Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited

By Deirdre Boyle | Go to book overview

8. Gaga Over Guru

TVTV effectively abandoned all claims of being an alternate video group when they decided to re-edit the convention tapes for broadcast on Westinghouse television stations. As Allen Rucker later recalled, "We broke the sacred rule: our friend Paul Ryan's dictum that VT (videotape) is not TV, that alternative TV does not truck with broadcast." 1 TVTV knew that many in the alternative video movement believed the group had sold out, but TVTV had learned the hard way that cable television was not interested in funding original programming. Cable operators were not the showmen and entrepreneurs who had started television--instead they were used car salesmen and TV repair shop owners, businessmen with no clear vision of what cable programming could be. TVTV believed there was no future (and no money) for them in cable, so when Westinghouse showed an interest in their work, they began to think of themselves as television makers. 2 The next projects reflected this shift in identity.

After the convention tapes, TVTV members Michael Shamberg, Megan Williams, Allen Rucker, Hudson Marquez, and Tom Weinberg returned to San Francisco and began to organize for the future, developing new fund-raising strategies and better technical skills. In March 1973, they received $2,200 from public television station WNET in New York to produce a tape on Rolling Stone magazine for its "Behind the Lines" series. What TVTV produced was a 17- minute puff-piece for the magazine and its brash young entrepreneurial founder, Jann Wenner. A far cry from the rough but complex storytelling of the convention tapes, TVTV Meets Rolling Stone has the look and feel of bad boys 3 getting off on being young, hip, smart, and successful. After a promising opening with "dueling cameras" held by Shamberg and Rucker, the tape goes rapidly downhill with a series of fairly conventional ego-stroking interviews with Wenner and staff. Unlike the "event" tapes, this was a nonevent made by TVTV's

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