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By Christopher Johnson

Was "Wild America" Really Wild?

July 8, 1997:  We live with an interesting paradox in our culture: Even as we quest further in search of the real and the authentic, technology is making "virtual reality" an ever larger part of our everyday lives. "Wild America," the popular nature show that ran for 13 years on PBS, found itself at the center of a "reality" controversy last year. Marty Stouffer, the wildlife photographer who created the program, was accused in early 1996 of staging animal confrontations and filming portions of his program in cages. Stouffer denied the charges, but told The Denver Post that staging could be a matter of interpretation: "Sometimes, we will take a tame animal out for a walk, and if a chase develops, we will film it." The TV series left the air at the end of 1996, but Kathy Burnett, Program Manager of the PBS station in Albuquerque, said that the station stopped airing the program because the rights expired, not because Stouffer did anything wrong. She said that PBS reviewed episodes of the show after the controversy arose but found no evidence of wrongdoing and no violations of PBS rules for nature and wildlife programming.

Wild America, the Warner Brothers' film based on the events that led the Stouffer Brothers to become wildlife photographers, opens today in Albuquerque.

The Final Frame

Across time, lifestyles change and media coverage either leads the way or follows the trend. In spite of retro clothing's alteration of the fashion world, particularly its adulation for poly-blend bowling shirts, national TV coverage of bowling has come to an end. Saturday, June 21 witnessed the final broadcast on KOAT-TV 7 of the "Pro Bowlers Tour." After 36 years of televised tournaments, the renewed love of bowling shirts wasn't able to engender enough interest in televised bowling.

Crime Doesn't Pay

The alleged shoplifter who made the news when police supposedly beat him up on video captured by KOAT TV-7 is in the news again. John Neeld, who was arrested April 7 and again two weeks later on shoplifting charges, was arrested yet again Monday, June 23, on charges of forgery. Neeld certainly has lots of news clippings for his scrap book, and so do the police involved in his initial arrest. District Attorney Jeff Romero has decided to charge two of the officers involved in Neeld's first arrest with misdemeanor battery.

--Christopher Johnson
chris.johnson@alibi.com

"Was 'Wild America' Really Wild?" by Travis Chapman




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