Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Stunt casting

So, Eliot Spitzer got another TV gig.

My question for those who hired him: Was Anthony Weiner unavailable?

In Hollywood, it's known as "stunt casting." You've got a show that's starting to fade, so you book big name guest stars to hopefully boost ratings. Will & Grace was famous for doing it when that show started to lose steam. Ultimately, though, viewers see through that. They simply want good content.

But stunt casting is very prevalent in the news business as well.

Back to the hiring of New York's love gov. Instead of hiring a professional journalist, they went for a recognizable name. Doesn't matter that said name makes every woman in America go "ewwwwww" and cringe. I'm surprised they didn't schedule the show at 9pm. Imagine the promo: Watch Client Nine at Nine.

But this is nothing new. I've run into stunt casting at local stations. Some places will bring back a legendary name in the hopes of luring back older viewers. Some will hire a novelty act. I remember several people in our newsroom getting passed over for the latter on one occasion. The novelty act got a few curious viewers in the beginning, but then the public saw it for what it was worth.

This might happen to you at some point in your career. You might be the most qualified person for the job, but someone in management goes the stunt casting route. In the long run, it rarely works. In the short run, it leaves you feeling like the victim. Yes, it's unfair. But it happens. The other person has a "name" and you don't.

Like viewers, you must see this for what it's worth.


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