NBC Won’t Retaliate Over Rape Victim Parody


NBC Won’t Retaliate Over Rape Victim Parody


by Claudia Peschiutta

Maybe NBC executives can take a joke.

Network officials said they weren’t planning on taking legal action against New Times Los Angeles following the publication of a made-up story, which claimed NBC had signed the two Lancaster teens abducted last month to host their own prime-time reality show.

“We have no plans to pursue a lawsuit at this time although we reserve the right to do so,” said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks. Tamara Brooks and Jacqueline Marris were abducted and raped by Roy Ratliff, who was shot dead by law enforcement officials just hours after the kidnapping. Days later, the girls made an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.

New Times featured a piece in its Aug. 15 issue by “Antoine Oman” that said NBC was signing the girls to host a mid-season replacement tentatively titled “Survive This!” The show was described as a contest in which teens would be placed in a remote location with paroled sex offenders and be forced to make it to safety.

The joke generated a flood of response and not everyone realized it was a parody. Even Internet muckraker Matt Drudge fell for it, according to New Times Editor Rick Barrs. The paper responded by printing a second gag story, this one claiming fictitious freelance writer Oman had been fired for fabricating the NBC story.

“We were just trying to pimp NBC a little bit for their fawning coverage of these two rape victims. There’s just something a little unsavory about that, putting these two girls on TV,” Barrs said. “Our whole point is, if these had been fat, ugly rape victims, we doubt NBC would be all over them like that.

Broken Record

A shaky economy isn’t holding KCRW-FM (89.9) back.

The public radio station hit a summer fundraising record by bringing in more than $1.6 million during its most recent pledge drive a figure that surprised even KCRW employees. The station raised $1.4 million on air and online last summer.

“We knew it was going to be a struggle,” said Will Lewis, the station’s management consultant. “I think we’ve increased our listenership…(but) we didn’t quite believe that it was that large.”

KCRW is the top-ranked public radio station in L.A. The station had a 1.6 rating in spring, up from a 1.3 last year.

It reported raising more than $2 million during its summer campaign, including on-air, online and mail efforts.

Changes at LA Weekly

Beth Sestanovich hasn’t been at the LA Weekly very long but she’s already shaking things up.

In her first three months on the job, Sestanovich has changed the associate publisher and the director of classified advertising. She’s also replaced the production director and the marketing manager, who decided to leave the alternative publication.

“I’m looking definitely to grow revenue and I’m looking for good, strong leadership,” Sestanovich said. The Weekly was suffering from “kind of a sense of apathy,” she added.

Sestanovich, a former Los Angeles Times advertising director, became publisher of the LA Weekly and its sister publication, the OC Weekly, in June.

Behind the Scenes

The Los Angeles Times will put on a series of forums to provide young aspiring journalists a behind-the-scenes look at the industry.

The program begins Sept. 11 with “The Story Behind the Story,” a session about the challenges Times staffers faced in covering the 9-11 attacks. Publisher John Puerner and Editor John Carroll are among the speakers.

The series is for high school and college journalism students, said Times spokesman David Garcia. The goal is “to teach (students) what it takes to become and be a journalist,” he said.

Also on Sept. 11, the Times plans to publish a special section dedicated to the first anniversary of the attacks. LATimes.com will feature a “multimedia package” that will include archived audio and video clips.

In Other News

Scott Pansky, a founding partner of public relations firm Allison & Partners, becomes president of the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society Santa Monica advertising agency Colby & Partners is promoting the soon-to-premiere “Dr. Phil” show with 10 spots themed “Get Ready To Get Real” The Los Angeles County Museum of Art will screen some of the year’s best television commercials on Wednesday (4th) as part of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers’ annual show.

Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at

[email protected].

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