Media Bad Boys Stern and Bourdain Propel Live Tweeting


Two of media’s bad boys have taken to the decidedly un-macho act of tweeting to help spur interest during live TV programming. Today, cult rebel chef, author, and food-obsessed traveler Anthony Bourdain has promised to tweet live during tonight’s broadcast of his Travel Channel show “No Reservations” season premiere. Bourdain was inspired by another tattooed free speech crusader: Howard Stern.

It’s not an entirely novel concept, but what Bourdain promises to do – comment about his show via the @NoReservations Twitter account while it airs – is gaining currency among media celebrities hoping to use the platform to raise their profiles and boost ratings.

“Will be back in NYC in front of TV in time for tonite’s LiveTwatting of No Reservations. 9pm,” said Bourdain this morning on Twitter, exuding his typically crass wit.

In a later post, he admitted that he “indeed ripped off this most excellent idea from @howardstern,” adding, “A damn good idea is a damn good idea forever.”

Stern garnered positive attention from media critics earlier this month when, during an airing of his 1997 film, “Private Parts,” on HBO, he provided behind-the-scenes commentary for viewers via Twitter.

“This firing of robin is a twist on what really happened. Nbc did not bring robin over from washington at first. this is a slight manipulation,” he admitted in one post alluding to the flick. In another about shooting with the band AC/DC, he wrote, “they stayed all day and never complained or asked for a thing. they are a class act.”

Today, when a Twitter user quipped that Bourdain must believe Stern “invented tweeting during a tv show,” Bourdain clarified: “he invented blowing ratings through the roof for an old film by doing so.”

Indeed, the gutter-mouthed gourmand could be on the cusp of what may become standard practice among celebrities, public figures, and athletes willing to take some extra time to offer their Twitter followers a back story while they watch a TV show or film as it airs. Increased adoption of on-demand programming and DVRs has enabled more and more people to consume media according to their own personal schedules, yet the live-tweeting phenomenon just might bring people back to the days when TV viewing involved shared experiences among larger groups.

Twitter has staff devoted to helping media companies market and promote through the platform. The company offers a Twitter Media blog dedicated to presenting “Knowledge and tools to help you use Twitter to transform TV, entertainment, sports and journalism.” The blog highlighted NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and its use of Twitter. The show’s “Late Night Hashtags” segment, for instance, introduces new hashtags to viewers like #whydonttheymakethat and #myparentsareweird, asking them to bring the phrases to life through the platform.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer of the show’s band, The Roots, places a unique spin on live-tweeting, often posting during live tapings of the show. “You’re watching our show tape through Twitter, and then you can see [everything that] happens later,” said a Fallon show exec in a video interview about the program’s use of Twitter posted to the media blog.

During last night’s Oscars broadcast, James Franco took a light-hearted approach to tweeting during the show through his recently-established @jamesfranco account. The show co-host posted several photos along with brief video clips from backstage, many of them of poor quality. Taking a tip from the Twitter Media blog which suggests using hashtags multiple times to promote usage by others, he used the #oscarsrealtime hashtag several times throughout the evening. Official accounts for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the 83rd Academy Awards show merely followed along with the action being broadcast.

Meanwhile, the man who popularized the live-tweeting practice threatened to ditch the platform this morning. Back after a two-week hiatus from his Sirius radio show, Stern expressed much less enthusiasm for Twitter during his show than when he joined it early this month. He implied that his frustration with negative Twitter posts aimed at him from listeners could deter him from using the platform in the future.

But, Stern was back on Twitter later this morning, alerting fans to the appearance in the Sirius studios of longtime guest and “Wack Packer” Fred “The Elephant Boy.”

Related reading