Tuesday, 30 March 2010

For years ABC Family has languished in developmentally challenged hell.  There's just no way around it.  They have.  Talk to anyone who deals with the network at all, and you'll hear the same thing repeated over and over and over.  I have talked to those people.  Agents.  Managers.  Executives.  Actors.  Writers.  They all say the same exact thing (unless they had something to do with "My Fake Fiancee, or "Holiday in Handcuffs" of course), in the same exact frustrated tone, and it's not a coincidence.  

"They have no idea what they're doing."  

Now, that's not to say that the executives running the asylum don't have a plan.  They do.  It's just, it really has nothing to do with "Family."  You talk to the execs at ABC "Family", and they want female driven projects.  Exclusively.  Things that "Mothers and daughters will watch together."  Yet, they do still have family programming as well.  Sound kind of hodgepodgy and confusing?  

Welcome to dealing with ABC Family.

Years ago, ABC Family evolved from ABC buying (hopefully I'm getting this right) Fox Family.  For some reason, they were not allowed to change the name from Family to...something else.  I remember speaking to an executive years ago, and she was telling me how they "envisioned" ABC Family as being "ABC 2," not ABC Family.  She was talking about "Family" like she was at a beach resort, and a 60 year old fat man in a Speedo was standing in front of her.  I don't remember clearly what the deal was, but I think it had something to do with the cost of changing the name being in the millions, and they didn't want to spend the money, or something.  I was sitting there thinking, "But, you're not ABC 2, you're ABC Family.  Why not use the name, instead of fighting it, if you have to keep it?"  As a guy with a business background, I walked out of that meeting feeling quite troubled.  My agent felt I was "the kind of young writer they needed to be in business with," but i knew we had zero chance of ever doing anything with these folks.  Fast forward to today, and ABC Family is STILL having the same issues.  The same identity issues.  The same branding issues.  It's still the same hodgepodgy mess.  


I'm going to go so far as to call ABC Family the biggest waste of a channel in the history of cable channels.  There is so much potential there, yet year after year, this channel rots in the hands of people who seem unwilling--almost combative and bitter--about having to embrace 'Family'.  

So, here's some free advice for ABC...whatever the hell they want to call it.  So, here we are again, giving out free advice at angrywriter.  Either get rid of 'Family' or embrace it.  Years spent in the middle has done nothing to take advantage of the vast potential of the channel--and it just  confuses viewers.

ABC Family?  Cool.  Do family stuff.  Family related shows, family films, family reality.  Be the FAMILY portal of the entertainment world.  Don't half ass it.  Embrace it.  Own it.  Dominate it.  Advertisers will flock.

ABC 2?  Cool.  Do some interesting and exciting new programming.  Air Lost marathons.  Get outside the box.  Become the new destination for different.  Advertisers will flock.

Right now, ABC Family has no idea what it (really) wants to be, and what it's trying to be is Lifetime 2.  Hey, that works, but not as a FAMILY channel.  You see, FAMILY makes people think everyone is included in the programming circle, not just the women.  Men are confused.  Why am I watching a family channel, but I'm watching a bunch of Kotex commercials.  At least I'm learning more about panty liners.  Thanks!

Best of luck ABC Family folks.  The rest of us will be here, waiting for the next new marketing/branding push that will fail.  Because, until you get out of the messy middle, this is what you'll be.  A network that, "has no idea what they're doing."


Posted on 03/30/2010 7:15 AM by Todd Carr
Friday, 19 March 2010
Thank God Ghostbusters 3 Might Be in Trouble

 Rumors are swirling that Sony wants Ivan Reitman off of Ghostbusters 3, so they can hire a younger, hipper director to shepherd the "reboot" of the franchise.  This after Reitman convinced his buddies, Bill Murray, Harold Ramos, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver to come back for more limited role in a third installment.  See, what Sony wants to do is have the old dudes people apparently don't care about anymore--train some young whippersnappers and "hand over the reins."  So, Sony is thinking, not only are we going to do one more Ghostbusters film, we're going to try to 16 of them, and every time the current cast gets old, we'll just get new guys.  Not a bad idea, in theory, right?  Here's the thing, though.  That only works if the new guys are good.  If the film version of The Dukes of Hazzard taught us anything, it's that sometimes the magic that was there with a writer(s), cast and director cannot be "rebooted."  Sometimes, movies, and franchises, work because there is a considerable amount of "magic."  It's just a feeling you can't put your finger on.  The stars aligned, and there you have it.  We know if the writing is there (and it will/would be with the excellent team of Stupnitsky and Eisenberg from "The Office"), Murray, Ramis, and Aykroyd would deliver.  And, we'd all be happy.  Even though we don't really like sequels in the first place.  Clearly, Sony has no respect for the original Ghostbusters franchise, or the guy who made it happen.  And, they are obviously intent on changing what actually worked.

Frankly, I'd be thrilled if the whole thing fell apart, and went away.  

In a time when studios should be working very hard to invent new franchises to exploit, they are increasing relying on anything remotely familiar.  Our recent story about someone securing the rights to Erector Set, basically a kid toy version of scaffolding, should tell you everything you need to know about this current market.  Someone actually thought, Erector Set, a studio would want this.  Really?

All most of us can do these days is stick around, and hope this whole thing is cyclical.  That, or come up with an Erector Set take.  Because we're really at an impasse.  The future of the business is at stake.

And, unfortunately, I don't feel very good about it.

Posted on 03/19/2010 7:18 AM by Todd Carr
Thursday, 11 March 2010
ITHS (It's The Host(s) Stupid

 Ratings for this year's Oscars were outstanding, and up substantially over previous years.  Why?  Well, it certainly wasn't because of the 15 minute long Best Actress and Best Actor preludes, or the giant wall of lamp shades.  That's for sure.  All in all, I thought this year's Oscar telecast, as a show, was pretty terrible.  So, what had people tuning in so heavily?  Duh.  Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.  They were hilarious, as expected.

So, note to the Oscars.  ITHS.  It's the Host(s) Stupid.

People like funny.  So, let's lay off dancing guys in tight pants.  It doesn't even have to be a stand up comedian (although that obviously helps).  Find someone funny who can tell a joke.

Or, better yet--ask Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin to host until their deaths.  Kind of like a Supreme Court Justice.

Posted on 03/11/2010 10:59 AM by Todd Carr