Saturday, 18 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #328: Miscellaneous Money-Movie-Media Musings

As I mentioned in my last post, today was the day of the annual library sale, where the public and school libraries of three counties put all their over-stock books together and sell them at great prices. I'm talking $5 for 3 hardcovers, and $2 for 3 paperbacks (mass market and trade size).

For a stingy yet voracious reader like myself, I always go ape-shit crazy at this sale, and I bought a huge load of books for about $25 in just about every genre and subject. The trick is that you have to get to the back room of a small town library at before 8:00 AM on a Saturday, and wait amid a cloud of blackflies and mosquitoes for them to unlock the door. Then you have to fight the crowd, which gets bigger every year and these book buyers can get pretty aggressive.

Thankfully I had my mace.
I showed that little old lady who's the boss when she tried to poach that book about movies from me. And the lesson is: Don't bring a brittle hip to a mace fight.

Anyway, enough about me, because I'm really boring. You've come here to read me gripe about the business of show biz, so let's go...


The flailing NBC-U empire just released their second quarter revenue report, and their profits are down 41%.


And don't expect things to get much better, especially with their summer tent-pole mockumentary
Bruno collapsing 89% at the Box Office after a big opening night, showing that despite spending around $100 million to promote the film they bought for $42 million, the film did not have legs to wax.

While it's predecessor
Borat made over $100 million domestically, the film cost less thant $20 million total, and had nowhere near the promotion budget Bruno had. Which means that NBC-Universal forgot that the real key to Borat's success was that it was so cheap to produce and release. They thought that if they spent more, they would make more, and forgetting that a hard-R comedy based on an already over-exposed concept.

And don't get me started on the NBC network. The former home of "must see TV" has become a black hole where shows go to die.

And when it comes to the management of the company, all they seem to do is worry about public relations. At this stage, changing your "message" is like giving the Titanic a paint-job as
the North Atlantic comes over the poop deck. The problems with the company start and end at the very top of the company.

In my arrogant opinion, management at the top of NBC-U is completely and totally dysfunctional. And what I don't understand is that General Electric doesn't seem to see it. I know that Zucker, the CEO of NBC-U has a reputation as an ass kisser, but if I ran GE, I don't care if an executive's head shows up on my colonoscopy, if they cost me over 40% of a subsidiary's profits, I'm going to drop them the way NBC Universal dropped Life with Sarah Shahi and some guy named Damian Lewis or something like that.

Anyway, if GE actually realizes that today's economy requires all facets of a company to be at least functional, they may make a move for some reform.

Of course any move to fix NBC-U would require more than a few pink slips at the top, I could loan them a mace if they want it, but I don't think they do anything. It's the law of commercial inertia.


Amazon, the online bookseller, has convinced a lot of people to not buy the e-book reader The Kindle when they snuck into people's machines and deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 because they were having a dispute with Orwell's publisher. Now they refunded the cost of the e-book to those customers but it does tells me why the e-book will be the flying car of literature, always right around the corner, but never really coming to fruition beyond a novelty.


Because when you buy a Kindle edition, you don't really own that e-book. You are merely licensing the right to read it as long as Amazon keeps on good terms with the publisher, or doesn't just take it back in an act of corporate whimsy. What's to keep them from changing the terms of use, and jack up their prices and demand that you pay the difference, or have your Kindle library deleted?

Nothing, except the fear of litigation, which companies tend to lose when they become big enough to crush all who oppose them.

That's why I will remain a Luddite when it comes to books, I prefer hard copies, and if you want to take them, you not only have to pry them from my cold dead hands, but you will have to get past my mace to even try.


Director/producer Todd Holland is apologizing for remarks he made at the Outfest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, where he said that some gay actors should stay in the closet for the sake of their careers.

Now I think he was partially right. I think all actors, regardless of sexual preferences, should be in the closet.

I don't care if an actor is gay, straight, bi, tri, or has a fetish for goldfish, and I don't want to hear about it either. I would like to go on line on the internet, or in line at the supermarket, and not see yet another cover story about who the royal hell Jennifer Aniston is dating this week.

Also, I would like to get Jada Pinkett-Smith to stop going on about her and Will Smith's sex lives. Yes, you have a lot of sex, so why are you here talking about instead of at home getting your freak on? Have all the sex you want, let Will wear the French Maid outfit this time, just don't make it national freaking news, because I don't want to hear about it.

So here's my proposal, if gay actors have to be in the closet to protect their careers, then everyone else has to be in the closet as well, and place a moratorium on the media from speculating on their sex lives. Maybe this will make people learn to live without giving a shit about which actor is sleeping with which, and demand more of that bottomless chum bucket called the media than just a sexual tally card.


  1. "last, best hope for e-book baen book WebScription".

  2. While I support their webscription program, and the late Jim Baen's policy on DRM. I have my own issues with that company and must recuse myself from commenting.

  3. I should say the same in regards to digital downloading movies as well. I've noticed that upon purchase in my PS3, the movies can't be moved to another HDD. Therefore, it means that the information is still in the hands of the people of which I bought it from.

    The people can snarkly remark that downloads will be the only future for all forms of entertainment and education, but since it nothing but 1s and 0s. Anything can be subtlety changed over time without the young ever noticing and the old will always be ignored when they point it out.

    Who needs to burn / ban books in the digital era.. all you they need is the control of the distribution (CONTROL) of the work!

  4. Also, GE is a monstrously over-sized behemoth with thousands of tentacles dipping into every facet of our country.

    When the "stimulus bill" was passed last year; it was to help banks, parts of the failing car industry, misc., and General Electric.

    Much bellyaching by politicians, newscasters and commentators about the 25 billion dollars "loaned" to the "big three" car companies. But during all that -NOone- noticed except for a radio commentator that GE was getting ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY NINE Billion dollars. Not but one. I googled the actual amount but could not find an article about this. I did on the other hand, find a terrifying timeline of this madness.

    I don't know how links are accepted here, but I can give you the name of the page:

    Stimulus Package Details

    I only thought we where sliding down this hole, but looking at that page.. we are about to hit bottom in less then two years!