Can JetBlue Flight Attendant Stretch 15 Minutes?


Last week, nobody knew Steven Slater. 

Now, office watercoolers, Twitter feeds, Facebook and chat rooms are buzzing with expressions of support and the question: What's next for the flight attendant who quit his JetBlue job in such memorable fashion that some have called him an instant American hero?

Heroic or not, the story of Slater's confrontation with a misbehaving passenger has swept through Madison Avenue and Hollywood in addition to Main Street.

Slater's story has the most immediate impact on TV news organizations, with broadcast networks and CNN among outlets trying to book him for interviews. A media scrum followed Slater's brief jail stay. Good Morning America producers jumped into the same car as Slater, but he made them get out.

An ABC News spokeswoman said Wednesday that the producers had done nothing unusual and simply were chasing the story as their peers were.

"It's a very competitive story, and everybody wants to hear from him directly about what happened," said David Friedman, executive producer of CBS' The Early Show.

Friedman's bookers staked out the jail, Slater's house and his lawyer's office -- but not necessarily with the aim of nailing an exclusive interview.

"All I care about is that we have him on our show," he said.

Friedman said he figures an interview can be done anytime during the next 10 days.

Will Slater get a manager or agent to explore further opportunities such as book deals, TV shows or even a movie?

Major talent agencies are unlikely to sign anyone who doesn't have a background in a craft such as acting or writing. Companies that book reality TV stars and celebrities might be a more logical fit.

Steve Peckham, svp at branding agency Olson, said it looks like a case of 15 minutes of fame.

"I suspect Mr. Slater's fame is about to peak as he is sure to hit the late-night TV and radio talk show circuit, but it won't last long," Peckham said. "So a pure advertising play might prove challenging."

Yet ad folks say they already have discussed the Slater situation with colleagues or clients.

Chris Raih, founder and managing director of Los Angeles-based creative agency Zambezi, said he and his team had mentioned him Wednesday morning.

"People around the country seem to have followed this classic go-to-hell moment with voyeuristic glee," he said. "They want to root for him even more in a recessionary environment when many have gobbled up their anger."

But he cautioned that ad campaigns referencing Slater and the incident would be hard to pull off given that it takes weeks to shoot a commercial and more lead time to get a campaign out. "I don't think any brand will be fast enough to capitalize on this moment," Raih said.

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