Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #80: The Self Fulfilling Idiocy Strikes Again... & Project Furious

A big tip of my jaunty sombrero to the indefatigable Nikki Finke for these stories of the self fulfilling idiocy in action.

1. Reality Show workers are claiming unpaid overtime. Once again the self-fulfilling idiocy of Hollywood is rearing its overly coiffed and botox injected head. Apparently the producers of a gaggle of money-making reality shows, stiffed the people who make the shows of somewhere around $500,000 in unpaid overtime.

Now I'm sure the producers of the shows in question are patting themselves on the back about how they collectively saved all that money, but they're not really seeing the big picture.

Take a second and think about these po
  • The money that will be spent on lawyers, because this will most likely result in some kind of class action litigation. These lawyers don't get stiffed on their billable hours and their minimum wage starts at about $200/hour.

  • The money shelled out to meet the demands of the unions when their respective contracts come up for negotiation. Or failing that, the inevitable strike not meeting those demands will bring.

Suddenly, the $500,000 doesn't seem like such a big savings.

In fact, it looks like the beginning of a multi-million dollar loss.

Of course, that's in the long term, and no one in Hollywood thinks beyond the next quarter,
let alone the next year.

2. Harvey Weinstein has pissed someone off again. Which I suspect is a standing headline at Variety. This time he's enraged th
e NBC-Universal conglomerate by taking the hit Bravo channel show Project Runway over to the rival Lifetime channel. NBC-U is claiming that the Weinstein Co. made the deal with Lifetime in February, while negotiating for a new season with Bravo in March. NBC-U is claiming bad faith negotiation, violation of a "first refusal" clause in the old contract, and the breaking NBC-U CEO Jeff Zucker's heart by Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein's already lining up the lawyers to fight it out. Except he may have bitten off more than he could chew this time. This isn't some indie filmmaker or small time production company he's dealing with, it's a massive, major conglomerate. Daring NBC-U to sue may be a mistake, especially with Weinstein Co. investors looking askance at how Harv runs things already. They may not have the stomach for an all-out war with a multi-billion dollar corporation.

As for NBC-U and it's Bravo channel I have two simple questions...

1. How the hell did they let it get so bad at Bravo that they only had one, and I mean one, as in singular, show that got any
decent ratings?

2. How the hell did they not put the fear of God Almighty, Hell-fire, and Damnation into the producers of that show to not pull a stunt like this?

If I ran NBC-U I'd bring in all the executives of the
Bravo channel to my office for a meeting.

Then I'd fire them.

Possibly out of a cannon, I'd have to run that one past the legal boys first, but it would be dramatic anyway.

I'd then cancel all the shows that are creating so much dead air on Bravo, effective immediately. I'd run o
ld movies and TV shows from the NBC-U vault to fill time while I brought in fresh blood and fresh ideas. Abbot & Costello movies & Columbo reruns would probably play better anyway, and it would definitely be cheaper and less annoying.

I would then go on to sue the Weinstein Co. i
nto the stone age, especially if they really did negotiate in bad faith. What's the point of being the big dog when you don't bite the little dog that pisses in your face?

Too bad I'm not the head of NBC-U.


That's right Jeff Zucker.

I'm cruising for your job now.



  1. D, Bravo is a curious case.

    It started out as an art-movie lovers haven. "Let Him Have It" and "Careful He Might Hear You" are two great films that ran on that channel that I discovered there.

    However, they faced competition from IFC and Sundance Channel, so they went "gay" and became the "Gay Channel" with Queer Eye, lots of other gay-themed shows. But Logo out-gayed them, and they had almost nothing left.

    Guys won't watch Bravo if you paid them. It's "gay" and therefore poison. Well, gay guys will, but there is not very many of them, and those that are watching TV are watching LOGO or Desperate Housewives, other "female" shows.

    The fix for Bravo is even more radical. Cancel all shows as you suggest, and change the name. Call it the Culture Channel and run Opera, Ballet, Classical Music, and the like with limited commercial interruptions. Try and get broadcast rights for La Scala, Bolshoi, etc. and promote it as a cheap/classy "date night every night" with pre-show cooking/dating tips or what have you (point being identify as "Not Gay, Classy.")

    You'll get older viewers, that's OK. You'll certainly be different and stand out. Your "brand" is "Classy but cheap date" with plenty of how-tos on quick/easy gourmet cooking. Take advantage of the recession and money-saving desires. Run "Classy" movies and yes take advantage of the Universal library and run 1970's shows like Banacek, McCloud, etc. along with Columbo and have witty commentary on the 1970's by comics (steal "Best Week Ever" format).

    But Bravo is poison. It's the "gay channel" and the name has to die.

    [Yeah this is sort of "Trio with Opera" but IMHO there's a market for it. People who want to be "classy" without spending tons of money.]

  2. The story about the reality-show people getting stiffed reminds me of the decision that brought New Line to its knees--Robert Shaye trying to screw Peter Jackson over.