Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight Time for Hollywood Stars

The success of the TWILIGHT movie is considered a very very bad omen for the Big Budget stars that have made so much money selling their wares to Hollywood. TWILIGHT is in many ways an enigma. It's a cult favorite amongst women ages 13 to 50. And as a feature film, it has successfully tapped into that demographic and expanded it to create a large audience for the film. Because of the loyalty the fans have to the subject matter and story, the books and films are enjoying cross over marketing and repeat business. I myself walked past the local theater, to watch one packed out audience leave the theater, turn right around and buy more tickets for the late show.

The phenomenon even has a nickname, "The Twilight Zone". However, we've seen this rabid female fanbase churn out their money before in mild ways for "The Bridges of Madison County" and infamously for, "Titanic". This is the story you probably know from the news.

There is another story however buried underneath. With SAG being difficult to sign a deal, Hollywood moguls are actually contemplating behind closed doors a complete bankruptcy of the Union all together. They have been discussing what life would be like without SAG and all the high priced stars and agents that come with the Union.

The Logic right now is that a Big Star generates publicity, which in turn translates into box office dollars. This why actors like Angelina Jolie and Jim Carey make well over 20 million a picture. They're agents know that they tend to delivery a box office bonanza every time. Hence it's worth the investment to the producers.

However, you can bet the Hollywood Moguls hate all the courtship, ego and drama associated with big name actors. Most of all, they hate writing that fat check too. So, for the past 8 years, they have been laying ground work to completely disenfranchise their product from the need to have big stars.

A new story is hard to sell to an audience. That's why having a big star can help. So, if you do not want to rely on a big star, you need to find a very popular old story to sell. Twilight is a perfect example of taking a well established product (er... Story) and using unknown talent at a cheap rate to make a big profit. This is nothing new. The Harry Potter kids know full well, that they are paid a fraction of what a major star would make, but they also understand that the Harry Potter movies have made them. Without those pictures, they're just... kids.

The moguls have begun to explore the idea of taking this model and applying it to their Tent Pole franchises. There is a reason why smaller stars at cheaper quotes are being tapped for big roles in movies like the latest Superman remake. This is going to be the new model for big budget movies and unfortunately, litttle by little, the big Stars will start losing out on the big piece of the pie.

Sign This Petetion!

So, once again the landscape of media is about to be thumped one more time by the insane. It's become clear that the Media Mogul lapdogs AMPTP and their partners in stupidity, SAG Leadership, can't seem to figure out a way to get a deal signed. It's been almost six months, since the current SAG contract expired. So, instead of just taking the offer, on the table and living to fight another day, SAG is doing something stupid. Which is why I encourage you to go sign this petition.

SAG has very little on the bargaining table at this point. They are in backed into a corner. Six major Union contracts have been negotiated in the past ten months, with DGA, WGA, IATSE and AFTRA (an actors union) being the big high lights. The initial deals established a short term model that would allow the members of the aforementioned unions increased pay and compensation while allowing big media some breathing room to figure out how to make NEW MEDIA (the web) profitable. AMPTP is refusing to budge on their offer, because (and they have a point) why should SAG get a better deal than everyone else?

SAG Leadership is in a bad spot. They made moves a month ago to get some Federal Mediation at the table to help the process out. Membership indicated that if the Federal Mediation proved fruitless (and SAG did everything they could to make sure that happened) then SAG leadership could try and call for a STRIKE AUTHORIZATION vote.

The STRIKE is their last bargaining chip. However, what many non-industry folks do not understand is this... we've been feeling a defacto strike for about 90 days now. Without the SAG labor contract in place, and with the credit industry in turmoil, the Studios cannot get their lenders to release the budget capital for any new movies. So, no one is shooting anything in Hollywood right now except for T.V. and some independent films. This has forced many ancilliary companies who rely on production for business to start cutting back on staff and budget in an attempt to hold tight until the storm blows over.

Another STRIKE will in essence make the storm worse. However, rumor mill right now is churning around this vote. Whispers in the wind are basically stating that the membership is exhausted after the lack of income from the WGA strike. Many members do not want to strike.

It is my opinion that SAG Leadership is only forcing this vote, because they want to have the old "I Told You So" card to play when membership starts to grumble a few years from now about their deal again.

Regardless of the politics of the insane at work here, I encourage you to sign the aforementioned petition. Almost 8,000 people already have signed up, and you need to make your voice heard. If you live in L.A. and work in this industry, you know it's once again the 'little' people who are powerless in this fight, who have no voice at the table, who will suffer for bad decision making and bad negotiating. That is unfair.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Change is okay!

Okay folks!

I just wanted to a quick shout out to let you know we changed the template a bit. I hope you like it. It's just a visual change, the content will be the same, and unfortunately, so will the author... for now.

Moving the Political Chatter: Indie Majority

Okay, I admit. I was passionate about the Political Biosphere for the past several months. Who wasn't? I admit I went a little nuts on the political news media postings. Probably not enough art and cool stuff on the blog. Probably too much Obama, McCain and jibes at Sarah Palin.

Or was it?

If you really enjoyed that content posted on this website, then I have good news for you. I have been asked to be a contributor on a new blog called "Indie Majority". You can go check it out at www.indiemajority.com.

This is going to be a blog for those of us who live their lives in the middle and feel that they are a little independent from the extreme right and left points of view that dominate the new media. If you find yourself falling in the middle on several political issues, then this may be a site for you to add to your RSS feed or Book Mark it. I've already posted about six or seven blogs over there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Xbox 360 Re-Launch is Here!

Oh, it is finally here, after months of speculation... the XBOX 360 Fall Update which will completely update the UI of the console is available for download. Apparently a flashy new video will play upon restart. If you want to see it, watch it below!

I am super psyched because this means NETFLIX streaming through the XBOX 360 in HiDef. Truly a banner day for my household with all the TV shows this fall sucking, we can now watch some great movies without having to wait for a DVD.

See more gamer videos at PWN or DIE

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh, Fall TV Makes Me Sad

So, the folks over at nothing corporate posted an article that I whole heartedly agree with. The Fall Television season is incredibly disappointing. There is no new show really grabbing the audiences attention from a scripted perspective. Fringe has been the only show to mildly catch my attention, but I am not scrambling to make sure I catch every episode. It's fine, but it's not great, and I am already wary of an J.J. Abrams show that touts a clandestine conspiracy as the central mystery, but aimlessly wanders through season after seaon. However, despite Fringe's okay efforts, there are some truly bad shows on T.V. like Lipstick Jungle, Kath and Kim and Eleventh Hour. These shows need to just wander into a hole and die. Oh, Wait Lipstick Jungle has already.

However, it's not just the newbies. The long standing great shows of the last four years have turned in tepid and uninspired performances. The Office has yet to really be brilliant. Heroes has fallen off dramatically and appears to have no central compass of a story, and is focusing more on making the stars look pretty. Prison Break is a complete joke on fox, and the Procedural Dramas (C.S.I.'s and Law and Orders) are just rolling along with the formula with almost a bitterness towards their audience. Even my personal favorite House has been up and down.

The only hope is that the shows waiting in the wings will bring a re-newed and inspired approach. 30 Rock has debuted with big guest stars and the usual brilliance of their cast. Will Lost do the same? Will Battle Star finish strong? Will 24 hit the mark? We have to wait and see.

Why is scripted TV so bad? Well, it's because we're spoiled. We had about three to four years of truly inspired writing for television. However, as more and more writes become more and more successful, they can afford to be selective on their projects. This mixed with what some people are calling WGA STRIKE ATTROPHY give us the current state of scripted T.V. And the state is bad.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Art of Function Readers Let us Know

So, way back in the summer after the tickets were secured we opened a voter poll to determine who you, the readers, were going to back in the election that is happening today. The results were not surprising to me. Barack Obama overwhelmingly won the vote by 75% to McCain's 25%. The interesting issue in the secondary poll, was why you were voting for the candidate. The War in Iraq won narrowly over the economy.

There are tons and tons of interesting stories out there today, so let me re-cap a few of my favorites.
Tim Robbins faced some difficulty voting today. You can read the story by clicking the link. Basically , Mr. Robbins has been voting in the same place in New York for 10 years. This year he apparently was not on the roster, and then got into a fight, then went to court to get proof he had registered. TMZ was along to actually do some semi-serious news reporting. Good for them for getting out of their comfort zone.

Voter Intimidation is a bigg issue in this election. Apprently, some Black Panthers took it upon themselves to make sure the 'white supremeists' didn't get to vote at a polling station in Philadephia. Thank the Lord, Fox News was there to report it. Click the link to see the full report.

Early Calls are beginning on NPR. It's now 8pm EST and they are calling several East Coast States. Those states are being called for Obamas. Is this wise? Early calls? Anyone rember Dewey vs Truman, or for that matter, Bush vs Gore?

I want to put out that you can expect (if Obama does win) incredibly angry 'red blooded americans' pouting and screaming about this victory being the end of America. I wonder if they will hold to their argument that God puts our presidents in office and they should follow them blindly the way they did for Bush... Oh, did I write that out loud?

The biggest of all these stories is the massive turn out of voters in unexpected numbers. Here in California polling stations are running out of ballots and there are two to three hour lines. Yours truly had to wait in line for 45 minutes to vote today, and in many ways, that's the victory. So many Americans are going to make their voices heard in this election. More than ever before. That's awesome.