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Action Reports: HIT TV

Ben Boychuk

HIT-TV Geniuses

Greg Knauss

Pete Ko

Rich Toscano

Incompetent Director

And now, a multimedia interlude.

Seven years ago, I was a senior in college at UC San Diego taking a class in studio video production. While other students worked on creating earnest public-affairs programming or head-splitting music videos for their final projects, I did something that the readers of TeeVee will appreciate: I tried to make a parody of a TV show.

A parody within a parody, to be precise.

Watch "Action Reports":
(Requires RealPlayer)
28.8 stream
56K stream

Action Reports is the first parody, a strange cross between a reporters-in-action opening montage right out of the West 57th school of journalism and TV news' gray lady, 60 Minutes. In addition to Vidiot Ben Boychuk as the Mike Wallace of Action Reports, Steve Nixon, the collection of young fresh-faced reports included a pal from our college newspaper, two reporters for the local weekly newspaper, and my future wife.

I've got to give Ben credit: he did a pretty damned good job as Steve Nixon, and put up with my relentless re-recordings of his voiceovers in an attempt to make him mimic the intonation of Steve Kroft.

Now the story within the story: a lame-ass cable TV outfit named HIT-TV. Why a respectable TV newsmagazine would do a hit piece on such a collection of losers is beyond me, but what the hell -- we were trying to make a comedy.

The two principles of this cable company are played by famed Vidiot Greg Knauss and noted leftist element Brett Rhyne, another member of our college newspaper staff. They're joined by Vidiot Pete Ko as Ralph Jones, HIT TV's would-be Bob Costas. Pete managed to create the biggest laughs of the entire production process by ad-libbing an element of his character that you'll notice when you hear it. We were laughing so hard in the control room, I'm surprised you can't hear it on the final tape.

Yes, the control room. Like I said, this was a studio video course, and as a result the bulk of the show had to take place within a studio. Hence the studio-based interviews of guys who do a cable channel in another studio. You work within the constraints forced upon you.

One of our out-of-studio characters was Vidiot Rich Toscano, who got to perform his unique fusion of Sy Sperling and the Didi Seven informercial guy while strolling on a La Jolla beach. The other was a weasely cable executive, incompetently played by yours truly.

Of all the videos I created throughout high school and college, "Action Reports" is the one that I'm happiest with, the only one that really came out close to how I envisioned it. But if there's one thing I regret, it's casting myself. I should've cast Michaels.

In any event, here's "Action Reports," on the Web in all its glory. Okay, maybe not all its glory -- it's the size of the postage stamp, and if you watch the 28.8 stream it looks a bit like a puppet show. If you watch the 56K stream, well, the puppets are more lavish.


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