unexpected good news: YES!!!
ANIMAL PLANET decided to feature bettas in their "The Most Extreme" series
in 2002. I was pretty darn surprised and excited to receive an email from the network
requesting my permission to film me and my bettas/fishroom for a betta
related segment which should soon air in many countries around the
world, including the U.S.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2002: The
Animal Planet van pulls in front of the BETTATALK main headquarters (my
humble home ;P)
and three nice gentlemen straight from New Zealand come out, carrying an
impressive amount of filming gear. (Above left: Camera man, me, sound guy,
and one of the producers of "The Most Extreme")
It is an invasion of cables, lights,
booms, microphones, cameras and other devices that I would not even
attempt to describe LOL. The crew just flew into LAX from their native New
Zealand and must be jet lagged. They got stuck in traffic on the 405
freeway and are a bit behind schedule, so they eagerly get to work and
set-up everything. Everyone is very nice, friendly and extremely professional.
Paperwork to release the rights to film my bettas and air the segment are
signed, and we immediately get to work.
The band: The network was
especially interested in the fact that I am not your typical fish breeder
type and wanted to film me and my band performing for a bit. So we set up
the band in the living room and lit candles and performed a cut from our
second album "IF" featuring the sitar. The crew hoped that the
music would be incorporated as the musical background to the segment,
although in the end they had to edit it out. The head honchoes at the
network were too short on time and had to cover 10 animals in less than
50mn, hence lack of time to feature live music as well :((. Oh well, I
guess one cannot have it all (but I try all the time LOL). It still was a lot of fun performing for these
guys who seemed to show a lot of interest in my sitar. And who knows they
might use it for something else. (Above: ALTERNATE
FAITH 4 band members with the ANIMAL PLANET crew- Simon (bass), moi
(vocals, songwriting, guitar, sitar), Hyland (guitars, mandolin) and
Darius (drums, world percussions). After a few takes, the band was done,
band members dismissed and we moved on to bettas :).
Aggressive behavior: the network
was primarily interested in the aggressive behavior of the Siamese Fighting
Fish, so they requested to film them flaring. One of the shots showed how
males will flare at their own reflection in the mirror (left). Geronimo's
Grandson was picked for the job. If you guys purchased Apaches from my
recent spawn, know that their sibling is a TV star now LOL.
Community tank shots and other
betta related shots: The crew then filmed several of my tanks,
including my opaques and the apache females during feeding, as well as
betta related tasks I perform on a daily/weekly basis, such as water
changes and the feeding of jarred bettas. It was fun to be part of this
filming process, even if I had to do each task 3 times, so they would have
three different angles of the same thing. My jarred apaches, featured in
the "feeding of the jarred bettas" were pretty happy to get fed
three times in a row that day. "Hey mom, can the nice ANIMAL PLANET
people come here everyday??" LOL.
then filmed betta courtship and a bunch more individual males. We
hoped to show as many beautiful color variations as possible within
3 minute betta segment. Only a few made the final cut, but white opaques,
cambodians, black melanos as well as chocolates did make national TV
(left: The ANIMAL PLANET TV crew film
me working on this illustrious website :)) )
Special thanks to
Michael Rosen for his great help and contribution to this shoot.
Woaw, that was a lot of work!
And now it is getting late and the crew is real tired and ready to pack up
and go to their hotel. I wondered whether I would ever see any of them
again and felt a bit sad we had to say goodbye. What can I say, I admit
it, I am very sentimental person (sigh). But as they say, even the best
things must come to an end! So now we had immortalized the betta hobby
and all we could do was to sit back, wait and keep our fingers crossed that the
editors would like the piece and not edit it too much and show the world
out there just how beautiful and fun our little finned friends bettas are.
I hoped this would bring more people into our wonderful hobby and was both
honored and grateful that ANIMAL PLANET picked little old me to promote
the betta hobby on their television network. I also hoped that the bettas
are not gonna start coping an attitude and ask for a fruit basket in their
dressing room or something, cause I think this whole TV stardom thing got
to their little fishie heads LOL :))))))))))))))))).
months go by! It is now almost the end of summer and still no word. I
am starting to think that the network turned us down or something :((...
Then I get an email. ANIMAL PLANET has approved the betta segment and it
will indeed be incorporated in the finished product. The producer adds:
" Don't worry, you look fine. (cause I asked, hey, I was worried that
I would look scary or something LOL)". He further elaborates:
"The Network gave you more on screen time than anyone else in the series".
Now I was plain flattered. :) Unfortunately he was unable to tell me when
they would air it, and I feared I would simply miss it cause let's face
it, I spend a total of a whopping 3 hours a week in front of the tube (if
2002: We are on the air!!! A bunch of emails suddenly flock into my
mail box from betta hobbyist
across the nation: "I saw you on ANIMAL PLANET" , "ANIMAL
PLANET is airing the betta segment!!!" or even: "Woaw! You are a
star now? LOL". I actually was in San Francisco on a road trip and
had just plugged my laptop (wonderful invention by the way ;) ) into the
phone line of the RV park. I started jumping up and down, yelling and
screaming and clapping my hands and making strange little noises and
grunts and giggles which seemed to make the RV park office attendant
somewhat nervous. ("Oh yeah... She's gone!" said the look on his
face). But I didn't care. I sprinted back to our RV to tell my other half,
Mr.181, the good news. Since we have no TV in our RV, we were unable to
watch it. :(( But we were due
back in LA a few days later so I figured we would catch it then.
What the TV show "The Most Extreme" is about: The
Most Extreme is about the best of the best. It's a countdown of the top
ten animals with extraordinary powers that put people to shame. So who are
the fastest, or strongest, or greediest animals? Which are the highest
jumpers or the smartest? Each episode sets up the challenge, and then
finds the most extraordinary solutions in the animal kingdom. It shows why
each of The Most Extreme animals really are the best of the best, and puts
our human achievements into perspective. Below is the show info, as listed
on the Animal Planet official website.
finally get to see the betta segment!! Saturday
September 14, 2002, our entire household (Mr.181, myself and our two dogs)
was standing guard in front of the tube. The VCR was ready to roll. Remote
control firmly in hand, we waited, holding our breath. Boum, 9AM rolled in
and The Most Extreme episode entitled "fighters" started
unfolding before our (amazed) eyes. I had no idea what to expect as very
little was said about what the episode was about really. So I was just as
surprised as everyone else to see that they were doing a countdown of the
10 most fearsome fighters of the animal kingdom. OK, I figured, we will
probably be at number 10 or 9. When I saw the Lion at number 10, I was a
bit worried. Geese, if the lion is at 10, then bettas maybe didn't make
the countdown... (cause face it: Would rather be attacked by a lion or a
betta? LOL). We kept watching nonetheless, primarily because hobbyists had
already told me we were in there. OK, so we waited and the countdown kept
getting further down and down from 9 to 8, 7, 6 and then 5 and soon 4...
And still nothing. Mr.181 and I kept glancing at each other. "Well,
maybe you are not in this one" he finally said. "No, no,
everybody said we are! So we must be!". At number #3 was the
Tasmanian Devil and those are some pretty nasty little beasties, so my
hopes grew dimmer. Number Two kicked in and I recognized the rice fields
of Thailand and immediately started jumping
up and down, yelling and screaming and clapping my hands and making
strange little noises and grunts and giggles which seemed to make no
difference at all to Mr.181 ("I have seen it all, nothing you can do
can ever surprise me anymore" said the look on his face LOL). So we
watched. Even though the segment seemed to focus solely on the bad temper
of bettas :), I was still pleased that they would at long last feature
bettas (period) on ANIMAL PLANET, or on TV for that matter. They looked so
cute the little juvenile opaques swimming gracefully in the tanks... And
the gorgeous chocolate male courting his female looked every bit as
gorgeous as he is in real life. I, of course, did not enjoy seeing the
betta fighting in Thailand, and the poor male who got his fannies kicked,
sinking to the bottom :((... I wanted to fly to his rescue: "Quick,
Bettamax!!". Those were obviously not our bettas, since 1)- we don't
breed fighters, 2)- our long fins bettas are not designed to fight 3)- we
are all 100% against fighting bettas. But I guess they still fight them in
Thailand, just as they have been for hundreds and hundreds of
we were very surprised to see Bettas at #2 on the countdown, and
flattered. Our bettas might be small, but they are courageous.
They are, after all the "Betta Splendens" ("Beautiful
Warriors") and those warriors have long conquered out hearts (and
made us slaves to their every needs and whims LOL). Mr.181 was impressed.
He was seduced all over again ;). Personally I was glad that I looked nice
on film, and surprised to hear my accent (which I forget I have LOL). All
in all we were pleased and I will cherish forever this experience and the
4 mn film that I taped off the TV.
the camera crew had hinted that they may use the remaining footage and
rest of the interview for another series (one less extreme ;) ), one is
left to ponder whether the bettas will soon be back by popular demand on
the small screen? I sure hope they will, cause face it: