A Trip to the Future! I Mean, Vancouver!
This may come as a shock to you, but we at TeeVee.org do consider ourselves journalists. Well, some of us have day jobs involving actual journalism, but that's not what I'm talking about. I mean that we try to approach our television coverage in as objective way as we can, allowing for the fact that most of what we write is either vitriolic dislike or unalloyed praise for whatever show or commercial has taken our fancy. Maybe "objective" is the wrong word. Let's put it this way: we're extremely subjective, but we try to be honestly so.
So I was a little uneasy about accepting the Sci-Fi Channel's invitation to tour the sets of Eureka, Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, and Flash Gordon. Would I be able to maintain my integrity after being wined and dined on a fancy press junket? Was I ready to become a Hollywood Insider? Well, actually a "Vancouver, BC Insider", but you get my point. I considered both sides of the question and finally decided: "Hey, I wanna see Ming's Council Chamber! I'm sure I'll be fine!"
So the Sci-Fi thing was billed as a "Digital Press Tour," which I first parsed as a Digital Tour for Press, like they were going to do a set tour via videoconferencing or something. Instead, it was a Tour for Digital Press, meaning "Online Journalists," meaning, if you sort of squint and don't insist on too strict a definition, me.
The Tour itself consisted of set tours of the four shows, along with panel interviews with cast and creative people. It all sounds clean and aboveboard, until you consider that about half the photos on the DVDs we were provided involve members of the tour posing in front of Vipers and Stargates and whatnot. There seemed to be a concerted effort to dazzle us poor digital wretches with access usually reserved for people whose efforts usually appear in actual magazines and newspapers. Which I guess is the purpose of all press junkets, which is why Earl Dittman has a career.
Frankly, I think the good people of Sci-Fi were using us in an even more subtle way. Everywhere we went, we had a video camera pointed at us as we squinted at set details and learned the backstory behind the wardrobe. See, we were being taped for SCI FI PULSE, the Sci-Fi Channel's video blog. I think the Sci-Fi Channel's nefarious scheme was to allow web writers this access primarily so that they in turn could trumpet how up-to-date and internet-friendly they are. If so, it's a clever scheme, and I salute them for it.
Anyway, it's not entirely clear to me what standards currently govern entertainment journalism. You've got people like Kristin of E! Online, who have lots of insider content and information, but every so often they seem to fall into the trap of recommending something because they know a lot about it, not because it's necessarily any good. (Note: I apparently cannot be bothered to use a specific example to back up my allegation of bias, which kind of undercuts my claims of journalistic integrity.) And on the other hand, you've got the "outsiders" like Harry Knowles, who -- wait, Harry's pretty much an insider these days too, isn't he? Okay, skip him. My point was going to be that even that style of getting seduced by celebrity is more like real journalism than the people in charge of deciding which celebs are pregnant and which are anorexic. Also, I am unable to get out of this paragraph without referencing the 24-hour coverage of Paris Hilton. Aaaand I think that's enough justification for why I went. I suppose you'd have stayed home.
So now I've just come back from wallowing in insider content, and my challenge is to generate some interesting content, because I suspect you won't be that excited by "Vipers are smaller than they look, but Stargates are larger." And since nineteen other organizations were on the tour, I have to try to come up with an angle of my own. Even fascinating little tidbits I picked up from scraps of paper left around the set are unlikely to be exclusives. I shall try to convey my own spin on things without being unduly influenced by the insider access. Although I will say that if you'd be interested in "a version of Wizard of Oz with steampunk influences, airships, and Alan Freaking Cummings as the Scarecrow," you might want to keep an eye out for Tin Man.
Stay tuned for further installments...
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