Once serious but lately comedic actor Leslie Nielsen died last weekend at age 84. Famous for his Airplane and Naked Gun appearances, he once tried to compete with the other Nielsen — according to this 1998 April Fool’s article.
Detective Frank Drebin, we’re going to miss you.
by Dave Zornow
April 1, 1998 — Actor Leslie Nielsen threw his hat into the cable ratings business with the purchase of the bankrupt “Psychic Friends Network.” Although cable analysts questioned the move (One unnamed source wondered, “How well can these psychics see the future if they couldn’t even predict their own bankruptcy? And if they are really psychic, why do they always have to ask my name when I call?”), the actor seemed determined to buy his way into a new business now that his acting career with O.J. is over.
Nielsen has decided to relaunch and reposition Psychic Friends in the audience measurement business. The new venture will now be known as “Nielsen Medium Research.”
Actor Nielsen plans a number of initiatives to make Nielsen Medium Research an industry leader. For example, to emphasize the importance of customer service at his new company, Nielsen Medium Research will include a coupon with each ratings pocketpiece good for ten free minutes with a telephone psychic to consult on upcoming buys, career moves and what to wear on your next date. (Offer void where prohibited.)
The new Nielsen also plans to give the other Nielsen more competition on the technology front. Hoping to capitalize on innovations in advanced digital video sampling, Nielsen’s Nielsen will introduce a new household meter which will measure, store and identify the concentration of purple in each video image. “Each program has its own digital pattern, just like any two random snowflakes in a blizzard or crackerjack kernels in a box. By measuring the Purple Percentage of each video image we can identify every program in a foolproof, digitally-efficient, state-of-the-art, low cost and competitive way,” Nielsen says. The new technology, which will be dubbed the Nielsen Purple Meter, will be available next quarter. Or the one after that, for sure.
Video engineers doubt the Nielsen Purple Meter will ever get out of the lab. Initial field test lab show the Purple Meter consistently overstating viewing to certain Oprah Winfrey movies (“The Color Purple”) and Woody Allen titles (“The Purple Rose of Cairo”).
Copyright 2003, Dave Zornow. Reposted from TNG Research