Entertainment Industry

Category: Twitter

'We Bought a Zoo' gets parody Twitter account

A new Twitter account that went online Wednesday looks remarkably like a real one for the upcoming Matt Damon-Scarlett Johansson family drama "We Bought a Zoo."

But it's unlikely that the movie studio 20th Century Fox is running an account with comments like these: "My daughter keeps asking why we bought a zoo and I all I can say is, 'Wait for the movie because I don't wanna spoil it!' She has swine flu." and "We have so many cages to clean and Scarlett won't stop sexting."

The Twitter feed illustrates how difficult it can be for entertainment companies to control their image in the social media world. The fake "We Bought a Zoo" feed, which first published at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, features Fox's official poster in the background and a shot of Damon from the film as its profile picture.

Its title is even tougher to differentiate. The fake account uses the number zero in place of the "o's" in "Zoo."

The parody account had amassed more than 860 followers by midafternoon Wednesday. It's rapidly gaining on Fox's real "We Bought a Zoo" Twitter account, which has 2,093 followers.

The people behind the parody account -- Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber -- did not respond to a message asking for their reason for mocking the film.

A Fox spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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-- Ben Fritz

Let's hold off on that Pulitzer for Twitter

Twitter is many things. It is a neighborhood stoop for people to gossip. It is an outlet for movie studios, TV networks, athletes and actors to promote themselves. It is a platform for journalists, including this one, to get their stories out to the masses.

What Twitter is not, is a news organization. It does not employ reporters. It does not have news bureaus around the world. Maybe one day it will, but for now it is a global bulletin board. That's why it is so frustrating when people, particularly veteran journalists give Twitter itself credit for breaking big stories.

The latest example of this was the news that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden. On May 1, the Obama White House sent word to networks and newspapers that a major story was breaking and that the president would be addressing the nation soon. News organizations scrambled to figure out what was up and it wasn't long before Keith Urbahn, a former Defense Department staffer in the Bush administration, tweeted that he was hearing that Bin Laden had been killed. He also acknowledged it was a rumor.

None of this is intended to take issue with Urbahn and his speculative tweet. In a pre-Twitter era, he might have called up a reporter and passed on the information. Twitter cuts out the middle man. There is nothing wrong with that.

Now, if Urbahn had been wrong, the world would have shrugged and moved on. However, if CNN, the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times had tweeted a Bin Laden dead rumor that didn't pan out, their credibility would have been shattered and they would have been rightly raked over the coals for sloppy journalism.

In another example of overstating Twitter's role in the Bin Laden coverage, much was made after the news of Bin Laden's death broke about tweets from Sohaib Athar, a Pakistani resident who kept posting notes about all the helicopter activity near where he lived. What he was hearing, it turns out, was U.S. forces helicoptering in and out of Abbottabad. He had no idea that was what was going on and said as much in interviews after the raid and the discovery of his tweets.

On his Sunday CNN show "Reliable Sources" looking at the media, host Howard Kurtz said of Athar: "I love the fact that this guy scoops the entire world."

He did not scoop the entire world. He heard noise and posted something on Twitter about it. He didn't know what the noise was so how did he scoop the world? Even he acknowledged as much in an interview with NBC.

If Twitter had been around in November 1963 and a Dallas resident tweeted, "just heard gunshots" would we say that person broke the story of the JFK assassination?

This is not meant to dismiss Twitter. It is a powerful site with tremendous potential. I use it both professionally and personally. It is a great tool for reporters, for promoting work and even for sourcing.

It is the people filing to Twitter -- for free -- who are providing the value for the site. People use Twitter to spread news, Twitter doesn't break news. On paper it may seem like Twitter makes everyone a reporter, but there has to be a recognition that it is not a level playing field between people who use Twitter and news outlets who have professional reputations at stake every time they tweet.

Perhaps Twitter will soon create its own version of a wire service. For now though, it is a corner bar for the world to tell everyone what happened to them that day. Sometimes the drunk sitting next to you at the bar is right on the money, and other times he doesn't know what the heck he's talking about.

-- Joe Flint



UPDATED: Twitter not changing the way J.J. Abrams lives


CORRECTION: JJ Abrams does not have a Twitter account.

If you think there was anybody who would be connecting to their fan base through Twitter it would be TV producer/movie director/cosmic genius J.J. Abrams. His hits, "Lost," "Star Trek" and "Fringe" speak to the Twitter generation (did we really just use that phrase?). He creates the types of shows that attract not just loyal, but rabid fans, the exact type of people who would obsess over everything he thinks and does.

So we were more than a little surprised when we stumbled onto Abram's Twitter page from someone else we follow. The number of followers (41,431) seemed about right, maybe even a little low. But it was Abrams' lack of participation in the the social networking site that Time magazine declared last week will "change the way we live" that threw us into distressful space-time warp.

Apparently -- can this be possible? -- Twitter's not changing the way Abrams lives. His last tweet was on December 8 of last year when he posted, "I totally forgot about Twitter ... really don't have time for computers ... errr or anything."


Actually, it's not. Abrams' Twitter experience is par for the course. According to Nielsen Media Research, 60% of Twitter's users do not come back after their first month. Abrams tweeted four times on July 30, 2007 and seemed as lost as the rest of us when it comes to making use of the platform. He gave us the mundane ("Coffee time!) and the confused ("I still don't know exactly how does this work") and wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions ("How intimate can I be when posting about my private life? How often do I make updates ... so confused with this I have to admit").

He then took the 17 months off before his tweet on December 8th. After that, as they say, the line went dead. 

You'd think a someone famous like Abrams would have a publicist on hand to do his tweeting for him like so many other Hollywood power players, but don't you know it, he doesn't actually employ a personal publicist. He's just one of those guys too busy doing his job to spend time telling the rest of us how busy he is.

Kudos to Abrams deciding not to document his every waking moment on Twitter. As for those 41,000 or so followers eagerly awaiting his next post, get a life.

-- Joe Flint


Nielsen on Twitter: It's so five seconds ago

Is Twitter over? (16 characters).

Probably not. Yet some new research from Nielsen isn't encouraging for the red-hot social networking site's future in which users post 140-character updates on ... well, anything.

The buzz is short-lived, Nielsen says. While Twitter's unique users more than doubled in March, on average 60% don't come back after a month of tweeting. MySpace and Facebook had retention rates that were twice as high at similar times in their existence.

KhpeobncCHUCK For this tweeter (or twit since tweeter is just a little too close to tweaker for comfort), the site is awash in self-promotion. Journalists tout their most recent clips and, for some bizarre reason, their whereabouts (it's a great tip sheet for burglars, stalkers, not to mention competitors), while networks and studios promote their wares.

Is it effective? In generating ink and a lot of back-and-forth navel gazing the answer is yes. In tangible results, not so much.

Take NBC's "Chuck," which is on the bubble for a third season. Obsessed fans and a few publicists and TV reporters filled Twitter with tweets in an effort to raise the ratings for Monday's season finale. It didn't help, though, as "Chuck's" ratings were flat, leading one obsessed cheerleader to rationalize in a tweet that flat is the new up.

Of course, that's a rationalization the entire media industry is using these days and at some point so will Twitter.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: NBC


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