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OnMedea: November 2010 Archives

November 2010 Archives

mafia_wives_3.jpgFrom Variety "VH1 has found its own real housewives -- all of whom are married to the mob.  Cabler has given a 10-episode order to "Mafia Wives," the first collaboration between the Weinstein Co. and Ben Silverman's Electus."

Finally, thanks to Ben Silverman and Harvey Weinstein, the future of media is clear.  I think "Mafia Wives" will prove to be their finest hour and, most likely, their legacy.  Congratulations guys.

Ben (from Variety):  "Clearly, it's the world of 'The Sopranos' coming to life in a reality environment."  High standards, Ben, but I would expect no less... and the show is right in VH1's wheelhouse, if I may add.

I certainly hope this means we'll get to see real life Mafia Hits and a lot of violence (to accompany all that built in product placement that Electus will bring to the project).

I think I know why Ben was brought in by Harvey to help produce.  If, for whatever crazy reason, this show gets canceled, I can imagine how the conversation between Harvey and Ben will go:

ben_silverman_sunglasses.jpgHarvey (on the phone):  Hey Ben!

Ben (Eurotrash music thumps in the background):  Huh?!

Harvey:  I got a call from VH1, "Mafia Wives" is canceled - I would like you to tell the "Mafia Wives" in person.

Ben:  We can't cancel "Mafia Wives" - their husbands are violent criminals, they'll come after us.  They need that $20,000 a week we pay them for money laundering.

Harvey:  It's over, Ben.  This was your dumb idea.  You tell them.

Ben:  It wasn't my--

Harvey:  Shut up, Ben.  Do it!  And give me Barry Diller's number, I need to pay the light bill.

Five minutes later, Ben makes a call:

Ricky Van VeenHee hee heeee!!  Ah-oo-gah!  You've got Rickaaaiiiee--!!

Ben:  Cut the shit, Ricky.  I need you to do me a favor.  You know that show "Mafia Wives" - it's canceled.  There's a meat locker downtown where we have our production meetings, go down and tell them the show is toast.

Ricky Van Veen:  No problema, hip master B!
At least, I THINK that's how it would go.

I can't wait for this show.  And if it works, I certainly hope we'll see more wives of violent people.  It's just great television.  Maybe "Serial Killer Wives", "Terrorist Wives", "Dentist Wives" - it's just an endless brand and really plays into Ben Silverman's vision of the future of media. 

Ben, dude, you are hitting on all cylinders.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

tbs_logo.pngWhat is it going to take for TBS (or any other Basic Cable channel) to get a little respect? 

I watched the premiere week of Conan and thought it was fine and exactly what I expected (which is a slight disappointment, right?).  (Also, why was it on at 10pm on DirecTV when every advertisement in the world says 11pm?... but I digress.)

The one thing that did stand out was the constant bashing of TBS and Basic Cable in general (I know it is a joke, I get it - I also got it in 1985 when the Basic Cable jokes started).  But times have changed.

I was a proponent of Conan leaving NBC and for Jeff Zucker to be fired for many MANY reasons (including the handling of the Jay/Conan affair and for having anything to do with Ben Silverman.  Please, someone wash everything Ben touched, it's filthy!).

But, I must say, I'm disappointed with the way Conan has handled the transition to TBS.  It was a very difficult decision, I'm sure, but why bash your new home?

Why is Basic Cable still struggling for any sort of respect?

It's all very reminiscent of the scene from "Goodfellas" with Billy Batts (Frank Vincent) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) in the bar.  Imagine Billy Batts is the "Broadcast Networks" and Tommy DeVito is "Basic Cable":

go_get_your_shinebox_3.jpgBasic Cable:  No more shines, Broadcast Networks.
Broadcast Networks:  What?
Basic Cable:  I said, no more shines.  Maybe you didn't hear about it, you've been away a long time.  I don't shine shoes anymore.
Broadcast Networks:  Relax, will ya?  Ya flip out, what's got into you?  I'm breaking your balls a little bit, that's all.  I'm only kidding with ya...
Basic Cable:  Sometimes you don't sound like you're kidding, you know, there's a lotta people around...
Broadcast Networks:  I'm only kidding with you.  I'm breaking your balls, and you're getting fucking fresh.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to offend you.
Basic Cable:  I'm sorry, too.  It's okay.  No problem.
Broadcast Networks:  Now go home and get your fuckin' shinebox!
Basic Cable:  Mother fuckin' mutt!  You fucking piece of shit!

If you remember the movie, Tommy then kicked and stabbed Billy about a thousand times, threw him in the trunk of his car and buried him in some disgusting pit.  I'm not saying Basic Cable will completely bury the Broadcast Networks - but it seems to be headed that general direction - so Broadcast Networks had better cut it out with the "shinebox attitude".

And seriously, to watch Conan, you would think the year is 1985 and the only programming on TBS was really bad VHS copies of really bad 1970s movies and a few Body By Jake infommercials.

conan.pngThis is 2010 and Basic Cable Channels are a key driver and profit center helping to keep the Hollywood machine afloat. 

So how about a little respect, Conan?  I know you're only getting $10 million from that suckass TBS that gives you "no budget" (other than a very large one) but come on!

And are you taping this show from some local station in Palmdale or in a very nice soundstage on a very nice Burbank studio lot?  And do you have one blimp to promote your show or zero blimps?

And the last I checked, Mad Men on AMC (Basic Cable) won the Emmy for Best Drama; TBS just paid upwards of $2 million/episode for Big Bang Theory (among others); and the ACE Awards (which was a popular punchline for comedians about FIFTEEN YEARS AGO) haven't been on the air for FIFTEEN YEARS!

I would also argue that with its scripted reruns and movies, TBS and the other top Basic Cable Channels have better daytime programming than any of the Broadcast Station Groups (unless you like Judge shows) and the primetime lineups are equally as creative and catching up in the ratings. 

In fact, Broadcast Networks are deep into the 5 Stages of Grief from "On Death and Dying" - and they have been in denial about Basic Cable for years.  Retrans is one final pathetic attempt to stay competitive.

So, Conan, I'm sorry you are stuck on lowly TBS when all your life you dreamed of being on NBC (now worth negative $690 million on NBC Universal's balance sheet) - but the truth is, in today's media environment, it's not which channel you are on but the programming you produce.  

Remember, even a show shot in a shack in Palmdale can be relevant (and widely seen) today.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea

P.S. - Why doesn't anyone ever bash MTV for being "Basic Cable"?  Just wondering.
Does this mean an ad will cost $40 million dollars per spot? 

facebook_advertising_spot.jpgSo, I was just on Facebook - along with 500+ million of my friends (soon to be be 7.3 billion) - and couldn't help notice the sidebar banner ad pitch to "Advertise On Facebook" (see left). 

Now, I've never noticed an ad on Facebook.  Not one.  And I don't think I'm alone.

So why would I pay anything to advertise on Facebook?  Because you can't afford NOT to have your product or brand in front of 500 MILLION POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS.  Right? 

Because fear works when you're pitching your platform to advertising agencies - "You need us more than we need you."  So it's better to make an expensive ad buy on Facebook, even though no one will see your ad, than to be left behind. 

Do they think we're idiots?  At least on television, even if the ad is being skipped in fast motion, you see the product.  On Facebook, you don't even notice the ad and, if you did, you wouldn't care because you don't want to see advertising when you're on Facebook.

The only ad tactic that seems to work on Facebook is the one where hot young girls (old dudes pretending to be hot young girls) to "Friend" guys and then post non-stop about how they "LOVE THEIR NEW NISSAN SENTRA" and how much "The New Coke Zero ROX!"

Let I said before, Facebook, unless they start to charge user fees or do those horribly annoying ads that pop right in your face when you log in, is on the road to becoming worthless.

jill_kennedy_small.jpgJill Kennedy - OnMedea
There... that should guarantee about 10,000 hits on this entry.  I originally wanted to call it "Y Combinator Is A Bullshit Idea" (which would have guaranteed about 20,000 hits) but the ads on the side wouldn't have displayed due to the "bullshit" in the title.

So, I just read the Christopher Steiner article "The Disruptor In The Valley" at (which is about Paul Graham and his company Y Combinator) and my immediate thought was of that exchange from "The Simpsons" (Season 12 - Episode 9) when Homer is undergoing medical experiments for money.  He tries an appetite suppressant:

simpsons_pill_make_you_blind_2.jpgHOMER:  "I'm BLIND!"
SCIENTIST #1:  "Who's gonna buy a pill that makes you blind?"
SCIENTIST #2:  "We'll let marketing worry about that!"

Y Combinator is basically offering Silicon Valley a pill that makes them blind (but marketing will fix it). 

They offer a little bit cash to grab a whole lot of equity in all these tiny start-ups - most which are not even close to being ready for that kind of exposure (or financial decision). 

However, with the right spin, PR and influence behind them, they (apparently) ARE ready for the additional money that others might throw their way (for another giant chunk of equity)... if they can manage to get through the summer YC bootcamp.

It's like the YouTube star who gets a shot on "The Big Bang Theory" and can barely speak because they're so nervous and then find out they have no acting skills whatsoever.

This is not to say that there aren't a whole lot of geniuses out there with a lot of great ideas.  There are.  Most are smarter than me (but not as smart as Khan Manka, Jr.). 

But these geniuses (and mostly non-geniuses, let's be serious) are being exploited by Paul Graham and company and tossed to these VC wolves who will eat through many a carcass to get to the next Facebook (which I think is Worthless, by the way). 

(Also Digg is dead - R.I.P. - so is Electus and Comic-Con but I digress....) 

But much like the screenwriter in Los Angeles who will pay people to read their script because they "work at a studio", the chances of success in one of these cattle call models is virtually zero.

Y_Combinator_Logo_400.jpgAs a quick primer, allow me a paragraph (from Wikipedia) to explain Y Combinator to those who may not know what it is:

Y Combinator is an American seed-stage startup funding firm, started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica LivingstonY Combinator provides seed money, advice, and connections at 3-month programs.  In exchange, they take an average of about 6% of the company's equity. 

Compared to other startup funds, Y Combinator provides very little money ($17,000 for startups with two founders and $20,000 for those of three or more).  This reflects Graham's theory that between free software, dynamic languages, the web, and Moore's Law, the cost of founding a startup has greatly decreased.

paul_graham.jpgIn other words, throw a bunch of shit on the wall and see what sticks. 

Great for Paul Graham and company, I suppose (based on his theory, Y Combinator would have gotten $20,000 from Y Combinator), but terrible for almost all of those thousands who apply to his program every year just in the hope of getting the YC stamp of approval (and 60 lbs of chili)  - which supposedly means a lot to VCs and Angel Investors in Silicon Valley.

So Y Combinator is a Venture Capitalist that funds your start-up so that your start-up can get funded by another Venture Capitalist. 

Enough with these f-ing VCs, man. 

Whatever happened to creating a company, becoming successful and growing it based on that initial success.  Success because you have a product that people really (REALLY) want. 

Thousands of techies are just sitting around coffee shops and cafes in all the "Silicon Valleys of the world" trying to think up new ideas that Paul Graham (and others like him) might like.  Not because it's an idea that the start-up founder actually believes in anymore - but because it's one that might get funding. 

I mean, fuck passion, right?  These days it's not whether your company succeeds or fails, it's whether it gets funded in the first place and a mention on TechCrunch.

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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