Monday, 10 October 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #820: Spending Foolishly


Remember a while back when reports said that Roseanne Barr was pitching for a sitcomeback with a show called Downwardly Mobile, about an optimistic family living through hard times in a trailer park with a matriarch (played by Barr) spouting sarcastic wisdom between wholesale firings of the writing/production staff.

I wrote a post explaining why it's a bad idea, and Roseanne's only added more cons to the pile with demands that "rich" be beheaded if they refuse to give away everything they earn above an amount she declares proper, $100,000,000.  (An amount similar to what she was earning annually back in her career heyday, but has mostly since been pissed away on a lifestyle akin to an Ottoman potentate.)

But I also said that not only is it a really bad idea, and destined to fail miserably and expensively, the fact that she was familiar, pretty much guaranteed that it would get the precious green-light that could have been granted to a more deserving project.

NBC has made a commitment to the show, and if they don't meet that commitment, they have to shell out a cash penalty.

If that penalty is too big, Roseanne may be compelled to behead herself.

Personally, I don't see this show catching on.  Will the audience be ready to buy a poor working class trailer park momma who really, and obviously, looks like she's on her third or fourth face?

Plus any good vibes people may have felt about her, has been pretty much killed by her recent ramblings and rantings about government that shows that she's probably in need of some sort of medication.

Anyway, like Discovery Communications/OWN's investment in another Rosie, let's just sit back and watch the carnage.


The venerable British Broadcasting Corporation is looking at over $1,000,000,000 a year in budget cuts.  
You are not hallucinating extra zeroes, I said ONE BILLION DOLLARS a year, every year, including 2,000 plus job cuts until they somehow find a new source of revenue.

This is a case of the proverbial chickens coming home to the proverbial roost.  The BBC has had it good for a very long time.  At first it was a total monopoly on all radio and TV broadcasting in the BBC, and if you wanted to own a TV and a radio you had to pay a "license fee" that went toward funding the BBC, alongside other revenues from the British government.

As time went by the BBC's broadcasting monopoly was broken, mostly because its insular corporate culture made it next to impossible for anyone outside the BBC system from accomplishing anything.  However, the funding coming directly from the British taxpayer, under the force of the law kept coming.

Free from the constraints of profits and losses, the BBC kept on growing, and growing, and growing.  The privately funded competition didn't really care for this, because the BBC could pretty much outbid them with taxpayer's money over everything.  The BBC set up more and more channels, always getting the premium spots on the dial, had all sorts of outlets for free promotion, and if someone was considered a "star" the BBC could simply outbid their rivals regardless of market forces, and didn't have to worry about paying the bills.

That is, until now.

This is because the BBC is essentially a civil service type operation, and I need to paraphrase Yes, Minister, the world's greatest political sitcom, to explain how civil service operates.

Civil servants do not measure success by achieving goals and solving problems. They measure success by how big they can grow their departments and their budgets.

Now you're probably wondering why they think they can get away with it.  Well, economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman explains it best:

There are four ways in which you can spend money. 
1.  You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. 

2. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. 

3. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! 

4. Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government.
The problem is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, even when you're spending other people's money on yourself and other people. Money eventually runs out, and you end up with a really massive operation facing really massive cuts.

This mindset can also affect some private corporations that grow huge and are sheltered from the consequences of their decisions by their even bigger parent companies.  It can manifest itself in an already struggling TV network committing millions of dollars to a washed up has-been who has been better known for mental instability and egomania than for an ability to deliver audience winning comedy.

And that's what you call a "call back."


  1. To be fair, I don't believe Ms. Barr believes *artists* shouldn't be able to keep more than a hundred million dollars, only evil bankers.

  2. Why on earth would you want to be fair to Ms. Barr? Also, is she unaware that like 90% of Wall Street campaign donations go to Democrats? Probably.

    In other news I strongly support anything that weakens the Beeb. I hate those guys and have done so ever since becoming a big fan of Doctor Who. The way the Beeb backstabbed and undercut the poor Doctor was horrendous. Not to mention their complete incompetence in destroying entire years of old shows so they are no longer available. I mean, in America we can get the complete My Mother the Car series. But Doctor Who? Or Dad's Army? Forget it. The Beeb was STILL wiping old shows as late as 1993. Jerks. I say to hell with them.

    And to those who argue that "the BBC made so many good shows", which is the same argument made on behalf of PBS in the USA, I respond, "the good shows from PBS and BBC - the Sesame Streets and Yes Ministers - would have survived just fine on commercial TV."