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Archives: February 2006

IFC, Comcast: “Indie-o” on-demand?

We like Mark Caro‘s column in today’s Chicago Tribune quite a bit: bubbles.gif

1) Because it’s one of the more thoughtful examinations of the intense pressures on the movie business of late – namely, to rush movies out of the theaters as quickly as possible, and onto DVD.

2) Its headline, “The post-’Bubble’ Bubble,” actually references a bubble, and my intrepid FishbowlLA co-editor Mike Sonnenschein takes such inordinate delight in bubbles of any kind, I’d be remiss in not posting the link on those grounds alone.

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Guilds Gone Wild!

That terrifying ‘click’ you heard this morning was ABC stepping on a landmine of Steve Jobs’ making.video-ipod.jpg

Previously, none of the conglomerates that control all of media had taken a public stance on the issue of how to pay writers and actors whose shows wind up on iPods.
landmine.jpg

Then, today, ABC dropped the fig leaf: Essentially, their position is, “We’re going to pay you the least we can, using the ‘home video’ model.”

The guilds went apoplectic, as you can tell from Variety‘s coverage today.

Forgetting whether or not a downloaded “Desperate Housewives” should be treated as a new production (and paid accordingly) or not, one thing should be obvious about this: The home video model should not be used. Why? Because it pays actors and writers three to four times less?

Hardly. Because if you’re watching “Lost” on an iPod, you’re likely NOT AT HOME. Ergo: Home video? Not the right payment formula, lads.

(Can even the most ardent admirer of Jobs’s godhead imagine a scenario under which folks would rather watch their favorite show on a postage stamp screen instead of the city block-sized TV most suburbanites have parked in their dens?)

That said, we do feel ABC ought to get extra points for saying such obvious malarkey with a straight face.

Now, that’s acting.

Fast Company Lives To See Its Second Decade

Considering that old saw about nine out of ten magazines folding within their first decade of publishing (just ask the staff of Absolute, which barely made it a year) a magazine’s 10th birthday should carry real resonance. That’s why I’ll be toasting Fast Company tonight, especially in light of how half of its ten years of existence so far were spent in the Babylonian Captivity of being owned by Gruner + Jahr (which it actually managed to outlive, ironically.) Scheduled to be toasting with me are Google poster girl Marissa Mayer (who no doubt flew here on the redeye last night) Fast Company editors, a bushel of ad agency executives, and likely every media reporter in town.

In a sign I’m growing old, it seems that all of the newborn magazines that were most important to me in college are turning ten these days. That, and they’ve grown old and a little tired, too. There’s Wired, born in 1993, which wrote its name in neon inks and used to toss Lacanian psychologists and “zippies” on its covers. These days, any movie which skews predominantly geek or uses a ton of special effects is practically guaranteed a spot. (Exhibit A: this month’s A Scanner Darkly cover, which — considering it’s three months too early — would indicate that V For Vendetta fell through at the last minute.)

Then there’s Wallpaper*, Tyler Brule’s delirious vision of a jet-set existence as seen through the eyes of an imperious control-freak. It’s still handsome these days, but where are the Jordi Labanda illustrations? And finally, there’s Fast Company, which between “The Brand Called You” and “Free Agent Nation” is more or less responsible for where I am today: sitting in my apartment in a t-shirt and jeans, blogging.

The “Smoking” screen: Theater, not thetans, to blame for Katie’s nudie nixing

Jason Reitman today moved to quash rumors that Tom Cruise had pressured Fox to remove a sex scene that starred his fiancee Katie Holmes from Reitman’s new Searchlight picture, “Thank You for Smoking.” katie_holmes_23.jpg

“That’s a fun story. I’d read that story. The problem is that it’s not true,” Reitman told the AP, adding, “The problem with ‘projection error’ is that it’s the truth but it sounds like a lie. It sounds an awful lot like ‘wardrobe malfunction.’”

It’s what Reitman adds after this cogent and beleiveable explanation that suggests he doth protest too much:

“The filmmaker also said Holmes’ sex scene is as tame as anything you’d see on the Disney Channel.”

The Disney Channel has sex scenes? It sounds as if we have got to start surfing the web less and watching basic cable a bit more.

Oscars aren’t just black tie; they’re Blak tongue

Variety‘s resident advertising expert Jon Bing today points out something we’re surprised we’d not yet heard of. Not because we’re particularly plugged into TV advertising, but rather, because we spend most of the day hooked up to a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf I.V. drip. chris_rock_oscar1.jpg051209_blak_vsm.vsmall.jpg

Yes, Coca-Cola is introducing a new drink on the Oscarcast this year. It’s called Blak, and its a mix of Coke and (no, really, we’re not making this up) coffee.

Two things strike us:

One, if you think Gov. Schwarzenegger was against sugary sodas before the Oscars, just wait until your sixth grader starts vibrating like a Chihuahua instead of simply pitching forward into a diabetic coma after math class.

Two, the time to introduce this coffee-n-java heart palpitator wasn’t at this Oscars; it was at last year’s. Can you imagine the field day Chris Rock would’ve had with a product called Blak?

(Feel free to insert your own Richard Pryor freebasing joke here.)

CBS vs. Howard: Sah-Sah-suey

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Our initial reaction to Howard Stern‘s assertion that CBS chief Leslie Moonves has a “personal vendetta” against him was to scoff.

Per Reuters, it claims “multiple breaches of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and misuse of CBS Radio broadcast time” as well as damages from Sirius for unfair competition and interference with Stern’s CBS contract.prev48.jpg

How much in damages? $500 million.

But that’s to confuse the issue: Les doesn’t have anything personal against you, Howard. He has something against ex-CBS radio chief turned Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin, and if he has to crush you in the process?

Well, then that’s the way the Baba-ball baba-bounces.

What makes Oscar watched?

In THR Ray Richmond argues that the Oscars will be just as well-watched as usual this year, even though nobody’s seen any of the movies:

In order for the ratings to truly plummet, millions of the diehards who make the Oscars appointment viewing would have to suddenly decide that this relative dearth of recognizable names may just inspire them to go out to dinner instead. It would almost be a case of standing on principle to bypass the year’s preeminent water-cooler event.

He’s probably right, but, then again, people might spend more time than usual in the kitchen putting together snack platters and less time in front of the television. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ = good news for the corn chip industry!

Spin‘s Obligatory ‘We Got Sold’ Meeting?

spin_beck.jpgTracking Spin‘s pending sale today. Editor-in-chief Sia Michel’s out. Andy Pemberton’s in. Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to get insight from some current Spin staffers on the whole thing, but, as you can imagine, they have things other than FishbowlNY on their minds. We’re left with a lone eyewitness account of an alleged staff meeting:

There was just a big staff meeting here at Spin and some folks came out of the corner office looking, well, not so happy. One girl was in tears.

That sucks, particularly when the girl’s Courtney Love, and she doesn’t even work there.

Sia Michel Out, Andy Pemberton In at ‘Spin’ [Gawker]
FROM THE MB ARCHIVES: So What Do You Do, Andy Pemberton?

But what does the Talmud say about the DVD window?

Wow, I guess paid product placement in movies and television really is becoming a big deal- the ethics column in the Jewish World Review is covering it.

Media Minutiae: The “After Blogging This For Month, I’m Ready To Switch To PR Myself” Edition

  • More Mailer for your money! Norman and John Buffalo, father and son, legendary blowhard and former High Times great white hope will bound onto the stage together Thursday night at The New York Society for Ethical Culture to discuss their new book with the the Bonnie Fuller-esque title, “The Big Empty: A Dialogue on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America.” In an ideal world, drunken rages and fist-fighting would ensue, but they’ll probably just ramble on for a while.
  • Is the F train running late? Blame amNew York! In a totally non-self-serving expose, The New York Sun reveals that all the free dailies it just happens to be scrapping with are generating an extra 15 tons of trash per day, most of which is ending up on the tracks and costing the MTA millions in expenses.
  • Why are an increasing number of journalists switching teams and playing for PR firms? I seem to recall this pearl of wisdom from j-school: follow the money.
  • Rutgers professors are still pissed that New York Times editor Nancy Sharkey had the gall to tell students to buzz off because of their overly-critical professor. And now the Society of Professional Journalists is condeming the paper as well. “It is surprising that an editor that high up in an organization known for its sophistication would put something like that in an e-mail,” said the chairman of the Society’s ethics committee. “You should know better, even if is is what you’re thinking.” So, the lesson here kids: never leave a paper trail.

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