Ilan Mochari
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BlogAugust-September, 2008
Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose are lazy; fiction and football, blogs and Bruce Springsteen

On July 25, Charlie Rose interviewed actors Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. The same night, Ferrell and Reilly also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

On August 4, Tavis Smiley interviewed actor Benjamin Bratt. But Bratt had already appeared on Kimmel, three nights earlier.

This lazy approach to booking guests disgraces the “public” television label.

So do the commercials for Toyota, Wal-Mart, and Nationwide preceding Smiley’s show.

On Smiley’s site, you’ll find this unctuous sales pitch:

Sponsor messages have greater impact in the low-clutter environment found only on public television and radio. Also, prohibition against “hard sell” spots, and trustworthiness of public broadcasting combine to make underwriting messages extremely credible and memorable. PBS’ dignified approach to on-air sponsor support is appreciated and respected by its loyal viewers.

Not this loyal viewer. It gets worse:

Tavis Smiley builds brand identification and strengthens your corporate image. Sponsors benefit from the “halo effect” of being associated with PBS and NPR and its mission to make a meaningful contribution to our community. Nearly 85% of consumers believe such higher-purpose, cause-related marketing creates a positive image for sponsors. And almost two-thirds of PBS viewers and NPR listeners are more likely to purchase the product or service of a PBS or NPR underwriter.

It makes you want to puke, does it not?

I couldn’t find any comparable rhetoric on Rose’s site. But I noticed that Rose’s program is sponsored by Coca-Cola and Pfizer. And surprise, surprise: Henry McKinnell, the erstwhile CEO of Pfizer, once appeared as a guest to promote his book. And in May, Rose devoted airtime to Chuck Fruit – former Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola.


My short story, “A Loss to the Stuffed Animal Kingdom,” is getting published in Keyhole. Read the press release and buy as many copies as you can. And rest assured: a promotional email from is forthcoming.

It was a solid month for football writing too. My NFC South capsule is posted on; in addition, Fantasy Football Guide 2008 has dubbed me an expert – my hearty appreciation to Editor Peter Kreutzer, a.k.a. Rotoman.

I also visited New England Patriots training camp in Foxborough, Mass., and filed my report for INsite Boston. Many thanks to Tara Bertrand and Jeff Cournoyer of Patriots media relations. I’d also like to thank Damon Hack of Sports Illustrated; Albert Breer of The Sporting News; Shalise Manza Young of the Providence Journal; and Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe. You made me feel like one of the cool kids in the cafeteria, even though I’m a Johnny-come-lately.


I returned to Foxborough four days later for the Bruce Springsteen concert. My companions were Jenn Bates and the two best pediatricians in New England, Robert and Tracey Peskin. There was thunder. There was lightning. We got drenched. But by 9:00 the rain was gone and Springsteen rocked a set list of gems, including the rarity “Little Latin Lupe Lu.” He also hit us with the meteorologically appropriate “Mary’s Place” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” (and props to Rob for predicting the latter).

There was one problem. When the show ended, Jenn and I were stranded. The MBTA did not provide trains to and from Foxborough. To reach the stadium, we had trained to nearby Walpole, from whence we taxied. But the last train from Walpole had left at 10:55 p.m.; so we were stuck. (I may as well mention here that MBTA boss Dan Grabauskas often laments his unsolvable fiscal woes, but on this night he bypassed an obvious revenue stream.)

Luckily, Jenn’s exquisite voice-projection – most recently displayed in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Barnstormers Theater – saved the night. As we were leaving the stadium, she shouted, “Is anyone driving to Boston or Cambridge?” She did it loudly, yet innocently, and a lovely couple – thank you Eleanor and Gary, wherever you may be – saved our soaked asses.


Only a few weeks ago, Springsteen played in Barcelona. And none other than George R. R. Martin attended. He blogged about it too – if briefly – and it touched me: One of my artistic role models blogging about another.

Speaking of blogs and role models, I must mention Today'sFrase, by my friend and mentor, Jill Fraser. Jill's August 3 post was a revelation of Google's power. At 5:15 p.m., she blogged about mystery writer Denise Mina. At 10:19 p.m., someone she'd never met posted: "Hello there, I found your blog via a Google alert I have set up for Denise Mina." Inspired by Jill's success, I was tempted to start a blog separate from this one, whose sole purpose would be bitching about the MBTA. With pleasure, I found that not one but two already existed.  

Ilan Mochari is a novelist and journalist living in the Boston area. His fiction has appeared in Keyhole and been honored by
Glimmer Train. He is a former staff writer for Inc magazine, and he has also written for Fortune Small Business and CFO magazine. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.

    © 2008 Ilan Mochari  
Ilan Mochari