Talk Show Producer Nets First Victory in Campaign Against Violent, Indecent L.A. Billboards
Producer Melissa Geiger Schrift is involved in the effort.
Melissa Geiger Schrift, a supervising producer at Ellen, crowed “WE WON!!!!!!” yesterday to her Facebook news feed filled with industry colleagues after outdoor advertising company Van Wagner removed a salacious billboard image above Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood, just south of Selma Ave., that she had first publicly urged her friends to campaign against on Oct. 5. The image, for sex toy website adamandeve.com, featured a big-busted blonde holding her bare breasts, a note to “use code ‘SEXXX’” when making purchases and the blaring tag line “Satisfaction. Guaranteed.”
The move comes following a KTLA local news report on the issue that made its way on-air by that evening. (In response to Shrift’s Oct. 5 Facebook post, one commenter noted of the savvy campaign: “They should know better than to mess with TV producers.”)
Schrift, married to Jimmy Kimmel Live co-executive producer Jason Schrift, has also railed online against other local billboards and building supergraphics for what she considers their “overtly sexual or disturbingly scary” content, in one case posting a picture of an oversize Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance ad from 2011 (featuring the eponymous skull-headed, flame-spewing, motorcycle-riding vigilante superhero), noting that it “forced me to drive a different way home because it scared my children so much.”
Schrift declined to offer further public comment on the issue to THR. However, her friend and colleague in the effort, veteran freelance reality TV producer Diana Schmedeman, explained that the anti-billboard group of more than 30 friends who live in the general area aren’t zealots but just want these decisions thought through in a more sensitive manner by companies like Van Wagner. “We’re not prudes,” says Schmedeman, observing that many among the cohort themselves work in the entertainment industry and understand the need to market product effectively. “We just want a decent ride to school where kids aren’t bothered by what they see.”
As for the counter-argument – that Hollywood isn’t exactly Mayberry, so community standards should be expected to be more lax – she responds: “Yes, there is a nightlife aspect here, and in the evening it’s an area oriented toward adults. But this is also a family area. And Hollywood, as a neighborhood, has been in the process of reinventing itself for years. It needs to be able to move beyond degrading itself in this way.”