‘The Tiger Show’ an odd moment in TV history

Tiger Woods, the man who controlled the airwaves for 15 minutes.

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2010 —  The 15-minute “Tiger Woods Show,” starring Tiger Woods, will stand as one of the oddest telecasts in television history.

Never before had a private figure been given so much valuable airtime on so many TV channels to say whatever he wanted.  He’s not a president, not a governor, not a Pope — he is basically an entertainer, a professional golfer and a ubiquitous presence on TV commercials (until recently).

And yet, he garnered airtime on CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC; MSNBC, CNN and Fox News Channel; CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business; ESPN 1, ESPN 2 and ESPNNews; and, of course, the Golf Channel (and here in New York, on the local cable news channel, New York 1).

And the telecast, with its two cameras, simple podium and blue velvet drapery, couldn’t have been more basic, which is when Murphy’s Law usually asserts itself — when you least expect it — and one of the cameras, the head-on camera, went on the blink and Woods was left to recite at least a third of his remarks seen from the side.  With no frontal camera shot available through which to broadcast his sincerity (if that is what it was), the impact of his carefully planned message was thereby blunted, if not ruined entirely.

On the one hand, you can’t blame all these networks for breaking into regular programming — among them “The View” and “The Price is Right” — for something so many viewers were keenly interested in watching.  On the other hand, the sports channels, the all-news cable channels and the business channels had it pretty well-covered, which means interested viewers had plenty of places they could go to find Tiger Woods.  They didn’t really need the broadcast networks to take part.

It would have been refreshing if network news executives had said no when asked to acquiesce to a celebrity’s carefully controlled plan to air a statement of apology on national TV, a plan that included near-total control over the event, and hence control over the airwaves of all of our national television networks.

Who’s next?  Charlie Sheen?  How about Jon Gosselin getting 10 minutes of daytime airtime to apologize to Kate and their eight children?  Or maybe Snooki and the others from “Jersey Shore” getting 20 minutes to apologize for their show (among other things)?  Of course not.

Still, the word is out: Celebrities, big ones, are now to be accorded the same access to the airwaves as presidents and prime ministers.  Behold: You have just witnessed another milestone in the evolution of celebrity culture in America.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

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