Friday, August 28, 2009

Can the Emmys Be Saved From Bad Ratings?

TV's biggest prize will be on the minds of a lot of people in Hollywood, or anyone who likes TV.
Emmy season gets underway this weekend with the Daytime Emmys. The Creative Arts version takes place on September 13th, and the Primetime Emmys on the 20th. Even though the show brings out the most popular actors on TV, it hasn't translated into big ratings.

The Daytime Emmys was close to not being televised at all until the CW agreed to broadcast it. It's hoping to get a female audience in order to promote its new season. The Creative Arts Emmys, shown on E!, doesn't have to worry about ratings. It's just happy that people behind the scenes get a chance to shine, even if it's on a niche channel.

The Primetime Emmys, however, has been losing viewers in recent years. It's hoped Neil Patrick Harris can bring the magic he had for the Tonys last June to boost the show when it airs on CBS. Last year, the show drew 12 million viewers, an all-time low. There's been a lot of theories about what it's been happening.

One theory is that the show rewards the best TV shows, but not the most popular ones.
That may sound strange. Good TV shows already pull in a big audience, right?
That may be true in the 1990's, but not in today's TV landscape of cable channels producing more creative shows than the Big Four, who rely on spinoffs, reality shows and singing contests. The Academy decided to expand the number of nominees in major categories, hoping to reward popular shows. However, that hasn't stopped cable from dominating some categories, or staying competitive with the networks in others.

In Best Drama, five of the seven nominees are from cable, including Damages, Dexter and Mad Men. House and Lost are both top 20 shows, and made the list. However, more popular shows like CSI, The Mentalist, and Grey's Anatomy did not.

The race for Best Comedy is more even, with four of the shows from the Big Four. However, only The Office is a top 20 show. Two and a Half Men didn't make the final cut, although it has in past years. The Big Bang Theory has a Best Actor nominee in Jim Parsons, but hasn't been considered Best Comedy.

It even affects American Idol, the biggest show on TV. It has eight nominations this year, but has never beaten the perennial winner for Best Reality Show, The Amazing Race. Dancing With the Stars hasn't had much luck, either.

Another possibility is that Emmy voters keep nominating the same people. The nominees in the major acting categories are about the same as last year. If there are changes, it's due to adding an extra nominee. That's why Elizabeth Moss is up for Best Actress in a Drama, or Sarah Silverman and Toni Collette are in the race for Best Actress in a Comedy. Simon Baker may be happy to be up for Best Actor in a Drama only because the field is six nominees instead of five.

Still, is there one guaranteed formula that can turn the Emmys into a ratings success just like an American Idol, or even America's Got Talent? On the other hand, is it really necessary? The Emmys honor the best in TV, and normally shouldn't have to justify broadcasting it on any of the four major networks with big ratings. Does it make sense to cancel the show, or at least move it to cable, because not enough people are watching?

Five years ago, this question would be too off-the-wall to be even asked. But now, with concerns about ratings, production costs, and the economy, it may have to be asked. The fact that the Daytime Emmys have found their way to the CW, a net-let according to some, may be a hint of the future. Could it mean the 2011 Primetime Emmys will be shown on MyNetwork TV, or Bravo or TNT?

Or maybe someone like Neil Patrick Harris can give the Emmys the ratings boost it needs to be popular again. At the very least, it would postpone the answering of some hard questions for another year or two.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Of Taylor Swift and District 9

Joss Whedon and fans of the Guild's new video, "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar", are excited that they have conquered the "Swiftbot" to be the number one video at iTunes USA. As of this updated blog, it's still number one. The mp3 is only at Amazon, but should be at iTunes as well, ready to reconquer the site.

Oh, when I mean "Swiftbot", I mean Taylor Swift's latest song, "You Belong With Me." The video is basically an ABC Family movie compressed into four minutes.
When you think about it, how does that compare to a group of RPG players singing a dance tune that blows anything Lady Gaga has done out of the planet? I just hope ABC Family doesn't turn "You Belong With Me" into a two-hour movie. It's been done before...a LOT! If, however, you don't put ugly glasses on Taylor, and she's just thinks she can't compete with the Gossip Girl cliques until she slowly realizes she can by being, well, better than them, that would be an improvement. Still, if she wants to tackle a TV-movie, she should start at Lifetime.

Now, I tweeted about District 9 yesterday, after some fellow Twitterers raved on how cool this movie is. From what I knew, it was about how people in Johannesburg deal with aliens that have been stranded here for more than 20 years. I also thought it would be a metaphor for how we deal with immigrants. The aliens in this movie have their own derogatory nickname...prawns. They are seen as parasites, with no role in society. However, it may have something to do with the fact Earthlings can't use the aliens' technology because they lack a certain fluid.

Well, it is that...and more. The key to the story is a man named Wilkus, who's been chosen by his company, MNU, to evict the aliens and send them to a new camp on the outskirts of town. When we see him, he acts like a guy who's just an average guy, happy to get this chance. He has his problems with the aliens, but does the job as best he can. When he comes across a silver cylinder, his life will never be the same. One thing is for sure, he sees the aliens in a different light, because he has no choice. Sharlto Copley, who's actually a movie producer, does a great job portraying a man trying to survive as he's caught in the middle between the aliens and his own kind.

Already, there has been speculation for a sequel, maybe called District 10. If you see the movie, you'll see how a sequel has to be inevitable. Director Neill Blomkamp says he's like to go back to the District 9 world for a sequel, but nothing has been discussed yet. Again, when you see the movie, it could be the start of something big. Let's just hope we get another good story, because that's always more important than 60-foot Optimus Primes.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What if Buffy Was a Midnight Movie?

It was 17 years ago this weekend that curious movie-goers saw an odd summer horror movie about a cheerleader chosen to fight vampires. Dumb, huh?

Of course, that idea got better once the guy who came up with the idea got a chance to get it right on TV...and more.

It does bring up an interesting question...what if the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland and a pre-Boys Don't Cry Hillary Swank was shown as a midnight movie? I've thought about that a few times, and the real Buffy's reaction if she happened to be in the audience along with a dozen vampires wanting a good laugh and not finding it.

If this happened after she ran away from home in the summer of 1998, she would have been too depressed to leave the theater. She'd take it as a sign that a girl like her could never be a Slayer, or a heroine. Of course, this would take place about two days before the events from "Anne."
If it happened now, she'd heckle the result into oblivion, get the crowd to help her, mow down any Hellspawn in the audience, then send a polite yet firm blog to Fran Rubel Kuzui saying that she shouldn't even think of remaking the movie without Joss, or the Slayerettes, on board.

That being said...

Proof I'm not kidding

This happened at the Crest theatre in downtown Saturday night, as part of the Trash Film Orgy Festival. Their philosophy is that the movie is actually secondary to the games and antics they can do at night. For one thing, you can get drunk beforehand because they're at least four bars within walking distance. There's also one inside the theater. This guarantees constant heckling, but nowhere close to the quality commentary from MST3K. Buffy could do that if she were there.

So, they decided on a theme: the Vampire Prom, or what Sunnyvale High would have if Mayor Wilkins won.

A warning in more ways than one

Now, this could mean Hell on Earth, or what the grads will experience once they try to get a job.
But there were lots of undead teens living it up...

Uh, that's a really gross hickey

Sunnydale High Prom, worst case scenario

Thankfully, someone decided to dress up as Buffy...

OK, now we're talking

As I said, the movie is secondary to the evening itself. The print was really worn out, especially at the beginning, and the sound, and the obnoxious audience, were both too loud to understand everything. In other words, it's the old-fashioned film-going experience before Cinemark and AMC took over.
Still, after seeing this movie on TV and DVD, I wanted to know what it would be like on the big screen. I was wondering what people thought of this film when it first came out. I don't know if we'd have drunken hecklers, but maybe a few people would wonder what would happen if you turned the movie into a TV show, and did it right. It took just one WB executive to do that.

There was an intermission, where we had an interesting pageant for Vampire Prom Queen.

Choosing the Vampire Prom Queen

The gal in red was the winner. There was no "Class Protector" award, although the MC, who I think is the Blood Bunny (look out, Anya), tossed holy water at the terrible vampire comic.

The Trash Film Orgy has two more movies this month, and will have a horror festival in October. This has my interest because it includes Repo the Genetic Opera. It will have the composer, Terrance Zdunich, and some cast members. So, I might be coming down, and not dressed as a Watcher wearing a cross, a Mutant Enemy t-shirt and the Gem of Amara.
OK, maybe the t-shirt. Grr Arrgh!
In fact, I just found out it's on the Saturday before Halloween, and I have bought my tickets.