Chasing that Bentley

It wasn't just Channel 4 -- all L.A. TV stations covered last night's low-speed Bentley chase, probably hoping it was Chris Brown or that the audience would assume it was. Variety analyzes:

Just when it seemed like they'd finally been weaning themselves off their live police chase addiction, L.A. stations have fallen off the wagon.

At least five police pursuits of a fleeing suspect have taken place here over the past two weeks - and stations are once again finding the allure of speeding cars and flashing lights irresistible.

The ultimate example came on Monday night, when every local news operation dropped what they were doing to focus on a slow-speed chase involving a white Bentley and a suspect accused of assaulting his girlfriend.

With visions of O.J. Simpson dancing in their eyes, the stations almost giddily hinted that the driver was a "significant figure" who had recently battered his galpal.


Even KNBC - which has been leading the charge to stop televising car chases - gave in and dumped its 11 p.m. newscast in order to showcase the chase.

"On rare occasions we'll make them a part of regular newscasts if it seems to rise to the level of legitimate news," said KNBC news director Bob Long, who's been vocal in the past on his dislike of televised chases. "This one smelled like it might. We got some information that turned out to be incorrect, that a person of some prominence was involved."

But it wasn't Brown - and Long admitted that covering the chase wound up being a mistake.

"It was a wasted newscast, and I feel terrible about that," he said. "It irritates my serious news watchers. I got a lot of unpleasant mail today, and I answered everybody to explain my thinking."

I received some of that email too.

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