Mardi Gras...Televised?

Gordon Russell
Published: Saturday, September 02, 2006

MediaBuys, as the agency of record for the City of New Orleans (under the direction of CEO Chick Ciccarelli) oversaw the New Orleans Economic Development Tour at Tribeca Cinema in New York.

NEW YORK -- Look out, America: You may be able to watch the "greatest free show on Earth" without getting off your sofa next year.

In a first, Mardi Gras 2007 may play out on live television before a national audience, along the lines of the annual Parade of Roses, according to a firm hired by the city of New Orleans to seek sponsors for the city's signature event.

The move could bring a mother lode of new money to defray the costs of throwing the party but also threatens to ignite the ire of Carnival traditionalists, who have long resisted inviting corporate America to what has thrived for centuries as an organic street party.

On hand at Mayor Ray Nagin's "Economic Development Tour" in New York City, Ken Rose, vice president of MediaBuys LLC, the Los Angeles-based ad-buying firm charged with finding sponsors, said he expects one of the major networks will buy the rights to the parade broadcast.

Rose envisions a two-hour show mixing live Fat Tuesday footage with clips gathered throughout Carnival. If the traditional networks don't bite, he said, he'll shop it to cable outlets, adding that MediaBuys will be "very selective" in determining where the program airs.

Rose has already secured a producer, Craig Sheftell, who also spoke at the event. His company, Sheftell Entertainment, produced the last movie to be filmed in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina struck: "Local Color."

Rose said broadcasting would be a huge boost to the sponsorship effort, allowing advertisers to reach a much wider audience. Sponsorships could cover the entire cost of staging the event, which he pegged at $3 or $4 million. On top of that, Rose said the broadcast will serve as a huge free advertisement for the city.

"This will be an opportunity for sponsors to really get a return on their investment," Rose said. "And they'll be doing something good at the same time they're making a good business decision."...