If it happens in Hollywood, Extra is there. But the show's
producers like to focus more on the human angle than just the glitz and
glamour, reports Craig McGuire.
Syndicated entertainment show Extra is generally focused on all things
Hollywood, but in the light of the September 11 tragedy, many of its
entertainment stories have been shelved in favor of pieces about the
experiences of everyday folks.
As senior executive producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey told USA Today on
September 17, "Our slogan on Extra is 'entertainment and more.' Now
we're embracing the 'more.' We'll get back to entertainment, but we're
just telling different stories."
A recent edition of the show, which runs on a variety of networks across
the country, included a piece on how to talk to kids about the tragedy.
However, Hollywood still sits at the core of the editorial coverage, as
the same episode featured a piece about the studios' concerns over
security and the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon.
Extra is produced from Los Angeles with the help of a New York bureau,
and had been planning to step up its coverage of entertainment news
during its eighth season. The production company behind the show is Time
Telepictures Television which, in addition to the daily half-hour show,
makes an hour-long weekend edition. The total audience is around three
When Extra returns to its regular reportage, the half-hour weekday show,
fronted by Leeza Gibbons, will adhere more closely to its normal five
distinct segments: Showbiz Insider, Celebrity Justice, The Good Life
(lifestyles), Body Beautiful (health and fitness), and Eye Candy.
If you're planning to pitch the show, you'd better get with the program.
"Tailor your pitch to target one of the units, or peg it to a celebrity,
and always try to offer us something our viewers won't see anywhere
else," advises assignment manager Fatana Nawabi.
With producers typically planning longer segments than those of
competitors, Nawabi expects publicists to come up with original pitches.
"We want elements that make it an Extra story, such as unique angles,"
she says."The segments tend to offer more than just entertainment, but
also information that viewers can use and relate to."
Agency Formula PR employed the strategy of anticipating what Extra's
producers would want before they actually wanted it to land several
separate placements for client The Waismann Institute, a California
heroin detoxification and treatment facility.
"When we heard Robert Downey, Jr. was busted for possession, we saw an
opening," reflects Michael Olguin, Formula PR president. "When we know
they're going to run the story," explains Olguin, "we tell the producers
that we can make doctors and experts available, provide access to the
treatment facility, and even invite them to follow a patient through the
Remember, though you may land the spot, that doesn't always mean your
client is being best served. "Brand exposure is important, but the
company is looking to get the phones ringing," says Olguin. "We instruct
doctors and patients interviewed to always say 'the Beverly Hills-based
institute' so when you're in Podunk, IA, you know where to find us."
In order to lure Extra to the opening of Disney's California Adventure
theme park in Anaheim, CA earlier this year, Andrea Kaye, senior media
specialist at Golin/Harris, used plenty of star power. Attendees
included Jack Nicholson, Tim Allen, Roseanne, Whoopi Goldberg, the Beach
Boys, and the GooGoo Dolls, among others.
"They're going to request a good place on the red carpet, so make sure
you can deliver," she says. "Also, it's a visual medium, so they'll
probably request b-roll. Try to have it ready before you make the
Kaye also advises publicists to be aware of the realities of producing a
daily show. "Think like a journalist, and be conscious if they are on
deadline, which usually takes up most of their mornings," says Kaye. "Be
especially aware of new trends, because a show like Extra likes to
identify and help set trends."
Address: 1840 Victory Blvd., Glendale, CA 91201
Tel: (818) 972-0500
Assignment desk: (888) 339-3579
Fax: (818) 972-8910
NYC address: 1700 Broadway, 4th Fl., NY, NY 10019
Tel: (212) 506-4900
Senior Executive Producer: Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey
Executive producer: Neal Freundlich
Co-executive producer: Theresa Coffino
Assignment manager: Fatana Nawabi
Anchor: Leeza Gibbons
Weekend anchor: Dayna Devon
Correspondents: Doug Bruckner, Jerry Penacoli, Jon Kelley, Michael James
Bryant, Phil Shuman