The gorilla ball

The Legend:  Willie B.

The Legend: Willie B.

The Gorilla Ball is Saturday.  The event is a competition among Atlanta TV stations to see which can produce the most entertaining blooper reel.  The reels are always worthy viewing.  CNN typically enlivens the event by providing a blooper reel, though CNN is ineligible for the Otto Focus Award, the plastic trophy handed over to the station judged to have the winning reel.

There are a few somewhat interesting facets to this year’s Gorilla Ball.  The first:  It appears WGCL is declining to participate, despite its production of excellent blooper reels in past years.  The reason is unclear.  (If I’m wrong, please feel free to correct me.)

Second:  Because there was no Gorilla Ball in 2008, this year’s reels should be better-than-average because of the backlog of material.

Third:  The Atlanta Press Club was apparently desperate enough for an emcee that it asked yours truly to co-host.  I accepted.  The good news is that I’m co-hosting with Tom Regan.  I’ve golfed and had adult beverages with Regan.  I’ve also gotten my ass kicked on stories by Regan, an excellent reporter at WSB.  We know each other well.

I’ve also praised and abused Regan on this site.   I now look forward to doing so in person.

Started by individuals employed by Atlanta TV stations in the early 1980s — when such folk drank and abused substances with reckless abandon — the Gorilla Ball began as a raucous, off-the-record party (the first one I attended was at the Limelight).  It got some stability when the Atlanta Press Club began sponsoring it.   It also became tamer.  As an old guy, I’m quite OK with that.

WAGA has been on a roll, winning the last several Otto Focus awards.  Editor Larry Winokur isn’t obsessive about gathering material for it, but he misses very little — especially when Good Day Atlanta erupts into something unexpected.  GDA typically dominates the WAGA reel.  The CNN reel is always entertaining because it includes off-air audio from the control room.  (“Camera two!  Why are you doing a 360 when you’re supposed to be on a closeup?  Holy f@#!”)

The Gorilla Ball is at Zoo Atlanta at 6:30pm Saturday.  You can join the APC and pay ten bucks for admission (but you have to do so by noon today.  It’s $15 at the door).  Non-members pay more.  Buy advance tickets here.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

12 thoughts on “The gorilla ball

  1. Steve Schwaid

    We’re not declining to participate. Honestly, no one asked.

    I’m still the new guy in town and I was totally unaware of the Gorilla Ball. No one asked me if we would do a blooper or participate. With some fair notice I would have been happy to. I’d love to attend this year’s event now that I know what it is, but the day of the event is a religious holiday.

    So next time – whoever is the organizer – please feel free to pick up the phone or drop me an email and we will be more than happy to put together a blooper tape and be part of the event.

    Reply
  2. live apt fire Post author

    Steve– The Gorilla Ball is strictly an unofficial event. The participation of the stations is unsanctioned. Therefore, the organizers typically steer clear of upper management when soliciting material. My guess is that there are lower-level folk in your newsroom who either dropped or spiked the ball on this year’s event. No harm either way. One could argue that it’s tough to make a blooper reel a priority in a big city newsroom. Next time, I suspect the Gorilla Ball folk will ask you directly.

    Reply
  3. daryll

    The Gorilla Ball is legendary outside of Atlanta, too.

    One of my prize possessions is a copy of a 1981 WXIA blooper tape. I’m told it was part of that year’s Gorilla Ball. There’s no doubt it had to have won. From the late Russ Minshew, “the weather in the east is mainly east of us” to Joe Washington’s live in-studio interview with a guest opening her blouse to reveal a new mastectomy product called “Nearly Me”, it’s pure fun.

    Reply
  4. LBJ

    Great job hosting, LAF. Where did Regan get that hat? And what’s the deal with Schuler’s tartan threads? Is the DOT paving the B9077 highway? Really, it was a lot of fun. Now I gotta go finish writing Anastos’ address to the poultry convention.

    Reply
  5. English major

    So, who won??? Any chance the blooper tapes (from this or past years) will get posted to the Internet, or did I miss a link somewhere?

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      I’ve been remiss. WAGA won handily, though WSB turned in a pretty strong tape. WXIA’s tape was a distant third. None of the completed reels will likely turn up on the web anytime soon, if ever. Snippets will be closely guarded.

      Reply
  6. Baylink

    Somewhere in my life, I have a 3/4″ tape of a CNN/WTBS real from far enough back that it has Ted commenting on a baseball manager cussing an ump… completely unbleeped.

    It was the year that someone used Sledgehammer for background music, if that tells anyone anything.

    I *will* eventually find it, and capture it, and post it.

    Reply

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