Greenfield to pay $28K to appear on ‘Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid’ 

  • Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner at City Hall. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • GILMOUR

  • RICKETTS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/29/2021 5:32:35 PM

GREENFIELD — “Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid,” the short-form documentary that Greenfield has agreed to be featured in, will come with an underwriting fee of $27,900, according to city officials.

“It’s one step in letting the world know who Greenfield is,” said Mayor Roxann Wedegartner.

However, at least two city councilors — City Council Vice President Sheila Gilmour and City Council President Penny Ricketts — questioned why the underwriting fee wasn’t disclosed when the mayor made her announcement about the filming.

At the June 23 City Council meeting last week, Wedegartner told councilors that Greenfield had been chosen to be a featured city in the program.

“I’ve never gotten a really clear answer as to why the city of Greenfield was chosen, except I was told … the city of Greenfield popped up on their radar,” Wedegartner said. “I don’t know why, but I’m really glad it happened.”

“Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid,” hosted by the famed actor Dennis Quaid, produces educational documentaries on subjects such as business, finance, technology, travel, agriculture, health and culture that are then shared with public television stations nationwide. Typically, the programs are aired on public television stations, such as PBS, CNBC and CNN.

Wedegartner explained that the documentary will be three to five minutes long with the theme, “great places to live, work and play.” Filming is scheduled to take place for a day and a half in early September. Two members of the community, including one business owner to be chosen by the city, will be interviewed in addition to Wedegartner.

“I did have to think about it,” Wedegartner said of the cost, speaking on Tuesday. “It was understood from the get-go that there would be an underwriting cost. I was expecting to have that be the case.”

She said the underwriting fee will be paid for using the marketing line item of the fiscal year 2022 budget.

“The fact we get to keep it after a year was also very compelling to me,” Wedegartner said. “It made the money worth it, because we’ll be able to use it over and over again as we begin to reach out to businesses that may want to locate here.”

Communications Director Keith Barnicle, who is acting as the city’s point person for the project, said Greenfield has been working hard to build out its resources around high-definition images and video.

“In that vein, this seemed like a good project to work on to get a professional, high-level documentary,” he said.

In addition to be aired on several networks, Barnicle said the project includes a one-minute teaser that will run “extensively.”

“After they’re done running it, we get a video to use with no restrictions,” he said. “In the time they work with it, it’ll be played on public television, so that’s kind of exciting — getting a broad, broad reach.”

Still, some city councilors, upon learning about the underwriting fee, were frustrated the information hadn’t been shared when the project was presented at the June 23 City Council meeting.

“I would have wanted to know,” said City Council Vice President Gilmour. “In the same meeting, we were talking about not having money for other services in town. Twenty-seven thousand isn’t going to cover the salary for another (Department of Public Works) worker, but it could go quite a ways.”

Gilmour said she thinks investing the money in residents’ quality of life would be more impactful.

“When this comes out of taxpayers’ funds, I think what they want to see is the garbage is getting picked up, the potholes are getting fixed and that they’ve got adequate staffing in all of the town offices, so that whatever services they may need, they get in a reasonable amount of town,” Gilmour said. “I don’t think the folks in town are biting their nails to see a three-minute documentary on PBS.”

City Council President Ricketts was also unaware of the underwriting fee associated with the production.

“Our government is checks and balances, so I do believe the council had the right to know that upfront,” Ricketts said. “She is the mayor, and she can make the final decision at the end of the day, but if you’re going to bring it forward to the other half of how the city is run, we must have all the information.”

Wedegartner said it hadn’t occurred to her at the June 23 meeting to disclose the financial aspect of the project.

“It was more of an FYI to them,” she said. “If anybody asked, I would have certainly given it to them.”

Ricketts added that she has some concerns for the amount of money being spent on programming that is three to five minutes in length. Still, she is hopeful the project benefits the town in the long run.

“We’re doing whatever we can to help our businesses to get everything moving again,” she said. “If there is something that it is going to dovetail with all of that, then yes, I’m OK with it. I think it’s a good idea.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne




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