, Mr. Klarman has created partnerships with MySpace.com, where fans can enter a contest to work with judge Tom Colicchio at his restaurant in New York; Yahoo.com, which will preview the first 10 minutes of the show's first two episodes; Chow.com, which will have interviews with the exiting chefs; and TV.com and iVillage. Those sites will drive viewers back to Bravotv.com. With the premiere airing after the finale of "Project Runway," Bravo will use traditional media to support episode two. In addition to NBC Universal's cross-channel spots, Bravo is buying time on syndicated shows, satellite, spot cable, radio and print. It's also got promotional deals with Zagat, Fresh Direct and sponsor Sears in the mix. "We're launching in the middle of the new fall season," Mr. Klarman said. "We really need to make a statement." -Jon Lafayette


Don't you just hate those industry people who wearily say, "I've got to go to Mipcom again this year," as if it were some sort of punishment to visit Cannes for a week, stroll along the Croisette on your way to "work" and dine on some of the world's best food, year after year, at the company's expense. One of the folks who hasn't grown tired of the L.A.-Cannes circuit is John Ridgway, creative director of video design and music branding firm Novocom, who this week is celebrating his company's silver anniversary with his 25th consecutive trip to the Mipcom international TV market. "I never complain about traveling once a year to the French Riviera because I'm a real Francophile. First of all, you can't get a bad meal there. And the French make a concerted effort of protecting a culture and language that are worth protecting." There really can be a downside to the trip, however; take it from independent publicist Patricia Frith, another L.A.-to-Cannes-and-back veteran who, between MIP-TV and Mipcom, has also made the haul 25 times: "Since there's no direct flight, you always end up losing your luggage at some point. Having to do a meeting in the clothes you traveled in is not nice." -Tom Gilbert