Thursday, February 21, 2013

Solicitation Alert: Close-up TV News / Close-up Talk Radio

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Writer Beware has received reports that authors are receiving phone solicitations from an outfit called Close-up TV News, which describes itself as
...a premiere news magazine TV program spotlighting the most successful businesses across America. Close-Up TV News has featured hundreds of industry leaders on our shows. We are a professional News Magazine Show, viewed by millions who continue to be captivated by our intellectual, informative and entertaining storytelling style.
In fact, Close-up TV News is pay-to-play (a fact not mentioned on its website). It produces faux news segments for a fee, which businesses can then use to promote themselves. Several of the testimonials from satisfied customers confirm this--for instance, this one, this one, and this one--as does this summary of a recent indictment against a pair of timeshare telemarketers, who allegedly used a Close-up TV News segment to further their scheme to defraud consumers.
Done in the format of a news segment for the fictional “Close Up TV News,” the segment was hosted by an actor who played the host of the “People’s Court.” In this fake news segment, the reporter described Creative Vacation Solutions as “remarkably effective” in putting buyers and sellers of timeshare units together. Johnson and Todd played the role of a happy couple who owned a timeshare unit that was purportedly sold by CVS.
(Close-up TV News was not charged in connection with the scam.)

From what I can determine, authors aren't being solicited for the fake news segments, but for Close-up Talk Radio, Close-up TV News's Blog Talk Radio channel. Authors are told that they are one of just three who've been chosen from a carefully-selected list of 30 writers, with the goal of finding a single author to receive huge promotion and marketing support, including several Close-up Talk Radio interviews, during the month of March. It's promised that this marketing and promo will make them a best-seller.

The catch? Close-up claims it will "invest" $40,000 of its own resources in scripts for the interviews, email blasts, and other promotion...but the author must share the burden by kicking in $5,000. And authors must make up their minds fast! The promo happens in March, and Close-up needs an answer ASAP.

If the fee isn't a tipoff, the supposed time pressure should be. Pay-to-play schemes don't want you to make a considered decision; they want you to feel rushed, so you'll be more likely to make an impulse decision.

Close-up is not unique. Many other pay-to-play media schemes are out there--for instance, Global Talk Radio, where guests pay to be interviewed on Internet radio, and The Balancing Act, the pay-to-play ($5,900) Lifetime TV show. But Close-up's recent solicitations are certainly among the more deceptive I've heard about.

Writer beware. Even if they don't try to fool you into buying, this sort of thing is not a good use of your money.


C. M. Albrecht said...

They pull any crap on me and I'll have them on People's Court.

JeffO said...

I've seen this stuff from a couple of years back with my other business, too. There's a sucker born every minute, and every minute there are two born to take advantage of him.

Malena Lott said...

I got a call today! Even weirder, they called my MIL (who lives in the same town) first and she thought they sounded legit she gave them my number. The "executive producer" left me a long voice mail with exactly the pitch you describe! Obviously I'm not calling him back.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for watching out for authors/consumers. We were approached as well. You have done a great service for the public. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

I was called just this morning and was asked to call back by 12:30 to let them know for sure that I would be available for the 12;30 interview by a board of 8 people to see if I was chosen from the 3 speakers.I actually considered calling back but instead called my very practical virtual assistant who said,"They're probably not interviewing 3, just looking for the one most gullible to pay $5,000 for advertising.Thank goodness I read this!and listened to her.

Anonymous said...

FYI just received the same solicitation. Was told there's a small fee -- $1200, which the writer pays. "You'll get it back many times," he claimed. Yeah, right, selling poetry books!

Anonymous said...

If u get a call from anthony holmes just hang the phone up. Scam artist

Anonymous said...

Called me... long winded pitch and the guy that called didn't even have my web site pulled up... I asked how he found me... answer - Doug Llewelyn must have found my site... yeah, right... They wanted $2,500 for two 30 minute shows. When I told him this was pay to play he dropped the price and wanted to get me with one of the "producers" or "script writers"... I told him to please find someone else which he didn't really want to do even after he told me he had a number of people / businesses lined up...steer clear... it's a scam.

Building My Counseling Practice said...

Thank you for posting this. I received a message that they wanted to talk to me. I decided to look them up first since I wasn't sure what to expect. I am glad I found these reviews.

Anonymous said...

I just got a call today. The same guy was so desperate on getting me to sign I just hung up. Mr Holmes if that's it real name, get a real job.

Anonymous said...

I got a call from them today. I'm surprised that Mr. Llewelyn has stooped so low as to associate himself with these shysters.

Anonymous said...

I got the call today. Very happy to find these comments here, they confirmed my suspicions. They are not just targeting authors, but small business owners, too. Glad I didn't waste any more time or energy with them. The "you've been picked..." line is seductive, but also the major tip-off.

"Vanity, definitely my favorite sin." - Devil's Advocate

Janet said...

I got that call - and I got taken. I am now working with my credit card company, the CA and NY AGO and BBB to get my money back.

The services provided were:

the 4 interviews
the 30 second promotions
the DVD recordings
Press release with photo or video distribution to major news outlets (newspaper clipping service)
Website design – recommended pix relocation and answered question re the guest book feature

The services not provided were:

the email list
Press release with photo or video distribution to media publications
Press release with photo or video distribution to networks
Promotional campaign for products, services, books, etc.
Provide company visibility on the major search engines
Live streaming from website
Stats on live callers to show
Stats on listeners
Website tech support
Website design completion
Detailed year long media campaign

Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks for your comment, Janet, and I'm sorry you got taken. Please come back and let me know how things turn out. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

It's happening in Canada, too--I'm a clinical psychologist and received a phone message today asking me to call right back to be interviewed for Close-up Talk Radio. "We're contacting outstanding people in your field".

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just got THE CALL. I called back and guy told me the same thing. He said that he spoke to 3 people and he wanted to make a choice. But in the middle of the conversation he said he has chosen me, i thought that was strange. I asked why he said: because 1. my views are different. which is a statement I said myself. can talk about your subject with a lot of passion. He did say I need to tell them ASAP. I have to say I was intrigued, particularly for being CHOSEN!  Thank you for posting this. The sad thing is I told him money is very tight as I am single and just starting. He did not seem to care!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this board. I didn't even return the call before searching, and I found these comments. I am a therapist in private practice, and "Closeup on American Business" supposedly wants to feature me for the "Best of Hudson Valley". Yeah, right!

Anonymous said...

Thankfully I found this board before calling back as well! My phone message today (on my cell phone!?) said they were doing a show on the "Best of Delaware Valley Therapy & Counseling." My first thought was, great - free advertising! Thanks so much for this alert!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I feel soooo smart right now. I got a call from this close up scam just now and was about to call them back but decided to research them first. Thank u, thank u, thank u. I will not call them back.

Victoria Strauss said...

I really appreciate the comments from those of you who've been solicited by this scheme--it's helpful for me to know it's still active, and very helpful as a caution for writers who've been approached and are trying to research whether it's a legitimate opportunity. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I just got a VM as well, from Steve G(B)?renlick, executive producer of Close-up in American Business. We are a small business in San Francisco. He wanted to feature us, but I needed to call back right away. I am not calling him back.

Anonymous said...

I have to thank you all who took the time to write these posts. Today I received the call with the exact wording as you all described. Some "Richard Goldstein" left a message on my cell. Sounded fishy. I wasn't going to call back, but I could see some small business owners thinking that this was a good idea and being scammed. I am a counselor in private practice. Only reason I found this blog is that this "executive producer" told me to check them out on the internet and left their web address. Foolish me thought that I might hear some interesting info listening to others being interviewed...then I saw this site!

Anonymous said...

This internet is wonderful! I got the same call this AM from "steve",with a wonderful pitch to enhance my clinical practice,noting at the end,just a $2500 fee TO them for their services.
My credit card is already a bit overheated..., and right now I have about all the business I can handle. No thanks!!

Anonymous said...

My turn today... they are now looking for "Canadians"... fee started at $2500 for two 30 minute shows, then when I hesitated, went to $995 for one show...

mahalinahudson said...

I got a call today and spoken to the guy name: Andy Romeo.

He said the same lines I was reading here. I just googled about Close-up TV news scam while I was talking to him and this came up. So, I said no. I don't have $2,500 anyways.

Through the conversation he was insisting to just let him charge my credit card of $500 then pay in full before the first radio interview.

I just said, its not for me and I don't have that money either.

I was happy that you guys came up and wrote about this.