How Times Tech Guru David Pogue’s Elaborate Marriage Proposal Went Viral

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Host David Pogue speaks onstage during the NOVA "Hunting the Elements" panel during the PBS portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 5, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Internet is littered with giddy, showy marriage proposals, most dubbed the "best ever" — love on steroids, inspired equally by the rom-com industrial complex and our exhibitionist times. The genre can be touching and maddening, often at the same time, as we watch strangers profess their eternal dedication in what cynics might call a game of extravagant one-upmanship. And yet they can be so damn cute.

Joining the pantheon last week wasn't an online nobody, but insanely popular and prolific New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, whose mind-bogglingly complicated and blissed-out proposal video has gathered more than 160,000 views in less than a week. "I had zero expectation that this would become some viral hit; I just thought a few people might get a kick out of it, so its popularity has been a stunner," Pogue told Daily Intel. "So was the number of people who admitted crying watching it — even lumberjacks and lawyers."

Pogue hired a pair of Broadway actors to play himself and his girlfriend, tech PR exec Nicki Dugan, in a fake movie trailer — "a thinly veiled version of our love story," as he described it. "I persuaded the movie theater at a summer resort to play it before a movie we went to see. Both of our families were there to see it. I hid a video camera to capture her reaction (it was in a ficus plant next to the screen)." But the pay-off has to be seen to grasp the level of complexity and planning involved:

"We had only two days to shoot 22 scenes, so I had the days scheduled down to the minute," Pogue said. "I may be the first potential groom in history to employ equal parts romance and Excel spreadsheets." He even edited the video himself. As for the surprise, "She had no idea! I had put two actual movie trailers in front of mine, so in that theater, it really felt like the usual 'coming attractions' sequence. She didn't realize until the doctor scene that this was no ordinary trailer."

The parody idea was the idea of his teenage children: "Needless to say, I'll be cutting them in for a percentage of the net," Pogue said. "I never intended for anyone to see it except for the audience in the theater that night. But a lot of them it asked if I would be putting it online so they could show their friends. Eventually, my fiancée suggested that I go ahead and post it publicly."

After a tumultuous public split from his wife last year, the marquee columnist doesn't seem to have reservations about putting his private life out there. "Most people, I hope, realize that divorces happen," he said, "but so do beautiful second acts."