BOSTON–In an attempt to combat newly hired on-air talent and possibly parlay her local fame into a more fulfilling national gig, NESN on-field reporter Heidi Watney hopes to soon release a professionally produced voyeur-style video clip of herself undressing in a hotel room. Filming concluded several weeks ago and the video could make quite a media splash if, as planned, it is released just before the Red Sox begin playoff action early next month.
However, after hundreds of hours of excruciating post-production work, the timeline for the release of the viral video on the Interweb is in jeopardy due to a dispute between Watney and the film’s contracted distributor, Mortimer VonHoffstreuzen, say several members of the film’s production staff.
The major point of contention is VonHoffstreuzen’s insistence that Web sites hosting the four-minute video clip be required to pay a $10,000 fee for the rights to stream the file.
Watney believes that viewers should be able to access the file for free–especially because it was deliberately filmed with a low-quality web-cam in order to give the impression that it was made surreptitiously.
“Heidi is right,” says an industry analyst. “It’s folly to expect people would be willing to pay to watch this video when better-quality videos can be found everyday in every corner of the Internet absolutely free of charge. Viewers will simply go elsewhere to watch women undress, which would make it hard for any Web site to justify buying rights to this relatively soft-core entertainment.”
VonHoffstreuzen’s counterpoint is that Watney’s celebrity status makes the video premium, elite content that should merit payment for full access.
“This isn’t just any blond woman taking her clothes off,” says the distributor. “This is someone who is on the television, on the radio and who even writes her own blog for NESN.com. She is a star and it is insulting to compare her work in my film to that of any filthy skank with a web-cam.”
With NESN’s recent hiring of Newton native Jade McCarthy, an anchor/reporter cut very much from the same cloth as other female talent appearing on the station (Watney, Kathryn Tappen), Watney is said to be increasingly worried about the possibility that her colleagues may divert attention from her work.
“NESN is accumulating voluptuous blond bombshells faster than Clay Buchholz tears through trashy playmate girlfriends,” says someone close to Watney’s camp. “Competition for viewer affection could get pretty ugly once this new girl starts in January.”
Indeed, McCarthy won two Emmys last year for her sports coverage for NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate. The achievements could overshadow Watney’s work unless the incumbent on-field reporter manages to make a splash of her own.
A member of the film crew told Fenway Pastoral, “From a creative standpoint, I’m still trying to figure out how Heidi distinguishes herself from the millions of other clips that are posted on the Internet every day. I’m sure there’s a following for her work that will help sell the product if the film distributor has his way…But there’s a huge risk that people will feel alienated if it isn’t free.”
Francis Flynn, once believed to be Watney’s most devoted fan, was noncommital when asked if he would pay to watch a peephole video starring the NESN reporter.
Reached via CB radio while harvesting his cranberry bog in Carver, Flynn reasoned, “I already have hundreds of pictures of nude models in various poses with Heidi’s face photoshopped over the originals. For me, it seems like I’d be paying for recycled, repackaged content. Maybe they should come up with a better business plan.”