Every Sunday night since late last year I’ve been hosting trivia at a bar in Los Feliz. It’s been fun and in the (sometimes annoying) process of writing the questions I’ve learned a little about a lot. For example, with this last game I learned that nimbus clouds contain precipitation and that Yahoo! - your source for news! - just purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. (When Yahoo sees this post, they’ll definitely realize they got more than their money’s worth.) It’s also been interesting to audit the knowledge of a group of Hollywood hipsters of wildly varied – uhm, how do I put this politely? – information awareness. For example, a few months back every team knew that Bridgette Bardot sang with Serge Gainsbourg on his 1968 song “Bonnie and Clyde.” Unfortunately, two teams thought China was Asia’s most populous democracy. So I really feel for the inner city schoolteacher. An archetype has emerged over the months of someone who gets angry at me when they don’t know the answers. It’s usually a dude with an ironic lumberjack beard who resents that I’m not asking him about himself while he snorts Adderall off an Ipad. (Bam! I just fucking destroyed that composite asshole.)
I usually do three semi-scholarly categories and two brain candy ones. I wrapped it up last night with “Shit We’re Ashamed to Know.” Like: Renesmee is Bella and Edward’s daughter in the Twilight movies (and books too I assume but who cares about those). Like: Sean is the name of the most recent “Bachelor,” who claims to be a virgin. Like: Estelle Getty played Sylvester Stallone’s mom in 1992’s Stop or My Mom Will Shoot.
My final shame-based question of the category and of the night was:
“Earlier this year, Today Show weatherman Al Roker confessed to an embarrassing mishap that happened during a 2002 visit to the White House. What did he say happened?”
Guys, everyone knew the answer. Al Roker sharted. Or crapped or pooped or whatever term people chose to write. Every. Single. Team.
Rather than pointing to this as some sign of intellectual decay in America or delivering some high and mighty sermon, I have to say, “Way to go Al Roker’s publicist!”
So many questions abound! Like: does Al have a team of publicists and one was appointed to handle Shartgate? Or is it the same one who helps him with his usual stuff like crafting a soundbite regarding Ann Curry’s departure? Does one have to work up to be the Sharting rep or is that a demotion? Did they bring in someone who maybe has Sharting-adjacent PR experience? I imagine some cocky, tough-talking leathery lady with a spray tan and Hermes belt who utters reassurances like “This is going to disappear by lunch, when my sources tell me Amanda Bynes is going to send out her next batshit tweet.”
Fun fact: He qualified the quantity by saying “Not horribly, but enough that I knew.” Again, not to get all high and mighty, but wouldn’t any amount of sharting be enough that one would know that they sharted? So does that mean there had been sharting experiences Al didn’t know about until changing clothes at the end of the night? Yes, that’s very likely exactly what he meant. That’s some grim stuff.
But I needed to know more about the story behind the sharting story. As someone who has toiled on the fringes and dank pockets of the media and seen how stupid minutiae gets overkilled by overpaid people, I had to find out: to whom do the kudos go for letting the public know – in a delicate and controlled way – that Al Roker sharted at the White House? So I did some Googling*, deep into the bowels (ha!) of the internet, and finally came up with an actual email from the publicist in charge! (*fabricating)
From: Stacie Jimenez-Woolery
To: NBC Publicity (all)
Subject: Re: re: re: re: re: Shartgate rollout January 7, 2013 3:34 PM
Well, it seems we’ve hit the ground running on 2013! I want to thank everyone concerned with the long hours and brainstorming involved to really create a cohesive messaging platform for Al’s disclosure.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you all as I had already planned my trip to Aspen but I’ve been there with you in spirit, and, of course, electronically! Having said all that, I just watched the east coast feed of Al’s “Dateline” interview with Keith Morrison and thought it was fabulous. Of course, it helps that we started the rollout in-house. We have him scheduled to be interviewed by Maria Menounos on Xtra!, and having worked with Maria at Vh-1 in the late 90s, I know that she can be a loose cannon and we just need to keep on message. (Translation: let’s watch our backs on this one. She owes me an apology but this is not the time.) We can’t have any divergence from the talking points we’ve set up. Any gray area – or taupe area as the case may be! – could undermine us and set us back.
(I’ve scheduled a prep mock-interview with Al for 7AM EST tomorrow. It will be with Chaz Johannes at The VGLPCPVD Group. I’ve cc’d him on this.)
To reiterate Chaz, the talking points are:
- This happened at The White House. Al Roker was at the motherfucking White House meeting the president when this went down. Have you ever met the president? No? That’s what we thought. (I apologize for the coarse language and of course we won’t actually use those words but it’s a necessary tonal shift/nuance we need to get at.)
- Gastric bypass isn’t covered by insurance but Al can afford it so there.
- “Who hasn’t?” This is key: after we’ve underscored what an elite situation this actually is, we need to bring it back by making Al everyman again. Get people to maybe think about times they shit themselves or had some unwelcome bodily thing happen to them. I’ve been active with the LA office trying to find any other TV journalists who’d be interested in making a similar disclosure to interview him. It would be ideal if we could package this with another NBC/Universal personality or entity. Alessandra where are we at with this?
OK, I think that’s it for now. Sorry if this email seems a bit scattered – blame the altitude! Alessandra, looking forward to meeting you next week when I’m in LA for the Golden Globes. Also, I’m really excited about the “Grimm” sharting episode you coordinated! You must be tired of the compliments by this point, but that’s really brilliant synergy! Love it!!!
OK they’re making me get off the ski lift now.
Great work everyone!
Stacie Jimenez-Woolery Senior Vice President, Publicity NBC Universal Special Events
Sent from my iphone