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October 22, 2009

Hulu to start charging in 2010

Blog@Newsarama -- Et Tu, Hulu? or Hulu, Huh-What? Good luck with that. In the meantime, Hulu has a whole bunch of horror films up for Halloween. For free.
Chase Carey, Deputy Chairman of News Corp., speaking at Broadcasting and Cable’s OnScreen summit, said, “It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online.” He went on to say: “I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey said. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.” Speaking with AdVerse, Carey noted that the charging would likely begin in 2010.

October 16, 2009

The dark secrets of the Simpsons

Secrets of The Simpsons - The Daily Beast So a reporter for Vanity Fair sets out to write an oral history of The Simpsons, but gets stonewalled completely by the studio and the producers for asking a question about a producer who was exiled over a decade ago. This forces the reporter to investigate and dig into the dirt and he comes out with a book that is way more scathing than it would have been if the studio had given even token interviews.
It turns out Matt Groening was not considered a great asset by many in The Simpsons writers room; he was not a sitcom writer and didn’t really didn’t know how to tell those kinds of stories, and Sam Simon let him know it. Once while discussing a script where Marge finally lets her hair down, Matt really wanted to reveal that underneath her beehive, Marge had Rabbit ears—Sam, of course, said no. One witness to the early days was particularly annoyed that Groening took so much credit for the show's success, when "the fat fuck just sat up in his office all day, figuring out ways to make more money [with merchandising]" while Sam Simon and the writers churned out brilliant script after brilliant script. As original Simpsons writer (and the head writer of Frasier), Jay Kogen put it, “I keep reading books about Star Trek where [creator] Gene Roddenberry was not the guy who was necessarily at the head of it, or the stuff about The Godfather, where it’s Coppola and it’s a bunch of other people. It turns out that what they say about TV and movies being a collaborative effort is really true. It’s a large collaboration. But those are hard stories to tell for the press. They like to make stars out of people, so they pick one guy and say, ‘This guy’s the guy who did it.’ And that’s a pretty good story.” And that was the story James L. Brooks and Fox wanted to stick with. Fox tried to get me to write a different story, “How about,” one flack told me, “you do a history of how The Simpsons Movie came to be,” adding that this was something they could get on board with (Entertainment Weekly did this exact story when the movie premiered—with quotes from Brooks, Groening, and the cast—you can fall asleep to it here). I declined this very generous offer and continued to work on the story, resulting in some hilarious calls from Fox publicity, with them informing me “There is no Simpsons story in Vanity Fair. We said ‘no’!”

October 13, 2009

Charlie Stross: Why I Hate Star Trek

Charlie's Diary: Why I hate Star Trek
. . . when the movie-length trailer for ST:TNG first aired in the UK in the late eighties? It was hate on first sight. And since then, it's also been hate on sight between me and just about every space operatic show on television. ST:Voyager and whatever the space station opera; check. Babylon Five? Ditto. Battlestar Galactica? Didn't even bother turning on the TV. I hate them all. I finally found out why: At his recent keynote speech at the New York Television Festival, former Star Trek writer and creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica Ron Moore revealed the secret formula to writing for Trek. He described how the writers would just insert "tech" into the scripts whenever they needed to resolve a story or plot line, then they'd have consultants fill in the appropriate words (aka technobabble) later. "It became the solution to so many plot lines and so many stories," Moore said. "It was so mechanical that we had science consultants who would just come up with the words for us and we'd just write 'tech' in the script. You know, Picard would say 'Commander La Forge, tech the tech to the warp drive.' I'm serious. If you look at those scripts, you'll see that." Moore then went on to describe how a typical script might read before the science consultants did their thing: La Forge: "Captain, the tech is overteching." Picard: "Well, route the auxiliary tech to the tech, Mr. La Forge." La Forge: "No, Captain. Captain, I've tried to tech the tech, and it won't work." Picard: "Well, then we're doomed." "And then Data pops up and says, 'Captain, there is a theory that if you tech the other tech ... '" Moore said. "It's a rhythm and it's a structure, and the words are meaningless. It's not about anything except just sort of going through this dance of how they tech their way out of it." As you probably guessed, this is not how I write SF — in fact, it's the antithesis of everything I enjoy in an SF novel.