Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rocket Go Boom?
OR Time for a New Blond?

Buzz Machine has a great post from Fred Graver about the Rocketboom explosion of the last few weeks. Some deep perspective from a TV exec who is smart enough to be scared of two kids in a dormroom in San Diego blowing him away by posting something on YouTube:

And at this point, I freeze the image on the screen and ask you all… how is this different from anything we’ve seen in the past 300 years of show business? If you’re having ANY trouble understanding what’s going on here, read Trav S. D.’s brilliant history of vaudeville, “No Applause, Just Throw Money.” The phrase “Hit the bricks, kid, I got a million of you” was born at the same tame as the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, on with the show.”

Producers (myself included) make our living off of building a stage. We build it out of a concept, script, cameras, props, and actors… and hope and pray for an audience. At the very end of the equation (for most of us) there is money. (And rarely at the beginning… which is why Amanda and Andrew both get huge grace points in this story. It’s clear that two people who were overjoyed at splitting a forty thousand dollar check after months of work weren’t in it for the money.)

The problem with the internet –and a thorny problem it is – is that the phrase “I got a million of you” can be uttered by everyone in the equation – actor, writer, producer. There’s a million stages now, a million actors, a million writers. EVERY ONE of them can command an audience. Every one of them can start a show.
God love it. But there’s going to be a tiny bit of hell to pay before we sort out the equation of who runs what. And Andrew and Amanda are paying the first dues for all of us. What follows is a little bit of advice for both of them that hopefully will make the next few weeks or months easier.

Andrew – you are the producer, the entrepeneur. You put up the idea, you put up the energy, you put that ad up on Craig’s list. You were / are amazingly generous in calling Amanda your partner. (I suspect you feel a little bit like your proposed marriage on your first date.) Screw the apologies. You own Rocketboom. Take a lesson from Dick Wolfe – the franchise (in his case, Law and Order) lives. The actors come and go. Put another fucking show on the web and move on. (To continue the bad marriage metaphor… what the hell were you thinking, bringing in mediators!??!?) Move ON! On the other hand… it’s been a year or so… what else are you going to do with this brilliant idea? Boom some more things, it’s about time.

Amanda – I’ve got two words for you: Martha Quinn. You’ve got a tough road ahead of you. You’re going to have to create a franchise for yourself. Get to work – the clock is ticking and 90 days from now, it’s going to be “what the fuck happened to Amanda Congdon?” (OH… and 90 days is about the time it takes for to load… might want to look into that.) I think you’re wonderful on camera, and would LOVE to do something with you at MTV Networks. But the poor little girl act (”I’m at my parents house in Connecticut?” … poor choice of state, my friend) is going to wear thin really fast.

Finally… a word or two from a VERY old warhorse… None of us are so good at this as to warrant this kind of public display of bullshit. What I’m obsessed with right now is feeling that two kids in a dorm somewhere in San Diego are going to release something on YouTube that’s going to blow us ALL away… Amanda, Andrew, myself, Jeff… we all have to be ready for the next generation of web media — something that’ll be as powerful as “Real World” was to MTV: the thing that made Martha Quinn look like… well, Martha Quinn.


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