Duo: YouTube breakup a scripted experiment

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 2:42 a.m.
DURHAM, N.C. - No, the electronically infamous breakup at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wasn't real.
Senior Ryan Burke acknowledged Monday it was just a scripted experiment he thought up to show the power of Internet communities. He and a roommate also wanted to get attention for a company they'd like to start to promote musicians.
In fact, Burke never dated Mindy Moorman, the N.C. State University sophomore and who appears in the Valentine's Day video that has become a hit on video-sharing site YouTube. She has been dating someone else for two years.
During the past week, neither Burke nor Moorman would say for sure whether the breakup was real. What wasn't an illusion were the more than 747,000 hits on YouTube, plus coverage from local and national media.
But on Monday, both said it was all staged. They were acting out characters, Burke said. In fact, Burke said, he and other friends have staged fake breakups in local bars before to get people's reactions.
The two told The Charlotte Observer they were supposed to come clean during an interview on ABC's ''Good Morning America'' Tuesday but the segment was canceled.
''The fact that actual news agencies are interested was a surprise,'' Burke said. ''We did think it would get some media attention but not from those outlets (like newspapers).''
The whole thing began when Burke advertised the ''breakup'' on the online social network Facebook. More than 1,300 people said they planned to watch him dump Moorman, whom he said in interviews he'd dated for four months. On Facebook, he said she had cheated on him.
Burke said he and his friends tried to contact Comedy Central's ''The Daily Show'' to see if the TV show would film the segment. The show's ''fake news'' is popular among college students. But he never heard from producers, he said.
In the video, hundreds of people could be seen crowding around Burke and Moorman in the Pit, a popular campus gathering spot.
Burke said Monday that he thought a video of the event might end up on the Internet but had no idea it would generate such interest.
So far, he said, reaction demonstrates how popular Web communities such as Facebook have become.
Burke, 22, said he wanted to show that the media ''don't always accurately gauge what teenage and college kids are interested in.''
Moorman, who got involved about a month ago through Burke's roommate, described Burke as a ''genius person.''
She also said she didn't expect such a big reaction. ''No, never, never, ever,'' the 21-year-old said.
Neither regrets doing it, though Moorman said Monday that if she had to do it again, she wouldn't curse so much.
''I would do it again in a heartbeat,'' she said.

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