August 12th, 2008
10:50 AM ET

The Montauk Monster: A marketing gimmick?

P.T. Barnum would be proud.

The legendary 19th-century promotional genius, who once passed off an elderly black woman as George Washington’s 161-year-old former nurse and a monkey-fish construction as “the Feejee Mermaid,” would have loved the Montauk Monster.

A couple weeks ago, a mysterious creature apparently washed up on the eastern shores of Long Island, New York. Quickly given its monstrous moniker, the New York press, led by the Gawker Web site - which meant, by extension, the national media - tried to figure out what it was. Was it a semi-aquatic rodent? Something from the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center? A representative of the devil?

Now the Web site Slashfilm may have the answer. The site, using research from, speculates that the creature might simply be a prop for a movie called “Splinterheads” starring Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”) and Christopher McDonald (who was so good as Jack Barry in “Quiz Show”) - though, as Slashfilm observes, it’s odd that the filmmakers haven’t tried to make more of the buzz surrounding the Monster. Of course, it took months before a headset company admitted to the cell phone-popcorn viral videos.

With all these Internet tubes around, there are going to be more and more of these things. What Barnum could have done with the Web, we can only wonder.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

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