Origins: One small comfort performers had during the early decades of commercial broadcast television was that if they did something really embarrassing on live TV, the gaffe might never been seen again. A good deal of live material wasn't taped (or filmed) at all, and when tapes were made, those who produced the broadcasts generally controlled their use (either through physical possession or by copyright protections). Even if an employee of a production facility or TV station managed to smuggle out a tape, the means for reproducing and distributing it were quite limited.
Advancements in technology have changed all that in the last few decades, however. The development of affordable VCRs in the early 1980s meant that just about everything aired on television was taped by someone, somewhere, creating copies beyond the control of the original broadcasters. And the advent of the Internet has made widespread distribution of home-captured material a snap.
These technological changes worked to the disadvantage of a QVC home shopping channel demonstrator named Chris on
As Lisa explained what viewers were seeing on their screens ("Chris is over there kinda givin' us a look at how to use the ladder there") and Renee waxed rhapsodic about the Telesteps ladder ("I gotta tell you something: I have this ladder; it is awesome. And everybody wants this ladder. I live in an apartment with vaulted
"Uh-oh . . ." exclaimed Renee, as the visual quickly cut away from a live shot of Chris writhing on the floor to a static shot of two Telesteps ladders leaning against a wall. After a beat, Lisa informed viewers, "Okay, we're gonna make sure that Chris is okay." Renee added, "And that has never happened."
"Well, you know, it's a very slippery floor up there in front of our doors sometimes, so we're going to make sure that [he's] okay," explained Lisa, maintaining her poise. "He's moving; he is okay. But he scared me for a moment there."
Out in television land, a somebody, somewhere, happened to record the incident and uploaded the segment to the Internet (where it circulated under the title "QVC Ladder Fall"), prompting a debate over its authenticity. An e-mail statement from QVC spokesman Brandon Hamm tacitly confirmed that the clip was genuine:
Additional information: The "QVC Ladder Fall" video clip is still offered on various web sites. It was available for viewing at the link below last time we checked:
|QVC Ladder Fall|
Napoli, Lisa. "Live TV Pitfall Rerun on Web." The New York Times. 20 October 2003.