Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Too many companies? Wouldn't just one company be too many?
It's gotten embarrassing. Over the past several years we've seen networks arbitrarily change their programming to serve their need for more profit as opposed to continuing to service the conditions of license for channel they were assigned in first place. Or we've seen them make application after application to try to reduce their Canadian Content requirement percentages...these applications submitted after already making said reductions of course. And we've seen cable providers like Shaw Communications move channels around without 60 days notice or run advertising on community channels or on more than one occasion submit late payments to the Canada Media Fund which assists homegrown production. And don't get me started on the whole 'Save Local TV' vs 'Stop The TV tax' debacle....that shit should have earned everyone involved a big-ass fine.
The reduction of cable or TV network licence terms from seven years down to five or two years has been the only 'slap on the wrist' the CRTC has been able to impose on said guilty networks and cable providers, and it's meant nothing...rule-breaking continues to run rampant.
And I'm still trying to figure out Shaw's response in the Globe article to the CRTC's petition.
“It’s an interesting situation, the regulator appealing to the legislators,” said Ken Stein, head of regulatory affairs at Shaw. “…We don’t think fines are appropriate. I think the way to deal with things is for the chairman or the vice-chairman to pick up the phone. That’s the way it’s been done for 50 years.”
Pick up the phone and call to say: "Hey, you're breaking the rules!" To which the response has always seemed to be: "Uh, really? I don't think so. We'll get back to you on that. Or better yet, let's hold a hearing six months down the road and discuss it then." Yeah that's worked really well so far.
The article goes on to say:
The regulator’s issue is not only with cable companies. Since the beginning of this year, the CRTC has renewed 127 radio broadcast licences, and over half of those were given only short-term renewals because they had not complied with regulations – such as the requirement to keep program logs to show their stations were broadcasting at least 35 per cent Canadian content, for example.
Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein has also been vocal about the issue. Last April, in his presentation to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in Ottawa, along with his comments on foreign ownership, Mr. von Finckenstein said the regulator should be able to fine companies, the same way it can telemarketers that violate the National Do Not Call List.
And I agree, even though some may disagree with me - the same some who feel the CRTC and Chairman Finckenstein serve no purpose and are only there to bow down and serve interests of the media conglomerates in this country. But I contest that if the CRTC were in fact in the back pocket of big media, they wouldn't be petitioning for right to fine the rule-breakers. They wouldn't be asking the government for the power.
I've written HERE BEFORE on the blog about the CRTC having no teeth and needing a bigger bat...hell, any bat...so they can not only police but actually enforce the broadcasting rules and regulations that currently exist out there.
But in order to give the CRTC the power to impose monetary penalties, Parliament would have to pass an amendment to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Act. I say Parliament should give the CRTC the power, and put no maximum on the fine amount. Why no maximum? Because with cable providers like Shaw and Bell and Rogers having gobbled up the majority of Canadian TV networks recently, a small fine will just be a drop in the bucket to these guys.
Make em pay...big. And let's see if that has any effect on them all playing by the rules. Hell, it certainly can't hurt. And if Parliament won't grant the power, well then maybe it is the time to look at disbanding the CRTC.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
This little three word credit has been a thorn in the sides of the DGA and WGA (director and writer guilds) for decades with directors stating that they're taking credit for an audiovisual work that is inherently distinct from the script whereas writers, on the other hand, have thought it absurd for anyone other than the writer to claim authorial ownership.
But in the late 1960's the Directors Guild fought for and won through the Producers Alliance (AMPTP) the right for directors to choose to have that credit at the front of a finished film. In fact, they pushed the knife in further and in 1981 even won the right to have that credit on all advertising including outdoor advertising (though this practice was abandoned in 2004).
From the Directors Guild of America basic agreement handbook:
Many directors choose to place a signature credit on their work commonly referred to as a "Film by" or "Possessory" credit. There is a long honored history of filmmakers being accorded such credit. The BA provides for the director's right to negotiate for such a credit and prohibits the companies from engaging in any agreement with any other guild or organization that interferes with that right. If you are not successful in getting the issue of the possessory credit on the table, please call the Guild.
Film is and always has been a creatively collaborative medium. Sure, some directors bring more to the table in terms of distinct look, tone, or visual style when interpreting the written word of the screenplay and getting it up onto the screen, but a film is ultimately a group effort and it starts with a story written by the writer, or the 'author'. That this credit even exists has always been baffling to me...and I belong to both guilds!
Anyway, I watched The Social Network this weekend. Great script. Great film. And I have nothing against director David Fincher. He's always been a solid perfectionist filmmaker with a distinct visual flair.
And my point is?
My point is if you've already seen the movie in the theaters, read the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (one of the best you'll see this year) HERE, or even just the first page (click on jpeg below to enlarge), and you should see what I'm getting at.
This scene as written *is* the film that appeared on screen this weekend. So would someone please explain to me why Fincher deserves sole authorial ownership and the "A Film By..." credit?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
And who says you can't make enemies in this biz. Proceed with caution.
I am writing you because I left a message but did not hear back. I understand that you were upset about me not calling you to ask if Topher could do our show. Since Fox executives were talking to Topher about it, I thought it was cool with you. Also, since I hadn't written it yet, I wasn't at the point of asking if it was possible to have him do it. I would have called your show then. I didn't realize it would create a problem. I never wished to offend you. If there is some protocol for people on Fox doing guest shots on other Fox shows, I didn't know what it was. Regardless, I'm sorry that this resulted in such a mess. If you are mad at me about this or something else from our past, please tell me. I only remember us having fun in the early nineties and it troubles me that it seems like you have a beef with me.
Yeah, we were friends in the early nineties. And if you don't recall what happened, I'll remind you. I had a pilot at MTV called "Yard Dogs" about a rock band living in Hollywood. I told you about it and you proceeded to completely rip it off, storyline and all, for the Ben Stiller show. You called it "Grungies." MTV and UTA [United Talent Agency] were working on an overall deal (MTV's idea) with me, based on that pilot. When it turned up on your show everything went away overnight. I had just had my son Jack and I had no job, no money, nothing. There's a saying, "I forgive but I don't forget. And I don't forgive." So, now you know. Although I kind of think that you already did.
I truly don't remember anything you are talking about. Jeff Kahn wrote "The Grungies" sketch, a parody where we did Seattle bands as The Monkees. I don't remember you ever calling me after that saying you were mad. Ben and I would get fifty sketches a week from the writers and then we'd pick the ones that we thought were funny. I never connected the two. Even now they don't seem similar. Ours was a goofy over-the-top parody, not a situation comedy about musicians in L.A. Nobody watched our show so I don't see how that could be the reason your pilot died. I am sorry you are upset. I am not a thief of ideas. I'm sorry you believe differently.
The show I wrote was also over-the-top and it let down the fourth wall. Since it's registered at the WGA [Writers Guild of America], you could compare the two. And as an Exec Producer, we both know you have input into every sketch. As for no one seeing the show, everyone knows everything in Hollywood. There are no secrets. Personally, I feel you've made a career out of being a sycophant to Carrey or Shandling or Roseanne, and when you weren't kissing ass you were stealing from lesser-known comics or leeching off other people's ideas ("Celtic Pride," "Cable Guy"). I noticed how outraged you were to not get a writing credit on "Cable Guy" until it came out and was panned. You dropped that cause like the showbiz weasel you are. You may not think you're a thief, but most comics know otherwise. And again, you know that too. Have you ever read "What Makes Sammy Run"? I think you'd like it. Get cancer.
Come on, we all wrote for comics at the beginning of our careers. I wrote for Roseanne, you wrote for Dennis Miller. If that makes me a sycophant, then I guess I am. And so are the writers for "Caesar's Hour." I dropped my "Cable Guy" lawsuit not because the film got bad reviews but because I spent eighty grand on it and my lawyer told me I was going to lose. You would be upset if you rewrote the vast majority of a script and received no credit. I wish you had called me about this years ago. I'm sure we could have worked it out. Try not to be so angry. Not everyone is as bad as you think. You should call Jeff Kahn and ask him how that sketch originated. If it turned out that I didn't steal your idea would you still want me to get cancer? I swear to God that I didn't know you were mad about this. Until six weeks ago I was still referring to you as an old friend. Maybe one day I'll be able to say that again.
It's come to my attention that you are upset with Judd Apatow about the sketch "The Grungies." I completely understand why you would have been pissed off about seeing something similar to what you were working on at the time. However, the idea for "The Grungies" and all the initial writing and rewriting came from me. I also cast it, acted in it, and edited it. I was and still am influenced by pop music, and I thought it would be funny to satirize the seriousness of the Seattle grunge music scene with the ridiculous superficiality of "The Monkees" 1960s show. I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding. By the way, I am a huge fan of "That '70s Show." Congratulations on its well-deserved success. I also think it's cool you set it in Wisconsin. I went to the University of Wisconsin at Madison and loved it. If you have any other questions don't hesitate to email me.
I have no interest in talking with you on the phone anymore. I know you are very successful and think that gives you the right to judge people and berate them regardless of the facts, but I have had enough of you for one day. I know it's hard to believe that your rock band TV idea, which every writer in this town has thought of at one point, was not on my mind half a year after you told it to me. Yes, you thought of breaking the fourth wall. Groucho and George Burns stole it from you. Why don't you sue the guys who have that new show "How to Be a Rock Star" on the WB? I must have told them your idea. Nobody has ever goofed on rock bands, not "Spinal Tap" or The Rutles or 800 "Saturday Night Live" sketches. I should have told everyone on the show, no rock band sketches, that's Brazill's area. So hold on to your hate and rage, even though it makes no sense. I'll go back to my life of thievery and leeching. As for the cancer, I'll wait till you get it and then steal it from you. By the way, that joke was one of my writers', Rodney Rothman (see, I credited him). See, I have no original thoughts. Sorry I bothered to figure this out.
How appropriate that you had to use someone else's joke to take a swipe at me. I told you my idea. You did it two weeks later, VERBATIM. Spew revisionist shit all you want. Everyone knows you're a hack. Also, everyone knows how you fucked over Paul Feig on the new show. All your press mentions "your" brilliant "Freaks and Geeks," as if Feig didn't even do the series. It must have killed you when the true genius behind it got nominated for an Emmy. Is your wife still livid about someone in the neighborhood building a house just like hers? Tell her I know how she feels. The reason I called was to tell you to piss off. We'll never be "friends," regardless of the pussy whining from your last email. I respect you zero. See ya at the upfronts, bitch! Well . . . unless you get canceled before that. Until then, die in a fiery accident and taste your own blood. (Is that too angry?)
I hope your anger is a joke, because if it isn't . . . wow. Here's a line by line reply. I have starred (*) the replies if you are confused by my format.
>How appropriate that you had to use someone else's joke to take a swipe at me.
***That was the joke. How interesting that you couldn't understand that. You would think someone with the lineage of "Yard Dogs" would have the intellectual acumen to pick up on that. I feel for the writers that have to pitch to you. Never doubt how much they hate you.
>I told you my idea. You did it two weeks later, VERBATIM. Spew revisionist shit all you want.
***How could I hear your idea, steal it, and then have it air two weeks later? It was a filmed sketch show. Sketches were written months before they aired. They were filmed six weeks before they aired. I thought you were a producer. Shouldn't you understand how these shows are made? Do you start writing episodes two weeks before they air? Maybe you stole "Yard Dogs" from me.
>Everyone knows you're a hack.
***That's why I kiss the ass. Let me know who thinks I am a hack so I can kiss their ass as well. I also suck dick lately. That's how I got my Dreamworks deal.
>It must have killed you when the true genius behind it got nominated for an Emmy.
***I'm sure it's hard for you to believe, but I do not control the national media. That is only true in your paranoid mind. If I create a show they often mention the last show. When they write about "That '80s Show" I am sure they won't ever mention "That '70s Show." I wrote an entire article in the "L.A. Times," a cover story in the calendar, that credited Paul for his work. He went from a struggling actor to an established writer/producer over the course of a year. He is still my friend and I am very happy that he was nominated for two Emmys. He deserved it. I wasn't upset about his Emmy nominations, I already have enough. The certificates are so big you can only hang so many before it starts looking tacky.
>Is your wife still livid about someone in the neighborhood building a house just like hers?
>Tell her I know how she feels.
***I'm on it.
>The reason I called was to tell you to piss off. We'll never be "friends," regardless of the pussy whining from your last email.
***The funniest part of these emails is how bad your sense of humor is. You neither get nor can tell a joke. After you said "get cancer" did you really think I was looking to heal our relationship? Usually the cancer insult is a closer. I'm sure everyone who has suffered with that appreciates your sharp wit.
>I respect you zero.
>See ya at the upfronts, bitch! Well . . . unless you get canceled before that.
***If you think cancellation hurts me at this point, you haven't been following my career as closely as I thought. I guess you are too busy tracking my real estate problems.
>Until then, die in a fiery accident and taste your own blood.
***That's a Sam Kinison line, you stupid fuck!!!! Hypocrite!!!! J'accuse!!!!
>(Is that too angry?)
***Mark, I have enjoyed this. It's good to see the tragedies of the past few months haven't watered down your passion. I guess if Mark Brazill doesn't go insane over stuff that makes no sense, the terrorists win. Good luck with "That '80s Show." And I look forward to "That '90s Show."
H/T Matt MacLennan - courtesy Harpers Magazine
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
But that doesn't mean listening to him discuss his life and process and methods any less fascinating.
From a 2006 MIT Communications Forum conversation with David Thorburn (it's all good, but gets really cooking around 30:00)
According to Variety, Milch has a new series in the works at HBO called Luck which centers on horse racing, including "the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players." Michael Mann directed the pilot and it stars Dustin Hoffman.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
After several seasons of disappointing reviews, writers on the USA network's mystery series "Psych" decided to get revenge. They crafted an episode involving a psychotic killer doctor. The deranged murderer's name? Ken Tucker, who in real life is the mild-mannered, 57-year-old TV critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine.
"It was never 'Dr. Tucker' or just 'Ken.' It was always 'Did Ken Tucker eviscerate the body?'" says USA original programming chief Jeff Wachtel.
Hell hath no fury like a TV writer scorned.
In the movie business, writers hand over a screenplay and creative power to a director. In television, the writer rules. Writers often make the creative and day-to-day managerial decisions, even if their work weeks can be unglamorous, pulling late nights in their sneakers surrounded by empty take-out pizza boxes.
They also possess a little-talked-about power: the written word as a way to settle scores, keep high-maintenance actors in line and poke fun at anyone who gave them a hard time in junior high.
With more network shows premiering this fall than in any of the past three years, and original cable shows continuing to multiply, more and more writers are creating TV episodes — and poking needles into a few voodoo dolls along the way.
Read it all HERE...it's a killer good piece!
Friday, August 13, 2010
The trailer for "The Social Network" - a trailer that feels like it could in fact be the movie itself...
The mock trailer for "The Twit Network" - a trailer that looks like it could be a better movie than "The Social Network"...
"I don't understand."
"Exactly. That's the point."
Monday, August 09, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
F is for fan, but it also should be for Friedman.
With the death of Lost and 24, we find ourselves looking for the next bit of pop culture big-fucking-dealness that we can get ourselves all worked up for. And when I say "we" I'm referring to Fans of TV with a capital F and not simply those for whom TV is the thing that occupies the space between dinner and the sleep apnea machine. We Fans of TV want that Big Sexy Going Down the Rabbit Hole Feeling and no matter how much my mother loves Simon Baker, The Mentalist just isn't going to do it for us.
The Mentalist, is, however, going to make a shitload of money for all involved. It's easy on the eyes and is habit-forming much in the same way two glasses of red wine a night is: you'll get a nice, warm buzz but you're not gonna get really wasted and wake up with Cobb's malevolent freight train blasting through your cortex. The Mentalist isn't the best sex you've ever had, but it's also not likely to leave you to finish yourself off while your partner falls asleep to reruns of "Cheaters".
The Character-driven Procedural works for a number of reasons, but the biggest and the best of them is this: they almost never get picked up to series without a Serious Asswhipping Actor in the lead. Simon Baker. Hugh Laurie. Tony Shaloub. Kyra Sedgwick. Angie Harmon. These are legitimate cleanup hitters in any TV lineup. They might not be the favorites of the genre crowd. You might not stand in line for their autograph. And you are not going to see them down at Comic-Con doing funny panels with Jeff "Doc" Jensen. Why? Because they are too busy making the other twenty million people who watch tv every night love them.
"Event" television, on the other hand (and here we can probably insert the word "genre" or "science fiction"), usually demands a big canvas, a big cast of characters, and a large concept that often dominates. It's ideas first, characters second, and that, dear friends, is often a recipe for tv disaster. FlashForward tried to balance a lot of character work on the big bouncing back of their elephantine idea but the show never found a proper stride and a lot of people were knocked off into the pachyderm shit. Warehouse 13 works for SyFy because it's what X-Files would be if Mulder and Scully took Ecstasy and dry-humped their way through a Freak of the Week. Which is to say, a quirky procedural.
And then Friedman goes on to tell one of the best stories you'll read all year...his own personal little procedural adventure.
Go read it now HERE..it's well worth the ride.
Thanks Josh. Made my day.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Like the first spot, it seems there's got to be tons of CGI...but as the making of the first one showed, the mo of this campaign seems to be more about marrying the real and the practical with some sleight of film making illusion.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
But in meantime, enjoy some of the best commercial of the past year HERE....I still like the Canal + and Old Spice ones the best.
"And that's how I ended up here."
Enjoy your summer!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"...gather information on the demographic makeup, careers and opinions of Canadian screenwriters. While such studies are regularly undertaken by U.S. Writers Guilds, this survey is the first of its kind in Canada. Results of the survey should provide valuable insight into current working conditions for screenwriters in Canada."
If you are a WGC member go now and participate. It can be accessed directly HERE or by signing into the Members Section of the Writers Guild of Canada Site HERE. It's a worthwhile project and takes no time at all.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Okay. Not very Friday funny, but kinda suits my mood these days...and Taxi Driver still can be fun in a twisted sort of way.
Because it makes me smile...about the days when films were movies, and movies were films.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Plus I was getting a little tired of all the strange looks when I'd gush about the good ol days when the festival was held down at the Banff Park Lodge and a trip up to The Springs was 'special'! Anyone? "crickets"
I kinda kicked off this blog four years ago with posts from Banff...read them HERE if you are looking for a little trip down memory lane. They actually mostly read like a collection of Twitter tweets, which is today where you can get your fill of what's happening in the Rundle Lounge or the Van Horne Ballroom - hashtag #banff2010.
Oh well. Wish I was there but I'm not. Good times and best of luck to all the delegates...just don't get elked.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Breaking Bad killed last month with a dark twisted bottle show episode entitled "The Fly". And some youtuber kills with this promo for the same 'Fly' episode...but laughtracked as if it was an ABC comedy sitcom. Friday funny!
Because it makes me smile.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
MacLean's Jaime Weinman tweet discussed this last night after I read via The A.V. Club Todd VanDerWerff's review of the Glee season finale HERE wherein Todd ultimately gave the episode and series a thumbs up even though half the review was pointing out all the problems with it. And though I grasped Todd's further assertion that the show really just wants to make you 'feel', Jaime came through today with an excellent post that explained it in terms I could relate to (not that I don't want to or can't feel, but the whole has to track for me in order to do so effectively - comedy and making me laugh is a different fish kettle) and perhaps even coined the phrase 'scattershot' drama.
I’d compare Glee to shows like Family Guy and (on a higher level) 30 Rock, which are from the school of “scattershot comedy.” The basic idea behind that kind of show is to do a comedy with all the boring parts cut out and filled in with more jokes. They’ll barrel through the exposition, conflict, resolution stuff as fast as they possibly can, and make sure that a new joke is coming at us every few seconds. This means certain dramatic/structural values don’t get serviced (plus most of the characters become tiresome freaks). But it also means that there’s something new and entertaining all the time, and we don’t have to sit through dry set-ups in the hope that they’ll pay off with something funny later on.
What Glee is doing is taking that approach, familiar enough in pure comedy, and applying it to episodes that are twice as long, and include elements of scattershot drama. That is, it’s giving us the big juicy dramatic scenes without all the usual build-up, just as other shows (including Glee itself) give us rapid-fire jokes. I guess this isn’t a completely unfamiliar approach; you can also find it in daytime soaps, where the writers are often trying to avoid doing a scene that doesn’t have some big hook to it. But a soap opera scene will often start small and build to the big dramatic moment at the end. Glee doesn’t have time for that, because it’s doing three different shows at once and the scenes are very short. So whatever type of scene they’re doing will start big and end even bigger.
Go read the rest HERE, and thanks Jaime. I still might not understand why viewers are so forgiving, but I better understand what Glee is doing and why.
And on another Glee-related note, check out this interesting piece by Christina Mulligan at the Balkinization site discussing the issue of copyright.
The absence of any mention of copyright law in Glee illustrates a painful tension in American culture. While copyright holders assert that copyright violators are “stealing” their “property,” people everywhere are remixing and recreating artistic works for the very same reasons the Glee kids do — to learn about themselves, to become better musicians, to build relationships with friends, and to pay homage to the artists who came before them. Glee’s protagonists — and the writers who created them — see so little wrong with this behavior that the word ‘copyright’ is never even uttered.
In these days where copyright seems to be on every one's brain, it raises some very interesting points. Read the rest HERE.
Monday, June 07, 2010
"If the writers room doesn't work, the show doesn't work. If the show doesn't work, hundreds of people are out of jobs. And that is, at least in my writers room, evermost in our minds — that we are the people who lay the track for the train." - John Rogers
"One of the rules I put in my writers room was Don't Break Anything You Can't Fix. Which is to say, if you don't like an idea I don't want to hear from you unless you can clearly articulate why you don't think it's any good and unless you have something to counter-pitch." - Javier Grillo-Marxuach
"There are two things that a writers room can't live without: caffeine and toys. Caffeine is vital, as you're working yourself into a state of mental exhaustion every day. By about 3:00 in the afternoon, you're ready for a nap. Having toys around the office is an important reminder that the room is supposed to be playful. It helps keeps things light, fun, and imaginative." - Amy Berg
"A safe comfortable place for to think, laugh, cry, gnash, mourn, sulk, joke, mull, curse, spitball, create, destroy, and ultimately break story with others." - Will Dixon
Okay, I'm actually not included in the roundtable with several talented and respected TV writers interviewed by Marc Bernardin for io9, but hey, it's my blog - just throwing in my two cents...nevertheless you can read the above and way many more tasty nuggets of crafty goodness from this most excellent group discussion about the TV writers room and how it runs HERE.
Nice one Barry.
Friday, June 04, 2010
And then think about our anemic English language feature film biz and woefully small scripted TV show output when they talk about us in Canada losing our ability to produce the foods we eat.
"Are cheap imports really worth it?"
Kinda makes you think, don't it.
Choose Canadian. But you have to look for it. You have to ask for it. You have to want it, and start filling your bag with it.
H/T Stephen Hall
Thursday, June 03, 2010
GLOBAL - 1 new series, SHATTERED, on Fridays at 9pm. Um...yeah. Oh yeah, and I think a reality show on Sunday evenings (ICE PILOTS is Canadian, right?). See and weep HERE. Read and weep HERE.
ROGERS/CITYtv - Um...0 new series? although there will be repeats of MURDOCH MYSTERIES on Sundays at 10pm with word of some new eps later in the year. Oh yeah, there are some Canadian animated and reality series on Friday and Saturday evenings. Read and weep HERE.
CTV/'A' - 1 new series, if you can call International co-pro THE BORGIAS homegrown (like the CBC's THE TUDORS it counts, barely). But at least CTV had some scripted series to renew and that they did: HICCUPS, DAN FOR MAYOR, THE LISTENER, THE BRIDGE, and FLASHPOINT all got picked up again, so good on them for that. Read the details HERE.
And then there is the CBC, who announced their new schedule last week, but half hour MEN WITH BROOMS on Mondays at 8:30 is the only new scripted series pickup airing in the fall (INSECURITY was also greenlit) as the pubcaster also primarily renewed existing series HEARTLAND, LITTLE MOSQUE, REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, THE TUDORS, and BEING ERICA. Get the deets HERE.
So there you go...a lot of 'nothing or a little or a stick with what we got already' and not a lot of 'new' - only 2.5 hours by my count. But nobody should be very surprised about that anymore...until the CRTC rules change regarding how much scripted Cancon has to be produced and aired in prime time, Canadian viewers will only ever get the bare minimum required.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Unless Chicago is kept off the scoresheet this pool is going right down to the wire.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Is Three Dee the future of Television? Canadian 3D evangelist James Stewart thinks so. From Mediacaster Magazine:
"3D's time has come. You see it in the blockbuster global box office success of Avatar and the 3D commercial success by major brands such as Sprint, Mazda and Vodafone. The advertising community is now ready and eager to capitalize on 3D's immersive effect," said Stewart. "But, across the creative community, we still have a lot to learn as we all tool up for 3D production."
(3D evangelist - WTF?)
Gak...I hope not. 3D feels like yet another technological advancement like flat screen and 1080p and 120hz and HD with the logic behind the sales job being: 'If it looks sharper, slicker, brighter, faster, 3D-er...it will *be* better.' But a nice looking image and good sound only can compliment what's on the television. Good stories and compelling creative content is what makes TV better.
Not only that, 3-D TV feels way more gimmicky then all the other recent technological advancement.
Roger Ebert wrote a great piece a few weeks ago about why he hates 3-D...read it HERE. And even though Mr. Ebert was talking mostly about films in movie theatres, a lot of the negatives he lists can be applied to the recent 3-D TV craze.
3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.
I tested out a 3-D television recently and found it an absolute pain. Special glasses hooked up to a special box with a cable that let you move around maybe 3 feet. Having to sit in a specific position and watch from a certain angle to achieve 'optimum' results!. And the worse thing was an inability to 'interact' with the television and the environment, as it were - as in not really able to look around and converse with co-watchers...or easily get up and go to the door or the phone or the fridge...or be able to surf on my laptop and tweet snark with pals while watching the Lost series finale. No, I was expected to sit down and put on those glasses and not move from my chair until the 3-D portion of the screening was over.
Not to mention I hate putting more glasses over my regular glasses.
I still want my MTV (back when it actually had music videos and was...you know, good) but I don't want my 3DTV.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
It's Phllly and Chicago for the Stanley Cup...and no one picked the Flyers. So it's all about Hossa. See ya Saturday.
Friday, May 21, 2010
But it's Friday. And Fun must be found.
I like the looks of this new documentary...
...even though it came out of someone making this...
...I mean, seriously...OMG!!!
Because it all makes me smile.
Have a great May long!
Monday, May 17, 2010
I know I should be manufacturing hype but I must admit I'll be hard pressed to follow this years race to the finish with much attention.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I've never met Jay Baruchel, star of The Trotsky, but he did have a small role in an Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode I wrote way back when...so I feel we are connected in a six degrees kinda way. I also really like what he has to say and how he says it.
From NOW magazine.
And while his own star keeps rising, Baruchel is pleased at the attention he’s bringing to Canadian movies like The Trotsky. An outspoken patriot, he consistently returns home to lend his name to local films.
In fact, he finds it appalling that most other Canadian celebrities don’t do the same (ahem… Michael Cera, where you at?) or that when they do it’s usually because they’ve failed to make a dent stateside.
“I think that’s a shitty lesson, a shitty moral and a shitty truth,” Baruchel fumes. “To tell Canadian kids that the only time Canadians want to be working here is when they can’t get work in the States, that’s fucked. I will always have a career in both countries as best I can.”
And I only just met Jacob Tierney, writer and director of The Trotsky, for the first time in Toronto last month...and found him to be funny, smart, and exceedingly passionate about filmmaking and Canadian films and television in particular. He's an entertaining fellow.
Tierney also had a reoccurring role ages ago as a child actor on Are You Afraid of the Dark?...take from that what you will.
I haven't seen The Trotsky, but it opens tomorrow in theatres here in Canada and I hope a lot of people check it out...I know I will.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Any suggestions for a caption? There's got to be a good "who's got the better hair" joke out there somewhere.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
I actually had a film student pitch me something similar to this last year...more of a Drunk Politics thing. I wasn't sure about it then, and still not sure about it now. But it's Friday Fun in a bizarro kinda way.
Can't get embed to work - check it out HERE.
Because it makes me smile.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The first rule of Canadian TV Network Club: You only spend what you have to on Cancon or homegrown programming.
The second rule of Canadian TV Network Club: You don't talk about Rule #1.
As reported in The G&M and Hollywood Reporter, the CRTC recently released HERE the 2009 financial results for Canadian Specialty, Pay, Pay Per View, and Video on Demand (VOD) channels and services. And much like when financial results for conventional Canadian broadcasters were released in March HERE, there was a lot of hullabaloo on the Internets and the Twitter with people wondering why spending on foreign (primarily US) was up so much while spending on Canadian programming stayed pretty much the same (and in the case of drama on the conventional networks spending actually dropped).
From the CRTC Conventional Nets report:
The acquisition and production of programs represented 75.2% of all expenses, which came down from $2.1 billion in 2008 to $2 billion in 2009. Private broadcasters invested 3.3% less on Canadian programming last year, or $599.4 million compared to $619 million. In 2009, broadcasters paid $176.2 million to independent producers to acquire programming, which amounted to an increase of $30.2 million in one year.
Meanwhile, spending on foreign programming reached its highest level yet at 59% of all programming expenses, or $846.3 million. This total represented a 9.2% increase over the $775.2 million that was spent in 2008.
And from the CRTC Specialty/Pay Nets report:
In 2009, these services spent $1.08 billion on Canadian programming, which was roughly the same amount as the previous year. Of the overall programming expenditures, $357.1 million was paid to independent producers to acquire Canadian programs.
Although investments in Canadian programming were essentially at the same level, these services directed $521.8 million to foreign programming. This represented an increase of 36.7% from the $381.6 million reported in 2008.
So to recap...Canadian programming spend in both reports: flat or same as year before. Foreign programming spend, mostly U.S.: an increase from almost 10% to a whopping 37%!
And people were asking Why? How? WTF??
It's kind of simple really, and I assumed more people already knew this...the Canadian networks don't spend anymore on homegrown programming because they don't have to.
You see, there are these things called conditions of license. They are rules, or conditions, that are placed on a broadcaster when the CRTC grants them the permission and privilege of owning and operating the license of a television channel. And one of those rules, or conditions, include minimum Canadian content spend requirements. And I will make a huge, or not so huge, leap here and say the amounts spent by Canadian broadcasters each year on Canadian content = their minimum Cancon spend requirement, and probably not one penny more.
The truth is once they've doled out that minimum spend they're pretty much done in the Cancon department for that year. Of course, you won't hear it phrased like that exactly - more likely you'll hear: "We have something like this already." or, "We're not looking for new programs at this time." or even, "We've run out of money for development or program licenses for this year." But as the above reports reveal, they may have spent their minimum for Cancon, but they certainly haven't run out of money to spend.
And here is the kicker: you may walk in with the coolest slickest most totally accessible massively entertaining sure-fire winner concept for a movie or TV series ever...but if they've already spent their Cancon minimum required spend as per their conditions of license, they ain't buying. Believe it...I've asked why and have been told (I'm paraphrasing): "If it's 100% Canadian, there's nothing you could bring us, no matter how good, that could make us more money and do more for us as a network than buying an American show or movie can."
So there you go.
This is why I was a big fan of the "dollar for dollar spend" proposal put forward by many of the Canuck artist and craftspeople guilds and unions last year during the TV policy hearings - as in, requesting that for every dollar a broadcaster spent on foreign or US programming they had to spend the same amount on homegrown Canadian programming.
Not surprisingly the broadcasters lobbied against that, and won.
This is a problem...because no matter how many ways you try to spin it, Cancon always ends up being a loss leader of sorts - the necessary evil cost of doing the business of operating a television network in Canada. But maybe we're not supposed to be talking about this 'club'.
In many ways the problems of our indigenous TV industry mirror many of the problems facing our English language feature film biz (as outlined recently in a very even-keeled and informative post by Uncle Jim at The Legion of Decency HERE), or at least a reoccurring theme seems to be emerging, which is....we have a system set up in Canada that handsomely rewards a chosen few in some select clubs, but they're rewarded for doing the bare minimum required with little or no expectation of return.
And that's kinda screwy.
(PS - you don't wanna know what Rule #3 is...)
Monday, May 03, 2010
Good luck frontrunners. I'll be watching y'all...from way back in the pack, unfortunately.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Because it makes me smile.
(Oh and my porn name (according to Community) is Davin Crush Cream Soda.)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
H/T Matt Watts
And speaking of funny (but also actually kinda instructional), after blowing Phantom Menace out of the water Plinkett (aka filmmaker Mike Stoklasa) takes on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones in seven parts HERE.
Try out Part One below...it's tasty!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Joel Plaskett hails from Nova Scotia. He's been making music for a long time here in Canada, but I'd never heard of him before seeing him open for the Barenaked Ladies recently. He has a website.
Library Voices hail from Regina. They've only been making music for a couple of years but I had never heard of them before seeing them play this past weekend (even though they're from my hometown). They have a MySpace page.
Joel Plaskett performed semi solo when I saw him (joined by guitarist Peter Elkas), but he fronts a three piece band called the Joel Plaskett Emergency which has an Elvis Costello Neil Young Big Star kinda thing going on.
Library Voices is an 8 piece collective, fronted by singer/guitarist Carl Johnson and keyboardist/lyrist Mike Dawson, but they truly are a band...in a Brian Jonestown Massacre Dandy Warhols The New Pornographers kinda way.
Joel Plaskett won a Juno last week for Best Adult Alternative Album for his CD Three.
"Fashionable People" isn't on that CD, but it seems to be the song he's most recognized for.
Library Voices just released a new CD entitled Denim On Denim.
They talk about the making of it HERE. "Haunt This House" is one of the songs on it.
Joel Plaskett wants to "Go Nowhere With You."
Library Voices want to "Step Off The Map And Float."
Bottom line? Both rock the house live. Smart. Fun. Infectious. Soooo entertaining. Buy their tunes, and definitely see them in concert if you can.
That is all.
(And I've just learned these are two of my eldest daughter and her boyfriend's fav Canadian artists and have been for a while...so I guess this is what the 'kids' are into. Welcome to the present day, old man.)
Friday, April 23, 2010
Because it makes me smile.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
"Everyone would expect everything to be free, and excessively convenient."
"*Attention* would be considered an acceptable substitute for *money*."
No I'm not talking about what shows TV networks are going to renew, or what pitches they might put into development, or what series they might greenlight into production, or even Canadian TV in general (though I could understand if that's the first place you went)...I'm talking about the amusing 'If real life were more like the internet..." comic in Salon.com, which you can see HERE.
I'm running on fumes and fighting off a cold and it still made me smile.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Everyone has probably seen this already but The Onion totally nails it with this aspiring screenwriter 'which writing software to use?' bit...read and smile HERE.
Great time this weekend at the WGC National Forum...met some great writerly folks, listened to some very interesting speakers regarding product integration and the BBM ratings system...capped off by another fun time had at the WGC Awards party last night. Great to see everyone again and put a lot of names to faces, finally.
"Hey I know you from the internet!"
Thanks again to the Writers Guild of Canada for inviting me out, and if you ever get a chance to take part in National Forum in the future....do it. Nothing more...just do it.
Friday, April 16, 2010
As long as it wasn't too angry.
Because it makes me smile.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
...when he was at last night's Streamy Awards (for web series), which reading HERE at Web Series Today were apparently an unmitigated disaster and embarrassment...
In the coming days there will be plenty of finger pointing. However, the award show blunders in no way detract from the work that was supposed to have been honored at the event. The nominees should be proud of what they accomplished, even if the award show designed to honor them treated them like a joke.
...the same morning I read HERE in the Globe & Mail that online revenue for broadcasters and specialty and pay TV companies accounted for a paltry 2.3 per cent of overall advertising revenue in 2009...
"When you contrast the amount of TV revenue … to the online numbers, they are drops in the bucket,” said Brahm Eiley, principal at the research firm. “Even if [online revenues] go up steadily for the next few years, it's not going to do anything for the business.”
...and thus reports of TV's death were greatly exaggerated.
I KNOW we're in a period of transition, and getting ANYTHING not just made but FINANCED for television OR web is going to be a tough slog for next while (because we keep getting told that TV is dead and New Media or Digital Media is the future except that business model is not quite here yet so we don't want to pay for it and yet we don't really want to pay for TV either cuz it's, you know, DEAD), but still...geez...does it really need to be this HARD?
Monday, April 12, 2010
It costs nothing and is strictly for fun and no, you don't have to be a "writer" to participate.
From Jim's place:
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending me (Jim) an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line between 8:00 AM EST Monday (today) and 7:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 14/10) when the first pucks drop in Pittsburgh and New Jersey.
In your email, list the 10 skaters and 2 Goalies who make up your team. They can be members of any of the 16 teams competing in the opening round.
This year, at least THREE of your picks must come from one team. Three skaters, two and a goalie, your choice. The point is to make a small commitment (25% of your roster) to a team you think is either going to win it all, go deep or roll up a lot of points.
The scoring is as follows:
For every goal or assist scored by your skaters you earn 1 point.
Every time your goalie wins you also earn a point and seven points each time he earns a shutout.
Shutouts in Stanley Cup play are rare and skaters will always earn more points than a Goalie, but this is a way of evening things up.
The 12 players you choose are yours for the entire tournament. As the teams your players represent fall by the wayside, they cease earning you points, but their totals remain a part of your total. In the end, the poolie with the most points wins.
I'll post your team online. From then on, you can check your progress by going HERE. All players will be provided with a password so they can check their progress throughout the playoffs.
Once you're inside the pool site, you'll see all the information on the poolies and their teams. You'll also receive a twice weekly update of the pool standings, which either Will or I will post for all the world to see on our blogs.
See -- easy and fun! The only thing missing is the chance to share the beer and wings and make fun of each other's choices. Anybody who wants to open a Facebook group to handle the trash talk or Twitters their opponents has our blessing.
Now, playing in a hockey pool is very simple but a certain amount of strategy is involved. I've seen poolies pick players from teams that exited early still win because those players racked up so many points in the early going. I've also seen poolies with terrible picks come out on top because they had a hot goalie in their pool.
Like everything else in the game, it's ultimately up to the hockey gods.
WHAT DO YOU WIN?
Well, since gambling is technically illegal, and the entrants are going to come from a lot of disparate currencies, we've decided that your entrance fee must be something either related to your career or a sports souvenir you've gathered along the way.
Once the winner is decided, all entrants must ship he or she a DVD of a film or TV episode they made, an autographed script, their Bobby Orr lunchbox or even that old Honus Wagner baseball card that's just gathering dust in grandpa's desk.
There will also be prizes for the poolies finishing 2nd or 3rd as well as side contests along the way.
There are no other restrictions to participating. Just join up, pick your players and set aside your victory swag.
There you have it...easy peasy. And more fun than you'd think. Or at least makes the next couple months of endless hockey on Canadian TV a little easier to endure.
Read all of Jim's post HERE, and we'll see you in the pool.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Canuck content providers are getting killed.
Arnie Gelbart has survived the cyclical waves of the Canadian broadcast industry before. But there is no way to sugarcoat this recession. "It's been a tough year," says the president of Montreal-based Galafilm Productions Inc.
"Canadian broadcasters ordered very little new material compared to other years," says Mr. Gelbart, who admits to laying off some of his staff last year.
Mr. Gelbart's fears-- and the overall production blues of the industry -- were lost in the cacophony around the CRTC hearings last November to determine whether or not cable operators should compensate over-the-air broadcasters for carrying their signals.
As the rhetoric flew in Ottawa, production houses wobbled.
You see, this past year has been a sort of 'wait and see' limbo for most TV and Film creatives and producers and craftspeople in Canada. Wait and see what the old CTF new CMF is going to look like. Wait and see if tax credit rebates in various provinces are going to go up or stay the same or be reduced. And most importantly, wait and see if our broadcasters will or won't receive some sort of value for signal or fee for carriage from the BDU's/cable/satelite providers (aka you the consumer) so everyone can get on the with business of MAKING CONTENT AGAIN!
But even though the CRTC granted broadcasters the right to negotiate value for signal, it still has to clear the Canadian courts and then and only THEN can the Broadcasters and BDU's get on with business of negotiating.
Wait and see.
"The way the issue had been framed, misdirected the discussion entirely," says Michael Prupas, president and chief executive of Muse Entertainment Enterprises. It devolved into a battle over the survival of local television versus a so-called television tax, he says. But it should really have been about the survival of Canadian production and whether or not cable and satellite would lift a hand.
How the industry reshapes itself going forward depends on how the CRTC will handle television licence renewals in 2011 and how much cash there will be for producers within the revamped Canadian Media Fund (CMF) now new media players and broadcasters can dip into it for some in-house production.
Also at stake is whether or not Canadian producers will be able to monetize their shows online, and increase sales in overseas markets. While international sales rose to $2-billion in 2008-09, they have not returned to the heights of 2002-03.
Yep, you read that right. It's the 2011 television licence renewals that are so important apparently, as in next year. And EVERYONE is still trying to figure out how to monetize online programming, not just Canadian content producers.
Wait and see.
Everywhere I look or turn, companies are laying off personnel or even closing down...very little new work is being commissioned...writers and producers are giving up....craftspeople and technicians are packing it in and finding another line of work. It's BRUTAL.
We're dying out here CRTC and Broadcasters and Cable Providers of Canada...you're killing us softly but surely with your song of indecision and indifference.
Do you even care?