August 29th, 2009

The Entertainment Industry is Annoying Me. . .

From Nikki Finke, Deadline Hollywood Daily:

As the summer winds down, studio execs needing a vacation are getting punchier (and their quotes to me snarkier). But even Hollywood is embarrassed by the fact that this weekend's Top 4 competing films [Final Destination 3D, Halloween II, Inglourious Basterds, District 9] featuring horror, death, gore, mayhem, war, Nazis, aliens, and sci-fi all did so well at the box office Friday. "What a sad statement on movie-going humanity," a top studio exec emailed me tonight.

Yes, because science fiction is such a blight on humanity. Also, I myself don't care much for horror, but Mr. Studio Executive sounds like the type of idiot who thinks violent video games are creating an army of prepubescent psychopaths.

The L.A. Times on Cartoon Network
Since launching several live-action reality shows in June and moving away from its animation roots, Cartoon Network, which is owned by Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting, has been playing a game of hide-and-seek with its audience. Few of its new shows -- which include "Survive This," a knockoff for kids of CBS' "Survivor"; "The Othersiders," about a bunch of paranormal-obsessed ghost-hunting teens; and "Brain Rush," a quiz show with contestants on roller coasters -- are catching on with viewers, and none are among the network's top 10 series. Only one -- "Destroy Build Destroy," whose title is self-explanatory -- is gaining any traction.

The move toward live-action and reality shows with a tilt toward preteen and teenage boys is not happening on a whim. [Stuart] Snyder said the network's research told him that kids want a diverse slate of content. "Our network was 100% cartoons, and our audience is saying we also want to see ourselves," he said.

"We have seen the trends," Snyder said. "We believe that by diversifying and providing more live-action or even sports content, we will have the ability to deliver new advertisers to the network." In particular, he wants to target electronics and technology companies because children have become big consumers of cellphones and video games and often are texting, gaming and watching TV at the same time.

Leading the makeover is Rob Sorcher, a veteran cable programming executive who joined Cartoon Network last year after a stint at AMC, where he spearheaded that network's push toward original dramas and was involved in the development of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." Sorcher knows there is a lot of ill will inside and outside Cartoon Network for what he and Snyder are doing.

"All these changes are painful," Sorcher said. "The people who are deep fans don't want it." He recalled that when running AMC, he "took a very bad beating" from viewers who were upset that he changed the channel's old movie format. Now, Sorcher added, "no one would question it."

I'd question it. Other than Mad Men, AMC is a useless network. It what appears to be a grand total of seven movies. Almost every time I flip to the network, it is airing Wolf! If you ask somebody to name a show on AMC that's not Mad Men, you'd get silence. The network is batting one out of a hundred sixty-eight hour week.

But the team is well on its way to AMCizing CN. Chowder is officially canceled:
it's like being the hot girl who just got out a bad relationship; your phone starts ringing from everyone else who's been wanting to date you. It's nice to hear from other networks how much they enjoy the show, especially when you don't really hear it from your own. Chowder has opened up a lot of awesome possibilities for me, and creatively I'm feeling more inspired than ever. There are some new ideas I'm working on that will hopefully find a good home somewhere in the next year.

We wish you the best, C. H. Greenblatt

Although they are committed to their approach, they disagree on the fate of Cartoon Network's name. Snyder said he didn't believe the name has to be changed. Sorcher said he expects "we will have to deal with this down the line."

Yes, AMCize the network.