The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 November 2004

Tinseltown rebellion

The Hollywood creative community, when it's not providing a working definition of the term "oxymoron," is lamenting the inexplicable failure of the majority of American voters to embrace their particular brand of politics. Joanne Ostrow in The Denver Post reports:

"The Hollywood community is incredibly distraught about the election results," said Vanessa Taylor, co-creator and co-executive producer of the WB's Jack & Bobby. "I'd say we're in a state of shocked disappointment."

As distinguished, I suppose, from disappointed shock.

Among writer-producers, Taylor said, "People are saying, 'Should I go work for Planned Parenthood or write my feature film?"' Her attitude is, "If you've got a pulpit at all, use it."

Now that's the sort of 120-degree career change I can't imagine. I mean, Planned Parenthood? Don't they already have enough media mouthpieces? And you know these self-described creative types aren't going to settle for mere scut work like, say, the fetus-disposal unit.

So expect the television schedule to be cluttered with more and more Very Special Episodes devoted to Hollywood's ideas of social injustice, and expect the ratings to continue to fall — and expect George W. Bush to get the blame.

Cable, Ostrow notes, doesn't whine as much as broadcast:

"Our strategy is not going to change at all," said FX spokesman Jon Solberg. FX's cutting-edge fare does very well in the red states as well as in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. Season One of the plastic-surgery drama "Nip/Tuck" scored higher ratings in Oklahoma City than in New York or Los Angeles. "There is no measurable skew between red and blue states," said John Landgraf, FX president of entertainment.

Tell that to Vanessa Taylor. Five will get you ten she'll come back with something like, "Oh, well, FX, they're a Fox network," her glossy lower lip quivering in contempt.

As a non-creative person — okay, I've written a few hundred thousand words here, and I did once get what looked like an actual offer to work on a series pilot — I'm not allowed to say these things, but I'm going to say them anyway:

1.  Social relevance plus crap equals socially-relevant crap. A story doesn't gain in importance just because it's been overlaid with someone's political agenda.

2.  Karl Rove did not send you a memo on what you can and cannot say. Neither did John Ashcroft, and neither will Alberto Gonzales.

3.  Complaints from the audience do not constitute censorship. Freedom of speech does not guarantee that everyone will just sit there, smiling, whispering "Oh, that's so true."

I could go on, but why bother? Hollywood listens only to Hollywood, unless someone in New York is signing the checks.

(Via Dawn Eden, who isn't signing any checks.)

Posted at 8:57 AM to Almost Yogurt

You ever watched "Nip/Tuck" ??

I ignored it the first season. Decided to watch it second season. For them a "season" is only about 8 episodes.

It's all over the place with eyebrow raisin' stuff. Some you wonder how they get away with.

Posted by: ms7168 at 11:58 AM on 15 November 2004

Unlike the case with broadcast TV, the FCC can't even invent an "indecency" standard for cable; the envelope will always get pushed a little farther on cable networks.

One argument I've seen made by broadcast execs is that unless they're allowed the same latitude that cable enjoys, their First Amendment rights are somehow being abridged. I'm thinking that maybe they're right. But I've seen no evidence that they're willing to fight the FCC; they'll appeal a fine routinely, as a business matter, but they never seem to put up any serious legal challenges. And that's what irks me about this particular whine: they want to be able to put on anything they want, but they don't want to run any risks in so doing, lest the chancellors of their exchequers be forced to write big checks to the Feds, and the myrmidons of the CEO be subsequently dispatched to urge them to tone it down already.

If it's that important, let them create a test case. Shouldn't be difficult. But no: they'd rather kvetch about how they're being repressed.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:00 PM on 15 November 2004

I really don't think the Dark Ages would ensue if the broadcast networks shut their doors completely.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:46 AM on 16 November 2004

You're a "non-creative person"?!

P-shaw. I call BS.

Posted by: Dan at 9:32 AM on 16 November 2004