Hello - because of the growth of the website and trouble with integration of social media - OnMedea is switching from Movable Type to WordPress. This site will remain up for archival purposes only [Comments closed] but all new content (and the old stuff as well - which I will be painstakingly transferring over in the next few days) will be here:
In the long run it's a good move but a real pain in the ass. Plus all those search engines will have to readjust to a new website address. Another short-term pain issue.
Thanks for your support.
The latest CBS Films release to flop is "Beastly" starring actors who didn't get cast in "Twilight". This modern take on "Beauty and the Beast" (one of an endless stream of upcoming Fairy Tale Movies) had an opening weekend of about $10 million (on the high end).
While this one is not a complete disaster and may only lose a couple of million, it won't, by any means, be able to save the life of the division.
CBS Films - R.I.P. (January 25, 2010)
I'm actually surprised there isn't more inside media coverage of the disastrous debut of CBS Films' first release - "Extraordinary Measures" starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser ($6.0 Million opening weekend from over 2,500 theaters - finishing 8th behind "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" in its 5th week).
I realize the Jay/Dave/Conan/Jeff Zucker drama is a much sexier story but CBS Films' failure is another example of the cocksure executive that believes he can do no wrong.
Les Moonves, former bit player on "The Six Million Dollar Man" turned powerful CBS media mogul, is the exec on the hot seat this time. (Personally, I can imagine Jeff Zucker pushing this story just to get his name out of the press.)
Four years ago, when Sumner Redstone was completing the disastrous Viacom / CBS split, Mr. Moonves wanted Paramount Pictures so badly that when he didn't get it, he decided he could create a new Paramount Pictures from scratch - CBS Films.
It's a cold Monday morning at Black Rock today.
I'm assuming there will be two maybe three more failed releases in 2010 and then a decision to "refocus CBS' energies on our booming cable network distribution platforms and new media" (translation: the end of CBS Films).
The R.I.P. tombstone above is generous in giving CBS Films a four year lifespan (2007-2010) considering the first release wasn't until this past weekend - but I think three years of staffing up and development does count as being in business.
Another possibility for CBS would be to acquire Summit Entertainment. At least then they would have two guaranteed hits in the pipeline - the final two "Twilight" movies.
Or... my personal dream plan, somehow have CBS either acquire or wrest away Paramount from Viacom. News Corporation buys the cable channels from Viacom (assets they sorely need). Viacom shuts down thus getting us one step closer to saying bye-bye to Sumner Redstone forever.
Regardless of what happens, CBS' old media experiment is not going to make it. But Les Moonves can take solace in the fact that a very exciting Super Bowl is coming to CBS and he still runs one of the top two broadcast networks in the country.
There was a time when that would have been enough for one man.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
The heads of the major studios (including Manka Bros. - the owner of OnMedea) knew that a film adaptation of the fairy tale "Alice In Wonderland" made over $1 billion at the box office in 2010 and said "That's a lot of money."
So after much thought (or not), Hollywood decided to make EVERY FREAKING FAIRY TALE EVER WRITTEN INTO A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
Come on, really?
Every day, I read about another studio doing another fairy tale adaption. And all of them are a DARK, GRITTY version that the "19th century authors originally had in mind".
Not a fluffy Hollywood squeaky clean version that doesn't scare our whimpy modern day kids - but a frightening and bloody tale like children used to experience when kids were tough and enjoyed waking up screaming from a horrifying nightmare because of the bedtime story they were read.
To be fair, I think it was a great idea to reimagine Red Riding Hood with a darker tone - which is certainly fitting of the story. And while the trailer looks like a cross between a perfume ad and Twilight, I still believe it's a solid original concept and should result in strong box office. (I'll certainly be there opening weekend.)
But then came a fairy tale adaptation tsunami (which includes 3 SNOW WHITES!) that has now completely flooded the town.
Here's a sampling of what's coming up:
- Jack the Giant Killer (Warner Bros.) - a gritty modern day reimagining of the classic tale.
- The Brothers Grimm: Snow White (Relativity) - gritty reimagining starring Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen.
- Snow White and The Huntsman (Universal) - gritty reimagining starring Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen.
- Snow White and The Seven (Disney) - sweet, no gritty, set in 19th century China.
- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Paramount) - Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton (and, no doubt, various star cameos), H&G are now accomplished bounty hunters out to get the witches who nearly killed them years before.
- Beastly (CBS Films) - Beauty & The Beast set in high school. I don't expect much from this one as I've already predicted the death of CBS Films in a previous blog.
- Pinnochio 3D - a stop motion reimagining of the classic fairy tale. Expect a very dark and disturbing retake on this one as it comes from the genius mind of Guillermo Del Toro. I can already imagine losing sleep after I witness the stop motion, painful transformation of the children into donkeys sequence.
- Hey Diddle Diddle (Manka Bros.) - a grim reimagining of the classic bedtime ditty set during the 1930s in a Soviet Union gulag. Why does the cow jump over the moon? Freedom.
- Grimm (NBC) - Gritty TV cop drama set in a world where the characters of Grimm's Fairy Tales actually exist.
And that's just in the next couple of years. Just think if these projects make money what we'll see next:
- Pat the Bunny - set in a post-apocalyptic cannibalistic world.
- Rumpelstiltskin - featuring the beloved garden Gnomes from Gnomeo & Juliet in their first R-rated turn.
- If You Give A Mouse A Cookie - rewritten with darker twists and turns so that it ends in murder.
And the sad reality is, I won't be able to take my five year old daughter to one of them because, if I did, she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night after witnessing Snow White disembowel one of the dwarfs (or something).
But I guess these movies aren't made for her. They're Fairy Tales - they're not made for children for Christ's sake. They're made for the guys who go to Comic-Con. And THEY lived happily ever after.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
For most people, it would be a great gig: Produce two high quality (some at Pixar would say average quality) animated movies a year for ever and ever and ever. But Jeffrey Katzenberg isn't 'most people'. He's a guy that wanted to build an empire and has apparently stopped trying to do that. I can't imagine he's suddenly content with what he has.
When DreamWorks was formed in 1994, I was all for it. To build a media empire from scratch is the kind of ambition that Hollywood hadn't seen in decades (and probably won't be seen again). But if anyone could do it, it would be Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen - SKG. But they couldn't stomach the hard times.
They didn't have the guts of a Khan Manka or a Walt Disney who were willing to mortgage everything to keep their dreams afloat. SKG used mostly other people's money - not their houses or art collections - and the other people started getting nervous. SKG decided to remain rich and refined the art of risk management.
And I'm sure they've all had very happy lives even without a media empire.
But I think it's time for DreamWorks to finally exit the stage. It's going to happen sooner or later. Just do it now. Why go through the aggravation of further stockholder meetings and quarterly reports to Wall Street.
Right, Mr. Katzenberg?
Just sell (probably for a few billion), if you can, at a decent return to shareholders, set up an office on one of the studio lots and reminisce about the old days and how things might have turned out different if you'd been a little crazier.
Nearly all the movies DreamWorks Animation has produced and will produce have been and will most likely be solid hits worldwide that any film studio would love to add to their library/event film slate. It's a pretty simple formula - write average script, hire stars as voices, animate, market, distribute and make about $500 million worldwide (with only the occasional disappointment of something like "Flushed Away"). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
A big studio purchase of DWA fits perfectly into Hollywood's current mindset of accurately predicting financial results and avoiding any kind of risk.
Lucky are we to get to pay for and sit through the movies that reflect this strategy.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
Even if they somehow survive, I fear they are doomed to be a company we all view with complete indifference.
I don't write this lightly. I was amazed and sort of proud that they had the balls to turn down Google's $6 billion offer.
Founders and senior management becoming fabulously wealthy excepted, there really is no upside to signing away your soul to a giant soulless corporation (take that Manka Bros.!) if you have a solid business or at least unique concept that absolutely cannot fail.
I was rooting for this upstart that had the guts to resist billions. I signed up and started to get the daily deals that were offered - "40% off a facial ($75 value!)"; "Pay $10 for $20 worth of hair products (not my brand)", etc... these horrible "deals" kept coming and coming and I kept NOT BUYING. Now I believe they should have sold.
Groupon is not a terrible business - a little annoying, a notch above Spammer - but it's basically a business that pushes all this crap on people that they don't need (and from my experience, mostly stuff that I don't even want). The brilliance they have is that they make you think you're getting these amazing deals and you'd better buy soon or they're gone forever. Consumers will wise up to this fairly quickly.
Sure, millions are buying (with Groupon keeping well over 50% of the proceeds) and it's probably good for some of the small businesses that are participating (though I have heard of several disaster stories) - but it's really just a sexier online version of Valpak - those blue envelopes of local coupons that we all get in the mail and we mostly ignore.
If Groupon really wanted to add value to my life, they would offer "50% off my Trader Joe's bill"; "$5,000 off a 2011 Prius"; "$10 will get you $20 in cash", etc. Things like that would be valuable to me. I would buy those. But Groupon can't offer these things because Trader Joe's and Toyota would be crazy to do it (and wouldn't even dream of it) and the shit Groupon actually has to offer isn't really... real. It's just made up facts and figures to make you believe you're getting a great deal.
Let's say I own a Day Spa and offer $50 off a $300 massage. What makes it a $300 massage? I own the Spa, I set the price - there is no $50 value to be saved. I could go to another spa and get a $50 massage and save $200 more than I would have buying the Groupon. Groupon's genius is convincing consumers that they are saving money on these great services when, really, the cheapest option is NOT TO BUY GROUPONS. That costs zero ($0) dollars.
And now, because the business model is so easy to replicate, I'm getting offers from Groupilicious, CouponYou, My Little Deuce Coupon, CouponDeville, Grouper With A Squeeze of Lemon, etc. and it will never stop because local businesses will always try to drum up sales by knocking 40% off a price that they set themselves. Buy it wholesale, mark up the price 100%, offer a Groupon for 40% off - still make 20% on the sale. It's not difficult.
Right now Groupon is sexy. Even sexier after turning down Google. They are hiring an army of MBAs in their 20s, everybody dresses down - it's a real startup mentality, it's Chicago, it's exciting. Hell, an IPO is coming!
But I look into the future, and all I see is Valpak. Ever been to a Valpak office? Not sexy. Not exciting. No roller skates, no ping pong - the only perks there are 20% off bagels when you buy one dozen.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
I mean, I sort of know where you're coming from - "The Tourist" sucked but, of course, I would rather sit at "The Tourist" table than the "Winter's Bone" table (if there is one of those it will probably be in an Annex room - in a different hotel).
"Burlesque" was unwatchable, sure, but you had to somehow recognize Cher - her music is the soundtrack of your lives.
The problem is, it's just way too obvious that you don't want any ugly people to be invited to The Golden Globes. You just have a mental block. If a hot chick or guy can sort of speak (and even that may not be a prerequisite), they have a chance to get nominated for a Golden Globe.
And, once again, not one film from Manka Bros. Studios gets a nod. Ever since Khan Manka, Jr. vowed to destroy your organization, you have never been able to see past that and judge the work on its own merit.
It's truly disgraceful.
But there is a slight positive here. You did show some restraint. After all, Cameron Diaz and Scarlett Johansson were both in movies this year, but you made the very difficult (I'm sure) decision not to nominate them (especially now that Scarlett is single and every one of you probably think you have a chance). I'm sure there were fights and discussions to expand the categories when you couldn't squeeze them in. (But that's why we have presenters, right?)
Deep down, I love you guys (I mean, who can resist all that hair and horrible perfume). I just wish you didn't exceed your normal ineptitude this year.
Hopefully, the Academy doesn't pay too much attention.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
Finally, thanks to Ben Silverman and Harvey Weinstein, the future of media is clear. I think "Mafia Wives" will prove to be their finest hour and, most likely, their legacy. Congratulations guys.
Ben (from Variety): "Clearly, it's the world of 'The Sopranos' coming to life in a reality environment." High standards, Ben, but I would expect no less... and the show is right in VH1's wheelhouse, if I may add.
I certainly hope this means we'll get to see real life Mafia Hits and a lot of violence (to accompany all that built in product placement that Electus will bring to the project).
I think I know why Ben was brought in by Harvey to help produce. If, for whatever crazy reason, this show gets canceled, I can imagine how the conversation between Harvey and Ben will go:
Harvey (on the phone): Hey Ben!
Ben (Eurotrash music thumps in the background): Huh?!
Harvey: I got a call from VH1, "Mafia Wives" is canceled - I would like you to tell the "Mafia Wives" in person.
Ben: We can't cancel "Mafia Wives" - their husbands are violent criminals, they'll come after us. They need that $20,000 a week we pay them for money laundering.
Harvey: It's over, Ben. This was your dumb idea. You tell them.
Ben: It wasn't my--
Harvey: Shut up, Ben. Do it! And give me Barry Diller's number, I need to pay the light bill.
Five minutes later, Ben makes a call:
Ricky Van Veen: Hee hee heeee!! Ah-oo-gah! You've got Rickaaaiiiee--!!
Ben: Cut the shit, Ricky. I need you to do me a favor. You know that show "Mafia Wives" - it's canceled. There's a meat locker downtown where we have our production meetings, go down and tell them the show is toast.
Ricky Van Veen: No problema, hip master B!
At least, I THINK that's how it would go.
I can't wait for this show. And if it works, I certainly hope we'll see more wives of violent people. It's just great television. Maybe "Serial Killer Wives", "Terrorist Wives", "Dentist Wives" - it's just an endless brand and really plays into Ben Silverman's vision of the future of media.
Ben, dude, you are hitting on all cylinders.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
I watched the premiere week of Conan and thought it was fine and exactly what I expected (which is a slight disappointment, right?). (Also, why was it on at 10pm on DirecTV when every advertisement in the world says 11pm?... but I digress.)
The one thing that did stand out was the constant bashing of TBS and Basic Cable in general (I know it is a joke, I get it - I also got it in 1985 when the Basic Cable jokes started). But times have changed.
I was a proponent of Conan leaving NBC and for Jeff Zucker to be fired for many MANY reasons (including the handling of the Jay/Conan affair and for having anything to do with Ben Silverman. Please, someone wash everything Ben touched, it's filthy!).
But, I must say, I'm disappointed with the way Conan has handled the transition to TBS. It was a very difficult decision, I'm sure, but why bash your new home?
Why is Basic Cable still struggling for any sort of respect?
It's all very reminiscent of the scene from "Goodfellas" with Billy Batts (Frank Vincent) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in the bar. Imagine Billy Batts is the "Broadcast Networks" and Tommy DeVito is "Basic Cable":
Basic Cable: No more shines, Broadcast Networks.
Broadcast Networks: What?
Basic Cable: I said, no more shines. Maybe you didn't hear about it, you've been away a long time. I don't shine shoes anymore.
Broadcast Networks: Relax, will ya? Ya flip out, what's got into you? I'm breaking your balls a little bit, that's all. I'm only kidding with ya...
Basic Cable: Sometimes you don't sound like you're kidding, you know, there's a lotta people around...
Broadcast Networks: I'm only kidding with you. I'm breaking your balls, and you're getting fucking fresh. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you.
Basic Cable: I'm sorry, too. It's okay. No problem.
Broadcast Networks: Now go home and get your fuckin' shinebox!
Basic Cable: Mother fuckin' mutt! You fucking piece of shit!
If you remember the movie, Tommy then kicked and stabbed Billy about a thousand times, threw him in the trunk of his car and buried him in some disgusting pit. I'm not saying Basic Cable will completely bury the Broadcast Networks - but it seems to be headed that general direction - so Broadcast Networks had better cut it out with the "shinebox attitude".
And seriously, to watch Conan, you would think the year is 1985 and the only programming on TBS was really bad VHS copies of really bad 1970s movies and a few Body By Jake infommercials.
This is 2010 and Basic Cable Channels are a key driver and profit center helping to keep the Hollywood machine afloat.
So how about a little respect, Conan? I know you're only getting $10 million from that suckass TBS that gives you "no budget" (other than a very large one) but come on!
And are you taping this show from some local station in Palmdale or in a very nice soundstage on a very nice Burbank studio lot? And do you have one blimp to promote your show or zero blimps?
And the last I checked, Mad Men on AMC (Basic Cable) won the Emmy for Best Drama; TBS just paid upwards of $2 million/episode for Big Bang Theory (among others); and the ACE Awards (which was a popular punchline for comedians about FIFTEEN YEARS AGO) haven't been on the air for FIFTEEN YEARS!
I would also argue that with its scripted reruns and movies, TBS and the other top Basic Cable Channels have better daytime programming than any of the Broadcast Station Groups (unless you like Judge shows) and the primetime lineups are equally as creative and catching up in the ratings.
In fact, Broadcast Networks are deep into the 5 Stages of Grief from "On Death and Dying" - and they have been in denial about Basic Cable for years. Retrans is one final pathetic attempt to stay competitive.
So, Conan, I'm sorry you are stuck on lowly TBS when all your life you dreamed of being on NBC (now worth negative $690 million on NBC Universal's balance sheet) - but the truth is, in today's media environment, it's not which channel you are on but the programming you produce.
Remember, even a show shot in a shack in Palmdale can be relevant (and widely seen) today.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
P.S. - Why doesn't anyone ever bash MTV for being "Basic Cable"? Just wondering.
So, I was just on Facebook - along with 500+ million of my friends (soon to be be 7.3 billion) - and couldn't help notice the sidebar banner ad pitch to "Advertise On Facebook" (see left).
Now, I've never noticed an ad on Facebook. Not one. And I don't think I'm alone.
So why would I pay anything to advertise on Facebook? Because you can't afford NOT to have your product or brand in front of 500 MILLION POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. Right?
Because fear works when you're pitching your platform to advertising agencies - "You need us more than we need you." So it's better to make an expensive ad buy on Facebook, even though no one will see your ad, than to be left behind.
Do they think we're idiots? At least on television, even if the ad is being skipped in fast motion, you see the product. On Facebook, you don't even notice the ad and, if you did, you wouldn't care because you don't want to see advertising when you're on Facebook.
The only ad tactic that seems to work on Facebook is the one where hot young girls (old dudes pretending to be hot young girls) to "Friend" guys and then post non-stop about how they "LOVE THEIR NEW NISSAN SENTRA" and how much "The New Coke Zero ROX!"
Let I said before, Facebook, unless they start to charge user fees or do those horribly annoying ads that pop right in your face when you log in, is on the road to becoming worthless.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea
So, I just read the Christopher Steiner article "The Disruptor In The Valley" at Forbes.com (which is about Paul Graham and his company Y Combinator) and my immediate thought was of that exchange from "The Simpsons" (Season 12 - Episode 9) when Homer is undergoing medical experiments for money. He tries an appetite suppressant:
HOMER: "I'm BLIND!"
SCIENTIST #1: "Who's gonna buy a pill that makes you blind?"
SCIENTIST #2: "We'll let marketing worry about that!"
Y Combinator is basically offering Silicon Valley a pill that makes them blind (but marketing will fix it).
They offer a little bit cash to grab a whole lot of equity in all these tiny start-ups - most which are not even close to being ready for that kind of exposure (or financial decision).
However, with the right spin, PR and influence behind them, they (apparently) ARE ready for the additional money that others might throw their way (for another giant chunk of equity)... if they can manage to get through the summer YC bootcamp.
It's like the YouTube star who gets a shot on "The Big Bang Theory" and can barely speak because they're so nervous and then find out they have no acting skills whatsoever.
This is not to say that there aren't a whole lot of geniuses out there with a lot of great ideas. There are. Most are smarter than me (but not as smart as Khan Manka, Jr.).
But these geniuses (and mostly non-geniuses, let's be serious) are being exploited by Paul Graham and company and tossed to these VC wolves who will eat through many a carcass to get to the next Facebook (which I think is Worthless, by the way).
(Also Digg is dead - R.I.P. - so is Electus and Comic-Con but I digress....)
But much like the screenwriter in Los Angeles who will pay people to read their script because they "work at a studio", the chances of success in one of these cattle call models is virtually zero.
As a quick primer, allow me a paragraph (from Wikipedia) to explain Y Combinator to those who may not know what it is:
Y Combinator is an American seed-stage startup funding firm, started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston. Y Combinator provides seed money, advice, and connections at 3-month programs. In exchange, they take an average of about 6% of the company's equity.
Compared to other startup funds, Y Combinator provides very little money ($17,000 for startups with two founders and $20,000 for those of three or more). This reflects Graham's theory that between free software, dynamic languages, the web, and Moore's Law, the cost of founding a startup has greatly decreased.
In other words, throw a bunch of shit on the wall and see what sticks.
Great for Paul Graham and company, I suppose (based on his theory, Y Combinator would have gotten $20,000 from Y Combinator), but terrible for almost all of those thousands who apply to his program every year just in the hope of getting the YC stamp of approval (and 60 lbs of chili) - which supposedly means a lot to VCs and Angel Investors in Silicon Valley.
So Y Combinator is a Venture Capitalist that funds your start-up so that your start-up can get funded by another Venture Capitalist.
Enough with these f-ing VCs, man.
Whatever happened to creating a company, becoming successful and growing it based on that initial success. Success because you have a product that people really (REALLY) want.
Thousands of techies are just sitting around coffee shops and cafes in all the "Silicon Valleys of the world" trying to think up new ideas that Paul Graham (and others like him) might like. Not because it's an idea that the start-up founder actually believes in anymore - but because it's one that might get funding.
I mean, fuck passion, right? These days it's not whether your company succeeds or fails, it's whether it gets funded in the first place and a mention on TechCrunch.
Jill Kennedy - OnMedea