The American public, which has trouble focusing its attention on ABC's "Eastwick" witches hocus pocus sprinkled with slick CGI graphics, was able to gawk for hours at a silver flying saucer blown up by a hot head from Fort Collins.
We watched, because in truth we all very much wanted a child to be trapped in that balloon drifting above the fields of Larimer county and that -- after a breathtaking rescue mission of the police, firefighters, NORAD jets and soaring above it all, the spirit of Steve Fossett -- there would be a happy end.
When there was no baby, we all felt cheated, cried: bull! and threw popcorn at the screen.
Arianna Huffington from the left and Laura Ingraham from the right slap the media. A hot-headed 46-year-old from Colorado duped us. No need to blame the media. The media reflects the country; America loves children of stupid parents miraculously rescued from trouble.
Remember a 11-year-old from Ocean City, MD, who, this summer, dug a tunnel on the beach till it collapsed on him? Or a 5-year-old in Hawthorne, CA, who stuck his head (not a hand, but head) into a drain after he dropped his keys there?
And what about the NFL cheerleader who heard so much media talk about possible negative effects of flu shots that after her shot, she allegedly began to suffer from a strange form of dystonia and now, like a cheerleading cuckoo, calls out accu-sa-tions-a-gainst-da-va-accine? Gimme a break. These are our heroes of the evening news.
No one in the media somehow asks: is this "unbelievable" story believable? Or, in the previous case: where were the parents of these children? No one asks, because educational programming doesn't sell. What our newsrooms prize the most is what our public pays for the most: firefighters with children in their arms and animals trapped in tree tops. Cute, cuddly stories of our American hero rescuers ending the plot with a happy end. After all it's been like this since Rocky hit the screens.
The head of the cuckoo's nest in Fort Collins, Mr. Heene, knows this truth well. His "Fort Collins Project" shot on a cheap digital camera by his oldest son with a four-person cast of characters had a combined audience comparable to that of a full blown multimillion dollar budget feature production.
Ever since the silver, saucer-like shaped object (why saucer-like?) "accidently" came loose off its tether, the PR department of the hot head from Fort Collins performed like a well greased Hollywood machine making six phone calls after the event: first ones to the FAA for air support and a local television station for coverage. Only a third one to the police.
The 6 year-old pilot of the Fort Collins Balloon Program called nomen-omen "Falcon", bounced off Larry King suspenders, flew over the morning shows of America on the wings of the anchors romanticizing the little American hero, who quite earthly, puked all over the floor of television studios along the PR route.
But the hot head from Fort Collins reached his goal. We got a good show -- no complaints. Never mind the puking child.
New York will now most likely introduce a no-fly zone over the city for silver, saucer-like balloons with 6-year-olds in the baskets. The FAA surely is going to ask President Obama for a stimulus package to bail out 6 year olds from balloon flights administered by their fame-crazed parents. That's the money going to be needed to cover the $2 million in "production costs" incurred by the rescue effort: two scrambled NORAD jets, The National Guard helo and police and medical teams on the ground. From the Hollywood perspective, that ain't no big deal at all.
Personally, as a screenwriter, I hoped that this 2009 fly over the cuckoo's nest, would end in the room of the stuttering cheerleader. Thought, she would look at the 6-year-old-little hero emerging happily from the silver gondola and miraculously would regain her cheerleading- spunk, yelling out...GOD-BLESS-AMERICA!
Maybe next time.
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more