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Thread: Arming TV celebrities raises concerns

  1. #1
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    May 2003
    Dublin, OH

    Arming TV celebrities raises concerns

    I can certainly see how this would be embarrassing to the residents of Muncie. How would you feel if this happened in your town?
    By Belinda Goldsmith Thu Jan 11, 9:09 AM ET

    NEW YORK. Jan 11 (Reuters Life!) - Get some B-list celebrities, give them guns, and put them into a midwest U.S. town as police officers and what do you get? A panning by critics and a town worried about its reputation.

    A new U.S. reality TV show on CBS, "Armed & Famous," groups singer La Toya Jackson, wrestling star Trish Stratus, MTV's Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, "Jackass" actor Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, and actor Erik Estrada, who made his name as a cop on the CHiPs TV series.

    The five train for three weeks to become real police officers in Muncie, Indiana, a town of about 70,000 people that is considered a typical middle-America community, a factory town suffering in the wake of plant closures and layoffs.

    TV critics have panned the series hatched by Muncie-born TV producer Mike Braverman that starts this week as having little action, interest, or reason.

    "Keep moving folks. Not much to see here," concluded New York Daily News critic David Hinckley.

    "Maybe they should have called it "Armed & Stupid," wrote New York Post critic Linda Stasi.

    She said the only fun part of the series was to see each of the stars react when hit with a 50,000 volt Taser stungun which apparently is mandatory before being allowed to carry one.

    But while the crew flew in and out of town, the controversy it has stirred in Muncie looks set to run for longer with some concerned the reality TV show has overstepped the mark and become too real.

    Many Muncie residents see the show as an embarrassment to the town and some local "stars" of the show, arrested by the celebrity squad, are finding the attention does not end with the show.

    "Here we go. Muncie can be the laughing stock of the country just like we thought it would," said one posting on Web site of the local newspaper, TheStarPress.com.

    "The current city leaders have prostituted the name of what was once known as "Middletown America" for fleeting fame and little profit," said another. "Shame on you Muncie!"

    The "star" of the first episode, a 57-year-old widow and self-confessed video poker addict filmed on a drug-related arrest, comes under fire from other Muncie residents.

    Criticized from all quarters, she told local reporters that she regretted signing a waiver to agree to appear on film.

    Gail Koch, a reporter at The Star Press newspaper who has run a blog on the show, said the show had caused a real buzz in the town, with some people fiercely opposed to the project but others resigned to the fact it was going ahead.

    "People are concerned about how Muncie looks but the first episode could have been worse," said Koch.

    A CBS spokesman said the criticisms appeared to be a few isolated opinions.

    "Overall we think our experiences with the people of Muncie have been positive," he said.

  2. #2
    Salty waywyrd's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
    South Carolina
    I don't know....I don't see how the show is making Muncie look bad at all. The real police department has been nothing but professional, and the "celebrities" really seem to be taking it seriously. I don't believe the show has made the town look bad, or belittled the seriousness of the job.

    Every city has its crackheads and drunks, as you can see on the show Cops. Or by reading your local police blotter in the paper. I just don't understand the big uproar about this show.
    It was me. I let the dogs out.

  3. #3
    Diet Coke Addict Dicechick's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Vegas, baby!!
    I am glad Muncie went along with it. Sure, it shows the crackheads, prostitutes and degenerates that are in every town..but it is great to see the new officers taking their job seriously. I am sure it brought a little bit of revenue to the town and hopefully some new equipment for the police dept which is alway welcome!!
    The TV show "COPS" rides along with our units at times and the people they show are not your average Las Vegas citizens. I don't know how they do it, but they seem to find the people with the least number of teeth, folks that have never owned a comb and morons that can't put a complete sentence together.
    Oh well. It is fun trying to guess which coworker it is that you hear on the dispatch radio in the background.
    Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!!

  4. #4
    I was surprised by how much I liked this show. It reminds me of Cops (except that here, of course, some of the cops are celebrities), and I am really impressed by how seriously the celebrities are taking this. Their sincerity, and respectfulness, and obvious desire to do well as police officers is really very engaging, and I don't think that this show makes Muncie look bad at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  5. #5
    FORT Newbie
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    Jan 2007
    I don’t think Armed and Famous made Muncie look bad. Though they are not real cops, they are still trying to take their job seriously. And yes, I agree that it brought a little bit of revenue to the town. The show is good, and it is not making the town look bad at all.

  6. #6
    If anything, Armed and Famous is doing for Muncie what Borat did for Kazakhstan. Before either premiered, who the hell had ever given a single thought to Muncie or Kazakhstan. Now, thanks to these pieces of entertainment (and the media's "ooooooh, will Muncians/Kazakhs find it offensive?" hype), both places have all this mostly favorable attention on them. Probly investment dollars too. I think it's all good. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Particularly if you're as much of a complete cultural zero like Muncie.

  7. #7
    I don't know about Kazahstan, but I've been to Muncie twice actually, and I have to say, it has NOTHING going for it. So I'd tend to agree with Sarah that, yeah, for Muncie, only good can come of this whole Armed and Famous thing. If nothing else, people will get somewhat more familiar with the town, have it in their geographical lexicon, and, should some opportunity arise, they may actually go there thanks to the little added bump that, yeah, a show they liked was filmed there. Kind of a longshot, but, for Muncie, any step up is a BIG step up.

  8. #8
    Endlessly ShrinkingViolet's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Reality show more positive than negative, officials and experts agree


    MUNCIE -- Local officials, business owners and even business experts agree that -- so far at least -- there does not appear to be negative "image" repercussions from the Armed & Famous reality show.

    One site selection expert even indicated that while the show would have no impact on -- for example -- an automaker deciding to locate a plant here, the show could serve as encouragement for other film and TV productions.

    The Armed & Famous cast and crew came to Muncie around Thanksgiving and left this week, when the reality show -- about celebrities serving as Muncie police officers -- began airing on CBS.

    The production company lived in rooms at the recently-closed Roberts Hotel, ate in local restaurants and -- in one notable scene in the first episode, at least -- washed their clothes at a local coin-operated laundry. Businesses saw some increased revenue during their several-week stay.

    "It's a crew of 40 or 50 spending money," Mayor Dan Canan said. "They're renting vehicles. They're paying us for the cost of our officers."

    But what about the lasting impact of the show to the area's economic fortunes and its image?

    "One of my overriding concerns was how we would be portrayed," Canan added. "I think it can have a lot of positive impact on our community."
    Canan cited the public relations mileage the city gets when David Letterman talks about Muncie or Ball State University on his talk show.

    "Even if he pokes fun, it gets the name out there," Canan said.

    Ball State economist Patrick Barkey -- who emphasized he is not a marketing expert -- agreed.

    "Speaking just as an economist, if you think about how much money is spent 'branding' a business, about the amount of money Indianapolis spends on its image, [the publicity from the reality show] must be worth something," Barkey said.

    "And it's not just the recruitment of business that matters," he added. "It's the recruitment of residents. If you have a chance to take a job transfer to Muncie, do you come? For people considering Ball State, does this make Muncie seem cooler?

    "That's an important part of recruitment. If this made Muncie seem more hip, then that's worth something."

    Adam Bruns, editor of Georgia-based Site Selection magazine, told The Star Press that big companies won't consider Armed & Famous when thinking about where to locate their business.

    "I just don't think it would either be here nor there [in that decision]," Bruns said. "One thing to look at is the fact that a growing part of a lot of states' economic development efforts is the effort to attract film and TV and commercial projects. If anything, [Muncie] makes itself known as a community open to being a production site."

    Local officials and business people were fairly positive about the show and the filming experience.

    "Most of the interaction I've received reports on has been pretty positive," said Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney, adding his office did have "a real concern" about a Muncie police shotgun reportedly stolen while in the custody of production members.

    Tom Steiner, owner of the Blue Bottle coffee shop downtown, had numerous contacts with the show's production crew and actor Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna.

    "Jason came in every day he was in town and had lunch with us," Steiner said. "A lot of the behind-the-scenes production people were in town. They were all great.

    "I am not concerned about the national image of Muncie based on the show," Steiner added. "I thought they did a really good job of showing that Muncie is a good town and that the police department is professional. I thought it was a pretty positive thing."

  9. #9
    Can anybody realistically think of any other film/TV projects that would want to shoot on location in Muncie, besides something like Armed and Famous? I mean, I can't, off the top of my head.

  10. #10
    I wonder how Erik and the others are feeling, now that they've gone back to their regular lives as celebrities. They seem so enthusiastic about being cops, that it might not be that easy for them to go back to their everyday lives.

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