Jon Kamen Creates a Reality Show About Cable Service

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Who: Jon Kamen

Age: 50

Credentials: Co-founder and chairman, media production company

Latest M&V Play: produced The Digital Difference,
Jon Kamen calls the finished project a 'hybrid' that is neither infomercial nor reality program but a curious mix of both.

a half-hour TV show crafted in the reality TV genre. Now airing on local New York stations, The Digital Difference was done by Mr. Kamen and in collaboration with Gardner Nelson Partners, a New York advertising agency that counts Cablevision as a client. The mission: Show viewers the rich services available in Cablevision's Optimum brands -- online, voice and digital cable.

Briefly describe the show: "Three actors, three characters: a show host, a TV producer and a camera man. That crew visits real-life Cablevision clients, users in the New York area, and shows how they use the service. The combination of fictional characters and real-life is entertaining. We developed the show's structure, working with a Gardner Nelson writer, and a director who has directed a couple of reality TV shows."

Biggest risk on the project: "Longer format is for many clients a brave new world. The challenge on this particular project was to avoid having the show come off as an infomercial. We have significant experience in long format -- we produced The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman, a series of five-minute shorts for American Express, and the two-hour special Battlegrounds, for Nike. We wanted to successfully communicate the breadth of Cablevision's online, voice and digital cable offerings but do it in an entertaining enough way so that people will stay with it. It isn't easily achievable. Tom Nelson calls this a 'hybrid,' not fully a TV program, not fully an ad."

Why take on a project like this one that borders on being an infomercial?: "Gardner Nelson's Tom Nelson came to us because I've worked with him in the past, and we have extensive experience in long format, which they wanted. They trust us. Also, I always find it fascinating to work on a project in which the product itself is something that I'm interested in; I have a particular interest in Cablevision's technologies that will affect our industries. What will video on demand capabilities mean for the next generation of cable systems?"

Where does this air?: "On weekend mornings and afternoons on New York area networks, including WCBS, WWOR, WNYC and WPIX."

How do you measure success of this?: "The clients were appreciative and felt we successfully accomplished the mission. Of course, you're always judged on sales at the end of the day. That's what we are here for."
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