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"We're programming to that Big Bang audience"

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Tim Wilson
"We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 4:28:05 pm

Enlightening interview with a couple of execs at TBS. Obviously very thoughtful, intelligent guys who lay out the heart of their strategy for building the network's identify. I was especially interested in why THEY'RE not especially interested in Conan's ratings.

But I led with that quote hoping to get something out of Scott before he goes to see Prometheus LOL but I really did think it was a very interesting interview.

Now maybe will get the head of the National Geographic channel to explain the strategy behind all those Bigfoot shows.

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
Twitter: timdoubleyou



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Scott Roberts
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 6:36:55 pm

I actually like TBS, for the most part. At any given time there's a 50/50 chance that Seinfeld, old Office episodes, or Family Guy will be on. And they usually air fun and stupid but completely watchable movies. It's good filler TV for the background while I'm reading internet articles or something. And Conan is still good for laughs. Though, I am slightly bitter because I entered the lottery for Conan's Chicago week tickets, and I didn't get selected... :(

TBS does, however, offer some pretty awful original programming as well. How many times in one week can they marathon crappy Tyler Perry shows (or, as you mentioned, Big Bang Theory)? TBS is either a good channel to stumble upon, or it's a terrible channel to avoid like the plague.

Where is this interview accessible? Or is it not yet? I'd love to check it out. Warren Littlefield (former president of NBC who developed such shows as Seinfeld, Fresh Prince, ER, Wings, etc, THAT era of NBC) was on The Howard Stern Show a week or two ago, and it was a non stop barrage of awesome information. I'll listen to someone talk about Kelsey Grammer's many drug interventions for pretty much any amount of time.


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Tim Wilson
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 6:45:09 pm

Ooops, here's the link.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/steve-koonin-michael-wright-tbs-conan...

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
Twitter: timdoubleyou



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Mike Cohen
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 7:09:20 pm

I think it is cool to watch old pre-HD sitcoms in HD. Presumably they either cut those shows on film and just digitally mastered the film master, or they re-cut the shows, which is doubtful. Or perhaps they had D-Beta masters and uprez to HD...? Anyone have the answer?

Dallas...hmmm.

A network relying upon syndicated sitcoms seems risky, although once upon a time at my mom and dad's house, all conversation would cease at 7pm weeknights for "Raymond." I never cared for the show, but then I have not watched a sitcom regularly since Seinfeld, unless you count Family Guy as a sitcom. I tried Big Bang, but found every episode to be basically the same plot. #$% My Dad Says had potential but was typically formulaic.

Speaking of formulaic, I know un-scripted/reality/competition shows are all the rage, and we watch a number of them, but I'll send $12.73 to the first producer who can come up with an original way of cutting a reality show that breaks the formulaic model that they all follow:

Bob, "So, Mary, I see you have a ticket stub from a movie. Why didn't you invite me? Did you go with someone else?"

Mary, "Well...um...you see..."

Dramatic music

Troubled look from Bob

ECU on Mary

Heavy bass music note

Cut to black - commercial

Come back from commercial, re-play last few seconds of previous scene, but this time with more upbeat music, different insert shots, and we see that it was actually ok..

Mary, "Well..you see...ummm..."

ECU on Bob (we just see his retina narrow)

Switch to upbeat music cue

Mar, "My mom came to town and we had a girls night out. She wants to meet you."

Bob smiles, hugs all around, and scene.

This fake drama motif gets really old, and it is repeated week after week on those competition shows. I know they need to create some dramatic tension but it gets to be laughable.

MC


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Mark Suszko
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 8:31:11 pm

Did none of you guys see "Hatfields & McCoys" on History Channel the other week? Three days, a 6 hour mini-series, Costner, Powers Boothe, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, all doing incredible work, and it was shot and edited well, quite riveting and yet also informative.

I'll take that over "ice road truckers looking for Bigfoot's ghost in a pawn shop's UFO storage locker" any day.


My next pitch to History channel will be: "Ice CREAM Truckers". All the fake reality drama of Ice Roads, but lower production costs and....

it has ice cream!


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Scott Roberts
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 9:25:39 pm

[Mike Cohen] "I'll send $12.73 to the first producer who can come up with an original way of cutting a reality show that breaks the formulaic model that they all follow:"

I only consistently watch one reality show, Hell's Kitchen (which I've seen every episode of all 9 previous seasons as they aired), and they do that formula of manipulating editing to think something is going wrong, but then it's fine all the time. But what can I say, I love watching an angry British guy yelling at sweaty Americans for a couple hours a week. I put up with it. If I watched 8 reality shows, and they all did that, well... then maybe I'd go a little crazy(er).



[Mark Suszko] "Did none of you guys see "Hatfields & McCoys" on History Channel the other week?"

It's sitting on my DVR. I actually heard about it from the pre-trailer trailers at the movie theater when I saw Men in Black a couple weeks ago. That's the first time the pre-trailer trailers have ever been of benefit to me! Now I just need to find a six hour time commitment. Maybe I can watch it in 30 minute chunks over 12 lunch breaks. But then I'll get behind on The Daily Show! Ahhhhh! First World Problems!


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Mike Cohen
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 8, 2012 at 9:44:49 pm

I have Hatfields on my DVR, along with the last 5 episodes of Southland, a few episodes of Covert Affairs, some Game of Thrones episodes which I want to watch a 2nd time and numerous other items which may need to wait until next Winter. There is just too much choice and good weather.

Mike

And Prometheus IMAX 3D tomorrow.


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Tim Wilson
Re: "We're programming to that Big Bang audience"
on Jun 10, 2012 at 3:32:32 pm

[Mike Cohen] "I think it is cool to watch old pre-HD sitcoms in HD. Presumably they either cut those shows on film and just digitally mastered the film master, or they re-cut the shows, which is doubtful. Or perhaps they had D-Beta masters and uprez to HD...? "

In many cases, it's the latter. This is why the industry-standard Teranex could charge $90,000 per unit for their standards converters and arguably be underpriced for many customers. If you're a content holder of even moderate size, you can make back your money in the first HOUR.

Which is also why it's flabbergasting to me that Blackmagic added I/O including Thunderbolt, reduced the size and made it quieter -- and DROPPED the price by EIGHTY-SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, to under $3000. If it hadn't have been for their camera, this would have been the talk of the show.

Anyway....

I was invited to join a very exclusive mailing list in the pre-millenial years, of the guys who were working out HD standards. I had become pals with one of the list owners, and he saw I was interested, so he let me subscribe on the strict conditions was that I NEVER TALK, EVER, and that I never contact anybody directly. LOL

I learned a lot about a lot of things, but one of the stories that still stands out to me was a producer for Frazier. They knew they had to take care of the basics -- choose fabrics to avoid moire, etc. -- but they had a problem. The "real" Frazier was centered on the apartment, which was arranged like a traditional 4:3 stage. Specifically, the genre it was set up for was French farce, where the distinguishing stylistic element is entrances and exits.

If you think about it, almost the entire back of the set was doors - the front door, the hallway to the bedroom, the balcony and the kitchen. There was constant motion between them. So it was obvious that as they were thinking about syndication for the world of HD, and protecting for a 16:9 aspect ratio, they were going to have to protect for the doors. No question.

Except for Eddie - one of the key players in the comic ensemble, but always on the floor.

You can tell EXACTLY the point at which they understood this, when you start seeing the episodes where Eddie is on the furniture, especially the arms of the sofa and the easy chair. Raised absolutely as high as possible. Otherwise, in protecting for the doors, Eddie would be below the frame.

Note too that even though the masters were delivered on tape, many of these SD-era shows were shot on film. This was yet another innovation of Desi Arnaz, who valued his work too much to let it dissolve into goo or be recorded over, which was already happening to highly regarded shows in the late 40s and early 50s, and because he saw a chance to resell I Love Lucy later -- but only if there was an actual THING to sell.

As a result, he also pioneered multicamera editing in 1951 (as opposed to live switching), with a 3-headed flatbed known as the Moviola Monster. You can see it in an amazing article here at the COW, called Multicamera Madness.

The point being, even up to the turn of the century, sitcoms were being shot on film. Uprezzing wasn't an issue. It was just good ol' telecine. In many cases, as with Frasier, it was a straight center cut of a protected frame, no pan/scan required. But, for all that pan and scan got panned in the early days (it's not REAL HD unless it's SHOT in HD), it almost never gets mentioned anymore because it's done pretty well...or because broadcasters show it pillared and people have their TV sets to stretch everything into 16:9 anyway.

(I used to yell at my relatives about this, but they yelled louder that they wanted pictures to fill the whole screen. I was able to get away with zooming the picture, but that failed often enough that it was easier to stop caring, just be a good kid and set it up the way they want.)

I agree though that a lot of unscripted programming has settled into conventions as calcified as anything in scripted TV. I especially hate that speech to someone in elimination time where they tell people a lot of bad things they've done, then speak more and more slowly, with longer pauses, "which is why....it's my job.....to tell you.............YOU'RE SAFE!!!"

And the person screams and bounces around instead of just breathing out heavily and saying, "Whew! You had me worried there! Wow, thanks. This is really cool." Nononono, the rules require screaming. Otherwise, you really WILL get cut next time.

Tim Wilson
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
Twitter: timdoubleyou



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