BC Beat


With Ben Grossman, Mike Malone and Marisa Guthrie

For more BC Beat, Go to www.bcbeat.com

NASCAR, GAC Become 'Drafting Partners'

Scripps Networks' Great American Country network and NASCAR are partnering on a new show that celebrates the enduring intermarriage between country music and auto racing.

Drafting Partners, which starts a 12-episode run on GAC beginning April 9, will pair up a country star with a NASCAR driver for a rambling conversation on songs and speed.

In each episode, the duo will meet at the track during a race weekend to chat and introduce their favorite country music videos. The first installment, shot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will feature Arista Nashville recording artist Jason Michael Carroll and NASCAR's Scott Wimmer.

Produced by NASCAR Images, the series fits into the racing association's new strategy of re-targeting its core fan base. And while GAC has had success taking its other shows on location to NASCAR events, Drafting Partners is the first dedicated solely to the NASCAR fan base.

"In the past year we've increased the number of shows relating to the NASCAR genre, and we've found the shows resonated well with our audience," says Sarah Trahern, senior VP of programming for GAC, who says many of the featured artists are longtime racing fans. "This series combines the things our viewers like best: country music artists, NASCAR and, of course, music videos."

Bear Ball

With the recent turmoil on Wall Street, the phrase March Madness ain't just about college basketball anymore.

And as irony would have it, the financial crisis and the NCAA tournament happened to collide on WCBS New York's "Bracket Challenge" Website, where the sponsor of a contest to win a flat-screen TV was none other than fallen financial giant Bear Stearns.

A Bear Stearns banner ad—with the tagline "A great deal depends on working with the right people"—still appeared on the hoops site last week days after the firm was scooped up in a $2-a-share fire sale by JPMorgan. But by midweek, any hint of Bear Stearns signage had disappeared.

WCBS declined to comment, other than to say that Bear had asked the station to take down its advertisements until further notice.

But an ad that appeared on the site later in the week carried a bitter irony of its own for beleaguered Bear employees—a Monster.com banner asking: "Are you getting the perks you deserve?"

Reporter's Notebook

For the past year, B&C's venerable Fifth Estater column has featured original caricatures of the profile subjects. But this week's subject, ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper (see p. 26), could've supplied his own.

Before he became a reporter, Tapper had visions of becoming a professional cartoonist. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post and Roll Call, for which he contributed a regular comic strip.

These days, his caricatures appear on his ABCNews.com blog, Political Punch, where he's posted renderings of presidential candidates (including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama), pundits (Ann Coulter) and cultural icons (Tony Soprano).

Tapper's penchant for artistic mischief dates back to his high school days in Philadelphia—and nearly got him expelled.

When he was a senior, he and several classmates cooked up a Mad Magazine-esque fold-in for the yearbook. Days before graduation, however, school officials learned that the resulting image was "a certain part of the anatomy that only men have," Tapper explains. He and his cohort got their diplomas after apologizing to the school and agreeing to many hours of community service.

"It was really stupid, and obviously if I could take it back, I would," he says.

To see the gallery of Tapper's caricatures, go to broadcastingcable.com.