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Wisdom of Pooh March 30, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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This is all so sordid. I just hope it’s over.

Some of the great wisdom of Pooh. On copyrights, perhaps:

“When you are a bear of very little brain, and you think of things, you sometimes find that a thing which seemed very ‘thingish’ inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

On lawyers, perhaps:

“Rabbit,”said Pooh to himself. ” I like talking to Rabbit. He talks about sensible things. He doesn’t use long, difficult words, like Owl. He uses short, easy words, like ‘What about lunch?’ and ‘Help yourself, Pooh.'”

On grownups, perhaps:

The old grey donkey stood by himself in a thistly corner of the forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, ” Why?”and sometimes he thought, ” Wherefore?”and sometimes he thought, ” Inasmuch as which?”and sometimes he didn’t know quite what he was thinking about.

The Old New Thing – X-Platform Games March 25, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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The Times’ John Markoff – who should know better – thinks Microsoft’s latest attempt to enable cross-platform games is a big new strategy. Doesn’t he remember DirectX, Windows CE, and the ill-fated Sega alliance? We panned that way back in 1998.

Sure, there is a huge difference this time – Xbox actually has volume and developer support, and only one OS (Sega never really supported CE). But the differences in economics and “ecosystems” between consoles and PCs far outweigh the technical issues.

Broadcast Networks Rule! March 25, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Great Mel Karmazin interview in the Journal. Two highlights:

WSJ: This seems to be a make-or-break year. A lot of marketers seem dissatisfied with current results.

Mr. Karmazin: Garbage. Heard it before. … More and more money continues to come to network television and will continue to come to network television, because there is no better way to reach the largest number of people, particularly in a world that’s becoming more fragmented.

WSJ: Isn’t the upfront a little archaic now?

Mr. Karmazin: It’s been archaic forever. You know what happens now? The losers are now saying it’s time to make a change.

Karmazin is right on the money. Regular readers know I’m cynical about TV ad measurement, and that I think tons of money is misspent. But that doesn’t mean I think anything’s changing soon. It will take a generation of new blood to upset the system. Check out my manifesto from 2001. Don’t count the broadcast nets out just yet.

Tapeworms March 24, 2004

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“...the cost tapeworm wiggling so energetically in film production, nibbling, chewing, eating the fiscal molecules of the business, continues to stir restlessly.”

Yes, Jack, yes, it does. From the MPAA’s press release of Jack Valenti’s speech at ShoWest. The average MPAA member’s release crossed $100M in costs for the first time.

Baseball Radio Online March 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Call me old-fashioned, but I think MSN and MLB are underplaying radio. Sure, video is sexy, but baseball and Internet audio are a perfect match: you can multitask, you can listen at work, the game lends itself to verbal description, and there’s no way to listen to out of town games outside of the Internet. And every game is available.

Baseball radio is what originally jump-started RealNetworks’ subscription business. Maybe the video hype is because the audio deal isn’t exclusive. CNET says AOL also has radio rights.

Americon Idolatry March 22, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Today’s NYTimes piece on Fox’s reliance on American Idol spawned a few thoughts.

– As Times reporter Bill Carter points out, Fox’s current all-Idol all-the-time strategy is scarily like Disney’s Millionaire 2002 strategy. ABC went to number one, but then sank to fourth when the buzz wore off.

– Idol works fine when it’s live, and even when it’s not, it’s true event programming. Excellent counter-Tivo programming learnings for the future. It also accomodates interactivity (polls) well. And of course, it’s cheap.

– Idol seems to be working for ratings with 18-49 year-olds (yes, I know, that’s a retarded way to think about audiences, but what can I say, it’s broadcast teevee), but Fox has not used it successfully as a promotional platform for other shows or other Fox properties. Regular readers know that that’s what I think broadcast nets are good for.

– Idol has been regularly pre-empting 24 – a show that depends on sustained suspense delivered through serial viewing. How might Fox better use the Internet and its other networks to maintain the 24 audience? (One poster on the 24 boards blames the hiatus on Kiefer Sutherland getting in a bar brawl. Where’s the official word?) The 24 show site is beautiful looking, and best-of-breed in terms of background info, gimmicks, and polish. But it cries out for time-based content and online events to keep its loyal fans excited.

– Does anyone remember when Fox was “edgy?” Does anyone use the term “edgy” anymore?

Entertainment Power Shift? March 19, 2004

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From a Journal story on the merger of talent management company The Firm with product placer Integrated Entertainment Partners:

From the artist-management side of the equation, the deal reflects the fact that some artists and their managers feel that the balance of power has tipped too far toward content-creation companies: record labels, film studios and television networks. Mr. (Jeff) Kwatinetz (Firm CEO) pointed to the increasingly common practice of record labels working with advertisers to place songs and musicians in advertising.

“We don’t believe that record companies should be controlling how and where the musicians’ brands are used,” says Mr. Kwatinetz. “We believe the musicians should.” The goal is “to rearrange the financial distribution in favor of artists, and also to give them more control creatively.”

The truth is, entertainment industry power shifted from studios, networks, and labels to artists, talent agencies, and management companies a long time ago. As these management companies start to play more of a production role, won’t the artists realize that they need their managers to have a healthy adverserial role? That they need a negotiator to get them the best deal every time?

They will. We’ve seen this cycle before. We’re probably starting the next one.

Why the Music Industry Is Screwed, Part XXXVII March 15, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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From a Slate journal by Tracks editor Alan Light, on newly anointed Rock and Roll Hall of Famers:

…Leading to situations like this year, when Jackson Browne and Traffic made the cut while Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Gram Parsons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Patti Smith did not.

Prince made it, and we all approve.

BTW, that column is a good argument for why blogs and/or online journals, even by professional journalists, should be edited. Mr. Light, I don’t care about your #$%^! travel schedule. Or how tired you are. Or your kid. (I do care about Gary’s.) You’re not famous, or particularly funny or observant on life in general.

I linked to the 5th graf in a 6-graf posting. That’s burying your lede.

Caution SPAM Movie Review March 15, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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We got a lecture today on how we shouldn’t use this forum for things like movie reviews. I actually agree with the thinking, but since these days I’m labor – rather than management – I’ll flagrantly violate it. (I’m working fewer hours and trying to write a book.)

I saw Mel Gibson’s Passion this weekend. (Titular pun intended.) I wouldn’t take the kids. It’s pretty much one extended torture scene (well, that’s not fair – it’s actually three different torture scenes). It’s well filmed and acted, and the costumes & sets are great.

Nobody cried, but I saw it in a pretty empty theater. It’s Manhattan, after all. Contrary to what some critics said, I thought the flashbacks were very effective, and, since this was a Passion Play, that was all you needed for context.

I read that at one point Mel was considering not doing subtitles, just releasing it in Aramaic and Latin. It almost would have worked – only a couple of scenes really needed dialogue.

And while the Jews don’t come out so well, neither do the Romans. The movie left me with the impression that, in this interpretation, mankind was responsible. That’s Mankind – the only sympathetic characters were women (Pilate’s wife, the two Marys, another woman who offered kindness).

All in all, the same material was treated more originally in Jesus Christ Superstar (the record, not the movie). But then, some have called that version “The Gospel According to Judas,” so maybe that explains the resonance.

It’s a Good Thing We’re All Grownups Here March 10, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The Journal notes:

EchoStar posted Mr. Karmazin’s home phone number on its Web site last weekend in response to Viacom’s running a scroll on its channels telling viewers that EchoStar was going to take its channels away from subscribers.

Maybe consumers hate their satellite providers less than their cable companies, but, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, don’t you remember how badly Time Warner Cable came out when it faced the same situation with Disney?