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Discovery to air 'Pitchmen: A Tribute to Billy Mays' special on July 9


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/02/2009 

Discovery Channel has announced it will air Pitchmen: A Tribute to Billy Mays on Thursday, July 9 at 9PM ET/PT in honor of the infomercial star who passed away suddenly on Sunday morning at the age of 50.

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Pitchmen's first-season finale aired last night as the culmination of an all-day marathon of the 12-episode reality series, which followed Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan, Mays' longtime business partner and fellow master marketer, as they attempted to sell various inventions and products via test market infomercials that would determine if the product had mass-market appeal. 

"Watched the finale surrounded by cousins and friends. About two minutes of silence after the tribute at the end," Mays' son and Pitchmen co-star Billy Mays III wrote in a Wednesday night Twitter posting.

Discovery Channel has yet to make a decision on renewing Pitchmen for a second season.

Mays was found unresponsive by his wife on Sunday morning at his Tampa home and was subsequently pronounced dead at 7:45AM.  Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vern Adams stated on Monday that the likely cause of death was heart disease, however final autopsy results will not be known for eight to 10 weeks.

A private wake is being be held today before the funeral is held tomorrow morning at St. Mary Church in McKees Rocks, PA.

"Nervous for tomorrow but I'll be fine because I know he's with me," wrote Mays III in a subsequent Twitter post about the wake.  "Thank you all again for your thoughts."

In addition, a conference call was held on late Tuesday afternoon in which Sullivan, Mays' wife and son, and more than a dozen marketers who had commercials featuring Mays decided to resume airing his infomercials next week following the Friday funeral, The St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday.

"Will the consumer keep buying the products? No one really knows, because this is brand-new territory for everyone," Media Enterprises president Bill McAlister told The Times.  "I believe Billy is so big and so loved, his brand will go on. But none of us realized, until we got on the telephone, how much he affected our industry... Ninety percent of my (sales) volume relates to Billy's pitches."

McAlister -- whose company is responsible for Mays' Mighty Putty and Mighty Mendit product spots -- said the call was emotional and also included representatives from Discovery Channel.

"You had a lot of people crying on that phone call," McAlister told The Times. "What I'll miss most, other than his friendship, is those commercial shoots where we always tried to one-up what we did before."

(Photo credit Discovery)


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