Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Conference – 2012
————————-“One pill makes you larger And one pill makes you small And the ones that mother gives you Don’t do anything at all Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall.”
Yeah… so that was the song that woke us all up this morning - ’White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane.
I definitely prefer to wake up to a song like that than the horrible ‘Dawn of the Mogul’ written by Michael Eisner.
I don’t remember getting back to my room last night. Michael Ovitz and I were pounding Slivovitz shots and arguing about modern art. I believe I won the argument – it IS a bunch of crap. I also told him I had no interest in buying any art from his collection so that he could pay his utility bills.
Getting angrier and angrier, Ovitz disagreed with my blog yesterday. He said I was throwing old media under the bus. I told him I would throw him under the bus. He stood up (I think) and made a few awkward Kung Fu poses and facial contortions and threatened to kick my ass.
Bob Iger leaned over from the next stool and placed a hand on his shoulder. Ovitz sat down, did a shot, and that was the end of that.
But let me get back to this morning because this is a significant day in the history of the world (no platitudes, seriously).
Because today was the day Herbert A. Allen, Jr. convinced some of the greatest minds in the world of business to drop acid.
How do I know that? Because now, everyone is calling themselves “artists” and the products they produce is now “art.” And they’re also calling everyone else’s ideas “shit” and “I think that new product is shit” and “Is that what you’re wearing, because I think it looks like shit.”
“Shit” is the 2012 buzzword of the Conference.
It’s also no secret that Steve Jobs was a big fan of LSD and believes that his creativity stems from the years he spent doing it. He even went through a phase where he didn’t even want to hire anyone who hadn’t done it.
So Herb wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Me, personally, I was the son of a legendary movie mogul and a Hollywood brat. Needless to say, I’ve dropped acid many, many times.
I was also a Deadhead for a couple of years during my sabbatical from the studio in the late 1980s (127 shows!) and really the only creativity I got out of it was finding new and different angles to stare at my hand. (I also thought up a couple of movie ideas with monkeys that we eventually made at the studio. One included a monkey becoming Pope – by accident! It was hilarious.)
Anyway… we all assembled in the Great Hall of the Moguls (The Limelight Ballroom). Nearly everyone stood or sat in complete confusion – totally dazed from the night before. Anne Sweeney was definitely not doing well.
I’m getting long winded here, so let me just say that after many (MANY) protestations (especially from Warren Buffet and Jordan’s King Abdullah II), we all stuck out our tongues and, per Herb’s instructions (from Wikipedia) we let the tab of acid dissolve in our mouths a bit and then swallowed.
While we waited for the effects to kick in, there was panel discussion on digital diversity moderated by Charlie Rose.
After a while, as people started to emit strange sounds and have visible facial ticks, some ground rules were laid out.
Hotel security, photographers, press and any hangers on were removed from the property for the next several hours. Herb told us to explore every inch of the space and to let our minds go.
In two hours, we would be rounded up and brought back so that we could brainstorm.
The goal was to come up with ten new ideas – ideas that could change the world or change our business.
The first thing that I decided to do was to follow that small pig into the coat check closet. I think it must have come from the surrounding mountains.
After a half hour in the closet, I came out – not really sure why I went in the closet.
There was just way too much going on in the room to accurately put it down here. Some highlights that I observed:
Mark Zuckerberg was sprawled on the floor. He was pleading – sweating profusely – “Help me! I’m not really Spider-Man! These suction cups are losing their suck! I’m sliding down this building! Help!”
Rupert Murdoch was trying to pull the yellow out of the carpet and saying over and over again – “It’s not working. I don’t feel anything.”
Barry Diller was laying under a table, happily drawing a series of self-portraits (see right).
Bob Iger came up to me: ”Do you think people on this drug would enjoy the ‘Main Street Electrical Parade’? Perhaps we could sell it at the parks to enhance their enjoyment. I told him that if he didn’t take off his Bob Iger mask I would take it off for him.
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman approached, holding a piece of broken glass – his arm a bit bloody: “There are some musical instruments in the corner over there. I think we should set them up and play ‘Smoke On The Water.’ I know the chords.”
For the next hour we attempted to plug in a keyboard but constantly got sidetracked by the sheer ingenuity of the keyboard plug.
I could go on and on and on – and maybe one day I’ll write a full book form version – but for now, after a few hours, here are the 10 ideas the roomful of moguls came up with (directly taken off the white board):
1. Sell movies and TV shows on the Internet. (subnote: Seriously this time!)
2. Film is so much more beautiful than digital but profit margins are shit so fuck it (subnote: “I could totally swim to Catalina” signed “Brian Roberts”).
3. If NASA could figure out how to get the Mars Rover onto Mars, we should be able to get something onto at least Saturn.
4. Why do we need birds and how do we solve that problem?
5. Sinbad was a funny comic at one time but he just didn’t crossover to be a movie star.
6. $10 million dollars is nothing. We’re talking about my house here. If the marble is not right then back to fucking Italy it goes. (subnote: You people are idiots!)
7. We should change the word “palindrome” to an actual word that is a palindrome.
8. Instead of telling people when our shows are on television, why don’t we tell them to fuck off instead? (That one got a big laugh.)
9. Maybe we should transition back to analog. Life was better then. (Added underneath: “SAYS YOUR MOM!” – signed “Zuckerberg”)
As I dictate this to my assistant, hours later, the effects have pretty much worn off. Though I still need to get these laughing bugs or whatever they are off my legs, then I am going to nap, shower and join everyone for dinner and drinks.
I’m glad I came. Tomorrow should be fun.