Feeding frenzy

If there is a silver lining to my little sister being nearly eaten by a large omnivorous beast, it is that I got to see her here in New York for the day. She’s due to be on Good Morning America tomorrow morning. I have had interactions with television news producers before, of varying reputation, but I guess I was unprepared for the frenzy of producers who want Megan to appear.

On one hand, I completely understand that this is a compelling story, though I also realize many do not see it as “real news.” While most people injured mortally at this age will still die behind the wheel of an automobile (less likely for Megan, since her old Volvo just gave up the ghost), there is a primal fear of being eaten, and perhaps an opportunity for people to vicariously feel the thrill of survival through Megan’s story.

We had brunch at Nice Matin and discussed her coming career as a motivational speaker. Her speech would be simple “Hi, I got bit by a shark and survived. Be inspired.” We then headed over to the American Museum of Natural History and made fun of the puny size of their Great White.

Meanwhile, the press, who had already been a bit frenzied during her hospitalization, seem to have gone berserk in the intervening days. Every Halavais with a phone listing (not many) are getting repeated calls from producers asking when Megan can come on. Some are expected (Montel, Current Affair) but the really tenacious ones are the daytime and morning network shows (no names mentioned, to protect the guilty). Some are seeking exclusives, but all want to have her first. And they seem perfectly willing to win over (or badger) her family members to apply pressure. Meanwhile, Megan is trying to navigate these shark-infested waters, and trying at the same time to deal with recovering from a pretty serious injury.

With personal legal insurance increasingly common, I think we need personal PR insurance for when we each get hit with our 15 minutes of fame. Rather than fielding dozens of calls from the media, the PR firm would step in, negotiate appearances, and make sure that fleeting fame landed Megan something more lasting than a trip to New York: say a replacement for the dead Volvo, or her own “Shark Bite” clothing line. Yes, I’m kidding (only serious) — I’d be happy enough if they could act as a minor barrier to ensure that she was treated with more respect than a piece of ratings meat. But hey, that’s just me.

Update: The interview can be found here (Under the Good Morning America tab).

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4 Comments

  1. Tom
    Posted 10/31/2005 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you can call Bjork and she can help your sister out.

  2. Andrea Anderson
    Posted 11/6/2005 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Dear Alex, I am sorry about your sister’s attack and am glad to see that she is recovering nicely. I am one of the producers (though not in a frenzy) that would like to reach Megan. We are completing production on a 2-hour show for Animal Planet about people who have been attacked by wild animals. In the show, we are speaking to experts and biologists about why animals and sharks attack and to the victims about what they did to save themselves. I would love to speak with your sister if you would be so kind as to pass along my message. My # at work is 818-432-4255 (in Los Angeles). Do you know if she is currently doing interviews?

    Kind Regards,
    Andrea Anderosn

  3. Posted 12/14/2005 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Hello

    My name is Thomas Fritschi and I’m an Associate Producer for “Insight”, a daily talk show on KXJZ 88.9 (the NPR station) in Sacramento, CA.

    I would like to invite your sister Megan Halavais to be a guest on our program on “Surviving Disaster” on 12/27/2005. I am having trouble getting a hold of her. I was wondering if you could give me a phone number where I can contact her.

    Thank You,

    Thomas Fritschi
    Associate Producer
    Capitol Public Radio
    Insight, KXJZ 88.9
    916-278-8978

  4. David McDougall
    Posted 2/2/2006 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Alex,

    I too am contacting you to inquire about Megan. I am working on a program about Great whites for National Geographic Television and though the project will in no way seek to vilify these animals it will discuss the rare cases when their curiosity and interaction with humans has devastating consequences. Please let me know if she is available to speak with me. Thanks so much.

    -David

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