Punk’d


Well I’m a big enough man to admit it. Tonight I got punk’d. Tonight I got played by a real professional and “taken to school”.

There’s no video at the moment (I’m sure it will be online soon enough) but tonight I got invited onto a local television talk show. Actually let me rewind and start at the beginning. Last year a group of local Unicorn City heavyweights with deep pockets bought two television channels and decided to merge them together under the same brand. One of those channels was originally called NCN and you can see a brief piece they did with me in the sidebar of this blog (in both English and Romanian).

Starting in December 2011 NCN became “Transilvania L!ve” (exactly like that) and on February 14 their sister channel “Transilvania Look” went on the air. I was quite excited about it for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that some people I know went to work for them but primarily because for the first time ever a serious effort was being made to do something in the Romanian television market that isn’t based out of Bucharest.

Indeed, Transilvania Look/L!ve’s headquarters are right here in Unicorn City. And while they’re available online for much of the country, they plan to soon spread out to all domestic cable TV providers. Everything is brand new, especially on the “Look” side of things. In January I was filmed as part of a news segment for the L!ve side of things and in the chaos it never got used. I got invited to be part of tonight’s show (on the “Look” side) before the channel was even launched (or its website) and frankly at first I thought it was a scam.

Well it’s no scam. These two channels and their attendant website is who launched the big concert earlier this week. This company, financed by Paskany (owner of CFR soccer team) and Dancu (a hugely influential local politician) and others is making a major play here and they are not fucking around. I got there tonight (a Friday!) at 10:00 pm in the midst of light snow and their studios were packed with people, almost more people working there than are (probably) watching at home.

I got taken into make-up for the first time in my media life and they dusted my cheeks and forehead with powder. I got taken into a green room (which of course wasn’t green at all) and had a gofer there at my beck and call to fetch me drinks or anything else I wanted. There were a pile of newspapers on the table, everything from Romania Libera to Click! to ones I had never heard of, including local papers from Salaj and Maramures and all kinds of other places. Compared to my previous experiences, this was some intense stuff.

Of course, as I’ve written about before, absolutely nobody told me what in the hell I was there to discuss. There was no preparation, no pre-interview, no nothing. All I did was briefly meet the host, Bogdan Radulescu, and that was it. Let me tell you all, that guy is no amateur. I have no idea who he is but he was born for television. He played me like a violin and I’m man enough to admit it.

The show is set up as a “late night” talk show, similar to The Tonight Show in America or countless hundreds of other similar programs. There’s a host behind a desk and a curtain for the “celebrities” to enter through and a sidekick and fake photos of the skyline and everything. The only European component was the addition of the “glamor” model who sat at the end of the couch to provide some additional commentary. Me being who I am, I had already watched the sum total of all three previous broadcasts of this show (in Cluj on UPC it’s channel 30 if you want to catch the reluare) and I thought I would be prepared. Alas, I was not.

Don’t get me wrong, nobody was evil to me. But it’s clear I was there only for comic relief. I was on the air about 10 minutes total and most of that was a kind of quiz contest (again, remember I had no idea what to expect) between me and the sidekick to see which of us was the “most Romanian”. And of course I lost handily. And then everyone sat there with a big artificial television grin on their face and thanked me for joining them but truly and honestly, I got played. I wasn’t asked one serious question and I was there just to provide a few chuckles for the audience. Of course this isn’t some ultra-serious show so I do recognize the fact that everything was done in a humorous spirit. Nonetheless, I did the best I could, which is about all I can say in my own defense.

After I left the stage I did my best to stand tall and keep my head up. I gathered my things and headed back down to the lobby (riding in an elevator that spoke aloud in English, by the way). The guard down there wished me a good night and about my sole consolation was noting that he had a television at his desk – and it was tuned to ProTV :)

For those of you who live in Romania, be on guard. These guys behind Transilvania Look/L!ve are pouring a ton of money into this effort and they are making a serious move on the domestic market. Once the video gets online, I’ll be sure to post it. For those of you who saw it (or see it in the future) I thank you for your support. Mercy!

3 thoughts on “Punk’d

  1. From what you’ve described there you’ve been on a show not unlike “Un show păcătos”, another late night pile of filth polluting the airwaves hosted by a large, man-sized sack of shit. No substance whatsoever, only cheap, low-grade laughs for the intellectually challenged and the morally ambiguous.

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