This has been an impactful week in the world of show business. And you know what that means? It means there was a lot of impact. You can’t have an impactful week without impact. I think I learned that in high school physics, although I wasn’t always paying close attention in class.
So, let’s go down the list of impactful show business events this week, and then discuss their impact, if any. I know I said there had to be an impact to an impactful event but sometimes no impact is impact in itself. Confused? Let’s clear it up.
1. “The Dark Knight” takes in every dollar in circulation - I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say that the Batman sequel did quite well. Any movie that kicks Spidey’s scrawny butt is big. Besides the money raked in by the movie studio that made it, the impact is being felt already in executive suites all over Hollywood. If you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more comic book heroes and villains to mine, you were wrong. There are plenty left to dredge up that can be turned into summer movies. They didn’t stop writing and drawing comic books when you packed away your “Superman” comics in the attic.
2. Every geek in America descends on San Diego - That’s right; there are no geeks left anywhere. They’re all down at Comic-Con, the annual convention of people who love comic books and the people who want to sell to them. This confab started in 1970 with only 300 geeks, and it has grown to a major event attended by more than 125,000 geeks. The immediate impact is on the geeks, and takes the form of intense euphoria, but the long-term impact is on the rest of us. Hollywood believes that these 125,000 geeks and their girlfriends (just a joke) are the holy grail of movie audiences. Therefore, each year, Hollywood types traipse down to San Diego to sell their wares. It used to be just comic book and sci-fi movies, but now Hollywood is peddling comedy wares to the geeks. Whatever these geeks decide they like is what will fill your movie screens in the next couple of years, which means there won’t be any screens left for the kind of films you like.
3. A federal appeals court slaps the FCC across the chest - The Federal Communications Commission fined CBS $550,000 for the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. In case you didn’t watch it 200 times, Justin Timberlake “accidentally” pulled off a piece of Janet Jackson’s outfit and exposed a breast. I presume that the fine would have been $1.1 million if both breasts had been exposed. Anyway, the court tossed out the fine, ruling that the FCC was out of bounds. The impact of this court ruling is that the FCC might think twice before punishing a broadcaster for any unexpected events that go on during a live broadcast. There are rumors that stripper poles are being erected on the site of next year’s Super Bowl.
4. Saber-rattling on both sides of the threatened Screen Actors Guild strike - There is evidence that the producers are holding their ground, and that there is infighting within the actor’s union. The impact on the general public is nil. Nobody really cares. People are being laid off in real life, and nobody wants to hear actors and producers whine, even if the issues are legitimate. The public expects to see programs when they turn on the TV, and movies when they sit down in a darkened movie theater. How the programming got there is none of their concern. I suspect that the public is still disgusted with the impact of the writer’s strike - how many reality shows can we be expected to watch - and they are in no mood for anybody’s labor strife.
5. NBC sets date for Conan O’Brien takeover of “The Tonight Show” - Is there any less confrontational or controversial guy in show business than Jay Leno? And yet, he seems to get in the middle of some of the nastiest network battles. First, he was forced to duke it out with David Letterman for the “Tonight Show” spot, and now he apparently isn’t really thrilled about the prospect of turning over the chair to O’Brien, who is set to take over June 1. Of course, the impact on the parties involved is significant but, once again, nobody cares what happens when millionaires collide. There is a major impact on the public, depending on how you feel about Leno and O’Brien. If you don’t want to see Leno go from your late-nightly routine, then NBC’s announcement this week is serious. A lot of people can’t picture O’Brien’s quirky sense of humor in that prestigious time slot. On the other hand, O’Brien has many supporters who are thrilled with the turn of events.
// Notes from the Road
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