TV/Movies – What’s next?

Movies and TV

Just a few quick thoughts about the current state of TV and movies. I’m in no position to offer anything of substance on these issues; just my opinions about a handful of TV/movie issues I’ve been thinking of lately. Always fun to return to entries like this in a few years to see how stooopid I sounded:

  • How will studios cut costs?: Studios – and networks – are in trouble. We all know it; they all know it. How to retain control in this internet world? (Hint: You can’t). What horse should you get behind/try to kill to maximize profits? Well, I have one suggestion that might help: Why are stars still getting $20 million or so per movie? That’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I think being an actor is difficult, tedious and makes you do things (on screen and off – the latter like the talk show circuit etc.) that you may not want to do. But $10-$20 million per movie? Think of how many decades/centuries I’d have to work – and I work hard – to make what many make in one movie. Nutty. Ditto for the $ per episode for some TV actors. Again, nutty. Just a thought – won’t solve everything, that’s for certain.
  • Divergent quality: When the DVD debuted, it just kicked VHS’ butt. Video and audio. Just “wow!” (and no need to rewind!). Today, we are marching away from DVD quality … in two different directions. On the one hand, HD TV and Blu-ray movies are raising the barr over 480p broadcasting and DVD, respectively. On the inevitable other hand, YouTube, Hulu and movie streaming (i.e. NetFlix) are inevitably inferior to DVDs. Interesting dichotomy. As to the lower-quality march, we’ve seen this before: audio mpeg players. Virtually always a lesser quality than CDs, but no one really seems to care. And after seven years since the intro of iTunes, the bitrate is up, but still inferior to CDs (to me). But virtually on one I’ve talked to about this seems to care. Convenience trumps quality. I think the same is true for video, but as more fiber rolls out and broadband connections get faster, higher quality will evolve over all streaming (online and the NetFlix mode). Maybe – and this is just a “maybe” – at this point consumers will demand higher quality from the laggards.
  • TV: I virtually never watch TV. This is not a point of pride nor the result of losing a bet. There’s just so little on that piques my interest that I rarely sit and watch. (Note: Yep, I’m fully aware that I’m missing some good stuff – “Mad Men,” for example. Never seen. Want to.) No “Must See TV,” no juggernauts of sitcoms on CBS or NBC as in the past, no mini-series like “Roots” that everyone watched. TV – How are you going to win me back?? Or do I have to get HBO and/or Showtime to watch quality material? I’m intentionally hyperbolic here – but this is, to me, a valid issue.
  • TV Deux: With the rise of DVRs and time-shifting of TV viewing, there are only two categories that one must watch at the time the networks/cable deliver same: News (daily, but includes special events, such as unfolding events [example: elections]) or sporting events. Don’t have a DVR? Can probably catch whatever you missed online. In other words, networks & cable TV are in a heap of trouble. Mobile compounds the problem. Sure, cut the cord to Comcast, but still catch last night’s “The Daily Show” on the way to work on my SmartPhone/Tablet via Yeah, a browser. How’s that walled garden working fer ya?

Amazon Delivers (literally….)

AmazonI ordered a couple of items from Amazon last Thursday – a book and a CD – and elected for standard shipping.

I think I ordered during lunch, as I read about the book (Patti Smith’s Just Kids) somewhere while I was eating lunch.


On Saturday, I heard something out front of the house, and when I looked out the front window I saw a guy getting into a Penske rental van.

I opened the front door, and there – between the glass door and the regular door – was my Amazon order.

Less than two days, on standard shipping.

And that the guy is in a rental van means Amazon is hiring freelancers to do deliveries – anything to give them an edge in this all-important Q4 ecommerce shopping season.



TPM AnniversaryTomorrow (10/13/2010) is the 10th Anniversary of the launch of

I followed Josh early, but I don’t think I followed him from the beginning. I think I ran across him via Kevin Drum – and I can’t remember where he (Drum) was at that point.

Great staff (many that have moved on to other impressive positions); great journalism.

First place I look every day for political news. Left slanted? Yes. But balanced? Pretty much.

Josh – and all – congrats.

Keep fighting the good fight (truth!)

TPM image stolen from – free advertising!


Whip It
Director, Drew Barrymore

A somewhat formulaic film (rebellious teenager going against parent’s wishes/winning them over in the end) is saved by some low-key performances by many of the key performers.

Ellen Page – always great – stars in this film about a high school student trapped in a “nothing” town outside Austin, TX, whose mom puts her on the Beauty Pageant circuit, while Page gets interested in the somewhat underground roller derby scene in Austin.

Not a great movie, but very watchable. I think the movie – based on a book of the same title – left out much and made some of the situations somewhat “huh?” (ex: her best friend was accepted at very good colleges; never got that she was bright from the film). I think the screenplay/editing could have been done better.

Rent. Don’t buy. But Page is a force with which to be reckoned….

All movies

I’m still going though the Maryland/DC pics; lot of work (what pics make the cut – for example, I have a billion pics of the Washington Monument).

Pics at

Again, slowly filling up this gallery. But I’m out of Maryland, into DC, and am working my way up the Mall.

Some current favs that, well, don’t totally suck (click for larger pic):

It’s going to be a long two years

Yep, we’ve just passed the mid-term elections (some recounts underway); Democrats – as expected – were hit hard (especially in the House; Dems fared better in the Senate thanks to weak Republican Senatorial candidates).

President Obama said the election was a “shellacking” and offered up the possibility of compromise.

Senator Mitch McConnell – Senate Minority Leader – has a different agenda: Making Obama a one-term president. This – to McConnell – is the Number One Priority of the Republicans.

OK, I understand that he (and all Republicans) want a Republican Prez in 2012, but …. is that the No. 1 priority?

People elected people to, ya know, DO STUFF these next couple of years. Not just block stuff.

Stuff, which, if passed, would be a plus for Obama – so, in McConnell’s eyes, is bad. Even if good for you and me. Doesn’t matter – just give Obama no wins (even a “compromise” win that the GOP did well in). Yikes.

Going to be a long two years. Pic a screen shot from



OK, just trying to eat dinner and watch the election results (two days ago), but there is a bookend of cats that are more interested in my ribs (that I’m eating…) than the electoral process.

Hmm…maybe this is a good lesson on what matters.

Lee eating ribs

Can’t wait for the election to be over

Voices: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger

Similar to Wall-E, this is a two-part movie. Except in Up, the first part is very brief and very touching – describing how a married couple met (as children), lived their lives up through the death of the wife.

The husband (Asner) decides to take the adventure he and his wife had always wanted; this is complicated by the addition of a scout, a talking dog (long story) and a giant bird. Oh – and a flying house.

Brilliant animation (as usual for Pixar) and a good story. Not my favorite Pixar film (probably the first Toy Story), but I’ll probably pop the DVD in occasionally just to watch Part I.

All movies

Here in Illinois, we have a couple of really tight races: Governor and the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. Both are leaning Republican, but both are close to polling’s margin of error.

Needless to say, these two races – as well as all the other races – are saturating the airwaves (mainly negative ads, of course), clogging our snail mail box and accounting for the vast majority of the phone calls we’re receiving (robo-calls and pollsters).

I’ll be glad to see an end to this – for about a year or so, when the 2012 election starts cranking up.

Nationally, it’ll be interesting to see how the Tea Party fares – both in the 2010 elections, and if they continue to gain momentum, lose steam or become amalgamated with the standard Republican party.

No, there aren’t any significant Tea Party candidates in Illinois this year, but still – the Tea Party has been one of the biggest stories of this election cycle. Joe Miller in Alaska, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and more. Pretty wild.

It’ll be an interesting election night, both here in Illinois and across the country. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on: elections that were safe no longer are, those that were lost causes suddenly are not. It sure seems like you would have needed an Ouija board to have predicted, a couple of months back, where things sit today, on the cusp of the election. Maybe that’s because of the 24-hour news cycle (i.e. it’s always this messy; we – and not just the wonks – now know this).

Hard for me – a non-wonk – to say if things were always this quirky, but politics has seemed to get a little stranger (to be generous) over the last two (2008/2010) elections.

One more day: Tuesday are the elections.