BROOKE GLADSTONE: Europe may not be as worried as we are about what the media are doing to young people, but right now in Hungary the old guard are wringing their hands over what young people are doing to the media. Case in point, a young former Russian history teacher who has become a TV star by seducing her viewers while interviewing intellectuals, among others. And as Drew Leifheit reports from Budapest, the unconventional talk show host is now blazing a path to stardom for those who choose to follow.
DREW LEIFHEIT:On weekday mornings, a female host with a boyish haircut and a tan greets the viewers of a breakfast TV show called Incredibly Awakening. [THEME MUSIC FROM INCREDIBLY AWAKENING] [CLIP OF PHONE EXCHANGE PLAYS] A gaudy chain dangling from her neck, she's perched on a sofa wearing a pair of cutoffs and a tight-fitting leather bra. Viewers call in, and she and her co-hosts respond to their comments and questions. Known as Anettka, 28 year old Anett Feher is the star of the show. Over the past year this woman who also bellydances, does the Twist and piano dusts in the buff on late night TV has become Hungary's most controversial media figure. Anettka says she's unique in the media because no one else interviews famous writers, poets and artists in addition to stripteasing. [CLIP OF ANETTKA SPEAKING IN HUNGARIAN]
FEMALE TRANSLATOR:So viewers got something which was really non-traditional in Hungary, and no one had done it before, because if someone stars in an erotic show, people think she must be uneducated and uncultured person who isn't able to find any other way of living. Everyone saw that wasn't true in my case, because in the other shows they could see that these were not my main characteristics.
DREW LEIFHEIT:Still, Anettka's also known for cursing back at callers who say nasty things about her on the air, and she's received penalties from the Hungarian Radio and TV Board. Not surprisingly, her naked photos are regularly splashed onto the pages of the Hungarian tabloids. And just last week Anettka's infamy hit the radio waves in Budapest following the release of a CD featuring her own song stylings of Hungarian standards which immediately spawned a parody. [CLIP OF MAN SINGING ABOUT ANETTKA PLAYS]
DREW LEIFHEIT:VIEWERS TO NETTKA, goes the radio station parody, I'VE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH YOUR VOICE. YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE I NEED. I'M DISAPPOINTED WITH GOATS. Ferenc Hammer is a media theorist at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. Hammer says the commercial TV scene in Hungary is still very young and consequently when a controversial celebrity like Anettka appears, reactions vary. Some stare, some turn up their noses, and some applaud.
FERENC HAMMER: They either like her or just maybe want to shiver a little or oh! - how strange! Ooo! What strange things are on TV!
DREW LEIFHEIT: Hammer says the reaction from Media figures, however, was quite consistent.
FERENC HAMMER:They just take her as a farce or as something like a freak, media freak or something. So they don't acknowledge her success, basically.
DREW LEIFHEIT:Anettka's forays into new territory aren't limited to just pop music or TV. Two months ago she also started her own media school enlisting the help of TV personalities, sports reporters and media specialists as teachers. Anettka says when members of the Hungarian media found out about her plan, she was buried under an avalanche of criticism, but despite this 25 students enrolled in the program. [CLIP OF ANETTKA SPEAKING]
FEMALE TRANSLATOR:I don't think you have to attend a university for 6 or 7 years and then take a job at a big commercial TV station, carting microphones from one place to the next for no money. If someone has perseverance, personality, talent and self-confidence and they have an understanding of something, anything concerning the media, than here they can be a star, and I will help them in any way I can.
DREW LEIFHEIT:As for her role in the curriculum, Anettka says she only teaches her specialties -- live TV hosting and raising funds for production. While she admits there are a lot of media schools in Hungary, she says her school's competitive edge is its location. [CLIP OF ANETTKA LAUGHING AND SPEAKING]
FEMALE TRANSLATOR:Mine differentiates itself from the others in that there is a working TV station behind it. We don't teach theory. The kids don't have to memorize 400 page textbooks, and they don't have exam periods over a period of 4 years. They learn everything here at the station.
DREW LEIFHEIT:One example of the hands-on experience is a twice-monthly live student program called gaz -- a slang word which means controversy in Hungarian. [CLIP OF PEOPLE LAUGHING AND TALKING]
DREW LEIFHEIT:The show consists of two average-looking young men and a tall blonde woman sitting on pillows on the studio floor along with Anettka and her lollipop-sucking co-host. For half an hour they chat about whatever strikes them while two cameramen dart around the set, sometimes shooting at odd angles. One of the guy students boasts about how many women he's had sex with while the blonde student shows the others her big tobacco water pipe. [CLIP FROM TALK SHOW PLAYS]
DREW LEIFHEIT:When the half hour is over, a producer tells them that something was missing from the show but he's not exactly sure what it is. Twenty-five year old student Veronika Heti says she's feeling more comfortable in front of the camera. Although she's attending another media program, she believes she'll learn more at Anettka's school and has plans for her own TV show. [CLIP OF VERONIKA HETI SPEAKING]
FEMALE TRANSLATOR:It will be an erotic show. The concept's not completely worked out, but I'd like it to be provocative and feminist-oriented where the women are at the forefront exhibiting their finer characteristics. I'll be naked, but I don't want to show myself but want the whole thing to be suggestive for male and female viewers.
FERENC HAMMER: They [LAUGHS] want to be on TV; they want to be famous. This - it's not - it's so-- it's not so complicated I think.
DREW LEIFHEIT:Media professor Ferenc Hammer says a degree from Anettka's school wouldn't carry much weight in academic circles and he notes that academic programs provide students with the context and history of Hungarian broadcasting.
FERENC HAMMER: It's one thing to open a media school and another is what can people do with the degree what they get from there.
DREW LEIFHEIT:As for Anettka's students, she proudly reports that one of them has already received a job offer from another TV station, and she says her next project is to star as a go go girl in a play written specifically for her. For On the Media, this is Drew Leifheit in Budapest. [MUSIC]
"Scarlatti Sonata in D"
by Glenn Gould