CLEARWATER — Okay, so Hulk Hogan's daughter wouldn't necessarily be everyone's automatic first choice to be Clearwater's cultural ambassador to the world.
Still, local tourism officials are pleased that a recent episode of Brooke Hogan's reality TV show on VH1 showcased Clearwater Beach. They say the episode, which will be rerun at least nine more times on the cable network, amounts to a half-hour of free advertising.
"Once people see our beaches and that sugary, powdery white sand, that's a positive," said Gerri Raymond, vice president of tourism for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. "You can't make us look bad if you're out on that beach."
"You're always trying to get your destination some exposure — a steady drumbeat of images in the popular media," said David Downing of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The TV show Brooke Knows Best is a sequel to Hogan Knows Best, which ran on VH1 for four seasons and starred Hulk Hogan and his family.
The new show follows 20-year-old Brooke Hogan's life in Miami, but a recent episode titled "State of the Hogans" was shot locally. It shows Brooke dealing with the fallout from her parents' ongoing divorce.
It begins with images of Clearwater's wide beach and Pier 60 as Brooke says in a voiceover, "My Dad's dating, so I'm going back to Clearwater to get to know his new girlfriend."
After a commercial break, the episode starts up again at Brooke's penthouse condo in Miami, where she tells her roommates, "I'm actually going back to Tampa this weekend 'cause I haven't seen my Dad in a long time."
Ugh, a Tampa reference.
But the show quickly redeems itself by making Clearwater look cool. It shows a montage of images of the Memorial Causeway Bridge, the pier, beachfront condos and hotels, girls in bikinis, and a sign reading "Clearwater Beach."
That's followed by a scene at Hulk Hogan's beachfront house on Eldorado Avenue, where Brooke sees a photo of Hulk's 34-year-old blond girlfriend and says, "She's older than me, but she looks like me."
Meanwhile, Brooke's mother has been dating a 19-year-old.
Hulk says, "He's the same age as Nick," Brooke's brother.
"Eeeewwwww," Brooke responds.
Later, there's another montage of images — flamingos, sunbathers, boats, the big sundial on the BeachWalk promenade, and a sign reading "Beach Access — City of Clearwater."
In a scene on the beach, Brooke walks on the sugary sand with her father's new girlfriend. The two tall, shapely blonds look like clones of each other with their windblown hair, designer sunglasses and crisp white warmup outfits.
Later, Brooke's two roommates show up. The group of five goes to Clearwater's Municipal Marina and buzzes around Clearwater Harbor in a boat.
They pass by the Hogan family's waterfront mansion on Willadel Drive near Morton Plant Hospital. Brooke's mother, Linda Hogan, lives there. Brooke wants to pull up to the dock and pet three family dogs who are barking at the boat, but Hulk says he's not allowed to. He'd get arrested. The cold reality of the divorce hits Brooke, who bursts into tears.
All drama aside, this kind of free exposure is catnip for local tourism officials, who usually have to pay big money for TV time.
"We want the world to see our beach," said Sheila Cole, executive director of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce.
"Anything that shows off the beach, and in this case that beautiful BeachWalk, that's very positive," said Jennifer Parramore, director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission. "If you dig into the demographics of that program's viewers, they're young and it puts a nice, youthful, vibrant spin on the destination."
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.