Given our conversations about SOPA and legacy media’s willingness (or lack thereof) to embrace the ways technology is changing the way we consume media, one of the things I was most interested in at the Television Critics Association press tour was the way executives from the networks talked about technology and how it’s affecting everything from ratings to storytelling. I have a piece on the Atlantic about the five biggest tech ideas at press tour, and FX’s John Landgraf, Fox’s Kevin Reilly, ABC’s Paul Lee, and Hulu’s Andy Forssell all deserve significant credit for creative thinking. I want to pull out one point, though, because I think it’s an important question without an easy answer:
If you want people to put television on their calendars, make television that’s worth the appointment?in every way.
Executive: Paul Lee, President, ABC Entertainment Group
Lee isn’t alone in recognizing this. But he was the executive of the press tour to point out that if you want people to plan their weeks around television shows, you have to give them not just can’t-miss plots but visual spectacles that they want to see on television screens, which have gotten larger and cheaper even as we’ve added multiple smaller screens. “I think part of that is we are taking risks and having fun and a lot of feature [movie] directors are attracted to that…that’s one of the reasons you saw Phillip Noyce” (the movie director who helmed two episodes of ABC’s Revenge and an upcoming episode of HBO’s Luck) “coming in. I think you’re going to see feature actors as well as directors.” The profusion of movie actors, such as Anjelica Huston on Smash, Josh Lucas on The Firm, and Dustin Hoffman on Luck, coming to the small screen in mid-season seems to be proving him right. It may not have worked for The Firm, which is floundering, but we’ll see how Smash and Luck do.
With notable exceptions like Avatar (which was also downloaded illegally with very high frequency), audiences seem at least somewhat resistant to the idea that there are things that simply must be seen on the big screen in theaters or on a decent-sized television, and that lose all their power when shrunk down to tablet, laptop, or phone size. Certainly, the skepticism of 3D, which I think is seen as a means of cash extraction rather than storytelling, is one indicator that it’s going to be tricky to sell folks on gimmicks. I’d absolutely argue that something like the Luck pilot, with its gorgeous color and heart-stopping horse races, is much better on a decent-sized television than on your phone at the gym. But if networks or studios are going to claim that something needs to be seen big, and seen in its time slot, and expect audiences to believe them, they have to have both the storytelling and the visual chops to back it up.
Appearing on Fox News this afternoon, Welch pushed back against hawkish calls for military action against Iran:
I’d say three things. First, there’s widespread concern … that Iran is dangerous, that them having a nuclear weapon is extremely dangerous. … Two, there’s strong support for sanctions. But three, there’s great reservation and caution about when it comes to the question of using military force, with some apprehension about what that would unleash in the Middle East.
Welch went on to lay out a number of the regionally destabilizing steps that could follow an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities:
If you’re Qatar, where you’re fifty miles across the Strait of Hormuz, they feel they will be on the receiving end of any retaliatory response. Turkey, is very concerned about the loss of access to natural gas that heats their homes in the winter. The UAE, which is a strong U.S. ally, … fears what would happen to it with a response and what happens to the sea lanes and their ability to export oil.
Welch, who is a supporter of the Obama administration’s efforts to built a multilateral sanctions regime against Iran, expressed his concern that congressional efforts to tighten sanctions and push for the “military option” are unhelpful. “Frankly, I don’ think Congress is in a situation to micromanage. It turns into a political debate and one -upmanship,” he said.
Indeed Welch is not alone in identifying the potential dangers of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program. Former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan referred to an Israeli attack on Iran as “the stupidest thing I have ever heard” and, last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Israel to “work together” with the international community, adding to his comments back in November that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only briefly delay the country’s nuclear program.
That’s roughly 69,000 more jobs than would be created by construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The figures, reviewed by the Center for American Progress, show that overall employment in oil and gas (extraction, field support, pipeline construction and transportation, and petroleum refineries) increased by 13% in the last two years.
The figures do not include categories such as gasoline stations, fuel dealers, asphalt paving, or lubrication production.
This strong increase in American fossil fuel jobs contradicts the arguments made by supporters of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, who have attacked the Obama Administration for denying the initial permit for the pipeline due to environmental concerns.
The oil and gas industry claims that Keystone XL will create up to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. But more careful research of those jobs claims ? analysis that is backed up by the State Department, Cornell University and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline ? has shown that the number is closer to 6,000 jobs.
Armed with these inflated figures (which are still about 55,000 less than jobs created in the last two years), Keystone XL supporters have argued that the tar sands pipeline will be a panacea for job creation in America. In response to today’s news that the Obama Administration would reject the Keystone XL permit and ask TransCanada to file for another, Keystone supporters lined up to lambaste the President.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue said it proves “that creating jobs is not a high priority for this administration.”
And Republican Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney laid it on thick: ?If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin.?
But here’s the deep, dirty little secret not mentioned by fossil fuel champions who falsely claim the Administration is killing oil and gas jobs: Since Obama took office, oil production has increased substantially ? with more drilling rigs being deployed in America today than at any time since the mid 1980′s.
This increase in production has already resulted in 12 times the jobs that would be created to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Do you hear any mention of that from political candidates or the fossil fuel lobby? Absolutely not. And you never will.
These jobs figures prove once again that no matter how aggressively this Administration promotes oil and gas ? alienating the environmental base in the process ? political opponents will attack Obama in any way they can.
You can find the BLS figures here.
Zach Rybarczyk and Daniel J. Weiss contributed to this report.
Newt Gingrich’s campaign sent out a fundraising request to supporters this afternoon touting that the former speaker said he wants to knock Obama out, because, as the subject line of the email suggests, “A Bloody Nose Just Won’t Cut It.” The comment comes from a recent town hall where a questioner asked Gingrich how he would “bloody Obama’s nose.” “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out!” Gingrich responded. “This is exactly why Newt Gingrich is the candidate who must face Obama,” campaign spokesman RC Hammond says in the email, above a bright red “Donate” button:
See the full email HERE.
Near the top of the list of counterproductive budget cuts is cutting funds for the Internal Revenue Service, as every dollar of tax enforcement yields $4-$5 in revenue in a country where uncollected taxes have hit $385 billion per year. Along those lines, Reuters’ David Cay Johnston noted today that IRS auditors “assigned to the 14,000 or so largest corporations found $9,354 of additional tax owed for every hour spent testing tax returns in the 2009 fiscal year.” “The highest-paid IRS auditors make $71 an hour. Based on a 2,080-hour work year, that works out to around $19 million of lost revenue annually for every senior corporate auditor position cut from the payroll,” Johnston wrote.
The Communications Workers of America launched new ads targeting vulnerable Republican incumbents Sean Duffy (WI) and Chip Cravaack (MN) in an attempt to get them to vote in favor of an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration. As previously reported, Republicans refuse to extend the authorization for the FAA on a long-term basis unless Democrats cave and allow a provision in the extension that would effectively prevent airline employees from forming unions. The FAA previously shut down because of Republican stalling tactics and another shutdown could be on the way if an extension isn't passed in the next few weeks.
This same conflict led to a partial FAA shutdown last summer, and it will again unless one of the parties blinks, or Congress once again passes a stopgap bill. To force the GOP?s hand, Communications Workers of America are targeting vulnerable Republicans Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Chip Cravaack (R-MN) with week-long, one-minute radio ads, hoping to build moderate GOP support for the Dem position.
?Both Rep. Cravaack?s and Rep. Duffy?s constituents deserve to learn of their role in voting against fair elections and remaining complicit in the continued obstruction of a sorely-needed job creation bill,? said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson.
The House and Senate have been grappling for months over a provision in the House GOP?s FAA reauthorization bill that would count abstentions as ?no? votes when airline and rail workers want to form a union. Democrats were once thought likely to cave on the issue, but have held their ground on the issue as the public has soured on GOP-driven shutdown threats.
Mitt Romney?s off-hand revelations about his low tax rate and high speaker fees, combined with his growing list of Clueless Things Only a One-Percenter Could Say, raise a fundamental question: Is it possible for an elitist Republican to win a presidential election? Starting in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon adapted George Wallace?s right-wing populism to Republican purposes, the GOP has won national elections by appealing to blue-collar and middle-class whites as the rhetorical champions of anti-elitism. From Nixon?s dog whistles about ?crime? and ?forced busing? to Ronald Reagan?s welfare queens to George W. Bush?s fake ranch and regular-guy patter, the party of the rich has won the White House by posing as exactly the opposite?the natural home of good ol? boys and gals. Only one Republican nominee has conveyed a sniffy air of privilege?George Bush I, who beat a hapless Democratic technocrat in 1988 only to be crushed by the one-two punch of plain-speaking Ross Perot and ?Putting People First? Bill Clinton the next time around. No wonder Romney?s campaign is giving Maureen Dowd, along with many a worried Republican, ?acid flashbacks to Poppy Bush.?
?People power will beat money power.?
?Newt Gingrich, campaigning in South Carolina
In two new polls, Obama leads Romney in Ohio.
Two ordinances drawn up for controlling protests and maintaining security in the city of Chicago during upcoming NATO/G8 meetings passed through the Chicago City Council today. The ordinances, which organizers from Occupy Chicago and the Coalition[...]
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Idiots. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)Look at who is dropping support for SOPA.
"I'm withdrawing my co-sponsorship for the Protect IP Act," said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican.
Sen. John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican, "will be withdrawing his name as a co-sponsor" of Protect IP, a spokesman told CNET today. Fellow Protect IP co-sponsor Sen. James Risch, an Idaho Republican, said today that he wants "more time to re-examine the legislation before going to a vote" and has asked staff for a detailed briefing, a spokesman said.
And Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who has long been a close ally of Hollywood on copyright and is up for re-election this year, said on Twitter that "I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my co-sponsorship of the bill." [...]
Rep. John Carter, a Texas Republican who is listed as a SOPA sponsor, "reserves judgment on the final bill," a spokesman told CNET today. "He's certainly not saying pass the bill as-is -- there are legitimate concerns in this bill." SOPA sponsor Tim Griffin, an Arkansas Republican, now says: "I will not support a bill unless my constituents are comfortable with it."
If you keep reading that story, the Democrats listed all remain adamant that they'll remain co-sponsors of the legislation but work to "fix it".
It's been a while since we've seen Democrats this tone deaf, this oblivious to political reality.
You have an entire wired generation focused on this issue like a laser, fighting like hell to protect their online freedoms, and it's FUCKING REPUBLICANS who are playing the heroes by dropping support?
Those goddam Democrats would rather keep collecting their Hollywood checks, than heed the will of millions of Americans who have lent their online voice in an unprecedented manner.
Are they really this stupid? Can they really be this idiotic?
Are they really going to cede this issue to Republicans, hand them this massive public victory, then get left with nothing but public scorn when SOPA and PIPA go down in flames?
There are some hints that Newt Gingrich is gaining ground in South Carolina, perhaps at Mitt Romney's expense. But the evidence is not definitive yet.
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