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Monday, February 03, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres







"On January 24, at five in the morning after his final day at the ­Washington Post, Ezra Klein awoke in his condo in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood; sent out his final Wonkbook, the daily policy briefing e-mailed to more than 40,000 subscribers; and flew to California to visit UCLA, his alma mater. It was a Friday, and that evening, a few hundred students had gathered in a campus ballroom to watch two seers of the digital future chat about disruption. Klein was there at the invitation of Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, who was touring college campuses to promote his up-with-innovators book, Without Their Permission. The event had a whiff of Palo Alto tent revival. As students took their seats, speakers blared EDM. Ohanian took the stage and began a comic spiel that was part entrepreneurial exhortation—the word awesome got heavy rotation—and part crowd-pleasing appeal to generational self-regard. He spoke of 'the incumbents' (Silicon Valley–speak for Those to Be Overthrown) and, affecting the Batman villain Bane’s camp baritone, said, 'They merely adopted the Internet. We were born in it. Molded by it.' He spoke of 'the haters' and 'the gatekeepers,' as a LOLCat-style photo was projected on the screen behind him showing a bespectacled granny over the caption WHAT CHANNEL IS THE NETFLIX ON? Then Klein, who is 29, lope-strutted onstage to join him. By temperament, Klein is less of a revolutionary than Ohanian. He has never even fit the stereotype of a young Washington striver, exactly—he is more self-effacing than abrasive, and his boundless drive seems less about maximizing power than projecting his worldview and amassing successes. He has done this, in part, by insinuating himself into the Washington Establishment, and he is skeptical of technologist worship. While Ohanian whipped up the crowd with visions of Internet domination, Klein was a tempering voice, reminding the students of their extreme privilege and taking aim at the lionizing of Silicon Valley innovators. 'I don’t think there’s anything all that heroic, honestly, about being Mark Zuckerberg,' he told the crowd. But Klein isn’t a completely different breed from Ohanian and his fellow insurgents." (NYMag)


Photo: Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos/New York Magazine


"At what point during the week do you know whether an episode of Saturday Night Live is going to be good or bad? You don’t. If it goes well at the Monday meeting, where the writers and cast are meeting the host and telling their ideas, then it may dip when we actually read the pieces. Sometimes we have a very bad read-through, but that just means people are made more alert that new stuff has to be generated. Just before Christmas, we didn’t have a cold open when Kristen Wiig made the mistake of coming by to say hello on Friday night. I went downstairs, got a haircut, and by the time I came back fifteen minutes later they had the Sound of Music sketch. And that was the opening of that week’s show. You’ve been dealing with crises like this for almost 40 years now. The only show I ever really wanted to do was SNL. It was some sort of merging of my talent and my metabolism. It suited who I am and what I do really well, though whatever I was thinking it was, it kept mutating and growing. At first I didn’t even know that the cast would be the thing everybody talked about. We thought it would be the hosts. You’re still extremely hands-on as a producer. Can you walk me through one of your typical weeks? Monday we do that meeting, usually around 5 or 5:30 p.m. I meet the host first, and then everyone piles into my office. We go around the room and tell ideas. Most people prepare for it; a lot of people lie. But it’s my way of saying—particularly if everyone’s tired from the week before—that we’re starting again. Monday night, I’m generally either at home or at dinner by eight. Not too bad. Not too bad. Tuesday, around 8:30 p.m., I take the host to dinner, which is helpful, because you get a sense of them in a relaxed situation and where you’re going to go with their monologue. Then we come back here. Until how late? I leave around 3 a.m. Tuesday is writing night." (NYMag)



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