Saturday, December 22, 2007

BAD YEAR AT BLACK ROCK

(Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Independent Media Center)

Because everyone else does it, we'll take a look back 2007, beginning with some of the happenings over at CBS.

The continued (to date) failure of the Katie Couric experiment probably garnered the most headlines.



Bob Barker made news as well when he waved farewell to The Price Is Right. Drew Carey emerged as Barker's successor following a highly public search. Although ratings were initially up 10%, reviews have been mixed.


However, it's been LeslieAnne Wade, CBS Sports' Senior VP of Communications, who has had to publicly spin, deny and deflect a bizarre array of episodes that not only made news, but made 2007 largely a year to forget.

It was Wade who was called upon to represent CBS in aftermath of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during halftime of Super Bowl 38. Her quote, "CBS deeply regrets the incident", was included in more stories about the game than New England quarterback Tom Brady's stats.

Most recently, Wade had to come to the rescue of NFL analyst Steve Beuerlein. In the November 25 game between Cincinnati and Tennessee, Beuerlein's mic was open as the network returned from a commercial break. Beuerlein continued a conversation he was having with play by play announcer Bill Macatee, not realizing they were back on the air. "USC thugs, man", Beuerlein clearly said to Macatee in reference to Titans' RB LenDale White, a former Trojan.

Wade calmed the masses claiming Beuerlein (a Notre Dame grad) was kidding Macatee (a Southern California resident and Trojan follower), as "any friends who have those allegiances do. They kid each other about Notre Dame and USC all the time. Certainly Steve wishes it wasn't on the air and so does CBS, but that is the explanation."

Somehow it didn't get blown out of proportion like most politically incorrect comments do these days. Maybe Beuerlein owes Wade a nice lunch for her efforts.

No amount of effort on Wade's part could have lessened the severity of two other incidents involving CBS' freelancers.

The first came back in May at the Masters when a tape op had some really bad ideas.

Michael Crane, 31, decided to spend his weekend in Augusta on drugs. He hooked up with a pair of locals at a bar who knew some people. The three amigos apparently bought whatever they wanted on a layaway plan, and spent the weekend indulging.

Come Monday, the bill was due but Crane didn't have the dough.

But he did have another brilliant idea.

He entered a Wachovia Bank branch in South Augusta and handed a teller a note demanding money. She complied and he left the bank. So far so good, right?

Too bad Crane doesn't watch CSI: Miami or he would have known what was coming next.

A red dye bag hidden in the money bag exploded, covering Crane with permanent ink. If only we had some footage of it!

Although Crane drove off (in his CBS rental car, naturally) police were eventually tipped to his location by an annonymous colleag- uh, caller. Crane was arrested in his room at the Holiday Inn, where police also found clothes stained with red dye.

LeslieAnne Wade told the Augusta Chronicle, "He was hired as a freelance technician for this event."

And because nobody can ever really get fired in this business, no doubt he's been hired as a freelance technician again.

This next guy may get hired again as well. That is if he survives both his jail sentence and the beating his wife will give him when he gets out.

For the sordid details of what transpired, the folks at People You'll See In Hell posted a pretty good description back on October 5.

56-year-old Daniel Barron, a CBS sports television [sic] producer, had a problem. (EDITOR'S NOTE: BARRON WAS A TECH PRODUCER)

Several problems, actually.
One, Daniel Barron is a pedophile.
Two, he didn’t have kid around to molest.
Three, he had an extra pair of Dolphins tickets sitting around, unused.
Pretty tough problems to solve, really. I’d imagine the first one could be solved by dragging him out back behind the barn and shooting him, but we don’t do that anymore. The third problem could be solved by burning the tickets, because, really, who wants to go to a Dolphins game? They were 6 and 10 in 2006, and they’re 0 and 4 so far in the 2007 season. NOBODY CARES!

Daniel Barron attempted to solve his second problem by using a CBS-issued computer while sitting in his CBS television producer truck, going online into a chat room titled “Open minded parents,” and asking the “parents” he found there if he could borrow their young daughters for a night.

Daniel Barron talked to one “parent” in particular who happened to be an undercover detective posing as a father with an imaginary 11-year-old girl. This “father” mentioned that he was a Dolphins fan.

“Ding,” went the bell in Daniel Barron’s head, as he offered two tickets to the upcoming game on Sunday in exchange for the “father” allowing Daniel to have sex with the 11-year-old.

After some negotiation, Daniel Barron even got the “father” to agree with letting Daniel sleep naked with the girl for a night, after Daniel mentioned that he was really, really looking forward to meeting the girl and promised that he would be “very gentle with her.”

Daniel Barron followed the “father’s” directions, hopped into his car and drove to a Fort Lauderdale hotel parking lot on the 30th of September, 2007. Instead of finding an 11-year-old and her Dolphin-fan father, however, he found several large police officers waiting for him with handcuffs.

After the arrest, Daniel folded in the interrogation room, admitted to using his work computer to download and trade child pornography and told police that the computer could be found in his TV production truck at the Miami Dolphin Stadium.

Daniel Barron was charged with solicitation to commit sexual battery on a child under the age of 12.

The web site also features a poll asking whether people in their stories deserve Hell. As of this writing, 85 voters have decided that Dan Barron does indeed deserve Hell, by a 78 - 7 count, or a whopping 92% percent.

So, if you can't get fired in this business, but Barron deserves Hell, that could mean he's destined to work for MSG.

Anyway, LeslieAnne Wade said at the time, "CBS is cooperating fully with the investigation."

So while 2007 wasn't the best of years for CBS Sports, it seems to be ending on an up note for LeslieAnne Wade. She was promoted to Senior VP of Communications on December 6 and will oversee corporate and media relations for CBS Sports and CSTV, and will work closely with Showtime Sports.

If those companies don't keep a close eye on their respective hiring practices, look for more crisis management quotes from Wade in 2008.

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