If What’s New is Old & What’s Old is Obsolete, Then What Does That Make the New?

by Larry Brody

If I get it right, Shane Smith is telling us that a big problem with New Media is that it is spending all its resources imitating Old Media. Web TV, he says as the keynote speaker at something called IWNY HQ 2012. Same kind of programming. Same kind of publicity. Same kind of business practices. Same kind of sales tactics.

I say, “If I get it right,” because Shane Smith, the founder of a New Media company called Vice, which recently made a deal to produce a show on Old Media’s HBO and tells us about it in a way that reveals a man incredibly proud of being ashamed of not being original and is described in the “New York Times” as “a robust storyteller, the type who wears a few extra pounds as if they’re a trophy from good living,” but I found his presentation, including the clips from his new show, so dull that I couldn’t watch more than the first five minutes.

To be fair, “The Times” also calls this crazy, zany, “Falstaffian” figure both “a voice of a generation of too-cool D.J.’s and artists who wear rolled selvedge jeans and chunky glasses…[and]also a conduit for corporate America to reach that elusive audience.” So they see that he’s not exactly totally devoted to art, youth, or, for that matter greed.

To be still fairer, I have to say that from what I saw, if Falstaff had had the dynamism, intelligence, guts, and good humor of Shane Smith, HENRY IV would not be a play routinely produced at important venues and forced upon English lit students to this day.

Why am I ranting?

Disappointment, pure and simple. Like Shane Smith (who does have a cool name and kinda looks like my hero, Louis C.K.), I too have been disappointed in and by that particular aspect of New Media called internet TV. I agree with him that it has become so derivative in so many ways that those involved should be embarrassed, so when a friend sent me the video above and I read the “Times” article I was looking forward to finding a media messiah I could prostrate myself for.

But Shane Smith has made Brodyworld’s one inexcusable error: He has forgotten that the reason we strive to be new, to find new ways of communicating, new ideas, and new financing to support the communication of the ideas is to capture our audience’s attention and, at the same time, release its soul. Creative people/Old and New Media moguls/content creators/content suppliers (sadly not the same, often, as the creators) should be lighting me on fire, inspiring me to take to the streets and give everything I have to remake Broadway/Rockefeller Plaza/the Grey Lady/the Marvel Universe/the porn universe, et al into a tomorrow I can’t even envision – which is the whole point of tomorrows; it’s what makes them exciting.

Instead, he ignored the remote in his Old Media audience’s hands and the mouse at the end of New Media fanatics, and he gave me the same old, same old in the same old, same old way and I got so bored I had to write this just to try and wake up.

And now, to bed.

LB: What’s the Connection between the Silver Surfer and My Favorite Failed Web Site?

by Larry Brody

TVWriter.Com has been a very successful website for a very long time. But that hasn’t kept me from thinking about ways to make our little home away from home a bit more than it’s been.

Got to thinking about a website Dan Davison and I put together about five years ago. The object behind PeerProducer.Com was to – for free – teach newbies how to make the best video they could. We never really got it flying for all the reasons most people don’t get things flying.

But today I ran across this promo video I made with another Dan, Dan Reynolds, President of TV station KTO 8 in the garden spot (I mean this) of Harrison, AR. And, dammit, I don’t care if it only got 187 views. I like it.

And now I’m getting the itch to make more.

LB: I still don’t know Ken Levine…

…but he sure knows what it’s like to write for TV. Here’s what Memorial Day means to writers:

Memorial Day then staff work begins!

Happy Memorial Day. This is the time of the year when writing staffs go back to work. If you’re an aspiring TV scribe, I hope someday that’ll be you. Here’s what you can sort of expect…at least on the comedy side.

The first week will just be sharing vacation stories, home remodeling nightmares, debating the Dan Harmon firing,  trashing WHITNEY. You’ll go out for long lunches, bitch about how much other writers make, compare Prius prices, recommend apps for your iPad and iPhone, and discuss the upcoming summer movie slate. My blog might come up. Half will like it, half will think it’s a piece of shit.

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Ken Levine on COMMUNITY & Dan Harmon

And now, a pro’s view of the Dan Harmon/COMMUNITY debacle.

By a really good and very, very credible pro.

No, I’m not talking about myself. This is from the great Ken Levine. (Check out his credits and you’ll see what I mean.)

Dan Harmon’s firing: My take

A lot of you have asked my take on the NBC firing of Dan Harmon from COMMUNITY – a show that he not only was running but created as well. First I should mention that I don’t know Dan Harmon, nor have I personally had any involvement with the show. So it’s like when there’s a big news emergency and networks bring on so-called “experts” like earthquake psychics or terrorist cell consultants and they sound incredibly knowledgeable but then you realize they don’t know shit. That’s me in this situation. Ken Levine – former showrunner expert.

That said, here are some random thoughts:

Networks have been firing showrunners for years. You just never heard about it. Before social networks and the internet, showrunners were essentially invisible. Just names in the credits. Now showrunners have become quasi-celebrities themselves, which I think is a good thing. Only 70% of the viewers think Joel McHale makes up those funny things he says instead of 90%. But the point is, this isn’t precedent setting.

It’s always easier to fire writers than actors. People do notice when their favorite star has been replaced by Ashton Kutcher. (Which tells you how off-the-charts psycho Charlie Sheen had to be to get canned from TWO AND A HALF MEN.)

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