Archive for February, 2007

This American Life Unveiled

February 28, 2007

glass2.jpgI had a surreal experience last night: watching Ira Glass and company performing an episode of their radio show, This American Life, live at the Boston Opera House. This American Life is on tour to promote the upcoming television version of the show (premiering March 22 at 10:30 PM on ShowTime).

In a fascinating segment that won’t be heard on radio, Glass and his director, Chris Wilcha, showed some clips and outtakes from the TV show and recounted their struggle to translate the appeal of This American Life to video.

My vote: the TV show is just as brainy and hip as the radio show. The cinematography is way cool. However, it totally lacks the meditative, contemplative quality of radio. To me, the quintessential This American Life experience is catching it in the car on Saturday and ending up parked at my destination, sitting in a trance for 20 minutes to hear the show finish. The TV version is not like that.

There used to be a TV show that had a similar effect on me. It was CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt. Sunday Morning had two things This American Life does not: long, silent nature shots and a Sunday morning (pajamas/bagels/coffee) time slot. Perhaps I will Tivo This American Life and watch it on Sunday.

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Katz and Snyder Team Up Live

February 26, 2007

katz.jpgFriend and mentor, Tom Snyder, is directing “WORKING the ROOM: An Evening with Jonathan Katz and Friends” this Friday and Saturday at Jimmy Tingle’s OFF BROADWAY Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts. For fans of their hit Comedy Channel series, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, this is a must-see.

Catmull Likes Pencil and Paper

February 9, 2007

image_disneypixar7.jpgThe Hollywood Reporter has an article today with the headline, “Disney getting back to hand-drawn animation.” Unfortunately, it offers no specifics about The Frog Princess or anything else. Just that Ed Catmull, speaking at Disney’s annual Investors Conference in Orlando yesterday, said he and Lasseter intend to bring traditional animation back, “provided a worthy story is being told.”

Other news from the conference: Disney intends to build a few mini theme parks around the country, and the made-for-TV movie, High School Musical made a $100 million profit.

United Doesn’t Get It

February 2, 2007

th-f5.jpgI just flew in from the coast on United. The inflight movie was one I had not heard of: Man of the Year starring Robin Williams. So I was pleased when, instead of a preview, they aired one of those Ebert and Roeper style reviews before the show. Imagine my surprise when the reviewers panned the film! OK, to be fair: one thumb way down and one thumb sideways.

Is it possible they were getting complaints from customers about lousy inflight movies, so someone in legal decided: better add a warning?

Fight Sites

February 1, 2007

argument.jpegMichael Arrington just posted about a slew of startups that, in a Web 2.0 twist on the Monty Python Argument Clinic, are trying to monetize the apparently boundless appetite for online bickering. The latest is convinceme.net—a place that reminds me of the hallway of my freshman dorm.

Frito-Lay Gets It

February 1, 2007

midproductsdoritos.gifI heard this morning on NPR that this Sunday’s Superbowl might be the first to air an advertisement that was made on a budget of $12.79.

Demonstrating perfect pitch for what kids are up to these days, Frito-Lay decided to forego spending $1 million on a professionally-produced Doritos Superbowl commercial. Instead, in mid-September they launched “Crash the Superbowl,” a web-based contest for home-made Doritos ads. Frito-Lay picked 5 finalists out of the 1060 submissions. The winner, chosen by consumer web voting, will be aired Sunday in front of 90 million viewers. It is kind of YouTube meets American Idol.

My only question: who will get the Clio—the kid with the camera and $12.79, or the genius who thought up this plan?