01 November 2007

George Whipple, NY1 and the Halloween Parade

I've always thought of NY1's "society reporter" George Whipple as one part Michael Musto, one part Cindy Adams and two parts Gene Shalit. He's like the Canal Street version of all those people.

Whipple used to work for Cravath, Swaine & Moore back in the day; one of the world's most prestigious law firms. I don't know what happened but somewhere along the way he became a lifestyle & "society reporter". I think he started doing freelance photography and hooked up The Times and Harper's Bazaar.

Every year NY1 covers the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and every year its fucking hysterical. Theres no other parade like it. The parade isn't like the antiseptic, sterilised Thanxgiving Day Parade. The Village Halloween Parade is quite, uh, live. And watching NY1 play hot potato with this powderkeg of a broadcast for an hour or two is absolutely hysterical. It's nice to get cozy, make some popcorn, sit back and watch the precarious NY1 delicately and dubiously try to navigate their way, tip-toeing through this virtual landmine of a remote.

Whoever has to direct this thing back at the NY1 control room (NY1 HQ is in the building above upstairs the Chelsea Markets), easily has the most high pressure job of the year. NY1 never does shit like this; but once a year, they go out and set up their live television cameras in the eye of the tornado on 6th Avenue.

It's charming and cute assuming George Whipple is wild and crazy, hanging out with drag queens, transvestites and Broadway types at after hours amyl nitrite & Crisco parties at the 92nd Street Y, but it's another thing entirely when they're in front of us, marching down 6th Avenue on live television. NY1 is obviously in panic mode; it's code red / high alert back at the Chelsea Market Building.

I saw them cut away a bunch of times last night or cut off the audio feed or whatever; it's fucking classic. I especially love when they're simply outwitted and outweirded by the paraders.

George Whipple interviewing some guy in a cheeseburger costume and he's just repeating the mantra "I want you to eat me!". George asks him "How long did it take you to make this costume?", "I want you to eat me!". They'll let it volley for a few more seconds and then they cut away. This happens about 10 times throughout the broadcast and it just gets better and better. I wish I'd warned you all about it last night, you could've TiVo'd it; now we must wait 364 days for it to happen again.

Whipple is probably the best equipped of the bunch to handle these, uh, "Village people" and it's even better when they leave it to the other brave (read: deer in headlights) NY1 reporters to play hot potato with the masked revelers.

"This year's theme was "Wings of Desire" – honoring mankind's journey into the skies through the power of one's imagination." Ha, right.

The deadpan John Schiumo anchored the broadcast. I'm not sure what the F he was dressed up as though. My man had on a black fedora and black eye shadow, and that's it. Towards the end of the night they applied a little theater blood dripping from the side of his mouth. Maybe this is how the secretive Schiumo normally dresses when he's not hosting "The Call"? Perhaps. Schiumo is from Staten Island. I guess that explains everything.

NY1 also threw poor Jill Scott to the wolves. She was out on the street with the lunatics as well. She was sans costume but pulled off the part of a deer in the headlights swimmingly. She couldn't hear or understand what anyone was saying; masks or no masks. She was just smiling nervously and pulling the mic away before anyone had time to yell "amyl nitrite!". I think Jill is normally the "home reporter" on NY1, whatever that means. I guess she talks about home stuff? Home remedies? Maybe she works from home? Who knows.

"Hi, what are you guys dressed up as!?" (shouting over the din)

"We're sexy and we're hear to party!!!!!!!!"

"Ohhhhh, OK. So where are you from?!!" (still shouting, now with a tinge of trepidation)

"We're from Dildo, the Planet of Sex Toys!!! Woooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!"

And at that point they'd either cut the audio or just throw it back to Staten Island's golden boy: John Schiumo.

What's so great is that no one they interview ever seems to say anything blatantly crude or whatever; it's always rather innocuous or purposely weird, its just the way they handle it and how uptight they seem because they're so fearful of what could happen or, more than likely, what they're bosses said not to let happen.

Watching NY1 juggle the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade broadcast is like watching someone stick their head in an alligators mouth for a half hour. It's amazing.

So Bravo! to NY1 for sticking with it and having the balls to go to war once a year.

I think whenever Halloween falls on a weeknight, watching NY1's parade coverage is going to be my new Halloween ritual. It was certainly more entertaining than whatever you did.


Anonymous said...

John Schiumo looked sooo
unhappy during the broadcast. I couldn't believe the little hissy fit statements he was making throughout the night. Were the producers punishing him with this gig? He sure acted like it.

Gotham City Insider said...

He's too big for us now. He's gotta sit there and talk to people on speaker phone for a half hour. I think I'll prank him tonight if I get home in time.