Friday, November 4, 2011

Is this the Worst TV News Clip Ever — Or the Best?

Posted by on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 12:19 PM

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We guess you can write this off to sweeps week, that pocket of the calendar year when TV stations have license to literally throw the kitchen sink at any story with enough headline juice in order to kick things up to 11, all in the name of ratings. What we have here is a textbook example from 19ActionNews, who took an already salacious story and . . . well, you'll see.

The story's probably hit your radar already, about Erin Holdsworth, the 28-year-old woman who led police on a wild 120-mile car chase last week; not only was she drunk when police finally pulled her over, but wearing nothing but a g-string and some heels. Obviously, this was a story with legs, getting play on every nightly newscast and even leaking out into the interwebs. But 19ActionNews has made it their own by getting a new catchy name around Holdsworth — the Lead-Footed Diva.

Stamping the unfortunate young woman with the tag was only the beginning. This has sealed the deal. This is like the theater of the bizarre crossdressing as a news story — fat on spectacle, lean on news. It opens with the anchors wagging verbal fingers at Holdworth's public defender, Geauga County attorney Dawn Gargiulo for, cue the dramatic music, “attacking our camera.”

Hot damn, attacking the camera? This must be serious.

The actual report was done by Paul Orlousky. The opening shots show the news team trying to get Holdsworth to talk while she hides in her car. The real action is a few frames later, when Garigulo comes on the scene.

“You guys are the biggest assholes in the world,” the lawyer says as she stomps into view. As she gets in range, Garigulo reels back with her stack of important papers, gearing up to sideline the 19's prying lens with a swift, righteous swing. But on connect, she looses her grip, dumping a paper trail helter skelter on the sidewalk, right at Orlosky's loafers. So now, she's down on all fours trying to scramble the paperwork back together, while Orlosky needles into her from above. “You know that's a crime. And you're a lawyer.” It's pretty, pretty, pretty awkward.

Later in the clip, Orlosky refers to Garigulo as “Dawn the Destroyer” — it's quick, the way they slip in that nickname, you almost miss it. But name calling is small change, a story like this during sweeps needs a dramatic ending, something unforgettable — and 19ActionNews does not disappoint.

Close to the clip's end, Orlosky is shown sitting behind the wheel of a car, shirtless (maybe pantless?). We're not sure why he's sporting buff here, maybe he's trying to method-act his way into Holdsworth's head space, for journalist perspective, something like that. Maybe there's nothing like the way seat leather feels on a man's bare shoulders in November. But there he is, hiking the ridiculousness up to umpteenth level.

The news team seems to justify the attention because of Holdsworth's record of multiple OVI arrests, and absolutely, someone could have been killed by her antics. She's already been humiliated by the coverage and she'll get a punishment from the court.

Part of why we watch this stuff is for that pillory factor — only it doesn't stop at Holdsworth, but the ring of focus wide-angles out to include her lawyer and the news crew trailing her steps — they're all ridiculous. 120-mile chases, g-strings, lawyers swinging at camera, nude newsmen — this is like a cartoon. You watch a clip like this and feel satisfied its not you up there acting a fool, while at the same time there's quiet, frustrated memorial service going on somewhere in the back of your head for that minute and half your life so recklessly flushed away.

Only the sideshow is too distracting. Watch the clip, listen to this girl banshee-wailing in the back of the cop car as she tosses her forehead violently against the plastic partition again and again — obviously this person has some issues to deal with. But when you truck in the antics, you miss that.

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