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STRUT! in the News

Mummers will strut on TV, after all

December 9, 2003

Channel 17 will air parade for 10th year

By Ron Goldwyn-Philadelphia Daily News

The 2004 Mummers Parade will make it to home TV screens after all.

WPHL-TV (Channel 17) announced late yesterday it has an agreement with
all Mummers organizations to televise the Jan. 1 parade for a 10th year with
the same format as last year.

That means live telecast of the Comic, Fancy and String Band divisions from
10 a.m., followed by the tape-delayed Fancy Brigade Finale inside
Pennsylvania Convention Center.

It also means the Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods Inc., a
community funding group linked to state Sen. Vincent Fumo, will donate
$250,000 to underwrite production costs.

The show will provide Mummery the way Philadelphians like it-watching
at home.

While the 2003 parade's 7.3 rating was Channel 17's lowest, it translated to
about 210,000 viewers. That far outnumbered curbside crowds along the now-
abandoned Market Street route.

The Comic, Fancy and String Band divisions, calling themselves the "outdoor
parade," return to South Broad Street for the first time since 1999. The
brigades perform inside the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Cutting a TV deal wasn't easy.

A month ago, Channel 17 was out of the picture and no other TV station had
stepped in. The first feather-and-backpiece blackout loomed since Mummers
strutted across screens in the 1940s.

Then the Citizens Alliance made its cash offer. That left Channel 17's new
General Manager Vince Giannini negotiating the minefield of competing
Mummers organizations.

As late as yesterday morning, the Fancy Brigade Association hadn't
responded to the station, amid buzz of a serious split. A sticking point was
how to divide ad revenue profits.

Then the brigades said yes, one day before a deadline set by Channel 17. The
The Mummers Association, with string band lawyer George Badey as lead
negotiator for the three "outdoor" divisions, had agreed to terms last week.
Then all sides smoothed any hint of discord.

"Everybody's come to agreement, which is great," said Giannini, who
insisted on getting the whole parade. "I've learned a lot in a short time."

"We're very excited," said brigades' spokeswoman Christine Cleaver
Harrer. "From our end, there wasn't any problem."

Giannini wouldn't disclose details. But sources said 90 percent of net revenue
from ad sales-not likely to be lucrative at this late date-would go to the string
band-led association based on its stronger ratings in the past.