Smarter Than the Average Movie Studio

Kudos to Warner Bros. for letting hilariously dark "Yogi" parody live on YouTube. But can it save the bear from bad news?

It's been a bad news week, so far, for bears in the twin wilds of nature and the media.

On Sunday's "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the possible future president of the United States took her Reality TV friend Kate Gosselin for bear shooting lessons – and fired away at a wooden bear target on wheels that "charged" her. Back at the original Mama Grizzly's home, some of Gosselin’s children played on a bearskin rug – and pulled out the dead animal's tongue.

In New Jersey, the state's first bear hunt in five years ended Saturday with a tally of nearly 600 future rugs. In Chicago, the Patriots crushed the Bears Sunday, 36 to 7.

The little kid in us is hoping for an ursine uptick on Friday with the release of "Yogi Bear" the 3-D, computer-animated reintroduction of Jellystone Park's most famous resident. But based on what we've seen so far, the Boo Boo in us fears the flick will be no pic-i-nic.

Meanwhile, we're getting bear-sized laughs from a hilariously dark "Yogi" parody that debuted Monday on YouTube and is going viral. The spoof offers an "alternate ending" in which Boo Boo guns down Yogi for $5,000 in reward money.

Perhaps the best part of the latest viral video story is that Warner Brothers is letting the short live online. The New York Times reports that Hollywood executives won’t ask YouTube to pull down the lampoon, making Warner smarter than the average movie studio.

The video can only boost publicity for the movie, and maybe even serve as a kind of de facto trailer. The edgy short might actually help attract adults to a movie that doesn't look exactly filled with giggles for the over-6 set.

Here's some unsolicited advice for the folks at Warner and other studios: hire the parody maker, identified by The Times as Edmund Earle, a 25-year-old Rhode Island School of Design grad.

Earle, whose scenario is a takeoff on the 2007 Western “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” somehow manages to make the character's eyes expressive, something that's eluded many in the computer animation field.

In the parody, Yogi ends up as a rug – though we can only hope for a better fate for him and other bears out there, average and otherwise.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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