Bearded, bubbly pitchman Billy Mays passed away today in his home in Florida, according to press reports. It was stunning news–Mays was only 50 years old, and kept up an intense schedule of travel and (of course) pitching. (My condolences go out to Mays’ family, friends and colleagues.)
Perhaps most famous for his OxyClean commercials, Mays pitched a long list of products and services. There’s probably a Billy Mays commercial running somewhere on TV at every moment of the day. And he was starring the the Discovery Channel show Pitchmen with Andrew Sullivan.
So what happens to all that content?
It was one thing when TV naturalist Steve Irwin was tragically killed by a stingray. When he wasn’t diving in shark-infested waters, or wrestling crocodiles, he was playing with poisonous snakes. It was understood that Steve Irwin’s career was hazardous, and I would hope that Animal Planet had some kind of crisis plan in place in the event of his serious injury or death.
But Billy Mays was only 50 and in apparent good heath. Does the Discovery Channel have a crisis plan? Perhaps not. Mays was reported unresponsive by his wife at 7:45 a.m. today. I’m writing at 1:30 p.m., and the Discovery Channel’s Pitchman page mentions nothing about his death. In a Twitterized, viral news cycle, this seems odd.
And what happens to all those infomercials?