"web workshop" @ zdtv
In 1998 as I was finishing up at college I was offered a chance to audition to appear on a new technology-focused cable television network, called ZDTV (Ziff-Davis Television).
To my surprise and excitement, I was hired on, paid $700 a week to do five minute web lessons during "Call for Help" a show hosted by Leo Laporte, even then a technology media pioneer.
Initially I was to host "web workshop," a half hour weekly show that plays on saturdays and sundays, and then gets cut up into five minute segments to play during the week on another show, "call for help."
They experimented with different formats and slots and I appeared a few times as they worked it out. It was great to be paid $700 a week to be on retainer for meetings, rehearsals, television appearances, or a lot of farting around my West Oakland apartment.
When I was held up at gunpoint, June 1998 ZDTV loaned me a Mac laptop; that was nice of them.
Here's a clip of one of my appearances:
We had a good time taping - my producer said I was "telegenic" - good on my feet in front of a camera. Whee!
Fall 1998 they postponed the show and then they had to deaffiliate after a viewer from Tupelo Mississippi sent in a letter of protest about the sex/drugs/profanity content on my personal web site. Hah! One of my great regrets in life is not getting a copy of that letter. I remember the line "homosexual freak pornographer" because I had profanity, I mentioned kissing men, I posted naked pictures of myself here. Oh well!
The nice lady at ZDTV asked: would you take down the mature content on links.net? I thought, then I'll only have immature content left! I replied, tv shows may come and go, but mature content is forever. So I walked away from that gig.
zdtv is a cable channel entirely dedicated to computing. you probably don't get it in your area - unless you have directTV, those little satellites.
this is written back when the relationship was current:
"web workshop" is about teaching people how to make web pages, and discussing web design and technical issues. i like to encourage people to be producers, and i look forward to a chance to share with people some of the stranger sites that i like to visit.
personal webpages: why bother?
(from 22 sept '98)
i had to turn around and write my piece for web workshop (personal webpages: why bother?), turn it in by 2pm and travel to the zdtv studios by 3pm for a 4pm live taping of my first call for help segment. (see it in realvideo: 28k or 56k)
what do you actually do? ellen asks:
i work with producer-people, we decide what a show segment will be on -
five minute chunks - one might be a webmaster interview, or a web tutorial, or a site profile,and then we talk about it and then i get up in front of the cameras and talk through it over and over and over and over and over again while they give me feedback.
but web workshop is postponed until 1999 - indefinitely, because their money needs to go to new markets, not yet new content. until then i appear on "call for help" every now and then.
they found me because i was on "the site" - an early zdtv single show that was eventually canned.
i auditioned for zdtv and they decided i might be a good teacher. my primarily stipulation was that i be allowed to do media criticism, so they're letting me do one minute "justin's rants," one per show.
i really want to have my porno publishing friends on - they're the ones pushing the technological boundaries and begging major content questions online.
my producers before i was postponed, miguel and annaliza (sumi just a little) - they're nice wacky people. it's when you climb the corporate ladder that things get dicey. they have more tv experience and less web chiq up there - they like things excitingly packaged for short attention spans. i may have a short attention span at times, but i have greater faith in the importance of balanced reasoned coverage. so what am i doing in tv? giving it a shot.