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OnMedea: April 2010 Archives

April 2010 Archives

harvey_bob_weinstein_buy_miramax.jpgBy selling Miramax back to the Weinstein Brothers (that would be Harvey and Bob) and (ahem) Lord Ron Burkle (he who has single-handedly created thousands of jobs in the prostitution and supermarket industries), Disney Chief Bob Iger has effectively given the coup de grace to Harvey and Bob thus ending their 30+ year run in show business.

But, you say, they'll be running Miramax, picking up awesome Kevin Smith and Ben Affleck movies that the big studios don't want to make?  Right?   They're still in the business.

Sorry.  Miramax will out of business in five years.  In 2013, a fire sale of the library will be hastily arranged by GoldmanSachsBankOfAmericaJPMorganCiti (a division of Lending Tree) and the price will be less that $200 million.

ron_burkle_buys_miramax.jpgI suppose the deal allows Harvey and Bob the chance to die with dignity and go down in flames with the company they started (the name combines their parent's first names "Miriam" and "Max") - but I think a real friend (which obviously Bob Iger isn't) would have said to stay far away from this horribly overpriced mess of fragmented film rights that have very little resale / remake value left in them.  I suppose that's why Bob Iger is the current toast of the town and Harvey and Bob are just toast.  (Texas Toast if you believe this blog.)  Karma's a bitch.

If the new post-Disney Miramax is run as efficiently as The Weinstein Company, Ron Burkle's $3.5 billion net worth should be exhausted within 10 or 15 years (though I'm sure he'll pull the plug once $1 billion is gone and save the rest to solve the growing hooker unemployment problem that has ravaged this country.  (At this point, Ron could probably just trade sex for food - which he probably could arrange to get from his former Ralph's and Food4Less stores.  I would hope he would offer food from Ralph's so the poor girls don't have to bag their own groceries at Food4Less).

But enough about Ron Burkle's (alleged) shenanigans mentioned above, this is about the Harvey and Bob Weinstein - two guys who changed the film distribution industry by taking on the big guys with small movies (and many times winning).  But the greedy bastards sold off the dream for $80 million to Disney and now, the even greedier bastards, want it back for $600 million.

The classic example of throwing good money (well, Ron Burkle's money) after bad.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

ben_silverman_MIPTV_conference_1.jpgOK, don't go all crazy MIPTV Conference people, Ben Silverman didn't say shit that hasn't been said before by... everyone producing new media content. 

Perhaps he says it in a way that make people think it sounds new or perhaps people just want to party with the guy - but it's crazy how he can speak for 45 minutes and not say a thing.

I still don't know what the hell Electus is based on the way Ben tries to define it (the website offers no help). 

It sounds to me like a production company.  A production company that will have Facebook Fan areas and YouTube channels.  Basically like every production company on the planet. 

ben_silverman_MIPTV_conference_2.jpgIt will be a production company that acquires (or JV's) ideas for reality and game shows that can be exploited in the U.S. and international markets.  Please tell King World, Telepictures, Mark Burnett, Endemol, etc. or other companies that have been doing this FOR DECADES that your idea is revolutionary, Ben.  I'm sure they would laugh you out of the room and tell you to stop stealing their stuff.

Electus' plan is to bring Burbank, Madison Avenue and THE WORLD together before a project goes forward - basically marrying advertisers with content producers up front.  Perhaps you should Google (or "Electus'le" - which will be your way of rebranding Google - in a deal you'll announce by Press Release and then we won't hear about it ever again) the concept for the 'Soap Opera' from the 1930s. 

ben_silverman_MIPTV_conference_3.jpgIf your plan (if I may interpret it from your Press Release to announce the deal to create DumbDumb) is just to stick a bag of Doritos in Will Arnett's hand while he and Jason Bateman talk about their love for Doritos (plus they'll attempt to throw in some silly plot that's added just for fun) while one of them Twitters about his love for Doritos and encourages viewers to "Fan" Doritos on Facebook... then that's fine and dandy. 

Everybody gets paid by Doritos and everybody (probably) makes money.  It's called a commercial. 

Seriously, producing "branded" content with celebrities doesn't mean shit.  It means they're doing commercials and probably feeling pretty bad about themselves once they have to start announcing the winners of the Electus Award for Cheesiest Doritos Fanatic (which no doubt encompasses the person who can get the most people to join the Twitter feed).

There's nothing wrong with that.  Money is money.  That's why you're in business.  Just don't call it revolutionary or visionary or YOUR IDEA!  It's just a production company.  Gary Coleman has a production company.  Everybody is doing what you're doing.

Do it in 1994 as the internet is just coming into people's homes... then it's revolutionary.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

TBS Gets It Right

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conan_o_brien_tbs.jpgSo... Conan O'Brien has decided to go to TBS.  Like him or not, get his comedy or not, Conan immediately brings a "hip" factor to TBS where it currently has none.  Whether that will be enough to truly take the network to another level is a huge unknown at this point. 

I have a feeling this announcement has taken the wind out of the sails of the "I'm With Coco" movement.  For some reason, I think they wanted him to stay off TV and start some crazy live streaming Internet-only revolution from a shack in the desert.  Sorry freaks.  Perhaps you can steal your basic cable feed and still feel like a revolutionary.

This is a big bet for TBS but one it can certainly afford to take.  Two revenue streams RULE!  If it doesn't work, they can always move "Lopez Tonight" (with its 1.0 rating) back to 11pm and put the always profitable "Ab Roller Deluxe" informercial on at midnight.

The biggest obstacle is the fact that TBS still feels (to me - and I'm not alone) like a network that airs nothing but "Mama's Family" reruns and very low quality VHS tapes of 1980s comedies.  I know this isn't the case anymore and they actually do have some solid programming with "The Office" and "Family Guy" reruns, etc. and have had some success in original programming with all those Tyler Perry shows (What, are there 10 series now?  All with 350 episode commitments?).

tbs.jpgBut adding Conan puts TBS on a different level - a network level with a big advantage - they don't need Leno-size ratings to call it a "hit". 

Imagine the spinmeisters at Turner the day after its debut:  "Late Night Cable Talk Show's Biggest Night Ever!"; "Conan Conquers Cable!"; "The Colbert Killer!"... "2.0 in Metered Markets - 18-49"... Okay, they won't put that one in the Trades but that's about what we can expect on the high end.  If a 2.0 late night rating is worth a $100 million investment, then TBS has made the right move. 

Personally, I think it IS the right move - if anything just to improve their image.  All the other shit that's on TBS will suddenly be given a second look which may make people slow down the remote as they're passing by on their way to USA or FX

For Conan, I think this is also the best move.  Though if he ultimately fails on TBS, his career is over (unless he is willing to take the 1:30a.m. Last Call slot from what's his name - that guy that dated Tara Reid).  Not going to Fox and being beaten badly by Jay Leno was a very smart move by Conan.  And a very smart move by Fox - which doesn't have two revenue streams (yet) and, thus, doesn't have money to burn.

So... good luck, Conan.  You have made a good match.  And I can't wait to hear all those jokes you'll make about what a crappy network TBS is.  The crappy network that is paying you $100 million dollars.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

ben_silverman_miptv_keynote.jpg[UPDATE:  Apparently, Big Hur Silverman is still on for his MIPTV Keynote Address next week.  So... that's good news - the world is about to change!  A couple of months ago, I wrote a speech that he could use if he didn't get around to actually putting anything on paper.  That post is below.]

It recently came to my attention that Ben Silverman was asked to give a keynote address at this year's MIPTV Conference in Cannes, France on April 13, 2010.  Realizing that Ben is a very busy man (what with single-handedly changing the media landscape... again), I have taken the liberty of drafting his keynote address for him.

Based on everything I know about him through interviews and presentations, etc., I have attempted to write the speech in a style he would find the most comfortable.
Ben Silverman - Founder and CEO of the new multimedia company Electus - a groundbreaking partnership with media mogul Barry Diller's leading interactive company IAC.

(As the lights dim, a low hum emits from somewhere, smoke machines fill the stage with a heavy mist.  A lightning bolt appears to strike the back of the stage followed by a thunderclap - leaving the silhouette of... A MAN.)

Ben-Silverman.jpgBOOMING VOICE OVER:  Since the dawn of time, only one man has had the balls to change the world.  To change the way we think, we feel, we speak.  To change the way we laugh, the way we cry.  The guts to change 10pm programming on broadcast networks.  His name... is Ben.

(A pin spotlight pulls out to reveal BEN SILVERMAN in all his glory - sunglasses, suit that he probably slept in with the tie loosened - unshaven.  He points to the sky as another lightning bolt shoots out of his finger.  "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by The Scorpions screams from the speakers as he floats magically toward the podium on a hydraulic saucer.)

All is silent (except, I imagine, for the thunderous applause from the lucky MIPTV crowd).

Ben Silverman:  Yeah... all right... good morning Cannes.  Hell of a town you got here.  I don't know what kind of poison you serve in your bars, but you fuckers got me drunk! 

(From the wings, Notional founder and CEO Ricky Van Veen is heard cackling.)

Ricky Van Veen:  You got that shit right!  Whooo!

Ben Silverman:  Before I get started, how about a shout out for my little pissant buddy over there, Notional Founder and CEO Ricky Van Veen!

(There is a smattering of applause and bunch of "who the fuck is that" looks throughout the crowd.)

ben_silverman_4.jpgBen Silverman:  All right, all right... Let's get going.  It's really great to be here at the MIPTV conference.  What the hell does 'MIP' mean anyway?  Nobody seems to know. 

Ricky Van Veen:  Damn straight on that one, cat daddy!

Ben Silverman: 
Can it, Ricky.

Ricky Van Veen:  I get it "Cannes"!  That's where we are!  Freakin' hilarious, boss.

Ben Silverman:  Shut the fuck up, Ricky. 

Ricky Van Veen:  Sorry, daddy-o.

Ben Silverman:  (holding up a cocktail) And I said more vodka than tomato juice, bitch.

Ricky Van Veen:  Sorry bout dat. 

(Ricky comes on stage and takes Ben's drink to freshen it up.)

Ben Silverman:  Anyway... Now we're cruising.  You guys (and ladies) are all International Television folk, right?  Excellent.  How's business?  It's great to see the Polish TV delegation out there. 

(There is applause from a delegation of Polish Television Executives.)

Ben-Silverman_electus.jpgBen Silverman:  The last I heard from you guys in Poland, you were dealing with the problems of screen doors on your submarines, right?  And I heard your library was closed because someone stole THE BOOK!  Am I right?  Anway, I see you guys have television now.  Welcome to the 20th century!  Next stop, the internet!

(A screen behind Ben descends from the ceiling revealing his PowerPoint presentation.  The light envelops him in a Christ-like glow.  The first slide is Ben Silverman's professional timeline.)

Ben Silverman:  After I created "The Office" in the UK and decided to bring it to America, I really needed a new challenge.  So I told NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker I wanted to be the head of NBC.  He said I was overqualified for the job and would be better suited to be his boss... but I convinced him that I would prefer to run NBC for a while and see how that goes first. 

(Another slide - Images of Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jeff Zucker.)

ben_silverman_barry_diller.jpgBen Silverman:  When Jeff told me he wanted to move Jay Leno to 10pm and cancel all the dramas in that time slot, I said he was crazy.  "It will never work", I said.  I predicted at the time The Jay Leno Show would last approximately four months before the affiliates would complain about having a crappy lead-in.  But Jeff Zucker was insistent.  So he did it.  He moved Jay to 10pm... and I quit.

(Another slide - giant Electus logo... a smaller IAC logo barely noticeable.)

Ben Silverman:  Having conquered the broadcast network world, I decided the one space where every content producer was having trouble was the online world.  It was a challenge I couldn't refuse.  The person who figures out how to make money with content on the internet will be made King!  Everyone is losing shitloads of money right now.  "It's a space that can't be tamed, Ben."  "Please, Ben, don't try it."  Everyone was being a whiny little bitch to me, begging me not to go into New Media.  When Barry Diller pleaded with me to take $100 million and start Electus, I told him it wouldn't work.  "It's throwing good money down the toilet", I said.  But he insisted. 

(Another slide - Ben Silverman holding a mini-dv camcorder.)

Ben Silverman:  I just wanted to have a little mini-dv camcorder and some really good out of work writers looking for a break and I wanted to create a low-cost, high-quality content site.  It's the only model that works.  But Mr. Diller, being used to high-cost, low-quality content, insisted that I take the money.  So I did.  And, today, I'm happy to say, there is still some money left.

(Slight applause.)

Ben Silverman:  I will now take your questions.

Note to Ben, just copy and paste the text into Word, print it out, and you have your speech.

You're welcome.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

About Jill Kennedy

Jill Kennedy - Blogger - OnMedea Jill Kennedy is an Ivy League MBA / refugee from Lehman Brothers.

Manka Bros. (and the Manka Business Channel) hired her (for a very low sum) to cover the world of media (not the world of Medea) in her own words without corporate interference.

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About Medea

Medea Medea was a real bitch from classical mythology - as most famously dramatized by Euripides.

She was a sorceress and wife of Jason, whom she assisted in obtaining the Golden Fleece. When Jason deserted her, she chopped up their children. One could say, Medea acted as rationally as a major media company.


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