The highly rated series, IDIOTEST, is back for a second season on the Game Show Network. Host Ben Gleib let’s us prove just how bright we are by playing an (unedited) round here plus meet the man that put the first Nike shoe on a big name NBA plater and started a 13 billion dollar a year phenomenon. Meet Sonny Vaccaro, subject of a new ESPN documentary.
NBC is setting up another prime time cross over event and we talk to the shows that will tie it all together. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.
On the November 9 episode of ESPN NFL Kickoff, hosts Trey Wingo, Mark Schlereth, and Tedy Bruschi, all decided to have some fun. Apparently one of the hosts decided to make a reference to The Princess Bride, and then the hosts competed to jam as many references into a half-hour show as possible.
One would think that of all the major conglomerates in the world, The Walt Disney Company would have the greatest empathy and respect for creators who have made bad deals that resulted in their characters being torn from them. Disney, in fact owes its own success to its founder’s resolution resulting from having his creation hijacked by corporate greed. (more…)
You know how a few weeks ago I talked about what it’s like to be a writer? One thing I didn’t mention was the awfulness of staring at a blank screen – or a blank piece of paper for those who still use a typewriter, and yes, they are out there – without a clue in the universe of what you’re going to write about.
That’s when procrastination sets in.
After a half-hour, or maybe even an hour, of sitting at the computer and absolutely nothing is coming, I suddenly realize that the bathroom really needs to be cleaned. I gather up the Comet Bathroom Cleaner and the SOSand go to it, attacking the bathtub and the toilet, the sink and the floor. I Windex the mirror. Then I decide to rearrange the shelves. Then I realize that I need to put some clean towels out.
Okay, done. Bathroom looks and smells great.
Now I’m ready.
And still nothing comes.
I pick up the pile of comics that’s lying on my rocking chair. DC’s Legion: Secret Origin #2. Superman #3. Star Trek #3 from IDW. A bunch of others. Nothing sparks my interest really. I throw them back down and go into the living room. I slept on the couch last night, falling asleep while trying to stay awake and watch The Best Of The Dr. Who Christmas Specials on BBCAmerica. The blanket and pillow are still lying on the sofa.
I fold up the blanket and put it away, throw the pillow back on my bed. I sit down at the computer again.
Fifteen minutes later I’m back in the living room. I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica repeats on BBCAmerica and all the commercials have been driving me mad – plus it annoys me that they cut out the “Previously on Battlestar Galactica” and I’m sure they’re cutting other scenes out too. I resolve to pull out my DVDs of BSG, watch an episode or two, and then sit down and do the column. It’s only 2 P.M.; lots of time left. I put Disc One of Season Four into the DVD and sit down to watch.
Three hours later it’s 5:30.
Okay, this is bullshit. Mike is going to kill me, and I’m being really, really unprofessional here.
Back at the computer. Maybe I should write about Christmas Eve.
Drove down to my brother and sister-in-law’s with the parents, Alixandra and Jeff. The plan was to be at my brother’s in time for the start of the Giants-Jets game, which started at 1. Alix and Jeff were supposed to pick me up at 10; they got to my house closer to 11. The radio was turned to NPR and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (which is one of my favorite shows on NPR) was on, and surprise! surprise! – Neil Gaiman was the guest. Haven’t seen Neil in too many years to count, so it was fun to listen to him play “Not My Job” and answer questions about Will and Kate – he nailed them, and so won Karl Cassel’s voice for some guy from Chicago’s voicemail; no, it wasn’t you, Mike.
Settle down at my brother’s to watch the game. First half – well, let’s not talk about that – except for Victor Cruz!!! What a runback! What a catch! Then the second half – Gaints come alive. And then it’s deep in the fourth quarter, it’s a long game, it’s 4:18 – New York is leading by 6 – the score is 20-14 – and FOX switches to the Eagles-Dallas game because of “NFL rules.” Chaos reigns! I throw a hissy fit, I yell at my brother, “I told you should have gotten the NFL Network!” while he cursed and ran for a radio. Jeff, always a calm in the center of my storms, suggests streaming it on the computer. I think, “what a great idea!,” so I run to my sister-in-law’s computer and hook into ESPN.com. No visual, just real-time audio, so I might as well go back and listen to the radio with the rest of the family. But I stay long enough to hear the Gaints make a safety. And between the time I left the computer and got back to the rest of the family, there was an interception, a touchdown – and I still don’t know who made it – and Tynes hit a field goal. 29 – 14. And Corey Webster intercepted to end the game.
Still don’t know what the hell to write about.
Oh, I know.
Gave my eleven year-old niece Isabel the original Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld maxi-series by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon along with the Amethyst mini-series by Keith Giffen and the late Esteban Maroto… oh, yeah, and me! She was delighted and wanted to sit down and start reading right away – but her mom (rightly so) said no, not now. This could get me writing about the continual ignorance of the comic book business when it comes to attracting young female readers; I mean, Amethyst was back in the 80’s, and the honchos are still trying to figure it out? Some things, as the saying goes, never change.
I could tell you about how we all stuffed ourselves on an introductory course of smoked salmon, white fish, and smoked trout on various breads and crackers served with bloody mary’s, followed by a dinner of tender romaine hearts with baby cherry tomatoes in a vinaigrette dressing, braised beef tenderloin in a garlic and horseradish sauce, roasted cauliflower with parmesan, latkes (potato pancakes, as I mentioned last week) and fresh grilled squash with red onions sprinkled with honey; followed by an upside down orange polenta cake served alongside a Carvel“Frosty the Snowman” ice cream cake.
What else could I write about? Don’t feel like saying anything about politics this week. Well, I could talk about the House Republicans trying to block the extension of the payroll tax cut and how they had to cave and how the “orange man” sounded like a fool when he tried to make it a Republican victory, but, nah, just not in the mood.
As is well-known, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Comics a little over two years ago. Marvel joined the Muppets, Pixar, ABC and ESPN as tentacles of that great evil media empire that has done so much to homogenize the American culture. After all the jokes died down, some people wondered why the Mouse wanted the House that Jack Built in the first place.
Disney is a movie company, and Marvel’s shiniest family jewels – Spider-Man and The X-Men – were in the hands of competing studios (Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, respectively) and aren’t likely to revert any time soon. The sundry Avengers characters were in the hands of Paramount Pictures, although Disney was able to purchase a nice reversion deal here. But, still, the motion picture revenue picture was severely compromised by the Spidey and X deals, and made all the more expensive by the Paramount buy-back. So, the question “why” certainly is valid.
Nobody that big buys a publishing venture – certainly not a comic book publishing venture – for the profits it will generate on its own. The phrase “fart in a blizzard” comes to mind. Merchandising and licensing revenues can be fairly attractive and Disney/Marvel/Muppets are a good fit. But… still… why?
I think we’re beginning to see the real reason. Disney owns ABC, which includes ABC Family, the Disney Channel, Disney XD (which already carries many of the Marvel animated shows), Playhouse Disney, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama, Jetix, Radio Disney, SoapNet, WABC-TV New York, KABC-TV Los Angeles, WLS-TV Chicago, WPVI-TV Philadelphia, KGO-TV San Francisco, KTRK-TV Houston, WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN-TV Fresno, and as the various ESPN channels – possibly excluding “El Ocho.” Plus all kinda stuff overseas.
One can argue that teevee in general doesn’t have much of a future, and I might agree. But teevee programming has one hell of a great future no matter what platform we’ll be enjoying in the future: cable, satellite, computers, tablets, integrated teevee/computer systems, visors, brain implants, whatever. And that’s where the Mighty Marvel Money Machine will become the Mouse’s cash cow, true believer.
Disney already has The Hulk, Cloak and Dagger and Alias in development. Of course “Alias” has to be renamed – it’s working under the title “a.k.a. Jessica Jones” right now, and the show includes both Luke Cage and Carol Danvers. Mockingbird is also in development as a Miley Cyrus style kids show, possibly as fodder for the ABC Family network.
Step back a pace and take a look at what’s going on here.
Most of these shows are built around female superheroes. As headliners, such characters are anathema to motion picture studios. But Disney is betting heavy, heavy bucks that the distaff side will draw a sufficient audience to warrant the investment.
That’s pretty cool – and very risky. Women heroes haven’t fared much better on the small screen: Nikita was renewed by the skin of her teeth, The Bionic Woman revival flamed out, as did Charlie’s Angels redux. David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman didn’t make it past the pilot stage. Yet Disney is developing no less than three Marvel shows built around women.
So no matter what I might feel about Disney’s predatory influence on our culture, they are showing a great deal of courage here – courage they developed by purchasing Marvel.
Over the last two weeks, Marvel has laid off lots of people, from Bullpen staffers and editors to COO Jim Sokolowski. Heidi MacDonald may have tracked down the main culprit:
The budget slashing is the work of Marvel’s CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, an executive of legendary stinginess whose fanatical devotion to saving money —an increased interest in being hands on at Marvel — has led to the layoffs and other draconian measures inside the company.
Perlmutter and his then partner Avi Arad rode in to save Marvel from bankruptcy when they ran ToyBiz back in the late 90s. Keeping an eye on the bottom line was key to turning the company around. Bold moves like setting up their own $500 million movie studio took Marvel from penniless publishing company to a Wall Street darling with numerous stock splits. And of course, it led to Disney shelling out all that cash for a ready-made, boy-friendly franchise factory.
Although he no longer owns Marvel, Ike still runs it. And rather than sit back and enjoy his sunset years—he’s 68—with his $1.7 billion fortune, he’s chosen to keep a very active hand in running the company. In recent months he’s become even more active, showing up at the office daily. And it seems the only way he knows how to run a company is by increasing profits — not by investing in new businesses, but simply squeezing the bottom line for every last penny by any means.
If Ike thinks an expenditure is unnecessary, there’s no way around it, and anyone caught doing it is in danger of losing their job.
From Ike’s point of view, why not? The single biggest financial contributors to Marvel’s bottom line are movies based on stories that are up to fifty years old at this point– seventy, if you count Captain America. Why should you bother creating anything new, when there’s so much to be squeezed from the old stuff?
Heidi also speculates that this may be to impress Disney and get Ike a seat on the board, now that he’s Disney’s single largest shareholder. What Ike doesn’t realize is that Disney already tried this tactic, squeezing every last drop out of their previously created works and riding on coattails. It was called “the seventies”. But Disney realized that it couldn’t go on forever, and that new properties had to be created, new stories had to be told. That required Disney to buy Pixar, which gave them access to some of the greatest visionairies on the planet, both the animators and Steve Jobs.
Jobs was an innovator. Perlmutter is an accountant.
It was Perlmutter’s tight grip on facts, figures, and accounting that got him control of the company from Ron Perelman and Carl Icahn, drag it out of bankruptcy, and build it to something that could be sold for four billion dollars. But really, you gotta spend money and get new fans sometime. DC’s new initiative and spike in sales should get Marvel worried.
It’s almost like you’re begging to be hassled by the 99%… or as we like to think of it, almost everybody else who works for Marvel.
Disney is generally pretty good about supporting the brands that support them, such as Pixar and ESPN. But if Perlmutter is keeping tight control and tighter purse strings, you have to wonder if Disney is getting the full news from the front line.
Want a Mutant Venti? Soon, you’ll be able to get your caffeine and your comics fix in one handy location, thanks to a deal signed by Starbucks and Marvel Digital Comics. Marvel currently offers more than 9,000 comics online, all of which will be available for free on the Starbucks Digital Network, a portal available at 6,800 U.S. Starbucks locations. Comics at Starbucks will be available to view, not download.
“Today we’re broadening the offering and will continue to develop the network’s channels with a spectrum of new content,” said Stephen Gillett, Starbucks chief information officer and executive vice president of Digital Ventures, in a statement.
The real winner of the summer movie sweepstakes may well be motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, which managed to have their sleek cycles appear in two of the box office behemoths: Terminator Salvation and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In the latter, the Hypermotard merged with two other cycles to create the female Autobot Arcee.
In Terminator, the DVD of which went on sale this week, the film featured a Moto-Terminator, inspired by the Ducati Hypermotard 1100 bike. To celebrate this fact, Ducati, Warner Bros. and ESPN have teamed up to offer a contest, ending today. The winner receives a 2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796 Motorcycle, worth a cool $10,340.
To learn more about the cycle and how it was turned into a Terminator, check out the featurette on the DVD.
What? You haven’t rushed out to get it yet? ComicMix can help. Warner Home Video has given us a standard format DVD to award to one of our fans.
Here’s the deal: like the ESPN contest, we’ll give you until Saturday, midnight Eastern time, to post a comment in this topic using your name and e-mail address. We will select a lucky winner at random who will have the DVD mailed out in time for holiday enjoyment.