Saturday, July 21, 2007
The David Mark Show!
N.B: The piece was a bit longer when I spent it, and of course my editor had to cut it down for space: but it made me look so much angrier! Ah well, I wrote it didn't I? Enjoy!
The David Mark Show!
By Chude Jideonwo, Airtime, Thisday 07.20.2007
It is understandable that, following the live transmission of the Third Term (they called it constitution review), Ken Nnamani turned out to be a hero: easily the most popular television personality at the time, whether by default or not. Before him, Justice Chukwudi Oputa had been the darling of the airwaves as he lorded it over the lawyers and witnesses at the delightful Oputa Panel, albeit with admirable charm. So, Mark wanted his day in the sun? Not so tall an ambition actually, er except for one little problem. Actually, there are two problems. First, the Senate President doesn’t have that star quality, which both Oputa and Nnamani were blessed with, even without knowing it. That combination of wit and charm is what TV producers call the X Factor. Actually, depth also helps. All of which our dear Senate President appeared to lack.
Indeed, with his village-square style of moderation, he came off looking jaded, obsolete, almost clownish, uninspired and ultimately uninspiring. Apart from that, television as a medium thrives on content. Put simply, there has to be a point to what it is you expect people to watch. With Ken Nnamani, it was very possible to revel in the personality of the Senate President whose candour was inspiring, refreshing and engaging all at the same time, added to the fact that we were being thoroughly educated as to the groundswell of issues surrounding the tenure elongation agenda, apart from being thoroughly informed about the groundswell of disgust at the prospects of a continued Obasanjo presidency. There was a point to it, there was something that viewers wanted to see. That’s the worldview Airtime keeps trying to communicate to producers: it’s not just about wanting to come on television - what do you have to put on? Television is supposed to inform, educate, entertain and since Oprah came on, it now has a fourth function- inspire.
The ministerial screening had the potential to incorporate all these elements to achieve good TV. But it turned out a failure. A bad TV show. Information? Education? Absent. Since the Senators had reasons as puerile as hunger (hunger!) for their failure to ask intelligent questions of the nominees. A female nominee, someone who might end up heading a sensitive Ministry was told to “bow and go”, simply because the senators were hungry! Add that to Senators standing up to vouch for nominees with such helpful detail as “she is a calm person” “he is the secretary of our great party, the largest party in Africa” if not the whole world, or “I have worked under her for many years” and “if she has raised four children, then she can hold a ministry”.
And as far as PR value goes, these guys would have been better off assigning the brief to the Buhari Campaign Organisation, believe me. The David Mark Show was horrible TV. It came off like we had assembled a cast for BBC Hard Talk, and instead we were confronted with Saturday Night Live. If I was Executive Producer of this show, and the national assembly was my cast I would fire the lot.