Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crack video controversy inspires crowdsourcing TV show

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has become a well known character on television screens across the continent thanks to his string of photogenic pratfalls and public appearances, the latest being an apparently intoxicated jaunt through the streets of Toronto.

But his international fame truly blew up earlier this year amid allegations that he was recorded smoking from a crack pipe, the implosion of his support at city hall, a possible police investigation and his Teflonian ability to survive it all.

The world learned that it loved watching Ford, from afar, with U.S. news and comedy programs clamoring to join Ford Fest.

Turns out the whole affair had an impact a little closer to home. A former Toronto radio producer says the affair was the inspiration he needed to launch a television show, which has been picked up by FOX Television.

[ Related: Rob Ford ally says Toronto festival video 'inconclusive' ]

Jordan Whelan's new project, "The Crowd Funder Show," is scheduled to appear on television across southern Ontario and western New York starting next month.

It is inspired by a successful, but ultimately fruitless, Indiegogo crowd funding project launched by Gawker, which raised $200,000 to purchase the alleged video of Ford smoking from a crack pipe.

Those looking to sell the video fell out of contact with Gawker, and you can see where that money ended up going here.

Whelan, a former producer at Newstalk 1010, somewhat publicly announced he was leaving the radio station two weeks ago. And I say "somewhat publicly" because NOW Magazine's Jonathan Goldsbie published the message Whelan sent around announcing his departure.

It is safe to assume his role at Newstalk 1010, where Ford hosts a weekly radio program, was the inspiration he needed to take the plunge.

"After watching Gawker's Indiegogo campaign successfully raise enough money to purchase what was thought to be a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine I was in awe. To think that thousands would fund the unproven with their sole reward being intrinsic, well, that set my gears grinding," Whelan wrote in a blog for Huffington Post.

The show sounds like a reality program in the same vein as Dragons' Den, where entrepreneurs introduce their crowdsourcing projects on air, with legitimate advertisers to offer perks to those who donate.

[ More Brew: Toronto voters know what they get with Mayor Rob Ford ]

A synopsis for the show, which will air on Western New York's FOX affiliate, reads:

People are always inspired by the notion of participating in 'barn-raising' activities. It is a strong component in human nature to feel good about helping make a change for the better. Couple this with a good idea and you can't help but feel like you're a part of something special.

The show has a point. Gawker's Crackstarter campaign is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how big these projects can get.

Hollywood has already embraced the funding strategy. A "Veronica Mars" movie raised nearly $6 million through crowdfunding, and actor/director Zach Braff similarly raised money for a "Garden State" sequel. Even James Franco turned to crowdfunding to raise money to turn his book "Palo Alto Stories" into movies.

A reality show inspired by Ford's biggest scandal is one thing, but I'll be waiting for the dramedy inspired by his life. Now that will be must-see TV.

 

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