Monthly Archives: February 2011

Progress on Modern Family: Cookie Monster

Look at this hilarity!!!

So I just finished writing the first draft on my cold open of a spec I’ve dubbed “Cookie Monster.” The premise is basically how competition over something so simple as a plate of cookies is turning everyone into…monsters.

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I think I want to make comedies….

somewhere between this…

and this

Not that there really is “an in-between” for me. Just judging by these trailers, and what I’ve heard, I have to see these movies because they are essentially what I want to make. In fact, Bridesmaids is basically how I pitched the vision of my own production company last spring to my producing class: “comedies with Judd Apatow-like humor that actually understands women past a one-dimensional shrew or one-dimensional psycho.” Because as much as he’ll give a woman a funny line, his women are still pretty flat or succubus-ish.

Never Say Never to The Bieber

My sister is an up-and-coming dancer, who won tickets from Millenium Dance Studio to the L.A. premier of Never Say Never, starring THE Justin Bieber. It was pure pandemonium, with screaming girls everywhere you turned. The film was fun, and honestly, made me understand exactly why these teenage girls are SO INTENSELY wrapped up in him. But, more importantly, I saw the several crucial lessons about social media and audience attention.

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Nouveau Niche

via

 

Years ago, I had a professor who was fairly young, and was around on campus as Facebook was popping up. About a year into Facebook infiltrating campus life (mid 2005, maybe?), I remember him observing that social media is a great tool, but it is hurting the way that young people interact with each other. I totally agreed. I’ll be honest, writing a funny one-liner on a friend’s wall was waaaay easier than a 45-minute phone call about whether they should break up with their boyfriend (if it’s someone I really don’t care about — I’m not completely callous).

Fast forward a few years later; 2009ish. My husband and I were talking about media consumption, and he says “We’re losing the water cooler in our society.” The grander society no longer shares collective experiences in everyday media.

And, for better or worse, it’s definitely true, along nearly all major forms of media: music, movies, television, web, and books.

Everything now is highly niched. As highlighted in the NPR series, Fractured Culture, nothing can be targeted toward the greater society. There are so many great scripted television shows on prime time right now, but only small fragments of America watch them. While you can say that’s partially because of cable, it goes beyond that. There are so many options. You don’t even have to have a television. You can just have DVDs and a Netflix account streaming to your TV, and maybe access to Hulu Plus. And then, of course, there’s YouTube. Right there is access to TONS (literally) of hours of nearly anything you could possibly want to watch. And music videos. So why sit in front of the television and watch the shows they are force-feeding down your throat, when you can watching a hilarious web show with a disgusting, crass sense of humor that you can’t find on television, but is so well targeted toward you?

Music may be the most emblematic of this — the first industry really hit hard by this shift in the way we consume media. People stopped paying money for music years ago, unless it was truly meaningful now. No one watches MTV for videos — firstly MTV hasn’t played music videos since the days of Jesse Camp, and secondly, music videos are basically an online-only venture (aside from BET, really). Why watch a bunch of random videos hoping they’ll play the one you want to watch, when you can just go online and play the one you want to watch at that moment? Also, do you notice that your favorite television shows and movies don’t use overwrought music that you’re already sick of because they play it on the radio constantly anymore — they play the “indie” stuff. It’s cheap, and it caters to an appreciation of the “underground.” It’s catering to the fact that people love to be the first of their friends to have heard of a band, and then be pleasantly surprised to hear it on Grey’s Anatomy.

And etc. and so-forth. But is this nichefying a completely bad thing? I don’t know. I think there is good to this, because, as the NPR series points out on many platforms, audiences who have not been engaged before on television can enjoy niche TV on cable (106 & Park and its teenage fan base); Asian people don’t really have soooo few images on television, but can find some well produced series’ online featuring people of Asian descent doing stuff other than being nerds or weird little businessmen.
So to me, as I’ve written about before, I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible thing. In fact, I’m hoping to one day capitalize on it…

Murphy Brown: Mary Tyler Moore, 20 Years Later

I watched the pilot and a few episodes of Murphy Brown, Season One. One of the first things to capture my attention was the (expensive!!) use of music in this show. Murphy Brown does not have theme music for its opening credits. Instead, each episode title is based on a Motown song, or the theme of the episode is based on the song, which acts as an opening theme. Like the episode where Corky and Murphy wear the same blue dress, the opening sequence is Corky getting ready for work as “Devil In A Blue Dress” plays, and then arriving to work wearing a rather cute blue dress that could actually work today. Murphy walks in wearing the same dress. The episode then launches into a situation where Murphy has to bring Corky along to work on an assignment with her; despite her dingbatty-ness, Corky ends up busting down the door on a big story.

I figure this is the reason why this show has not seen any syndication: licensing music can be pricey. I’m sure KTLA doesn’t feel like forking over millions of dollars each year just so Murphy Brown re-runs don’t start without music.

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Assignments for The Week of 2/7

Film History – Ch. 11, American Film Years (1930-1945) Section 1 , Film Cycles and Cinematic Conventions and Section 2, The Comics.
NMP: Check out The Legend of Neil
Spec: Key priorities on the outline: drive at a key theme, create more going on at The Dunphy House and at Mitch & Cam’s house.
Television: Watch thirtysomething

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