Monday, April 12, 2004

The Des Moines Register ran a big article on the Pork Forest on Sunday.

My favorite line in the whole article is the very first one?

The people planning to build an indoor tropical rain forest in Iowa promise big things: A colossal complex that would supplant the Iowa State Fair as the state's biggest tourist attraction.

Uh, yeah. Right.

Or, as David Oman, the project's director stated: This is being positioned to be our Gateway Arch, our Seattle Space Needle, our Sydney Opera House.

Probably so. Overbudget. Over-priced. They are gimmicks that are visited by people who already happen to be in the area, but cause almost nobody to drop what they are doing and plan a trip to St. Louis, Seattle, or Sydney (Australia). None, to my knowledge, spurred private development nearby.

Bemoaning the fact that the Vision Iowa doesn't have the funds to pick up the remaining $90 million (ha ha, it'll be two or three times that), the article tells of fundraising efforts amongst wealthy celebs.

The fund-raising push has unfolded in places such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, New York and Chicago, Oman said. A "trusted intermediary," he added, has contacted Buffett. Efforts by The Des Moines Register to reach Buffett last week were unsuccessful.

Project leaders also have approached Hollywood celebrities - from actors to musicians to producers - who share an interest in environmental causes. They don't provide names.

Consultants have talked with officials at the Discovery Channel and National Geographic about televising regular educational programs from the complex, said John Picard, a Los Angeles environmental consultant for the project.

"There has been a very warm reception, and doubly so because it's in Iowa," Oman said.

Oh so Hollywood celebs are interested in helping? Which ones? Important ones. Who? We can't say.

Why am I reminded of John Kerry saying unknown foreign "leaders" supported his candidacy. Celebs will attach their names to anything that can get them attention. But in this case, they aren't willing to even say, "Yeah, they talked to me. I think it's a great idea."

Instead, what the Register reports (sheepishly, I suspect) is that: So far, however, no new donors have stepped forward.

Some "warm reception, and doubly so because it's in Iowa." If they gave absolutely nothing after becoming doubly impressed, I'd hate to have seen the collection plate when they were still merely singly-impressed. Count me as unimpressed.

(Also posted at Tusk and Talon)