Another Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference, another week attempting suicide by alcohol consumption.
The plane approach at the Sun Valley airport was reminiscent to a “Top Gun” dogfight. Rupert Murdoch’s pilot is a fucking maniac. They nearly crushed my plane trying to beat us to the landing.
My self-driving hover car or whatever it was (courtesy of Elon Musk) was no better. They have now incorporated an AI “driver” that chats in taxi cab driver-type small talk on the way to your destination. I know that fucking robot did not care how my flight was.
While the Silicon Valley guys (remember – no girls) roll into the Sun Valley Lodge like rock stars, we in old media get the reception of a singing waiter at a pasta joint… “yeah, yeah, I know you can fucking sing – but where’s my lasagna?”
I don’t know. This may be my last year in Sun Valley. Who needs this shit?
We moguls used to rule this school and now the new titans talk at us like we’re in a retirement home unable to control our bladders. (To be fair, there are a few here in which that is true… Rupert?)
My self-driving car made it without issue except for the weird little racist screaming that the AI driver yelled at an Asian man crossing the street illegally. Strange to program it like that – like a real taxi driver.
I walked past the media veal in their little caged square barely able to move and walked into the third best hotel in Sun Valley!
After check in, I did what any out-of-touch, cast-off-by-society, irrelevant person would do – I headed straight for the bar to reminisce about the “good old days.”
I entered The Duchin Lounge (aka “The Drankin’ Hole”) and wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, my old buddy, the best goddamned bartender in the world, Vin Tran, was right where he was supposed to be – behind the bar, ready to serve.
Vin: Mr. Khan Manka, Jr. – so great to see you. A friendly face.
Me: Not friendly till you get me goddamned drink.
Vin: Dirty martini?
Me: Two of ’em. I want them filthy.
Vin: Coming up.
I looked around the bar. Pretty slow start. Philippe Dauman playing Frogger in the corner, mumbling to himself (just like last year) and Jony Ive of Apple clicking furiously on his Blackberry.
Me: How have you been, Vin?
Vin: Terrible, boss. My wife is divorcing me. Say she going to take everything. She even said she was going to take my job.
Me: At least she didn’t get that.
Vin: She did! I’m training her. She starts in two weeks!
Me: Ugh, that’s awful. Divorce is terrible. I’ve stopped doing it. If you need a job and a new start, come to Burbank, I’ll set you up in the kitchen there.
Vin: Thanks, boss. You are a great man. Here are your dirty martinis – the dirtiest I ever made. Excuse me.
I sucked down the first one and immediately began to think straight. Why did I come here again? We, in Hollywood, used to dictate what people would see and how they would see it.
Now giant movie studios are simply looked at as a cozy acquisition target to be tucked away in the “Entertainment” division of a “much more important company.” A company that “small frys” like us could only one day dream to understand its complexity and importance.
Speaking on cozy acquisitions, Jeffrey Katzenberg entered the bar, looking tan, relaxed, a fidget spinner twirling in each hand.
Katzenberg: Khan! Wassup!
Me: Hello Jeff, you’re looking fit.
Katzenberg: $3.8 billion will do that to a person! Ha! Bin Tran, triple rosy!
Bin Tran starts making some sort of fruity drink with a splash of alcohol. Wearing his new media uniform of bald head and black turtleneck, Katzenberg glides into the seat next to me.
Katzenberg: How tricks, Khan? Same old grind? Same old media? Bloated movies and TV shows. Wishing it was 1975?
Me: Yes, to all of it.
Me: The movie industry’s a shit storm right now. Just a crappy business. We just bought the rights to Lincoln Logs to make, you know, LEGO-type movies and video games. It’s all just crap.
Katzenberg: You’re in an unsustainable business, my friend. You’ve got $60 an hour Teamsters just sitting in trucks all day waiting to move a set from one three hundred foot sound stage to another. I’ve got an unpaid filmmaker who gets my coffee, shoots the video on her camera and edits it in fifteen seconds. Multiply that by thousands of times a day. Zero in production costs – fifty dollars in ad revenue over the life of the project. Do that a million times and you’ve got… fifty times a million. Fifty million dollars without having to do shit. I’m the future, Khanie. New media. My company is WndrCo – no “o” – no “e”–
Katzenberg: $600 million dollars has been given to me to create the future. Want a piece?
Me: That’s the future?
Katzenberg: Yes. Little videos, made by influencers… capisce?
Me: Like PewDiePie?–
Katzenberg: Fuck that guy! Nazi German prick.
The few moguls who had made to the bar look at Katzenberg.
Katzenberg: (lowering his voice) – Yes, like him… without the racism.
Katzenberg takes a drink of his fruit punch, resuming one of the fidget spinners.
Katzenberg: Oh, and VR. LOTS of VR! Shit’s gonna blow your mind.
He does the “mind blow” pantomime with his hand against his head.
Katzenberg: WndrCo – no “o” – no “e”…
The Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference has begun…