Real TV |

Real TV

Chad Abraham
Pitkin County lead investigator Joe DiSalvo fields questions during a press conference concerning the beating of a ten-aged girl that occured Saturday on Highway 82 at mile marker 49 Wednesday afternoon October 13, 2004. DiSalvo said they have leads on the two indviduals who beat the girl but would not disclose information or identities until an arrest warrent was issued with the charges of first degree attempted homicide. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

Those who tuned into the opening rounds of March Madness can be excused for asking a crazy question: That wasn’t really Joe DiSalvo in that TV commercial, was it?

But a double take proved that it was, in fact, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator. He even has a line in the nationwide ad for the National Association of Realtors.

So how does a local detective end up in a commercial that millions see during the NCAA basketball tournament?

It turns out that DiSalvo was at work when DeeDee Brinkman, a casting director and the girlfriend of Sheriff Bob Braudis, shot some video at the sheriff’s office several months ago.

“I don’t know how serious it was, but she was taking video of a bunch of people,” the detective said. “I got in and they called. I thought it was going to be on some infomercial at 2:30 in the morning.”

Far from it. Deputy Brad Gibson and Aspen Police Officer Walter Chi, also got the call, DiSalvo said. They could appear in a later commercial.

“I think a lot of the people who got the commercial were Aspenites,” DiSalvo said. “It’s really strange.”

In August, he drove to a Denver neighborhood he described as straight out of “Leave It To Beaver.” The commercial shoot required him to repeat lines with varying voice inflections for six or seven hours. Afterward, neither DiSalvo nor Brinkman heard from the advertising gurus.

“They said, ‘We may or may not use you. Who knows if this commercial is ever going to appear on anything.’ So we forgot about it,” he said.

But in February, DiSalvo found a paycheck for his acting in the mail. Alas, he said he will not be getting royalties.

“For amatuers, they just pay one time,” DiSalvo said.

The first inkling that it was not an infomercial in the wee hours was a call from a relative.

“My cousin called me from New York. He was watching ‘CSI: Miami’ and [the ad] was on,” DiSalvo said.

He said he has not seen the entire commercial yet. But he can’t escape it.

“Last night I was in a bar in Denver and it was on the TV during the basketball game. But I didn’t hear it,” he said Sunday. “I have a line, but we said so many things. I don’t know what I really say” in the spot. He said his line has something to do with integrity.

The ad is part of a $25 million campaign by the Realtors’ association to highlight the agents’ experience and dissuade home buyers and sellers from trying to negotiate the real estate market by themselves. The ad series, which is also on the radio, is called “Don’t Try This At Home.”

“It was fun. That big fat guy is me. The camera does add 200 or 300 pounds,” he said. “It was a neat experience. I never thought it was going to go anywhere.”

Oh, it went places. The Associated Press said the NCAA tournament’s first and second days were the highest-rated for CBS in nearly a decade. Based on ratings during those days, DiSalvo may have been in 7.3 million homes across the nation.

“Really? Oh my God, I should have asked for more money,” DiSalvo said, laughing.

Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is

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