Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Kid On the... Tube

Crazy though it seems, this week sees a year since the Appointment of the Century (well, the first one)... but while Tim Dolan's TV savvy arguably helped write his ticket to the Big Apple and since prompted him to blog, a year in, one of the few places the archbishop of New York still has yet to appear are his charge's major media stops, whether the Today Show, the Daily Show, the Late Show, the three evening newscasts, cable news in prime-time -- or, for that matter, anything in-between as national exposure goes in the boob-tube's "capital of the world."

To be fair, Dolan did log a sit down with Regis Philbin... but that was just before a Christmas Mass.

Sure, the New York church has its own continent-wide radio outlet, but these days, the church's media engagement is -- well, needs to be -- at least as focused on the "scattered" as the "gathered"... in other words, far from geared just toward those who come looking.

And along these lines, the whole Stateside bench looks to have been trumped up North... and by its junior prelate, at that.

Fresh off his ordination last month as Canada's first non-white high-hat -- and at 43, its youngest -- new Toronto auxiliary Vincent Nguyen appeared in early February on The Hour, the CBC's late-night flagship, which ran him as its first guest, featuring the Vietnamese-born prelate's story of fleeing his homeland in a boat, and even his martyred great-grandfather, both in a prepared package and on-set interview (fullvideo).

"You're really gonna love this guy," host George Stroumbolopolous told viewers. And for a raucous 11pm audience seemingly more comfortable with screaming than silence, the moving sit-down took place in a setting of rapt respect from host and crowd alike.

Lest anyone's still thinking the forum some sort of house organ or whitewash, following Nguyen on-set was Joey McIntyre, the Boston native still milking his days as frontboy of New Kids on the Block. And to be sure, it's not as if the "baby bishop" was entering a public square clear of controversy, either: the ordinations of Nguyen and his fellow appointee Bishop Bill McGrattan were Canada's first since last fall's stunning resignation of Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish following the Nova Scotia prelate's arrest on charges of possessing child pornography.

For the record, neither controversies nor scandals came up... because in the media world, showing up to tell one's own story tends to be the soundest strategy of all.

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Speaking of the North -- where the Vancouver Olympics have reached their halfway-point -- some ecclesial fireworks broke out just before the games' opening as the country's opposition leader called for the inclusion of abortion funding in a new Canadian push to aid women's health efforts in the developing world.

After Michael Ignatieff went public with his "astonishing" stance, the Liberal leader was promptly rounded by two of the country's top prelates: Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins called the idea "sad," noting in a statement that "even those who think that abortion should be allowed do not, however, propose it as a positive contribution to the good of society," while Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary went a step further, deeming the proposal "pathetic."

PHOTO: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation