CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: MEDIUM OF THE MONTH - Quite frankly, Access Hollywood is what publicists’ wet dreams are made of, Felix Salmon says

The world of the soft-centred broadcast celebrity profile has finally arrived in the UK with OK!TV. The concept is not completely new in this country - children’s music shows have been showing fluffy interviews with pop groups for years. But it’s in America that the art of generating TV shows out of publicists’ wet dreams has had its apotheosis.

The world of the soft-centred broadcast celebrity profile has

finally arrived in the UK with OK!TV. The concept is not completely new

in this country - children’s music shows have been showing fluffy

interviews with pop groups for years. But it’s in America that the art

of generating TV shows out of publicists’ wet dreams has had its

apotheosis.



Access Hollywood, which has been going strong for four years, has

managed to dispense not only with any real reportage or dirt-dishing,

it’s even managed to lose the pretense that it conducts celebrity

interviews. The bite-sized chunks have been cut down to the point where

they’re often shorter than the ads they are interspersed with, while the

information transmitted is rapidly approaching zero. It seems that the

best way to present the latest Hollywood starlet is simply to show her

smiling on screen - anything she says is almost certain to detract from

the impression she gives.



The pandering is shameless: a large proportion of the ads in the show

are for films that are being plugged within it. It’s lowest-common

denominator stuff: a desperate attempt to be ironic by getting Tom

Hanks’s co-stars to slag him off in jest was completely deflated by the

necessary words from the anchor at the end of the piece saying that, of

course, they were all only kidding, and Hanks is known as one of the

nicest and most generous guys.



And it’s impossible to imagine even OK!TV running a segment breathlessly

revealing the new month’s Playboy Playmate.



But Access Hollywood is certainly the direction in which Hollywood would

like television to move, and television, being a Hollywood product

itself, is only too happy to follow. (Large chunks of Access Hollywood

are already taken up with gameshow hosts or sitcom stars - a case of

television plundering its own if Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t available to be

filmed drinking tea that day.)



Watching ads during Access Hollywood is like taking a step back in time

- old favourites like Glad waste-bin bags, KFC, Lite FM and Glade

Plug-ins, between ads for the latest Hollywood blockbusters.



Access Hollywood is not alone in what it does: there’s a rival programme

called Entertainment Tonight, and a whole cable channel devoted to such

stuff called E! TV. But Access Hollywood is, for the moment, the

trashiest of them all, and something to which OK!TV will always be able

to point to as a show that is much worse than itself.





ACCESS HOLLYWOOD FACT FILE

Ratings                             3-4m viewers

Frequency                                Nightly

Produced by                                  NBC

Domestic distribution                Warner Bros

Intl distribution           NBC, syndicated only





Edited by Anna Griffiths Tel: 0181-267 4892

E-mail: anna.griffiths@haynet.com.



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