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The Pot Baron of Reality Television

The newest in the crop of marijuana shows launches on Sunday, April 19 when CNN introduces “High Profits” just in time for 4/20. The eight episode series features Brian Rogers and Caitlin McGuire, owners of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club, as they work to become marijuana moguls and eventually franchise their stores. It follows on the heels of MSNBC’s well received docu-reality series “Pot Barons of Colorado.” After wrapping up that marijuana infused marathon, executive producer Gary Cohen says he’s hooked.

“Pot Barons was a crazy sprint” says Cohen, who is the Emmy award winning founder of Triple Threat Television based in Stamford, Connecticut. “Those six months were as demanding as any I could remember.” Cohen deployed an eight-person team who worked around the clock out of a house in Denver. The program focused on the most successful ganjapreneurs in Colorado including the founders of Medicine Man, Euflora and Dixie Elixirs. Now he is developing and pitching new programs. “I expect to do lots of pot shows,” says Cohen.

Cohen got his start in television producing sports and documentaries. Triple Threat TV produced nine films for ESPN’s highly acclaimed 30 For 30 series. His team also produced ten episodes of MTV’s True Life and eight episodes for Biography. His foray into marijuana shows is a natural evolution for the producer of non-fiction programming who is a self-described marijuana lover and advocate. “I’m comfortable saying I am a marijuana person. Thanks to efforts of a lot of people who have been working at it for a long time I lived to see a day I never thought I would live to see. Prohibition is over.”

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Cohen is exploring how to do the marijuana version of various television genres such as talk shows, documentaries, cooking shows and music shows. One of those is a talk show with the Denver Post’s Cannabist pot critic Jake Browne who gets high and hangs out with celebrity guests. Cohen is shopping a pilot where Jake parties with former Denver Bronco Nate Jackson who wrote a book about getting high in the NFL. Cohen thinks a program like this will attract celebrities. “Marijuana is part of a brand. They’re eager to be identified with it in the right way.”

Cohen admits not every network is open to the idea of pot shows because there could be ad sales issues.   Even so, there are more channels willing to listen to a marijuana pitch now than there were a year ago and the reaction is “oooh that’s sexy, maybe we’ll get some viewers we don’t normally get.” While he was in Washington D.C. at the non-fiction television summit, Realscreen, he went up to a women’s network and asked if they were interested in talking and they said “yes, definitely. Let’s set up a call for next week.”

“There are an awful lot of people who get high. My interest is in leading the charge. I don’t want to follow the crowd. I want to do more. I feel like there are huge opportunities and we are getting out in front of some of them.” Cohen is looking at cable television and over the top networks and channels that are delivering programs through phone apps and streaming video on demand. “At the same time there is a marijuana revolution there is a television implosion,” he says. “There are more and more media outlets and millennials are not paying for cable.   You and I grew up in a world of half hour and hour television slots. Uh uh. Game over. Four minutes or eleven minutes or 71 minutes, it’s whatever it is. People will find it if they want it and it speaks to them. The doors have blown off old media and everything is different going forward.”

Cohen looks forward to returning to Colorado and cultivating his relationships with the Pot Barons. He describes his time in Denver as a “dreamy busman’s holiday.” In the meantime, he is casting for talent for new shows and producing a public service announcement for medical marijuana with a cast of 25 people with different conditions. He is also considering doing a documentary following the upcoming vote to legalize marijuana in California. “This is exciting work for me. The kind of people who are drawn to the industry are positive, energetic, they’re hard working like nobody’s business, they’re free thinking, they’re open minded, they’re creative. Six months ago I couldn’t have done it and now I can and now I really want to.”


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The Joy of Giving

What a beautiful message during this Christmas season! Narayanan Krishnan is a bright light in the impoverished streets of Bangalore, India. His spirit of giving can inspire all of us. He is one of CNN’s Heroes.  When I was in India I often saw desperately poor people squatting down and begging for food. Giving food was a way people would get good karma in their next life but I’m certain they received many more blessings in this one, just from the act of giving.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Haiti Earthquake: Telling the Story

Woman in Rubble of Haiti Earthquake

The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times are doing a great job reporting a backstory in Haiti.  Their journalists are telling how broadcast and cable news handled the incredible logistics of deploying their people to Port Au Prince to cover the story.  This is not to diminish the role of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube and cell phones, but to get people like Anderson Cooper of CNN, Brian Williams of NBC and Katie Couric of CBS, along with their entourages, to a country with no infrastructure and then see them on the air within 24 hours after the disaster is an incredible feat.  I am watching my friend Kerry Sanders, who is based in Miami for NBC News, cover this story and it looks like he is taking this disaster personally.  Through exhausted eyes and a sick heart, he is reporting about a country and people he cares about deeply.  In one poignant report he said “this city is now the saddest place on Earth.”

What strikes me about the comments following these articles is the vitriol and nastiness aimed at these first responders.  Sure these are the “celebrities” of the networks but they go because this is a story of such tremendous magnitude and their reporting is touching people who are in turn helping to open the floodgates of aid to Haiti at this most terrible time.  I am shocked that anyone would be critical of these efforts.  They are allowing all of us to bear witness and stay informed.  They are moving us to reach for our wallets when we are powerless to do anything else.  Who cares if the broadcasts are rough?  Who cares if Al Roker is doing the weather from the tarmac?  He is also interviewing the people from all over the world who are arriving to roll up their sleeves.  Why shouldn’t Ann Curry be desperately trying to get on a chopper?  Why shouldn’t she rush to the scene along with rescuers and NGOs to cover one of the greatest catastrophes ever?  They’re not getting in the way.  They’re making sure the Haitian people are not forgotten.  I wish I was there with them.  Get real, people.     

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-haiti-media14-2010jan14,0,3499947.story

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/worlds-news-media-enters-port-au-prince/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Acid Attack Survivor Katie Piper on CNN

Many of you came to this blog to see the story of Juliette’s acid attack. Former model Katie Piper recently spoke to CNN in Great Britain about the brutal attack that changed her life. She is incredibly courageous and is now working to help others through her Katie Piper Foundation (http://www.katiepiperfoundation.org.uk/.)

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/12/uk.katie.piper.acid.attack/index.html

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Blair and the Balloon Boy

Balloon Boy Media Circus

Balloon Boy Media Circus

My 11 year old son, Blair, wanted to go to Cirque du Soleil this year, but because our schedules were so busy, we missed it.  Instead he went to the Balloon Boy media circus.  Because my husband was traveling and I was a single mom over the weekend I didn’t want to leave him at home while I was working 24/7 for NBC News.  Instead I took him with me and put him to work.  We have not seen a story like this in Colorado since John Mark Carr claimed he killed Jonbenet Ramsey.  News media came from all over the world.  There were London newpapers, two Brazilian networks, Japanese TV and tabloid shows.  Booking for guests was knock down drag out competitive.  At one point there were 20 cameras and nine live trucks outside the Heene house.  There was even a fistfight when an irate neighbor got into it with Fox News.  It was a total zoo.

To review, Richard and Mayumi Heene from Fort Collins, Colorado launched a flying saucer and alerted the media and authorities that their six year old son, Falcon, was aboard.  The whole world watched and prayed for the little boy tumbling in the sky as the drama unfolded on television.  Across the globe people celebrated the joyous news when Falcon was found alive, hiding in the attic all along.  Then whoops!  Falcon blurts out on CNN’s Larry King Live that he was hiding “because you said it was for the show.”  He threw up the next morning on NBC’s Today Show.  Sheriff Jim Alderden now says it was all a hoax so that the family could get a reality show of their own.  Unlikely that will happen any more but they could get jail time for felony charges.  Attorney David Lane is on the case.  The Heene’s certainly are infamous now.   

Initially, my son Blair hoped to meet young Falcon.  That didn’t happen and in the end he was an extra set of eyes on the Heene’s back yard and the Larimer County Sheriff’s back door.  He helped get the crews lunch, hung out with onlookers and media and even videotaped on his camera.  At one point he told a neighbor friend of the Heene’s “he was digging up dirt for his mom.”  Ouch!  Out of the mouths of babes.  We had to have the talk about discretion after the same neighbor told me it was tacky.  Blair went home from “take your kid to work day” with a better view of the intensity and insanity that comes with a huge story.  He even got interviewed for Entertainment Tonight!

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Guests from Gitmo

Colorado doesn’t want Guantanamo Bay’s detainees to move to Supermax but the folks in Hardin, Montana are ready for guests from Gitmo.  CNN’s Jeanne Meserve reports.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/05/25/meserve.mt.gitmo.cnn?iref=videosearch

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.