February 2nd, 2008 | Jonathan Gray
Though, as my previous post stated, this conference wasnâ€™t as fundamentally different from others Iâ€™ve been to, nor were its participants so completely a different breed, let me now nevertheless discuss some key differences that did strike me.
I begin with a rather trivial one: the exhibit floor is way cooler than the book room at SCMS, ICA, etc. Academic conferences have books on display, and occasionally a wine and cheese table if youâ€™re lucky. At NATPE, each network had its own snack and espresso bar. There was a tour bus on the floor. Everyone had candy (are you listening, Routledge?). One booth had performing cats and a sinister looking ringleader with a twirly moustache (are you listening, Columbia University Press? And yes, I’m serious. See here). A tree-cutting machine/vehicle was on the floor, with huge tree trunks too (advertising a cool sounding show called Nosak Raw from Oklahoma that shows trees being downed â€“ imagine the destruction scenes from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition becoming their own show). A young Orphan Annie passed out flyers. Bright lights. Free promo DVDs. Free flavored vodkas. Free bald head wipes. Lots of flatscreen TVâ€™s. All quite fun, and quite impressive.
As for more substantive differences? After the fold…
January 31st, 2008 | Jonathan Gray
As evident in my previous post, itâ€™s easy to create weâ€™s and themâ€™s here at NATPE, the â€œweâ€ being either academics or audiences, the â€œthemâ€ being the execs and the industry. The language, for one, is very different. Miranda Banks has been recording buzzwords and frequently used phrases, so if you know her, you should ask for a list. I listed several in my previous post â€“ â€œmonetization,â€ â€œmaking the pie biggerâ€ â€“ but a few others include the obsession with â€œgrowing the audienceâ€ (like weâ€™re giant pumpkins going to the state fair), â€œgatekeeping,â€ â€œwalled gardens,â€ and â€œfirewallsâ€ (presumably to make sure those pumpkins stay where theyâ€™re meant to be), and a concern â€“ as the American broadcast industry approaches the February 2008 deadline for moving to digital â€“ that oneâ€™s â€œanalog dollarsâ€ may turn into â€œdigital centsâ€ (the price of pumpkins, it seems, just ainâ€™t what it used to be). More below the fold ….
January 30th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray
Iâ€™m sitting in a session about branded entertainment thatâ€™s using Axeâ€™s Game Killers as a case study, and I find myself in an odd position. They clearly did a fantastic job, very successfully using multiple media and seamlessly moving the text across these various platforms. But the text is about dudes trying to hit on women and getting blocked. So this marks one of the first times when Iâ€™ve seen a masterful transmedia presence for something about which I donâ€™t care for one iota. The resounding cynical question in my head: arenâ€™t guys on the prowl usually their own perpetual alternative reality game already? Usually, a good transmedia attempt excites me, but not here. More after the fold…
January 30th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray
For those wondering what that weird acronym stands for (National Association of Toilet Paper Enthusiasts? of Tyrannosaurus Pelvis Excavators? of Tent Pole Economics?), itâ€™s the National Association of Television Production Executives. The NATPE Convention is one of the major American television industry conferences and buying festivals on the calendar. And no, I havenâ€™t been drafted to the industry. Iâ€™m here because I got a NATPE Fellowship from their Educational Foundation, so am here on their dime. Iâ€™ll try to post more general reflections later, but for now, some reflections from the first morning.
It began with a bang. Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal gave the opening address. Heâ€™s quite an electrifying speaker â€“ Hollywood Reporterâ€™s Elizabeth Guilder (who did the Q&A after the speech) compared him to Obama, though he balked at the comparison (more of a Kucinich supporter himself?), as do I for other reasons (one of many being that I’m not sure MLK was dreaming of Zucker heading NBC). But he certainly didnâ€™t disappoint, either in offering substance or in delivery. I saw shades of Ari Gold, Jeremy Pivensâ€™s brilliant creation from Entourage, not in terms of sexist bravado, but in terms of complete confidence, energy, and a slice of imperial gravitas.
He began by joking that he came in boring times, but then threw down the gauntlet pretty quickly by stating that â€œtraditional business models in Hollywood are under pressure, and their replacements are not yet ready for prime time,â€ a situation that â€œdemands a re-engineering of our business, from top to bottom.â€ With CBS prominently deciding to sit this NATPE out in favor of a bigger presence at CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), and NBCâ€™s head kicking things off this way, this would seem to be a clear indication that the old guard finally get that somethingâ€™s up.Â More after the fold…
Tags: Jeff Zucker