Thursday, June 19, 2008
Update: Fryer Cancels, Pockrass To Substitute On Tradin' Paint
Updated: Fryer has had to cancel her appearance on Tradin' Paint because of a scheduling conflict. Bob Pockrass from scenedaily.com will substitute.
If there was ever a weekend where Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press should once again be the media guest on the Tradin' Paint program, this is it.
Well, guess what the good folks at SPEED have lined-up for this Sunday at Noon Eastern Time? That's right, Ms. Fryer is back on TV once again.
Her appearances on this show have swung wildly from high-powered arguments with Kyle Petty to thirty minute love-fests with smiling faces and everyone agreeing on just about everything. Perhaps, this weekend's show will not be a love-fest.
Like it or not, Fryer is one of the most widely-read and highly-visible media personalities in the sport. Her AP stories travel across the country and around the world. She has also become one of the most polarizing media members in recent history.
She often mixes personal opinions into news stories without separating her views from the facts. While that practice thrives on the Internet, it does not travel well in print. Her stories sometimes seem to be driven by editorial content rather than hard-news items. To some veteran fans who view the sport as historic, her words seem harsh and NASCAR is often a topic treated somewhat less than respectfully.
Since she began appearing on Tradin' Paint, Fryer has experienced a wide variety of reactions from both regular panelist Kyle Petty and host John Roberts. Originally cast to replace Michael Waltrip, Petty's meltdowns with Fryer and other media members in 2007 were well-documented by The Daly Planet.
Fryer herself appeared to be naive to the ins-and-outs of the TV business when she started appearing on the series. Things like hair and wardrobe are not really key elements of the NASCAR traveling press corp. This season, her participation has been met with a kinder and gentler response from both Petty and the host. Her appearance on-camera has also softened.
This week, things could get interesting in a hurry on Tradin' Paint. The Petty organization has sold-out to an investment banking group and the company will now be led by a former video game executive with no background in either NASCAR or racing. Described by Kyle Petty during the new conference as a merger, Richard Petty's face told an entirely different story. That will be a mandatory topic.
Recently, a black female former NASCAR employee filed a groundbreaking civil lawsuit that many members of both the press and the sanctioning body have yet to grasp. The allegations published worldwide contain male NASCAR employees exposing themselves and racial humor as standard in the garage area.
As one of highest-profile females in NASCAR, all eyes are going to be trained on Fryer when this topic is raised. Her early AP reports broke this news and she continues to be deeply involved in this story as it progresses. What she chooses to express about her personal and professional views on this matter will be fascinating to watch.
Fryer also comes to the program with the inside scoop on Tony Stewart and his potential change of direction in the sport. What Stewart's rumored departure is doing to Gibbs Racing and what role Joey Logano will play in this chess game should be good topics to debate. Petty has some very firm views on these types of issues from an owner's perspective.
Finally, the lower attendance at the tracks may be driven by economics, but that only brings-up the topic of how to fix things. With Michigan TV ratings flat despite Junior's win, it should be interesting to hear if Fryer believes the COT or other issues are derailing the NASCAR train.
SPEED continues to offer this show as the only place where regular NASCAR journalists are exposed on TV. Produced by The NASCAR Media Group, this program in 2008 has been less controversial and much less opinionated. Even Roberts adds his two cents into the topics, despite his assigned role as the host.
It should be interesting to see if Tradin' Paint gets back to its roots and starts a good discussion of topics that fans feel strongly about. If any combination of two people can jump-start this TV series back to life, it is definitely Kyle Petty and Jenna Fryer.
Update: Fryer reminds us that she writes an opinion column every week and it is carried nationwide in publications. It should be interesting to see how many papers and Internet sites take the time to point-out that her weekly column is opinion-based.
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