Internet Histories03.04.11

The Bleak Entrepreneur (Or, TV That Could Have Been)

Campbell Robertson’s piece on the hapless Tennessee burg of Spring Hill for the New York Times may just clinch the prize for being the greatest non-fiction Onion article I’ve ever read. Like something halfway between a con-artist caper flick and the Monorail episode of The Simpsons, Spring Hill has managed to attract the most absurd promises of prosperity from the mysterious ‘Dennis W. Peterson’ - a 1,500 acre theme park to rival Las Vegas, its own NBA franchise, a TV studio, and an animated blockbuster called ‘The Way Of The Unicorn’ starring the late Michael Jackson - without a beautifully-named mayor named Michael Dinwiddie raising a sceptical eyebrow once.

There’s not a paragraph in Robertson’s piece that doesn’t unfurl with that precipitous, incongruous beauty of high farce:

People had a few questions: Who was this man? What was his background? Where was he getting the money for all this? What happened to his front teeth? (They were recently lost, he explained to reporters, to a crispy chicken wing at Hooters.)


“It’s not easy putting something like this together,” said Mr. Maierle, who has something of a troubled record himself but says he still advises Mr. Peterson on business dealings. Asked what his position was with the company now, Mr. Maierle, who is on parole in Michigan for possession of “child sexually abusive material,” said that was “a subjective question.” But he said he had faith in Mr. Peterson.

Oh, and Dennis W. Peterson isn’t the first person to challenge Mayor Dinwiddie’s rigor with a convincing story:

This sort of thing gives pause to many Spring Hill residents, including Jonathan Duda, a city alderman. Mr. Duda said he had the same concerns now as he did last year when a man identifying himself as a Nigerian king — a claim viewed skeptically by everyone from the State Department to the Spring Hill police chief — was received with a ceremony on the steps of City Hall.

It gets better, as Robertson and the NYT have in fact put copies of Peterson’s promotional material online - which apart from a surprisingly flimsy proposal for his ‘Festival Tennessee’, also contains several pitches for the television hits his “Big International Group Of Entertainment” (yes) would have launched from that Spring Hill studio.

A friend and I recently spent hours labouring and cursing at empty Word documents trying to come up with a convincing outline for an online TV show. Crying at the stresses and strains of formatting and spell-checking. Worrying about whether we’d be taken as serious creatives or not. Peterson just makes it look easy:


Proposed budget: $225,000 per episode
Written by, Dennis W, Peterson
5 STARS laughs, and more laughs. This weekly live-action sit-com, with four of
Americas funniest comedians rolled up into one location has the makings for a classic.

A stuffy 5 Star restaurant in Beverly Hills, owned by a crotchety old man. The
employees; a chef, maitre’d, and the head waiter all waiting for him to kick the bucket.

They each think they will inherit the business. When he dies, they find out he has
an illegitimate son from Harlem that wants to take over and RE-DO!!

What ensues is hilarious mayhem.

“THE GREY RIDERS, once again Scott Alan Roberts has come to the table, with a
live action iilm/series that will take viewers on a trip filled with adventure and Magic.
Time travel has oft been seen as hokey, but this story takes it literally to a different
Bad guys and the end of the world are but a few of the points that will make this
project a must see for all ages.”

3 .1
Concept by: Dennis W. Peterson
LIL DRIBBLERS, can be a full length feature Elm or made for television movie.
The concept is that of taking major basketball stars pair them with younger kids in a story
that puts them all together off and on the court in a very unique situation.
We have interest from some ofthe NBA’s greats to be involved in this one.”

“The Ventura Boys”
Proposed budget, $300,000 per episode

THE VENTURA BOYS, designed and created by Scott Alan Roberts, is a half-hour animated action series.

This series ala Johhny Quest style is full of fun and action baseed on the mis-adventures of two brothers who travel the globe looling for trouble, oops, I mean adventure.

Light, entertaining with original characters illustrated by well-known Author Scott Alan Roberts.

Looling For Trouble: The American Success Story of Dennis W. Peterson.

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