Tina Rodrick or Mark Allen will call saying they are a "lead producer" of a PBS show called "The Journal (with Joan Lunden)". They hook you in by saying, "we want to interview you for a PBS show. But, they never get the show on PBS. They say they are associated with Joan Lunden (and previously, with Hugh Downs), but they are not. They use some stock footage of Joan Lunden and other famous people (such as President George Bush, Gary Sinise, etc.), to make it appear that they are a real TV show and you'll get lots of good publicity.
In reality, they just want to sell you $20,000 - $25,000 of "production costs" to make a marketing DVD that won't even have Joan Lunden on it! They never get a show on PBS. PBS has big disclaimers on their website about this scam (and Joan Lunden has disclaimers/advisory warnings on her website as well). Run away from them!
Here is the e-mail I got from PBS:
Dear Mr W.:
Thank you for contacting PBS.
You are correct- these people are in NO WAY affiliated with PBS. This is a recurring problem that we have posted a notice about on our website's FAQ's. They are very careful to mention "public television" or "PBS stations", knowing that most people will assume they are affiliated with PBS. This is not the case. We have absolutely no connection to these people.
PBS wishes to clarify that it is not associated with and does not endorse, distribute programming for, review underwriting for or otherwise have any business relationship with the following production companies: American Artists Television, American Review TV, Business Break TV, Business Trends, Eco Planet TV, Event Media TV, Evergreen Entertainment, Family Television Studios, Food For Thought TV, Giving Back, Global Television Studios, Great America (with Hugh Downs), Healthy Path, Heroes of Hope, Infinity Media Group, Insights, The Journal (with Joan Lunden), Paradigm Media Group, Platinum Group, PMG, PMGTV, Roadshow Productions, United Media Communications Group, Vision Media, Vision Media Television, VM Television, VT Media, VT Media Productions, or World Progress Report (with Joan Lunden). PBS does not oversee the production or distribution of any programs associated with any of these companies.
In addition, PBS is not a production entity; we do not assist in the direct production of programs. We acquire previously completed programming or enter into production agreements with a variety of independent producers, and we only work with experienced production entities.
Thank you for contacting PBS about this issue. Our lawyers are currently aware of the issue.
PBS Audience Services