ST. PETERSBURG – The notes under the door. The incessant phone calls. The impassioned pleas, all begging for a piece of the story. It wasn’t reporters in search of secret intelligence involving the war in Iraq. The subject: St. Petersburg’s Jennifer Mee, a 15-year-old who started hiccuping four weeks ago today and has yet to stop.
The competition for her story became so frenzied over the weekend that NBC’s Today show changed Jennifer and her mother’s New York hotel after another network’s exhaustive attempts to get an interview. “You really never know what is going to gain that sort of attention,” said John Trevena, a Largo lawyer who has represented some high-profile clients. “It seems once it starts, it spreads like wildfire. It becomes very exhausting for all involved.” Representatives from ABC’s Good Morning America called Jennifer’s home 57 times on Sunday and slipped notes under her hotel room door, her family said. “They kind of made me feel guilty,” Jennifer’s mother, Rachel Robidoux, said Monday. “But I felt it wasn’t right to ditch the Today show.”
NBC paid to fly Jennifer and her mother to New York City and put them in a hotel for four days. It was Jennifer’s first time in New York, and she and her mother were amazed at how much things cost: $17 for two packs of cigarettes (for Robidoux), $65 for a french manicure for Jennifer, and even more for the hotel to wash their clothes. “$257 for a load of laundry,” said Robidoux, who waits tables at a Denny’s in St. Petersburg. NBC picked up that tab, too. On Monday, Jennifer and her mother did another interview with Today and one with Inside Edition before flying home. Waiting for her were calls from the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and television stations from as far away as Canada and Britain.
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: Bonfire Of The Inanities
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