Boston First Night to feature artist who pranked city

Nov. 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM   |   0 comments

BOSTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A video artist whose prank once forced Boston police to scramble to respond to a potential citywide bombing will headline New Year's Eve celebrations there.

Peter "Zebbler" Berdovsky will compile and project iconic images and scenes from across Boston onto the facade of the Dartmouth library in Copley Square as the capper on the city's First Night celebration, the Boston Herald reported. The choice, though, had Mayor Thomas Menino on the defense after a 2007 stunt Berdovsky pulled to hype a television show being made by Turner Broadcasting Corp.

Berdovsky designed LED devices with wires made to look like bombs and stashed them around the city. The incident forced police to shut down numerous streets, paralyzing traffic and delaying other emergency vehicles.

At the time, Menino called the stunt a "nitwit technique" and police charged Berdovsky, though the charges were eventually dropped after he performed community service. Turner Broadcasting paid a $2 million settlement to offset the cost of police response to the publicity stunt.

Now Menino's administration said Berdovsky's chops as an artist outweigh his past misdeeds and his performance will highlight Menino's final New Year's Even celebration as mayor.

"At this point, we just recognize him as one of the premier video artists in the country," said Christopher Cook, the city's director of Arts, Tourism & Special Events, who oversees First Night. "The hiccup six years ago was that, a hiccup. ... They were new to it, and we were new to it. Since that time he's established himself as a legitimate businessman and artist. It's going to be a signature event in terms of the administration's legacy."

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