Washington — It is not clear how much sanity and/
or fear was ginned up by the Comedy Central-arranged
rally on the National Mall here Oct. 30, but one thing
the event demonstrated was the power of cable television
to draw a crowd.
Comedy Central pegged the attendance at 250,000, at
least, though the estimate from aerial photos commissioned
by CBS News was around 215,000.
Either would surpass the estimated 87,000, derived by
the same means, who attended Fox News Channel host
Glenn Beck’s Aug. 28 rally on the mall. Th e Jon Stewart-
Stephen Colbert effort was in response to that gathering.
For what it’s worth, Stewart said on stage it looked like
about 10 billion were there, in demographically correct
Another 2 million or so watched at home on television,
according to Nielsen.
Stewart said the goal was just to have a lot of people
show up, which they did.
The Wire was on the scene, amid Smurfs, Darth Vaders,
giant bananas and bumblebees on the day before Halloween.
Some less-extravagantly attired folks were there, too.
All were jostled and crammed, occasionally climbing
on Porta-Johns to get as close to the stage as possible.
Among those delighted by the large crowd were Jamie
Hyneman and Adam Savage, hosts of Discovery Channel’s
Mythbusters. They used the masses as a test bed for
experiments in wave propagation and sound levels.
One experiment called for the crowd to jump in place,
recording an impact 100 times greater than that of a minor
The Mythbusters eyeball estimate was 150,000 people.
Whatever the number was, most seemed to be having
fun — when they weren’t being pressed against
fences and barricades that allowed for emergency access
to cross streets.
Various groups broke into spontaneous dances, while
cause-pushers stated their cases with signs. People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals supporters, pot-smokers’
rights advocates, gay rights activists and Fox bashers
were among those spotted by The Wire.
Speaking of pot, more people apparently were paying attention
to the grass in California than to the grassy expanse
of National Mall. A Pew News Interest Index survey found
75% of respondents 18-plus knew at least something about
the possibility of smoking marijuana with impunity in California
(via a ballot proposal that failed on Nov. 2). Only 47%
knew at least something about the Stewart-Colbert rally.
The Wire’s favorite placards were “Death to Extremism”
and “End Road Work.” The latter evidently was erected by
a D.C. work crew, but next to it stood a well-dressed middle-
aged man, repeatedly shouting with mock conviction:
“End road work! End road work now!”
Zucker Feels Love
Amid the Zingers
At ‘Stanton’ Roast
“I haven’t felt so much love since I sat down with Steve
Burke a few weeks ago.” That was the understandable
reaction of NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker last week
after he was mercilessly roasted at the Center for Communications
annual Frank Stanton Award Luncheon last
Monday in Manhattan.
He was skewered by two news anchors, most notably.
Katie Couric of CBS, who worked with Zucker in
his “wunderkind” days at the Today show, repeatedly
jabbed at NBC’s ratings status. “He showed me that
being in third place really isn’t that bad,” she said of
Zucker. She also made a reference to his becoming
great at golf, a game where the low score wins.
NBC’s Brian Williams noted that Tom Freston won
the Stanton award in 2006, and a few weeks later left
Viacom (with a handsome payout). Zucker is now in a
similar situation, preparing to leave NBC (“with Conan
money,” Couric joked) after Comcast takes control,
something company COO Burke informed him of recently.
Hence the love reference.
Anyway, the “kiss of death” aspect of the award
prompted Williams to suggest Couric and Diane Sawyer,
the ABC anchor, might be good candidates next year.
Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock, the NBC comedy that has
bravely satirized the Comcast (“Kabletown”) takeover,
had some good lines about perks he’d like to ask for
now that Zucker is leaving. But he also had one of the
better serious lines: “Whatever company you end up
with, I hope that company buys NBC so that I can work
for you again.”
ESPN On World Cup:
Games, Ads Were Fun
To See In 3D Format
Study groups viewing the FIFA World Cup in 3D enjoyed
the matches more than those who watched in 2D,
recall for enhanced format-ads was greater and, generally
speaking, there were fewer adverse health impacts
from eyeing the format than bouncing a soccer ball off
Those were the takeaways from a comprehensive
study by ESPN Research & Analytics, culled from more
than 1,000 testing sessions and 2,700 hours of participants
watching live or nearly live games in 3D at the
Disney Media and Ad Lab in Austin, Texas.
Enjoyment of the match grew to 70% in 3D, versus
65% for the 2D view, and a feeling of the game’s “presence”
surged to 69% in 3D from 42% in 2D.
Ad recognition grew to 94% in 3D from 83% in 2D;
cued recall improved to 83% from 68%; likelihood to
purchase rose to 83% from 49%; and ad likeability
jumped to 84% from 67%. Ka-ching.
Health issues were largely a non-factor: eye strain,
headaches and fatigue incidents were minimal compared
to those watching in 2D.
Comfort levels for the participants increased over
time, presumably as they became more acclimated to
the glasses and the images.
Short breaks in 3D viewing were deemed beneficial