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Guest Blogger Cyrus Weinstein Lunches With MTV Executive Tony DiSanto - Khan Manka, Jr. - The Chairman's Blog

Guest Blogger Cyrus Weinstein Lunches With MTV Executive Tony DiSanto

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cyrus_weinstein.jpgGood morning from New York.  Khan Manka, Jr. is unavailable to write today as he is off to San'a', Yemen to scoop up the first shovel of dirt at the Manka Fun Park Yemen construction site.  Construction will begin Monday on the $1 billion park which will open in 2010.  I'm sure he'll fill us in on the details of this exciting new venture.

tony_disanto.jpgToday, I would like to write about something I read in Entertainment Weekly.  It was a quote by Tony DiSanto, MTV's Executive Vice President of Series Programming and Development, and he was talking about The Hills - the very successful 'reality' series on MTV.  This is the quote:  "It's (The Hills) almost becoming like a novel at this point, like this generation's A Tale of Two Cities or Oliver Twist.

(For the record, I have heard of no incident on The Hills where one of the girls sacrifices her life on the guillotine for the other.  And I definitely haven't seen any starving orphans in a workhouse who become beggars and thieves on the streets of London.  Maybe they do symbolically.  Maybe that's what he meant.)

After reading that quote, I decided I had to meet this man and arranged for a lunch at Michael's here in New York a couple of days ago.  First of all, he's a very nice man and I in no way mean to impugn his character.  And obviously he knows his literature.  I don't believe he realized it but we had met before at Norman Mailer's last book launch party in April 2007 for The Castle In The Forest.  He was there with Kourtney Kardashian who is on another 'reality' show called Keeping Up With the Kardashians (I wonder which classic novel that one would be?). 

After we exchanged pleasantries and expressed a mutual admiration for the jobs we do at our companies, we ordered a very nice bottle of wine and settled in.  My first question confused him but I think it was because he was talking on his bluetooth while trying to pick up the waitress.  I asked him:  "If the The Hills is this generation's Tale Of Two Cities, what was last generation's Tale Of Two Cities.  The only generation that can claim Tale Of Two Cities is the one that lived during Charles Dickens' time."  His answer:  "I don't know... Harry Potter?"

I gave pause and ordered lunch.  I ordered my usual (Pan Roasted Atlantic Cod).  Tony ordered the chicken and fries.

After he got off the phone and had a good gulp of wine, we got down to some real conversation.  What other TV shows can be equated with great literature?  Shows that give kids of this generation the same impact and knowledge of a great classic book.  What I was expecting to hear from him was, you know, 'Deadliest Catch is this generation's Moby Dick' - sort of an apples to apples comparison.  But this guy was all over the map.  I must confess, I didn't understand him at all.  Here's a sampling:

  • American Idol ("... this generation's Holy Bible")
  • Masterpiece Theatre ("... who gives a shit")
  • Project Runway ("... this generation's The Brothers Karamasov")
And, finally, I couldn't resist...

  • Keeping Up With Kardashians ("I've actually given this one some thought - it's definitely this generation's Ulysses).
tony_disanto_2.jpgWith that, he pressed his ear, receiving another phone call.  I sort of felt the urge to receive a phone call myself.  So I pressed my ear and told Tony DiSanto I needed to wrap things up.  I picked up the check.

As we shook hands, I noticed he was looking at a woman's ass and not at me.  Perhaps he can develop a new 'reality' show based on that ass.

It was at this point that I realized Publishing and Television divisions will never really be able to work together.  We in Publishing are just dinosaurs in a dying format trying to get to retirement and they're just trying to get laid.

cyrus_weinstein_small.gifCyrus Weinstein - President - Manka Bros. Publishing Group

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Jay McBee said:

All TV execs aren't like that. That's a stereotype, Cyrus.

Jay McBee - President - Manka Bros. Television Group

Hollywood Producer said:

I'm siding with the DiSanto. He's living the life. Cyrus, you're really showing your age. Lighten up.


Jonathan E. said:

This is a joke, right.? A really inside elaborate joke?

Donny from Green Bay said:

if you think about it Ulysses is really more superficial than Keeping up w/the kardashians. There is more depth in them as actual people than the fictional characters created by Joyce. And it's much easier to watch that show than read that horrible long puncuation challenged book.


anonymous said:

the Hills is like Tale Of Two Cities. These people. They just don't have any buffers. No one to tell them how stupid they sound.

Edward Dog said:

Tale of Two Cities was shit with the critics when it came out and became really popular the same can be said for the Hills. Shit from critics and popular. So I agree with tom disanti.

Tony DiSanto said:

Hey Cyrus – I was indeed mistaken when I referred to The Hills as this generation’s A Tale of Two Cities. What I meant to say was that The Hills is this generation’s Great Expectations… I’m always getting my Dickens mixed up. Perhaps you’ll let me make it up to you by actually taking you out for lunch for real next time.

David Copperfield said:

I am this generation's David Copperfield!

Ethan Rubidoux said:

Khan Manka went to Yemen? I'm President of Theme Parks. Why didn't I know about this trip?

Ethan Rubidoux - President - Manka Bros. Consumer Products, Live Theatre, Digital Distribution, Theme Parks and Sports

Selling My Soul said:

In a 130 years people will be saying: This "future entertainment piece" is this generation's The Hills. That's how important The Hills will be. I wish there was a Nobel Prize for reality television.

JJJJJ said:

It seems that Tony DiSanto has corrected his own quote! I would agree with the Great Expectations comparison. I would agree with anything he says to get my own reality show. My idea is called "Banging Chicks". It's basically a show about philosophy.

I'm just kidding. It's actually a show about me banging chicks.


Jay McBee said:

Our reality show philosophy is pretty highbrow at the moment. We would definitely pass on "Banging Chicks" (just the show - we - ha ha - appreciate the idea and 'dig that').

On our fall schedule we have The Soloist: Rite Of Spring which is the Sacramento Philharmonic and each week another player is eliminated until we get down to "The Soloist).

We also have "The Hold" - which is Chinese refugees on a boat trying to get to America. Each week another person is voted off the boat and sent home for political persecution.

If these type of "smart" reality shows don't work - we'll be back to producing shows like "Banging Chicks".

Jay McBee - President - Manka Bros. Television Group

BUrSelf said:

I thought Tale of 2 cities was boring. the HIlls is way better and more fun.

BigBan said:

Oh, Thanks! Really funny. keep working!

austin p said:

Tony's at it again. Pygmalion-esque for 'Gs for Gents'

About Khan Manka, Jr.

Khan Manka, Jr. - Chairman & CEO - Manka Bros. StudiosKhan Manka, Jr. assumed the title of Chairman of the Board of Manka Bros. Studios - The World's Largest Media Company - following his father Harry Manka's death in 1976. Before that he was the member of several Southern California rock bands.

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