Friday, August 07, 2009

The View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts to my weekly media commentary program called "The Phlipside" which airs on WRFA-LP Jamestown NY Tuesday - Friday at 7:45 AM and 5:05 PM (or thereabouts). I also have a Twitter account for the show @radiophlipside.

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside...

Hollywood is such a delightfully weird place. It keeps me in lots of topics to discuss some weird and some wonderful and some, well I'm still trying to figure those out. This time let's take a look at some movies that are just at the very beginning of their process.

We've got several sequels that are getting ready to start shooting in the next year or so. It's hard to explain why they're looking at a sequel to the movie Hitman. What's that you say, you don't remember any such movie? Not surprising, it was a total bomb here in the U.S. for the simple reason that it was awful. But the overseas crowd loved it so we get to see a sequel. More popular around these parts were the first three Pirates of the Caribbean, although I think they get less wonderful with each title. Rob Marshall will apparently be the director. We can only hope he does a better job than he did with "Chicago". Rumor has it that Pixar and Disney are looking at a Monster's Inc 2 which might be pretty cool. Disney has registered the domain name for which might be a clue, of course they also registered a domain name for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 as well.

On the more inexplicable side we have a remake of the classic Errol Flynn pic Captain Blood. The spin on this one is that the classic pirates tale will be moved to outer space. You mean like Han Solo already did? How about a Mad Max 4? OK how about not? Could start shooting next summer. Really topping the inexplicable list however is Stephen Spielberg's announcement that he will direct a remake of the 1950 classic "Harvey". In case you're not into old movies this was a Jimmy Stewart film about a guy with an invisible friend. A six foot three inch tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. Now that sounds pretty lame. In fact the movie is rather amazing very carefully balancing the question of whether the main character is eccentric or out right nuts. Based on a Pulitzer prize winning play it ranks as the #35 movie of all time according the American Film Institute. It's essentially a perfect film. So what do you do with a remake?


So how do you survive the change in the media environment if you're an old line medium? That question is still to be found but the folks at Barnes and Noble are taking a promising approach. I've mentioned before that I'm a dedicated reader and it is my fervent hope that the book industry never fades away. But it is facing some serious challenges today.

So here's what Barnes and Noble is doing - they're finding a way to bring media savvy, digitally connected people into, of all places, a bookstore! And that might just be a good boost to the old business. Barnes and Noble has announced that they are coming out with an ebook reader to take on Kindle, have opened an ebookstore, are offering a free ebook reader application for use on computers and smart phones and oh yeah are now making all their stores free WiFi locations. The ebookstore is offering access to no less than seven hundred thousand titles to start. This is worth noting about that number - about two thirds of them are public domain titles. Still that's four hundred thousand more than are offered by Amazon through Kindle. You can download and preview any of the titles, the pay titles start under ten bucks.

So why do I like this move? Simple first it eliminates a road block to users getting access to your online offerings, Second it's free and the new marketing thinking is that you have to offer a Freemium to the current generation of media users to get them to buy. Start them off with freebies and they're more likely to become paying customers. Third is actually some old school marketing. If you can get the customer through the door your chance of selling them something increases. They come in, check out the free wifi, scan the ebookstore, take a wander through the store to stretch their legs and discover something that appeals to them. Sure they might be able to get it for less online somewhere but here it is, in their hands, right now. No waiting for the package to be shipped, they can take it home this instant. Never underestimate the power of instant gratification. And BANG, all of a sudden you've made a sale.

I'm in favor of anything that keeps people reading and bookstores in business.


I never understand why intelligent people insist on acting like idiots. And there's no doubt that CNN talking head Lou Dobbs is a bright guy. Harvard degrees in Economics don't just fall off trees. So explain to me why Lou is caught up in the latest resurgence of the "birthers" debate around President Obama.

In case you're not up to speed on this one the birther question is whether the current President of the United States is a natural born citizen as is required by the Constitution. The question first came up during the Democratic primaries and I thought had been put to rest but apparently not. Lou has done repeated shows on this supposed "question" over the last couple months. Dobbs himself keeps saying he believes the President meets the Constitutional requirement then keeps the story rolling with yet another segment.

Let's be clear: no one in their right mind thinks this is still an open question. Ultra conservative commentator Ann Coulter thinks Dobbs needs to shut up on this question. Pretty much everyone EXCEPT a bunch of far right wing nuts and Lou Dobbs want to move on.

For the record here are the FACTS - The state of Hawaii went into its archives and has produced the original birth certificate with all appropriate seals and signatures. The archives of two separate Hawaiian newspapers show the birth announcement of the President at the time and place indicated. All appropriate authorities have acknowledged that Barack Hussein Obama meets the citizenship requirement to hold our highest office. You may think the President is an idiot but you can't say he's not a citizen. Not without sacrificing an awful lot of credibility.

So why is Lou Dobbs so prepared to do just that? Why sacrifice a reasonably distinguished reputation? I say reasonably distinguished because Dobbs did once order coverage of the President's visit to Columbine following the school shootings to be cut short so CNN could return to his show Moneyline. Seems Lou has these slips in decision making periodically. The answer these days seems pretty simple. Dobbs current show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, has been losing viewers for a while now.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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