We've been had. It turns out that one man's heroic billboard crusade to prevent celebrity divorce was actually a hoax by WEtv to advertise its new show Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars. We caught up with WEtv President Marc Juris (pictured below) to find out how he hit the zeitgeist and tricked media outlets across the nation: AdFreak: Is there a real J. Robert Butler? Mark Juris: You're speaking to him. No, he's a fictional character we invented, played by a real actor. Whom you made up a whole backstory for about his daughter's divorce … Because the most important thing you have to remember is that the audience is incredibly smart. We created a whole character, a persona and a motivation. Thought about why he would do this, what he expected would be the response. I think the inclination is to have him say some outrageous stuff, and we pulled all that back and had him be more realistic. How did you hatch the hoax? We went through a couple of ideas. We thought, "Could we make these billboards poking fun at celebrity couples who had divorced?" But it just felt too much like an overt ad campaign. And that’s the problem with overt campaigns; people just drive by them and just keep going. So we thought, "How can we really do this?" What if we made an organization that seemed ridiculous but could be real and serious?
Marc Juris unceremoniously left TruTV after nearly ten years back in May, but he's been swift to rebound: the exec is back at his old stomping grounds over at AMC Networks, this time as the head of WEtv.
The staring contest between AMC Networks (which owns AMC, IFC, WeTV and Sundance) and AT&T ended on Sunday afternoon with a brief announcement from AMC that it had reached a long-term carriage agreement with the MSO, ensuring that its channels would be distributed across the AT&T's U-Verse service.