Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Little of the Old In and Out


(image via businessweek)

In: Judy McGrath, CEO, MTV. If video killed the radio star, then what will digital do to MTV? Judy McGrath gets the cover treatment in the latest issue of Businessweek. Ever since she let a goldmine like MySpace -- is there anything more MTV than MySpace? -- slip through her talented fingers, people have been asking: Has MTV jumped the shark? And yet, in a new mobile digital age you would think MTV -- like Comedy Central, like the Cartoon Network, and like Playboy -- is a no brainer to come out at the upper reaches of the emerging food chain. According to Businessweek:

"At 53, she is chairman and CEO of MTV Networks Co. The $7 billion-a-year operation she oversees is a collection of some of the most recognizable brands in the business, from the original MTV to Nickelodeon to VH1 to Comedy Central. Their programs are seen in 169 countries and heard in 28 languages. Under her management are such youth icons as SpongeBob SquarePants, the South Park runts, and comedian Jon Stewart.

"... Think about the cold dread the MTV chief and her coterie of aging hipster executives felt last summer when they heard Rupert Murdoch had outbid MTV parent Viacom for

"The exploding social networking community of 54 million registered young people would have been a perfect fit with MTV. Instead, for $580 million, it went to Murdoch, a steely competitor but hardly an arbiter of hip. The Murdoch deal was no mere acquisition; it was a red flag. In a rare stern message to her senior staff, according to one executive present, McGrath warned that MTV could no longer afford to miss opportunities like myspace. Not when old business models were blowing up and every week brought a new outlet for doing what MTV had done so well for years -- capturing the niche.

"So McGrath has declared 'a digital Marshall Plan.' It signals the end of the one-screen company. The troops must now deliver services across new broadband channels, over cell phones, and via video games. Because MTV is so tapped into its consumers -- 'we're more inside the heads of our audience than anybody else' -- advertisers will stay with MTV, she insists."

More here.


Old Methuselah. (image via fixco1)

Out: Alan Greenspan. Are we the only ones on the planet who think the Methuselan Alan Greenspan is entirely overrated? And, what's more, since when do Fed Reserve Chairmen, who serve at the pleasure of the President, get to even have "legacies?" At what point in the history of the Republic did our the duly-appointed watchdogs of the banks achieve more influence and fame than actual elected officials? (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment)

Christopher Hitchens, The Corsair's former mentor at The Nation, once got Greenspan to admit at a boozy DC dinner party that he still worshipped at the shrine of the slightly creepy Ayn Rand, that smouldering sex symbol of economists and actuaries everywhere. (Averted Gaze; Considerable pause) Ironically, before The Hoary One got in with the in-crowd among the Rand cultists (Granted: Can anyone truly be "In" at an Ayn Rand cult meeting?), he was referred to, icily, as "The Mortician."

Clearly, Alan has stepped up his game and put a little more flava in his funk in these intervening decades. Our favorite Dickensian villain writes:

"Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's appearance, for a $250,000 honorarium, at a Lehman Brothers secret dinner in Manhattan last Tuesday created dismay among his former colleagues at the Fed.

"Published reports indicated that Greenspan alerted Lehman partners and clients that the markets are underestimating future Fed interest rate increases. Such hints would violate the central bank's rules. Fed sources also say Greenspan broke from past practice by chairing the last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee after his departure date had been announced.

"Greenspan's alleged comments were leaked to the news media by a Lehman Brothers official who was not invited to dinner."

We can see the influence of Ayn Rand's blind romantic love of businessmen in these actions. The only question that remains is: Did Greenspan give each of the Lehman partner's robust "reach arounds" after dinner?


(image via twitchfilms)

In: The Hollywood Shitty Season. Big Momma's House 3. The Pink Panther. When a Stranger Calls. You may have noticed that there are a lot of shitty movies going trafficking in intellectual pollution. We are deep into what The Corsair likes to call "The Hollywood Shitty Season." Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today fills us in:

"Starting today, teens in pursuit of a good fright, or even a slight boo, are likely to flock to a film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ryan Merriman as high-schoolers who cheat death and pay a price.

"Ryan Merriman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are back in Final Destination 3, a franchise that has topped $100 million.

"Not to worry. What's important is that the target audience recognizes the real star of the movie � its title, Final Destination 3.

"This latest chapter in the horror series, which has scared up more than $110 million total, features a cast of no-names who share an attribute that goes beyond mere talent: They aren't famous enough to distract or detract from the franchise.

"They are part of a special breed who proliferate at this time of year. They aren't A-list.

"Sometimes, they aren't even B-list. In the case of Winstead and Merriman, they're simply unlisted.

"Call them offseason actors, who rarely show up at the multiplex in the competitive heat of summer or the Oscar-contender crunch of late fall. The budgets of their films would barely cover the tab for Angelina and Brad's baby formula. They are the ones at celebrity events being elbowed aside for the 'real' stars.

"'This is when Casper Van Dien gets to have his moment in the sun,' says comic Kathy Griffin about the actor who zapped giant bugs in Starship Troopers."

How brilliant is it to get the citric Kathy Griffith to comment on the Hollywood Shitty Season? More here.


(image via voccoquan)

Out: Don Imus. For the life of me I cannot -- cannot -- understand how Don Imus has become the go-to guy for weekday morning Washington Establishment power (and, in the process, gained a cable-tv show despite the astonishing absence of listeners). How is that? Is The Corsair not so much more talented? Isn't everyone? The Don Imus Show is abysmally bad; it is virtually unlistenable. And yet: There he is. James Wolcott modestly cuffs Imus about the ears on his blog:

"Yes, it is a bit much for Don Imus to have a sudden attack of Emily Post and start grouching about the political comments chestily flown at Coretta Scott King's funeral service in the presence of President Bush and his lovely wife Rita. Racial enlightment has never been a shining hallmark of the Imus show, from the verbal blackface of their Sambo caricatures of black celebrities to Sid Rosenberg's infamous dig at the Williams sisters to Imus's own use of the 'n' word, which he first denied, then admitted sheepishly, as if he had been caught making a naughty.*

"The white elitist media-fraternity racism of the show is matched only by its bullyboy hazing of women, particularly the unfortunate female broadcasters from Janice Dean to Contessa Brewer who have had to put up with the jeering innuendos of Imus's over-the-hill gang, of which he's the reigning Jack Elam.

"But there's another reason Imus felt the white politicians and black preachers went over the line with Bush and Rita parked there, forced to listen. He has an affinity for bubble boy, because Imus is a bubble boy himself. In his studio, surrounded by his chortling crew, he acts unassailable, a cranky king refusing to bow and scrape to anyone, no matter how famous or powerful; complaining about minor annoyances like an old fart hunting for his lost liniment; threatening to go nuclear on some salesperson or WFAN exec who thwarts or offends him; bragging about his expensive vehicles or leased jets; telling people in advance not to talk to him or otherwise impose their petty presence in his field of vision. A lot of it is shtick, but a lot of it is not; he's a very coddled man who expects to be coddled, and crabs like a baby with diaper rash when he isn't.

"Take him out of the bubble with no backup and he's just a upright piece of driftwood."

Fa realsie. More here.

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