Home Media Tom Brokaw Plugs Angelina Jolie Movie in Commercial Posing as Feature During...

I’m confused. How about you? NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw narrated a commercial tonight on the Olympics. It was for an NBC Universal feature film. It seemed like a feature by Brokaw on Olympian Louie Zamperini. But it carried the NBC Universal logo, not NBC News. And midday through it turned into a commercial for Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” a Universal movie due this year. Maybe Brokaw did commercials on air when he was on the Today show. But narrating a commercial for a movie? Is this what we’re calling ‘native advertising’– when the ads are indiscernible from the editorial? Brokaw never seemed the type. Who paid him? What are we to make of this? That he’s endorsing the movie? (No one’s even seen it.) Very strange stuff here. What next? Brian Williams touting “Despicable Me 3”?

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
30 replies to this post
  1. This article is much ado about nothing. Louis Zamperini’s life is so amazing. Everyone should read the books about his life. I will never forget it the one I read. It was the best thing I had read in years. I’m glad Brokaw made this ad and I hope tons of people go see this movie if they don’t want to read the book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand. What an amazing, heroic man Louis Zamperini. After all he went through, he was so bitter afterwards until he was saved by attending a Billy Graham (another man I admire so much as he has touched so many lives in positive ways) conference and heard him speak. Amazing stuff and all true.

  2. One third of his newscast Mon 2/17 was flacking for NBC- Olympics,Nepal cross country skier, Jimmy Fallon love fest-if I want news, I’ll tune in BBC or PBS -6:30 news is horrible on all 3 major channels-Scott P & Dianne S are condescending plus they all want to end with either a feel good or tear jerking story-no wonder the country has so many undereducated voters

  3. That’s okay. We don’t get real news from “mainstream” media any more anyway. Advertising is no better or worse than the government propaganda they deliver and we ignore.

  4. Commercials are everywhere, and people hate them.
    Click on some news story, but oh wait, you have to watch some stupid commercial first.
    Radio shows like ESPN-Radio fill the airs with commercials. The host will read a commercial on the air, then break away for more commercials. Like they think they are fooling us that they have less commercials.
    Sports on TV does the same thing. Come back from commercial break, show us the field, but then give us a few more commercials live. Buy this truck, drink this beer, or most important of all, watch this TV show tonight.
    I am so sick of forced advertising.
    Thank God for NETFLIX and the ability to watch some TV w/o the stinking commercials.
    Buy this, but that, buy all this stuff. I hate commercials and everyone in marketing.

  5. Why is this a surprise? MS/NBC broadcasts their liberal opinions as factual news. So now they are broadcasting advertisements as human interest stories.

  6. Roger, honey, you go read Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken”. Please don’t skip

    any page. As you read, pause occasionally and please try to apply empathetic

    imagination, which I imagine you do possess, however underdeveloped or

    unexpressed it may be. Please try to imagine what Louis Zamperini felt and

    overcame. Consider the distinctions you made in your commentary. Renew your

    human capacity for self-reflection and please consider, given the

    extraordinary improbability of all that Zamperini encountered, whether you

    have some emotional sense how God moves in the affairs of human beings,

    including you, and then come back and tell us just how significant your

    observations in this article truly are. Would you please do that for us all?

    The spirit will help you and will chase you until you do.

  7. Hah. NBC is a low-rent bunch of presstitutes. And they’ve been sneaking commercials directly into their Olympics “coverage” for years. Remember the leadins by St. Costas for “How to Train Your Dragon?”. Tey are pitiful.

  8. Looks like an interesting story about a man, but yeah I thought the “feature” looked more like a commercial for a movie than a story of an Olympic athlete.

  9. It is only fitting for the author of “The Greatest Generation” to voice over this ad for a film about one of the greatest examples of a true American hero from that great generation. Last time I checked, Brokaw doesn’t host NBC Nightly News. What’s the big deal? Zamporini’s story is even more compelling than the trailer reveals.

  10. It’s a movie about an Olympian turned WWII soldier, shown during the Olympics. Tom Brokaw is well known for doing documentaries about “The Greatest Generation”. How is this any different from NBC showing commercials for NBC TV shows during other NBC TV shows? Because you needed something to write about today?

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