DID YOU READ

Jeffrey Katzenberg on recent movies: “They suck.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg on recent movies: “They suck.” (photo)

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Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech Conference, which is taking place this weekend in Aspen, Colorado, is “where the innovators of the Fortune 500 meet the next generation of leaders to shape the future of business.” It’s also apparently a place where those innovators talk pretty bluntly about the state of their industry.

One of the talks at Brainstorm Tech was a conversation between Fortune‘s Andy Serwer and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. You can find the entire transcript and video of their half hour conversation on Fortune‘s website; it includes Katzenberg talking about the state of 3D filmmaking and how he first became interested in the power of animation while working at Disney. But I wanted to share just one highlight that really stuck out to me, and that came when Serwer asked Katzenberg whether he thought social media is partly to blame for Hollywood’s recent struggles. Katzenberg disagreed, arguing that social media can be “valuable allies” in helping get the word out about good product. In his mind, the real problem is exactly that: a lack of good product.

“There is this sort of unholy alliance that has existed forever between art and commerce, show and biz. And today it’s out of balance and it’s too much on the biz, and it’s too much on the commerce and it’s too much on the marketability and the fact is that I’m pretty confident, and let’s do it, because this is supposed to be an interactive experience here, which is could we agree? Let me have a show of hands of people that would say the last seven or eight months of movies is the worst lineup of movies you’ve experienced in the last five years of your life.

[A shot of the audience shows most hands raised.]

They suck. It’s unbelievable how bad movies have been, right. I men, it’s just I haven’t seen a run of this, a crop of movies… right now today it’s a particularly dreary moment.”

Well at least he’s honest. Hollywood this summer is the snake that eats its own tail; a lot of sub-par sequels to movies that weren’t always all that great to begin with. Of the top ten box office grossers of the year, nine are either sequels, or based on comic books, or both (including Katzenberg’s own admittedly well-received “Kung Fu Panda 2”). The only truly original hit amongst the top ten movies of 2011 is Paul Feig’s “Bridesmaids,” which accomplished all sorts of rare feats, not the least of which is the fact that it’s held strong at the box office for almost three months in a marketplace dominated by bigger, flashier movies.

“Bridesmaids” is actually a good example for the way Katzenberg thinks movies should work in the Internet age. With social media you have this amazing tool for customer outreach. If something works with audiences, they’re going to tell people about it on Facebook and Twitter. Theoretically, then, it should be easier than ever to make a word of mouth hit. But in practice, those types of slow-earning blockbusters are rarer than ever. Most Hollywood movies are built for that big opening weekend then disappear from theaters in a month and a half. The studios bank on brand recognition and spectacle, but those are exactly the sort of movies that generate mehs on social media. Meanwhile a movie like “Bridesmaids” with characters that resemble actual human beings exceeds expectations because people liked it and told their friends to go see it.

So y’see, Hollywood? You don’t have to spend two hundred million dollars on prints and advertising. Reinvest in talent and let the fans do the work for you. Then maybe things will start to suck less.

Has this year at the movies been as bad as Katzenberg claims? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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