Hanging with Bill Maher’s Director at “Real Time” – Hofstra in L.A. Day 9

By: Sean McNally

Our final day in L.A. began at ABC, where we got a chance to speak with their marketing team. They had a lovely breakfast spread for us laid out, and I had, get this—a cheese bagel. For the uninitiated, that’s exactly what it sounds like: a bagel with a slice of cheese melted over the top of it. I had no idea such a thing existed! It was no New York bagel, but it was actually pretty good. There were several members of ABC’s marketing team, and each one took the time to explain their position and the kinds of things they do to promote shows. They took us through their process for advertising The Bachelor, showing us several commercials, the thought process behind them, and explaining what worked and what didn’t work about each one. They also explained some other ways they promote shows, including social media, live events, and billboards or posters.

One of the most interesting things we learned about is that some malls are installing cameras in those big portrait-orientation screens in the middle of walkways that display advertisements. These cameras use artificial intelligence to determine who is walking past the display, and can recognize things about them, such as whether they are male or female, whether they are carrying bags, or whether they are happy or sad. The screen can then use this information to serve an ad based on the kind of person walking by. For example, one advertisement had the newest Bachelor star, Colton, exclaim, “Hey, ladies, put down those bags, and let’s take a selfie!” This ad would be served if the display detected someone walking past with bags in their hands. Another had Colton saying, “Excuse me, miss, it seems like you could use a pick-me-up,” which would be served if the display determined that the person walking by was sad.

After ABC, we got a chance to explore the lot that houses Walt Disney Animation Studios, and eat lunch at the Buena Vista Cafe. We also got a chance to visit the studio gift shop and even got to browse the exclusive employees-only section. Then, we headed back to CBS to watch a live taping of Real Time With Bill Maher. It was really interesting to see how the show evolved from the rehearsal the night before, and hear some words of wisdom from Paul Casey, the director.

Me in front of the Roy E. Disney Animation Studio!

When we got on the bus that night, we found out that our JetBlue flight had been canceled due to stormy conditions on the East Coast, and that we may be staying a few extra days. It was not without a bit of melancholy that we learned Dean Marlowe was able to book us a flight on a different airline for the same time, as I’m sure many of us would’ve loved to have some extra time in California. Overall, this has been a great experience. We got to see and do some things that the average person may never get to in a lifetime within the course of one week. I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of this trip, and hopefully, I’ll cross paths with the City of Angels sometime again in the future!

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