Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Life Aquatic

Wes Anderson's latest is coming out in December. Starring Bill Murray and longtime collaborator, Owen Wilson, this $25M film is poised to make Disney (Touchstone/Buena Vista) a few bucks. Getting Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huton, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum on the set at that budget says something about the project. Early "buzz" is sounding positive from online sources. Compiling Anderson's social network in Hollywood shows how "ties" to others can broker & leverage talent and resources. Interestingly, this is the first script NOT co-written by Owen Wilson. Gwyneth Paltrow was slated to be on the project but had a conflict. The talented Blanchett was third choice. Jaguar shark. Trailer below.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


From Frontline. Struggling Delta Airlines wanted to launch a new value-positioned airline (akin to United's failed Shuttle) but went a different route. Trying to appeal to women and creating an emotional branding campaign, the execution and timing may have been off. Delta's profit pressures in a cut-throat market, a narrow target, and murky identity results may cause the plug to be pulled on the project. While the ads are catchy, using Petula Clark's "Downtown" and Jem's "Wish I" and strong imagery, they may have failed in linking the brand to consumer motivations and desires.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Life Imitating Art

Tangent Post: OK, so the Scott Peterson guilty verdict is in. I was thinking, I swear this story sounds familiar. Racking my brain, I recalled this oldie from 1951, A Place in the Sun, with Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters.

"Young up-and-comer George Eastman is thrust into the blue collar life of a rich friend's family business where he's expected to learn the ropes from the bottom up. While paying his dues Eastman becomes involved with Alice Tripp, a simple, trusting girl on the assembly line. When Eastman is finally introduced to high society he meets the gorgeous, sophisticated Angela Vickers and promptly forgets all about Alice. Only Alice won't be gotten rid of so easily - espcially since their affair is about to result in an unexpected and (especially from Eastman) unwanted dividend." --Summary written by A.L.Beneteau {albl@inforamp.net}

Not to give the plot away but art & life both involve boats.

Watch more IFILM videos on AOL Video

The Virtual Thespian

The technology behind The Polar Express reminded me unremarkable Andrew Niccol film, S1M0ne (2002), with Al Pacino as a second-string director who uses software to create a virtual star. 

The Virtual Tom Hanks & the Future of Digital Cinema
This NYTimes article explains a bit on the process.

"For one thing, Mr. Hanks plays five roles, ranging from a 7-year-old boy to Santa Claus. Not all of these characters look like Mr. Hanks, but they all contain the spark of his individuality. "
With Tom Hanks playing 5 roles in The Polar Express (above), the handwriting may be on the wall for how studios cast actors. So, as the technology becomes more and more sophisticated, how will this affect the demand for acting talent and intellectual property rights? The guilds and actors should be very nervous and the entertainment lawyers will have a field day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Brand Nation

Long Beach: McDonalds (11) Starbucks (12) Wal*Mart (3)

Irvine: McDonalds (16) Starbucks (23) Wal*Mart (5)

Berkeley: McDonalds (10) Starbucks (20) Wal*Mart (4)

Anyone for Turkey & Gravy or Green Bean Casserole Soda?

Branding & Franchises: Los Angeles Angels?

The Sunday LA Times mentioned the Anaheim Angels new billboard campaign. No phone numbers, catchy phrases, season ticket reminders...just Vladamir Guerrero in action and the team logo. The billboards aren't in the OC but elsewhere in the Southland, as the Angels are trying to build up a regional presence. Moreover, since earlier this summer, the Angels are considering renaming the team the Los Angeles Angels. Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, has given Angel's owner Arte Moreno his blessing to rename the team but "Anaheim" is required for the Angel Stadium lease.

The Angels' ratings last season rose 29% on Channel 9 and 62% on Fox Sports Net, Angel Senior VP of Sales and Marketing John Carpino said.

The Angel's contract with KCAL Channel 9 is up for renewal after the 2005 season. For next season, the Angels will receive $5.2 million from KCAL, while the Dodgers will get $8 million from KCOP Channel 13.

Moreno has already removed the "Anaheim" from uniforms, schedules, and ads last season. According to Carpino, the Angels sell 65% of their season tickets in the OC, 24% in Los Angeles County, and 10% in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

pac bell...sbc park & WiFi

SBC Park in San Francisco, already a WiFi hotspot, will offer instant replays and food delivery ordering in 2005. The mobilemediary phenom is here to stay.

Monday, October 25, 2004

baseball 04

It's been an interesting year in baseball. The Giants were overtaken in the WildCard race by the streaking Astros and lost one that will go into rivalry lore, in the last 2004 game I saw live. It looked like the Giants were going to win and force a one-game playoff and quite unlike 2002 (when the Giants went to the Series), Dodger fans at Chavez Ravine became serious about the rivalry. The taunting Bonds [1], alone in a sea of green amidst Dodger blue, and heckling Giants fans bilingually are just a few things I saw on the left-field side of blue reserve. (I still don't know the story of the inflated sheep [2] but I guess it's easier to inflate than the blow-up doll of years past.) Down 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers came back to tie the game and then win it 7-3 on a grand-slam homer. The Dodgers ending a long playoff drought clinched the division that day[3]. It reminded me of a game up at Candlestick in 1982 (I was too young for road trips then) when the Giants dashed the Dodger's postseason bid. I recall seeing on channel 11, Giant's fans with "Beat LA" signs and the pelting of reliever, Steve Howe (sniffle-sniffle, coke fiend), with oranges, as he made that long walk from the 'Stick bullpen to the mound.

It was sort of interesting seeing the recent Dodgers-Giants game and then go to New York a day later, where both teams came from. The Giants dwelling at the Polo Grounds (uptown Manhattan) and the Dodgers at Ebbets Field (Flatbush-Brooklyn). I hear that there are people in Brooklyn still mad at the Dodgers for leaving but I'm sure the invasion of too-cool "hipsters," yuppies, and pseudo-artsy types give them more pressing concerns, as rents skyrocket in the area.

Well, it looks like the Bo-Sox are going to win the Series, after coming back from being down 0-3 to their dreaded rivals, the Yankees. An interesting season on many fronts...for a change.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Desperate Housewives

Disney-owned ABC's new show, Desperate Housewives, was #3 last week with 20.9M viewers. (It started very strong with 21.3M viewers in its premiere on 10/3).  It should be noted that not all of the fall lineup is being aired across the networks. It's not popular with everyone. The American Decency Association is targeting the show and its advertisers. Cue Helen Lovejoy.  Lowe's & Tyson have pulled out. Nevertheless, Fox-KTTV LA news reports thirty-second ad buys have doubled to $300K. I have yet to see it but I have sporadic TV viewing habits. My TV tastes also veer towards the odd. Anyway, some of the best drama this fall is on Fox with the ALCS-BoSox & Yankees.

The Intruder...

A month ago, PBS-Seattle-KCTS, released its Video Game Revolution documentary. There is also a webchat archive with its producer. I've been intererested in the phenomenon, although I've never really had the attention span to become a gamer. So, while in New York, I stumbled across Saint Mark's Books in the East Village and while listening to the Cheney-Edwards debate, I perused several MIT press books talking about digital culture and how video games are being "theorized" by humanities scholars and artists. One project that caught my eye was a post-feminist video game by Natalie Bookchin called, The Intruder (1999). It is based on an unpopular story by Jorge Luis Borges. It's not a fun game and the graphics are old school, but I found it interesting, as it made the player play a part in the tragic narrative. The idea that video games are a new medium that transcend literature and film rings true with me. The interactivity transforms the action, making the player more involved, but since the context is still contrived, it is still an abstraction. As a product, it's clear that the social implications of games will be debated for years, as technology alters our behaviors and reflexively, we alter technological functionality. Inserting players into interactive entertainment contexts is here to stay and the genres of games will surely expand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

indie music scene

For many, growing older means listening to crappier music that's more familiar than good/interesting/innovative, etc. NYC seems to have a lively scene, at least in the Lower East Side. Hung out in The Living Room, no cover, 1 drink per act minimum, and the acts come fast & furious...1 per hour. If you don't like what you hear, it'll change soon enough. Makes me want to seek out similar venues in esseph and LA that showcase indie talent.

Edie Carey, The Living Room, October 2004.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Village Voice's Best of NYC...

Ever vigilent of all things media related, I lucked out to be in town when the VV {free in nyc} had its "best of" issue. Best John Hughes re-enactments involving SNL cast members at Soundtracks Live. The existentialist Best Public Access TV Show with its own website (may be...is offensive). Promo here. Despite my mantra, "you ain't in Cali anymore," shades of the City of Berkeley are in Brooklyn: Best Place to Experience How Communism Leads to Fascism at the cooperative. For those of my 494 students who can't get enough of Pepsi: Best Unofficial landmark...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

(Mostly) Apple Ads Download Page

a friend of mine from graduate school and the principal behind palomar software sent me this link. several good iPod ads. the will ferrel ad is ok but not great. The BBC reviewed the campaign in 2003 by twba/chiat-day.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fuse TV

Thinking Differently?

Fuze Music Television is in hot water for trying to imitate the look & feel of Apple's iPod ads. As quipped by Nerve.com (Scanner), will this ad (dead link, 2/24/2005) catch the ire of the GGW empire?


Access-SF, the public access TV station in SF, hosts many interesting programs, ranging from special interest programming to the educational to the community-driven. The schedule is here. Public access media gives content creators the opportunity to reach an audience without the huge hurdles involved in standard media (including PBS). As a community resource with limited resources, it is an interesting challenge to effectively market a public "good."

One show oddly struck my interest, kittypr0n, which started in SF & has spread to Portland. Non-SF residents can purchase older volumes at a nominal price of $5 per volume. I'll let the producers speak for themselves (from their blog):

Accept no corporate-sponsored substitutions. Tonight at half past midnight on San Francisco channel 29, it's a new episode of the original kittypr0n. Watch for a rare appearance by actual kittens, set to the echoey sounds of BART, by Brett Lunceford's ambient project Goose. All this with no commercials, and the brand names digitally removed in post-production. (Well, no commercials, anyway.)

And, yes, we've heard about Meow TV. What can I say? Except on the most superficial level, it doesn't sound like our show. Among other things, the other show claims to be "for" cats--a somewhat stupid idea, given your average cat's attention span--while kittypr0n is for people who like watching cats. (And, yes, cats have been known to watch kittypr0n, but it's still not *for*

them. Some cats watch their shadows on the wall, too.) You will also never see "cat haiku" or a cat surfing on our show. Perhaps most importantly, according to the AP story, Meow TV "was developed after research showed that one-third of cats enjoy watching television." kittypr0n, on the other hand, was developed after watching public access while stoned. You do the math.

Blog Directories & Maps

This has been publicized elsewhere long before now. Be warned that these links tend to come & go. By geography: LA SD NYC sf bay DC SEA London Paris

garden state

Zach Braff (Scrubs) stars in & directs Garden State, a twentysomething manifesto about dropping out of {sort of} Prozac Nation (The Ricci vehicle based upon the Wurtzel novel has been shelved by Miramax for years). It's a rather clever film with a winsome Portman balancing out the other characters you just can't give a damn about. It comes with its own blog. Yes, the soundtrack is worthy of the buzz and does a perfect job of complementing a film, rather than being a crutch for narrative. The promos (aired heavily on late night broadcast TV) compared GS to Lost in Translation, both with solid soundtracks. Saw it at the Piedmont with an ale chaser at Cato's.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Film & TV Ratings Too Complicated?

The LA Times reports that during a Senate Science, Technology, & Space

subcommittee hearing, Senator Brownback [Kansas] blasted the film & TV

rating system. He's quoted as saying, "Many [parents] find the current rating system overwhelming and confusing." Really. Well, I know plenty of parents who "get" it and go beyond ratings and are able to define the boundaries of "age-appropriateness." Then again, these are folks who actually know what their kids watch. Apparently, technology by ClearPlay is out there that allows content that is"encoded" as having violence, sex, and/or nudity to be skipped or muted on DVD players. A big issue for creative content producers (mainly film) is tailoring their work to get a specified rating (e.g., recutting to avoid R and the dreaded NC-17), so directors have a vested interest in revising the system with more gradations.

Nevertheless, the concern over indecency in the media has been heightened by the now infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident on the "all ages" rated Superbowl. Ringmaster, Jerry Springer, rated TV14, with blurred flashing and obviously appealing to the "prurient" interests, tiptoes under the FCC indecency radar. He's using a business model where more outrageous content can be bought via pay-per-view and guess what...is this some cheesy basement operation akin to video streamed porn? Nope. It's big media, Universal, playing host to Jerry Springer Uncut 5 Raw & Original. This PPV model is not an isolated case as the racy Brazillian Big Brother can be viewed 24/7 (presumably uncut & unedited), circumventing regulatory scrutiny.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Original link to "Finally Woken" was broken.
Jem's "They" was added here on March 26, 2009.

The ubiquitous Jem

Sort of surprised how Jem has been getting videoplay/PR and has become the darling of soundtracks and promos. I missed a very low-key show of hers in June/July at the ultimate speakeasy basement club, Cafe du Nord. The first track (They) on the CD, Finally Woken, has back vox that reminded me of the opening title sequence in To Die For (1995) [Kidman/Dillon]. In any case, she's on the OC soundtrack and featured in the promos for the forthcoming nighttime soap for ABC, Desperate Housewives.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Product Placement in Films

Brand Cameo by BrandChannel.com is starting to list product placements in films. As consumers are bombarded with over 3,000 messages daily from multiple modes of media (think integrated marcom), this type of subtle & not-so-subtle marketing is likely to rise.

The logical (?) extreme of this is not just getting a cameo, a usage shot, or written into a script but being a part of it...and the title.

JK...Pass the Courvoisier or Give 'em What They Want

Sunday's NYT has a John Tierney article on Kerry, his brand equity, and how he has an uphill positioning/marketing problem. CSULB students can get this via COAST.

So how can the ever-patrician Mr. Kerry appeal to poor and working-class voters? Russell Simmons, the hip-hop music and fashion mogul, recommends that Mr. Kerry spend more time visiting inner-city neighborhoods, preferably accompanied by rap stars, while still remaining true to his class. Mr. Simmons points to his own success as a marketing consultant to Courvoisier, the cognac with a Thurston Howell image that became a staple of hip-hop culture.

"We brought in the hip-hop but we kept it exclusive and always protected the brand equity of Courvoisier," he said. "John Kerry can do that, too. He has to get out there with the grassroots and still dress the part. He's a better dresser than George Bush - that pink tie he's been wearing looks good with a dark suit. John Kerry has brand equity, and he needs to protect it. But he doesn't do that by windsurfing."

On a tangent, all of this reminds me of the Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniac lyrics & video to Candy Everybody Wants, which, at the time, I thought of as both visually clever and odd, being an anti-marketing form of marketing/promotions (music video). Of course, anti-marketing marketing is all over the place these days.

The Cosmopolitan Party

Well, TBS is hyping its syndicated broadcasts of Sex and the City with a Vote Carrie site. Too bad the Cosmo (part of the show's lore) is sooo 90s, as the cool drinks have moved on to the mojito and the caipirinha.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Meet Me in Montauk

According to IndieScene, it looks like this genre may have started around 1998 with the Blair Witch site fueling the buzz generated by word-of-mouth. More recently, fake company websites linked to scripts have been cropping up. Indie film examples in '04 are Lacuna, Inc., the shady medical outfit that erases memories in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the ersatz Wal*Mart-esque Huckabees and The Open Spaces Coalition for the forthcoming I ♥ Huckabees.

Monday, April 12, 2004

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