Product placement has made its way to the Independent Film Channel and Jelena Jankovic is right in the thick of it.

I’m hanging out in Portland, Oregon, for a few days running up to the Australian Open. Portland is a quaint, family friendly town with miles and miles of lush greenery courtesy of the omnipresent rain. I went into a local library today to print out the Australian Open draw and I saw this sign behind the desk:

sign up here to read to the dog

Huh? Read to the dog? Do dogs in Portland need help with their school work? Do they need to be advised of their legal rights or need help filling out their PETA membership?

No, it’s a reading program. Young readers are encouraged to sign up for half hour sessions to read to trained dogs because the dogs are very accepting and nonjudgmental. I guess it’s a good idea but I do wonder what kind of corporate titans we’re generating if kids are too frightened to read out loud.

Speaking of corporate titans, just outside of Portland lies Beaverton and there resides the campus of the mighty Nike sports apparel company. Nike is doing pretty well but it looks like it just got outswooped by Reebok.

Reebok has a new show on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) called Framed and tonight Jelena Jankovic got framed by actress Brittany Snow. You can see the trailer above and see a schedule of additional shows here

This is how it goes. Music and film stars interview athletes who all happen to have endorsement contracts with Reebok. Singer Nelly interviewed basketball star Allen Iverson for instance. The hook is that the music or film star gets to direct the show and often it’s their directorial debut.

Look, I’m happy to gaze at Jelena’s abdominal muscles as she does her leg lifts and I’ll watch her beautiful face any time, but, tell me, how is this different than a commercial? Reebok produces the show in partnership with IFC and why not? What better way is there to get your product into the middle of a television screen? Short of a segment selling Reebok sneakers on QVC, what could be more direct?

I love interview shows and the best part of this job is talking to athletes. And I suppose you could learn something by having celebrities interview athletes. If you watched the show, leave a comment and tell me what you learned. It’s just that we’re losing independent media left and right.

Most television stations, newspapers, and film studios are owned by huge conglomerates. When you see a splashy magazine piece about an actor who’s just come out with a new movie, you can bet the magazine is owned by the same media conglomerate that owns the film studio. The IFC itself is owned by Cablevision which controls Madison Square Garden and all of the sports teams that play there.

When the IFC starts doing infomercials disguised as short movies, that’s just one less time slot that could be used for independent media.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my Australian Open preview. Stay tuned.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 280 user reviews.