What Are You Missing? February 1-13

February 14, 2010
By | 9 Comments

[editors’ note: given her spectacular work assembling News for TV Majors, we asked Christine Becker to deliver bi-weekly updates for Antenna readers of what’s going on elsewhere. And thus, without further ado …]

Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. Google has introduced a new social media service called Buzz. The biggest news surrounding it has been negative, though. In particular, privacy concerns abound, and some users have found themselves difficult situations thanks to Buzz’s autonomy. Google has responded with some fixes and suggestions, but Jeff Jarvis thinks Google would have been best off designating this as a Beta version in the first place. At least Buzz is better off than the dying MySpace, whose CEO resigned this week after only nine months on the job. TechCrunch says MySpace’s only hope is to separate from parent News Corp.

2. Social media came up with a great idea for traditional media: a Betty White fan started a Facebook page called Betty White To Host SNL (please?)!. The page now has over 280,000 fans (more than SNL’s own page). And the campaign has gotten a lot of mainstream attention and support, though SNL’s Olympics hiatus might cool the furor.

3. Mostly bad news for video games, as sales are down (2009 had the lowest average sales figures since 2005) and layoffs are up. Some think online gaming can rescue the industry. Or how about Microsoft figuring out how to design game consoles for the military? Finally, I got a kick out of this article: 10 Literary Classics That Should Be Videogames. I would totally play The Metamorphosis.

4. With the death of Miramax signaling the end of an era for indie cinema, some are questioning the future of independent film in an Avatar world. It’s a different story in the music industry: there indie music is thriving through advantages indie film apparently doesn’t have, while it’s the big music labels that are floundering. But Scott Macauley calls for a more nuanced understanding of independent cinema’s place, and Ted Hope thinks indie filmmakers can steal Hollywood’s “event picture” ideas for future success.

5. New York Magazine has a great in-depth profile on the madness that is Oscar campaigning. The Academy plans to do some campaigning of its own this year via social media. And The Root offers a (rather depressing) history of African-Americans at the Oscars.

6. Usually contemporary remakes of classical Hollywood movies are a bad idea from start to finish (The Women anyone? That’s right, no one). But the rumored Mildred Pierce remake at least has a few good things going for it: Todd Haynes, Kate Winslet, HBO. My only question: five hours?

7. Air America has died out, and some analysis of why and what’s next for liberal radio can be found at AlterNet, Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times.

8.  This week I learned about the Bechdel Test for films 1) there are at least two named female characters, who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man — and was dismayed by how few recent films I could come up with that pass it. But The Wrap insists that female-driven blockbusters are all the rage. This is the position we’re put in: we’re supposed to be happy about Dear John hitting #1. Speaking of which, I’d like to take this opportunity to quote the great opening line from Roger Ebert’s review: “Lasse Hallstrom’s Dear John tells the heartbreaking story of two lovely young people who fail to find happiness together because they’re trapped in an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.”

9. The Super Bowl ads were largely deemed to be awful this year, and they were especially denounced for being overwhelmingly misogynistic, emasculating, and all-around gender-disturbed. One good thing to come out of that: this YouTube response to the Dodge Charger ad.

10.  I’ll close with links to my own bloglinks, my favorite stories out of those I’ve posted on News for TV Majors recently: the Chuck-pocalypse, Survivor’s survival and the upside of reality tv, MTV’s dropping “music television” from its logo while Comcast renames its services Xfinity, Bones showrunner Hart Hanson gave an awesome keynote address about making TV for the masses, can Apple conquer TV?, and six Super Bowls later, CBS and the FCC still aren’t done with Janet Jackson.

One last thing: if you’ve still got nothing for Valentine’s Day, send your loved one a Lost card.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “ What Are You Missing? February 1-13 ”

  1. Kyra Glass on February 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Great list Christine! I think your list is absolutely spot on! I would like to say a word in defense of The Wrap, although not in defense of Nicholas Sparks. I do see the clear understanding of a lucrative female audience for mainstream cinema releases a good sign. While Sex and the City or New Moon may only do marginally, very marginally, better on the Bechdel Test, the surprisingly successful Julie and Julia (although not quite a blockbuster) would ace it. Although the narrowcast of women-centered blockbuster films may be a cause for concern, the active courting of a largely female audience has the potential to produce interesting films that improve upon the current offerings (ABC’s female-centered television shows are a good example of this). If nothing else the trend has spared me many a Terminator/Transformers only movie-going weekend and for that I thank it. In other, related, news, there is a rumor that Apple may be dropping their price on TV episodes to 99 cents, the idea of paying per episode for anything but favorite shows is still problematic but a price drop may be an important boost for them and their attempts to sell Apple TV and the iPad.

  2. Jeffrey Jones on February 15, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    What I love about the Betty White campaign is it demonstrates how lame SNL has become in its choices of hosts. When SNL first began, it would include hosts like Buck Henry. Obviously a creative genius, I had no idea who he was at the time. But the producers realized it was about comedy, not celebrity spectacle. The push for Betty White is a reminder by the public that yes, it is about comedy, not having the latest dim-witted “hottie” (male or female) because, well, they make news and the youngsters will recognize them (see Peyton Manning).

    • Tim Anderson on February 15, 2010 at 2:05 PM

      Agreed. Betty White’s persona as elderly imp reminds me of ESPN’s PTI. When it started making something of a buzz a few years ago, ESPN’s research noted that college students loved the program partially because it fit their schedule, but also because they liked watching “two old people joyfully bicker with each other cause it reminded them of their parents”.

      • Derek Kompare on February 15, 2010 at 2:30 PM

        Tony Cornheiser is the spitting image of about 30% of students’ dads I’ve seen in the past few years…

        Anyway, as for Betty White and SNL: Jeffrey’s right. Back in the 70s, they really did have a broader range of hosts, and lots of acknowledgment of their roots. Buck Henry hosted several times. Even Desi Arnaz and Milton Berle each hosted once (though the latter was apparently the worst host they’ve ever had, according to Lorne Michaels).

        These days, “history” on SNL might go back far enough for, what, Jim Carrey? Jason Alexander? Sean Hayes? Sigh.

        BTW, Betty White is the all-time Queen of TV. She’s been on television since the freaking 1940s!!! The 1940s!!! Does anyone else kick ass in eight different decades?!? NO! 🙂