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TV Squad Daily with Brigitte - VIDEO

by Brigitte Dale, posted Dec 28th 2007 7:03PM
Hey, Brigitte here with TV Squad Daily. I'll be covering the TV stories I find interesting each day, Monday through Friday, in this video blog.

Today, on TV Squad Daily:
The video's embedded below, or you can subscribe to this podcast via our feed. Plus, you can also download the file directly.

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Chris

WE,

As far as creative types migrating to the web, there's good opportunities there but also risks. Creative types can create content for online delivery easier than ever, but why should they? Not to be too blunt about it, but where's the money come from?

Having full creative control sounds great in theory, but what comes with that is the need to market yourself and your content and monetize it, which isn't easy. Creative types CAN become their own mini-studios, doing everything themselves, but there's just as much risk at never being rewarded for it as there is in trying to find a place within the more traditional studio/network/production company paradigm (or more).

Plus -- and this is the dirty little secret that, as a writer, I almost hate to share -- writers don't hate the studios and networks. They want studios and networks and production companies to exist because those are the people who take care of all that tedious business b.s. that writers (and other creative types) don't WANT to do themselves.

I wonder how many people who watch Brigitte's show realize how much work goes into making these videos at all, much less making them as good as they are. Two minutes may not sound like a long video to some, but that's because they've never done it...much less done it five days a week for however long this show has been running (a year or more?).

Creating content is hard enough; having to market it and otherwise run an entire business (as a best-case scenario) at the same time is really tough. That's why some transmogrification of the current studio system will eventually migrate to the web. It's already begun. It also wouldn't surprise me if the current studios/networks in place simply make the shift as the technology combines TV with internet. That, too, has already begun.

This partnership between writers (and other creative types) with the business types isn't going anywhere; it's just reinventing itself. Creative types will always look for business-minded people to help them sell their content while leaving them free to do what they're good at and enjoy -- creative stuff. And business people will always look for creative types to make something for them to do what they're good at and enjoy -- bringing it to a market.

The current strike, however, is important because it underlines a fundamental problem in the entertainment business -- "a misallocation of talent appreciation" (to coin a phrase). Writers (and directors and especially editors) are under-appreciated by the business types whereas actors are over-appreciated. Follow the money and you'll see that it's true.

Why is it true? Because of the way shows and movies are made: a script is written, business types read and have to IMAGINE what it would be like if filmed, and then give it the green light or not. That's not easy to do, especially for a relatively non-creative business type.

What is easy, however, is making judgments about any given actor's "hotness level" or "buzz level." Everyone who pays even passing attention to the industry has a built-in temperature reading on George Clooney versus Tom Cruise versus Tom Selleck or Lindsay Lohan versus Allison Lohman versus Meryl Streep. That's any easy criterion with which to make a decision; judging the quality of a script is not.

That's why the business types in the industry make decisions based more on who's attached to a project than on the script itself. Even though "star power" has never proven to be a reliable way to judge a project's profit-likeliness, the business types in the industry persist in making decisions that way -- feeding the over-appreciation of actors versus writers and directors (who are actually much more responsible for the quality of a project than any given actor) -- because it's something they understand and are comfortable with.

The so-called "migration" from more traditional media outlets like TV to the web is, I think, overstated. Has the web robbed TV (and movies and radio, etc.) of some of its audience, or at least audience time? Certainly. People only have so many hours in the day, and hours they spend online are hours they aren't spending watching TV.

Still, I don't think -- at this point anyway -- that people are abandoning TV left and right for the web for several reasons. First, lounging in front of the TV is easier than lounging in front of a computer. As TVs and computers continue on their road toward combining, this will get easier. Certainly, devices like Apple's TV thing are taking us in this direction, but the vast majority of people would still rather recline in a comfy chair or on a comfy couch with a TV remote rather than sit upright at a computer, having to mouse around and use the keyboard to navigate.

Second, although there

January 01 2008 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris

Tom,

Sorry, but I think your analysis of the writers' strike is way off. Yes, writers will suffer, but don't think that networks aren't suffering also.

Do you honestly think that studio and network executives aren't scared? Being a network executive is perhaps slightly less tenuous a position than being royal taster for a hated dictator, but only slightly. Executives live and die by WEEKLY ratings, let alone quarterly results. Sure, a lot shuffle around to a new positions at different networks or studios after getting fired from their old one for missing their quarterly projections by a half-point, but if all the networks and studios are in the same, screwed position, then where will they have to turn?

And I don't believe the viewing public will turn against the writers as the strike goes on. In fact, only in the coming month or two will the viewing public truly be exposed to the effect of the writers' strike. Many shows are only now running out of new episodes. Even with the networks premiering some new fictional entertainment in January, those are going to run out, too, and then the public will truly see what a difference the absence of writers make. When all prime time is nothing but news and crap reality, THEN the public is going to get pissed off because THEN they're going to be deprived of their best entertainment.

As long as news coverage of the strike remains fair and objective, I think people are going to see what studios/networks can do WITHOUT writers and remember what they could do WITH writers and start pressuring the studios to settle already because they want to know what happens next on House and Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy and The Office.

The viewing public has little patience for re-runs. Why do networks always try so hard with their "new to you" crap every summer and try to pack in as many special events as possible? Because their ratings and advertising dollars take a big hit while new shows are being written and filmed.

The viewing public also isn't completely stupid and quality does tend to win out. Are there wince-worthy exceptions, both of good shows going nowhere and terrible shows being successful? Of course. But, just as with movies, it's all a gamble and if you want the best odds, gamble on quality.

Even reality shows that I think are quite stupid, like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, tend to do better than the more embarrassingly dumb reality shows because they do have a modicum of entertainment value. Other reality shows are base hits for studios and networks. They cost little, risk little, and then often do okay.

But as any investor knows -- and a network planning its overall programming line up makes decisions exactly like any investor would -- the key to a successful overall strategy is diversification. Yes, base hits are great, but you also need some shows that will swing for the cheap seats. Why? Because if you manage to find and air a Lost or Friends or Frasier, you not only command a much larger viewership while the show airs (meaning ad money), but you get set up for a virtually eternal revenue stream from residuals like syndication, DVD sales, and merchandising.

How many people buy a season of The Bachelor on DVD versus one of Friends? How many Celebrity Garage Sale companion books and T-shirts get sold as opposed to Lost merchandise items?

The real reason studios and networks are being so difficult is that they don't want to set a dangerous precedent by settling too quickly and easily with the writers when the directors' and actors' guilds also have contract renewals coming up and could strike, too. So, the studios have to make a big show of being difficult to fend off these other two groups when they come with their hands out. Unfortunately, it would have been better if either or both of those groups had gone on strike first since they're far, far more dispensable and replaceable than writers.

December 31 2007 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chris's comment
Jonmark Pierce

Tom and Chris
I would guess that as the writers's strike goes on, more viewers will be turning to the Internet for information and entertainment.

Do online vlogs like Brigitte's have access to collective bargaining organizations such as unions or guilds? After all, she writes, produces, directs, films and acts in this little gem of a program, and it's apparently her concept, too. That doesn't pigeonhole very well, but as online programs become more mainstream it seems that questions of collective representation and intellectual property would become inevitable. Thanks for any insight you can provide.
WE

December 31 2007 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dustin

Cliffhanger!!

December 31 2007 at 3:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steven

Hey Charmer – It’s officially Winter and I noticed that your skin is incredibly pale today. I mean even pale by bd standards… There is nothing hotter than your skin Brigitte! You’re beautiful.

So why have I been slackin’ with the comment output recently? And how the heck did I miss Friday’s show (until now)? I’ll tell ya…

It’s my Russian girlfriends’ fault. They’re always dragging me out and about until almost sun up. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been surrounded by too much vodka and cigarettes… and not enough chess! It all started because I THOUGHT THEY KNEW HOW TO PLAY! This stuff’s gotta stop in 2008!

So I’ve got just one more crazy night with the Russians… :)

December 30 2007 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sean jackson

"He He He!" "Ha Ha Ha!" or "Get a Life!" Take your choice of three word sentences. end of line.

December 29 2007 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonmark Pierce

PS Murphy
Yes, we're pretty well past the pumpkin pie stage, I'm afraid. I wouldn't be accepting any pumpkin smoothies, either.
WE

December 29 2007 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Murphy

ooops...I meant homemade pumpkin PIE.

December 29 2007 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim Murphy's comment
Jonmark Pierce

@Mr. Murphy Murphy Murphy
Aw man, you've been mizled-I mean misled. I weren't taking your name in vain, I was offering you a little love, in vain. That we're all going a little bit soft in the head seemed like a thing you might say. A tip of the hat, you know? Glad to see you're still looking in on us now and again. (Any macabre comments I've recently made can be attributed to The Season, as reasonable a response to endlessly repeated canned carols as hearing "Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey" at 6 am on a Saturday morning putting a teenager into a homicidal rage. Seems entirely logical to me!)

@Tom
Thanks for your cogent analysis of the writers's strike and who gonna beat whom. (I love the Fats Wallers quote, "One nevah knows, do one?") One of the entertaning features of this vlog is that Brigitte seems to attract more than the minimum number of viewers who can string three words together in a straight line. Maybe it's because I'm terminally left-handed, but I almost always read the comments before I watch the show. The show and the comments complement each other--though the commenters compliment Brigitte far more often than Brigitte compliments the commenters. That seems logical, too.
WE

December 29 2007 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sean jackson

First off...some of you people talk too much about the most boring subjects you can find.(Tom) Second: go outside for a change or start your own blog to get other people to harp on your every word because we are here to watch Brigitte with her comments not yours!! Happy New Year!!
"Hooray for Hard Melons"

December 29 2007 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sean jackson's comment
Tom

This is my fault…we had our whole “teaching Sean to talk to girls” lessons and I completely forgot about it. It’s natural for you to lash out. I understand. I’m there for ya buddy.

So next lesson: when you try to be cool by making a point make sure you take the interests of the girl in to consideration. Now take your comments above, you said…

some of you people talk too much about the most boring subjects you can find.(Tom)

Now I’m hoping what you meant was “some people boringly talk too much about interesting subjects” but assuming you didn’t let’s look at this logically. Brigitte hosts a show…called >>>TV

December 29 2007 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

Okey dokey, something went wrong with me trying to draw attention to the word TV, so we now rejoin my previous post…already in progress…

Squad Daily. In that show she picks her own topics and she has chosen to talk about the writer’s strike…a lot. So much so that she had a phase where she didn’t talk about the writer’s strike because she felt she was talking about the writer’s strike too much. So maybe…just maybe…she doesn’t find the subject boring.
Again, making fun of my delivery would have been good fun (had you done it well) but saying the topic was boring…not too smooth.

As for talking too much you very much have a point but let’s be honest here…I’m so damn lovable. I honestly don’t even know how I do it. It really boggles the mind. So how could you not want a little more of me in your life? Plus I’m a guy who still programs about 9 hours a day and accordingly types 110 wpm so there’s that.

In all seriousness, if you really are trying to pick a fight with me (or even pick on me) you’re wasting your time. The simple truth is that I’m just in this to have fun. Sure I’ll throw out a serious point here and there (and probably talk too much while I’m doing it) but in the end I’m just bouncing off whatever I think is amusing. Whether that means reacting to what Brigitte says or what other people say it doesn’t really matter. To me this thread is like watching a good TV show with people you like, the comments about the show are going to be half the party and if you ever did manage to get a good one over on me I’d enjoy it as much as you did because that’s part of the fun.

December 29 2007 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lincoln

Ok, you know my request not to mention Paris Hilton again, ever? Let's throw Jessica Simpson into the mix too. :-)

December 29 2007 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonmark Pierce

Penrod may be getting a little bit soft in the head, but aren't we all? (nods to Murphy) P-rod is maybe halfway through his post-picking "life" span, so he has quite a long way to go. You might see a little mold, and you won't be able to toss him around (the indignity!) or play airplane with him; you'll just have to accommodate his advancing infirmities. But as you wisely haven't broken the skin, you'll still be able to write on him with a Sharpie marker for quite some time. (Eventually, it might have to be black paint and a brush.) I've had pumpkins from Hallowe'en until early summer, when they got so gross I finally had to bury them. Then a few weeks later, I'd see the little green leaves peeking up through the composted mule manure. Nature, orange in tooth and claw!

On the radio this morning, I heard that yesterday marked the "tipping point" at which the strike has cost the writers more in salary than they stand to gain from the strike. (As if anyone could look into the future to see what that gain might eventually be.) What wasn't reported, of course, was that the networks have lost infinitely more in ad revenue than the pittance it would have cost to give the writers their fair share of the royalties. I haven't seen any stats on the rate of viewer attrition, if any, clearly attributable to the strike. Does the diminishing rate of ad revenue correlate to fewer eyeballs, or merely to the advertisers' knowledge that they have the networks over a barrel?

I hope the writers win this one, I really do--a classic case of labor vs. capital.

Makes me wonder, though, how bad television has to get for folks just to turn it off for good. I suspect we're not even close.
WE




December 28 2007 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jonmark Pierce's comment
Tom

I very much doubt the studios are losing any money right now and I would guess the strike isn’t hurting them much at all.
Keep in mind that studios aren’t some single entity that can be hurt. They (in a very simplified manner) consist of two groups of people: Studio Executives and Studio Investors.
Studio Executives are still getting the same pay check they always get whether they’re figuring out how to juggle reality shows or original programming. There is the theory that they might get less of a bonus but at the salary level of most studio execs I really don’t think they’re going to sweat a bonus. Moreover the studio itself is still making close to what they were making before because less people are watching across the board which means that advertisers will have to pay more for fewer viewers. Don’t get me wrong, ad rates will go down but not all that much. Beyond that Reality TV costs 10 times less than original programming and repackaged shows (from USA Network or other countries such as England or Canada) cost even less than that. Bottom line is that it’s very unlikely that Studio Execs will be penalized in their bonus because studio revenue isn’t suffering that much.
As for Studio Investors, they aren’t losing either. The sad reality of the world is that the stock market is not tied exclusively to how much money a company makes but instead is tied to how much people think that company will make in the future. In other words the stock of a studio is more likely to fall if they agree to a deal that investors think will cost them money on an ongoing basis (aka the WGA’s proposed deal) than it is if Studios were to lose money in the near term waiting the writers out. So Investors are better off waiting the writers out as well.
Now look at the writers. Now hopefully they have some kind of savings they can live off of but the reality is that, in a competition to see who can last the longest, the writers will lose. The Studios don’t want to but could go on indefinitely if they needed to which is far more than the writers can say. Moreover statistics say the longer a strike goes on the less the public will side with the writers. So the WGA gets less popular by the day while the studios position gets stronger.
Bottom line: both sides of this strike are being too greedy in my opinion but the writers are the only ones being stupid. They can’t win this and every day they go on with the strike they just end up making themselves more miserable while causing virtually no pain to the studio heads or the studio investors.

December 29 2007 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Murphy

Wind, Wind, Wind...

Was that use of my name in vain necessary?

Regarding Penrod, I overheard Brigitte muttering under her breath. The time has come and gone to make pie. If he's soft without cooking him, he's probably not good for making pie anymore. (NOTE TO SELF: When Brigitte offers homemade pumpkin, pass.)

December 29 2007 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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