Thursday, 24 December 2009
Meryl Streep gets Complicated

Lots of people hate Meryl Streep.  She gets nominated for every role she plays.  She seems kinda bitchy.  For an older woman, she's nowhere near as hot as Helen Mirren (who is, though?).  She's usually in some weird/quirky movies.  A walk through her IMDB page is quite interesting.  I don't even remember half of these films.  Rendition?  Evening?  Dark Matter?  The Music of Regret?  I sort of remember Prime, but only because Uma Thurman was in it.  And, those are films from the past five years.

Here's the thing, though.  I like Meryl Streep.

She does whatever the hell she wants, and is worshiped by colleagues and critics.  She gives great speeches when she wins awards (which is often).  She's an amazing actress.  If there is any debate, watch Doubt.   Watch Julie & Julia (my wife made me watch it, man).  Watch the last fifteen minutes of Sophie's Choice (how did anyone get through that entire film?).  

I'd love to get  hammered with Meryl Streep.  It'd be a hoot.

Back to the matter at hand.  I think Hollywood needs to make more films like It's Complicated.  Movies like Grumpy Old Men, The Bucket List and Something's Got to Give have proven audiences are interested in the 49+ demographic.  Perhaps there is a heavy focus on the 12-24 crowd for a good reason, but it was getting to the point where mature adults were largely being ignored.  Other than Nancy Meyers (who directed it's Complicated, Something's Got to Give and The Parent Trap), who else is getting these films made today?

No one, really.

I hope this film succeeds, not just because of Meryl Streep, or for the legions of writers out there who have penned excellent scripts about life after 50--but so people like my Mother (who just  turned 59), have something relateble to see in the movie theater.

Oh, and Meryl Streep was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in It's Complicated.  She was also nominated for Julie & Julia.  

I kinda like her chances.

Posted on 12/24/2009 6:51 AM by Todd Carr
Sunday, 20 December 2009
James Cameron is in Love

 James Cameron is notorious for being a gigantic a-hole.  Let's just get  that out of the way.  He's a demanding perfectionist who pushes his crew to the point of mutiny.  He's prickly on a personal level.  But, deep down, you know James Cameron has a poster of kittens or koalas hanging on the wall somewhere.  You know, the one where they're dangling from a tree and the caption reads "hang in there!" 

Deep down, James Cameron is a romantic and a softie.

It's why he made Alien.  It's why he made True Lies.  It's why he made Titanic.  It's why he made Avatar. These days James Cameron is still in love with his creatures, but he's also deeply engaged in the depth of human existence and emotion.  Avatar is a film about falling in love--with a planet.

Now, there are some who think Cameron is still just  as big of a jerk as he was before.  And, that might be the case.  But, it's hard to fault someone for being a little grumpy while filming a 200 million dollar film.  There's just  a wiiiiiittle bit of money at  stake.  I don't know very many people that could chuckle and shrug their way through something like that.  Truth be told, most people like working for a guy like Cameron.  He's a leader--driven, ambitious, knows what he wants and how to get  it done.  It's an opportunity to be a part of something groundbreaking.  There are a lot of folks who owe their careers to the guy.

So, in the end, it does seem odd to pin the word love on such an ass.  Maybe James Cameron is evolving.  Maybe, like Scrooge, his cold heart is starting to beat again (even if his crew doesn't realize it).

Whatever the case--it works.

Posted on 12/20/2009 6:54 AM by Todd Carr
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
So...Jeff Zucker was on CNBC

I was watching Jeff Zucker's appearance on CNBC today (I watched it online, so I'm not sure what day he appeared on CNBC).  I came to the conclusion that Zucker has zero clue about what the future holds for media.  All he kept saying was that NBC/Universal had changed drastically, and that the Comcast deal was part of that continued change, and the deal put NBC/Universal and Comcast in the change.  The hosts kept asking him what the deal meant for media and the dude really had no answer, other than making it very clear that both entities wanted to find a way to get paid for content (particularly digital content) in the future.

What does this deal mean for media?  And, how do they get paid for content in the future?

I guess I was just sitting there thinking, "how the F does this guy (the Prez and CEO of NBC/Uni) NOT know the answers to those questions?  How does Zucker hope to make money moving forward?  Does he know and just doesn;t want to tell?  Or, is media leadership completely clueless as to how they're going to accomplish this?

Not exactly awe inspiring stuff.  I have to say.  Because our ability to make money is directly related to their ability to make money.  After watching Jeffy smile and aw shucks his way through that interview, I'm seriously consdiering sounding the alarm.

Having taken meetings with executives at NBC, Universal, and other networks and studios, I can assure that most of these folks are equally clueless.  Just clueless.  MOST people in media are clueless.  That's largely because there aren't really answers out there right now.  Media is unsure about the power (current and future) of the digital audience.  Sure, 18-24 year olds are largely watching their content on computers and hand helds--but the vast majority of content viewers are still getting their fix via the boob tube.  So, until demand increases in other delivery devices, advertisinig dollars will not be there to support digital media.  The other thing that renders these folks clueless is that they haven't really put any money into developing cost effective unique digital content.  Some studios have digital media development executives, but they're still trying to create programming with names--actors, directors, showrunners--it just doesn't work.  It's too expensive.  Instead of looking at digital media as a way to discover talent, they view it as a way to repurpose current talent and content.  Until they shift their digital strategy, they will continue to fail miserably.

One more time: what works in television will not work in digital media.  You are working with two completely different cost structures.

I hate to be such a downer, but to watch Zucker in that interview just verifies everything I have been saying for years.  The star F-ing mentality of Hollywood works against success in digital media. 

As I have said before, networks and studios really need to look at digital media as a completely separate entity--a new Hollywood. 

They'd better do it, before someone else does.  And, we all starve to death.

Posted on 12/08/2009 10:16 AM by Todd Carr
Friday, 4 December 2009
NBC and Comcast--A Match Made in Hell

 So, Comcast is buying NBC.  Wow.  The people who can't even give me a reliable interenet connection are going to be running an already confused network.  This should just be ducky.  Sort of like Afghanistan trying to invade Iraq.  I don't know how this will all turn out, but one has to wonder if NBC is beyond fixing, as is.  Perhaps this will give the network an opportunity to "rebrand" itself (for the 10,000th time) into something people actually gravitate toward.  Or, better yet, try NOT branding yourself for once.  Not long ago, I compared NBC to the Pontiac Aztec.  I was, of course, spot on.  GM kept trying to tell us the Aztec was cool, and awesome looking.  But, all we had to do was stare at for a few seconds and our eyes would start bleeding.

Let me give you a quick lesson on failing networks.  We'll call it Failing Network 101.  Here's how it goes.  Network gets lucky in programming, and reaches peak.  Network gets unlucky in programming and falters.  Network tries to copy other successful networks' programming.  Network gets worse, sinks into the abyss.  Network thinks coming out with new glossy promo campaign will convince audiences that it doesn't suck.  That's where NBC is right now.  Sucking, and trying to convince you it doesn't.  What is their new campaign?  "Get colorful?"  I'm not even sure.  It's just unbelievably depserate.
So, here's some free advice from a writer you've passed on three times NBC--make that FOUR (and people say I'm bitter).  Go back to the drawing board.  Get in a room, drink vodka, play beer pong,  whatever it takes.  Have some fun.  Come up with something sincere.  Keep it simple.  Just get back to developing good television.  What too many networks try to do (typically in vain) is brand, then pick programming that ONLY fits that brand.  It works for a niche network like Lifetime because there are 700 cable networks.  It doesn't work for a broad entity like NBC. The best kind of branding for a network is simply being the best.  It's like GM.  They make cars, trucks, vans--what if they only made one kind of car? They also have a brilliant branding platform and slogan right now.  "May the Best Car Win."  Drive our fucking cars, and YOU decide.  For years, GM tired to convince us their cars weren't shitty.  Now, for once, they aren't building shitty cars, and they know they've cried wolf too many times.  So, they know we won't believe them, so they simply ask us to take a spin.
Will that work for NBC?  Not right now.  But, it could.  Eventually.  When they have programming that looks good enough for a test drive.
Posted on 12/04/2009 9:31 AM by Todd Carr