- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

Reality charade?

A professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is getting a crash course in reality television.

English professor Frances Kaye says she was talking about the wonders of childbirth last fall during a taping for NBC’s “Tommy Lee Goes to College,” but the conversation didn’t air that way.

The scene viewers saw made it appear as if the professor was discussing the wonders of Mr. Lee’s anatomy, Associated Press reports.

Miss Kaye says she believes the show’s producers lied to her about how they would use footage shot during her Native American literature class. Her anger stems from a scene in which her class is discussing Mr. Lee’s autobiography. Miss Kaye appears to tell the class that the book’s opening — an imaginary conversation between Mr. Lee and his genitalia — is a beautiful and enduring symbol.

Mr. Lee is then shown grinning wryly.

In reality, Miss Kaye says she was talking about childbirth, another subject broached in Mr. Lee’s book.

That comment was edited into the discussion about the first chapter, Miss Kaye says.

“I was saying something serious about Native American literature, and they made it into something trivial and stupid about Tommy Lee’s penis,” she tells AP. “I realized this was a stupid reality show, but I didn’t expect to be this grossly misrepresented.”

Miss Kaye is crafting a response that Chancellor Harvey Perlman has pledged to distribute to UNL faculty and students.

“I think her concern about the representation of her class as not accurate is certainly legitimate,” Mr. Perlman said. “I don’t think the overall impression of the show is in any way an insult to her or the rest of the faculty.”

TV DVDs soar

Just because the networks are trotting out their new fall lineups doesn’t mean the public’s appetite for DVDs of older TV shows is abating.

So far this year, TV-DVD unit sales are running 26 percent ahead of the comparable period in 2004, Reuters news agency reports. And some of the hottest titles of the year, such as the first season of ABC’s “Lost,” are about to hit the market.

Although they account for just 7 percent of this year’s releases, TV-related DVDs make up 15 percent of all DVD units sold through Aug. 21, according to Nielsen VideoScan data. Suppliers might be holding their hottest titles of the year for the fourth quarter, but they’re filling the gap with a steady stream of TV-DVD releases that consumers are scooping up.

According to Nielsen VideoScan, unit sales of TV-DVD accounted for nearly 20 percent of all DVDs bought by consumers for the week ending Aug. 21.

Don’t think the various DVD suppliers haven’t noticed. Paramount Home Entertainment, which this year has been on an aggressive drive to crank up TV-DVD production, has seen a nearly 70 percent increase in unit sales so far this year, according to Nielsen VideoScan.

Paramount has hit the market at both ends. For the lucrative young-adult male demographic, the studio has scored big with “Chappelle’s Show.” At the other end, there’s a slew of product aimed at children, thanks to its Nickelodeon franchise “Dora the Explorer.”

Warner Home Video, which includes HBO Home Video, also was quick to enter the category, and is this year’s market-share leader in TV-DVD and overall disc sales. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the No. 3 player in the market, with 11.8 percent of TV-DVD unit sales. Fox’s TV-DVD unit sales so far this year are up 33 percent from a year ago and account for 15 percent of the studio’s overall DVD sales.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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