Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pretty Smart, for a Horney Manatee

A year ago they would have been sting by this. Those old media dogs are starting to catch on.

The skit, as scripted for the Dec. 4 installment of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” was about absurdist college sports mascots that the host and his writers would like to see someday.

Among them were “the Boise State Conjoined Vikings,” who had been born locked at the horns, as well as something Mr. O’Brien called “the Webcam manatee” — said to be the mascot of “F.S.U.” — which was basically someone in a manatee costume rubbing himself or herself provocatively in front of a camera (to the tune of the 1991 hit “I Touch Myself”). Meanwhile a voyeur with a lascivious expression watched via computer.

Who knew that life would soon imitate art.

At the end of the skit, in a line Mr. O’Brien insists was ad-libbed, he mentioned that the voyeur (actually Mark Pender, a member of the show’s band) was watching www.hornymanatee.com. There was only one problem: as of the taping of that show, which concluded at 6:30 p.m., no such site existed. Which presented an immediate quandary for NBC: If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it.

In a pre-emptive strike inspired as much by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission as by the laws of comedy, NBC bought the license to hornymanatee.com, for $159, after the taping of the Dec. 4 show but before it was broadcast.

You can read the rest of this story on the New York Times site.

Horny Manatee T-Shirts

SEE ALSO: Official Site of the Horny Manatee

SEE ALSO: Sneaky Digital Maneuvers

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