04 January 2008

Late Night Shows: The Returnination Part II (The Rest, Belatedly)

I posted the first part quickly since I watched it at broadcast. The rest I watched the DVR saved versions the following day, and since I mentioned Jimmy, might as well mention the rest.

First up, Letterman, he sucked. Writers don't help, as predicted, everything was about the strike, and the jokes weren't funny. Also, Robin Williams was as unfunny as he's been the past 25 years. I seem to remember a time when he was funny, but it's fading so far into the distant past, that it might just be an echo of a fond memory not really associated with Robin Williams.

Next up Craig Ferguson, he was goofy. He talked the solidarity game, but he also mentioned the horror that was Great Britain in the 70s and the endless, pointless, and violent strikes. Sounds to me that he's not fully behind the WGA in this matter.

On to the scabtastic NBC line-up. Leno was dancing as fast as he could. He was loose, and dumb, and mostly unfunny, but really sincere. He's one of the hardest working men in show biz, and it shows. Huckster came on and was his usual huckstering self. I really loathe him, but he's good at what he does, and that appearance probably did him a lot of good (it was one of the highest rated Tonight Shows in years, so much for labor solidarity).

Finally, Conan, he was absurd, and I liked it. Especially the little Rockband part in the segment embedded above. Who else but Conan would do Edith Bunker singing Beastie Boys? Saget was his usually Saget-y self. He's a really disturbing presence, which isn't entirely a bad thing.

The fact that this is up on YouTube, and will be seen by more folks that way then watched it as it aired is part of the problem with the negotiating stance of both sides. The producers will most likely get this pulled at some point, NBC has their own video service, but they don't let you embed it cause they want to force your eyeballs to their site and their banner ads. But consumers don't want that, consumers want what they want, and a low res replay of a segment that aired on free TV shouldn't be something that is unshareable in most people's minds. So you have the studios fighting to keep this stuff under their control, you have the writers demanding to get paid on a per viewer basis for this sort of use, and you have the producers saying that there aren't any satisfactory ways to count viewers or ensure profitability if they start dividing up revenue in that manner. The producers are right, they should pay the writers more up front, and in return benefit from more cost certainty as their product ages. That way, they could relax a bit about copyright issues, and be able to let consumers share low res versions all they want, however they want, while retaining control for sale or advertising revenue of the higher res versions. That's a business model that could work, but not if they have to worry about all the crazy residuals rigamorale as they do with TV and foreign rights. That's a model that doesn't fit the internet, and can only stiffle innovation and creative risk taking. If artists really want to reap the rewards available from the internet, then sell direct, don't do it through the studios, if you want to play with studio money, then you need to accept studio rules. The WGA doesn't have a monopoly on artistry, and the producers no longer have a monopoly on distribution, there's room for everyone to make money, and once the WGA caves on most of these issues, they will get back to making money again (though whatever deal is struck, the writers on strike now will never make back the money they've already lost, that's what you get for living your Eugene V. Debs dreams).

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