Review: AMC's Shootout, with Peter Bart and Peter Guber.

Just watched the heavily-promoted AMC talk show Shootout

The show brings together two Peters, Guber and Barts, to discuss the pressing issues in the entertainment industry (I know, that is an invitation for a snide comment, but I’m going to save my snide comments for later in the review)

One of the Peters is soft spoken and smart, and the other one is loud and, well, you get the idea. Peter Bart is, of course, the editor of Variety. Peter Guber is, of course, the infamous producer who caused Sony to lose hundreds of million dollars paying off his employment contract with Warner Bros. As thanks, Sony funded his new studio Mandalay (the one with the cool tiger promo at the start of a film).

Guber is a great producer, having done films like Terminator 2, Basic Instinct, Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia. I’m sure his domineering skill set serves him well in that capacity. Unfortunately, it backfires in a roundtable talk-show format.

On paper, the show sounds very promising. The show aspires to have drama (“The Fireworks Begin at 11:00AM” is the tag line on the website). The first show featured Ed Norton and a studio exec from Fox. The studio executive wasn’t even put on the website, while Norton had an extensive bio. This leads me to believe that the Fox exec was added at the last minute

The selection of topics was way too simplistic for the intended audience (i.e. industry folk, prosumers, etc.). I’ll chalk the topic selection to the fact that this is the first show. However, if the best the show’s producer can come up with is the impact of bigger movie budgets and the proliferation of awards shows, this show will be gone before the ink dries on his first check. I mean, with everything going on in film, there are much more prescient things to talk about. Heck, a loser film student could come up with more interesting topics. I’m sure the topics will evolve (they better).

The show is also completely ruined by the fact that Peter Bart, who has something intelligent to say, was constantly dominated by Peter Guber, who apparently has nothing to say (at least nothing intelligent). There was a 10 minute stretch where Bart basically gave up and let Guber take over. Guber is doing some bad McLaughlin Group impersonation in which he asks a question (i.e. what’s up with all these award shows?) and then lets people start to answer before cutting them off moments later, and giving his grand analysis (i.e. the rules need to be changed). Guber shouldn’t have a talk show. He should be on public access with a fixed camera pointed at his head while he tells you everything he know.

Norton had the best points of the show, and it seemed that Guber didn’t want to alienate him and actual let him speak without interrupting! Norton made the Fox executive concede that mid-market films were much more profitable then big budget films. He also got the group to discuss the cynicism of the film-going audience, as manifested in their belief that award shows are bought. Of course, this was short lived, as the discussion quickly moved to how much money Variety makes off Oscar ads.

Bart’s quip back, a deadpan that Variety was a non-profit, was one of the better moments of the show.

The show ended with a boring point-counter point format moderated by a blond-bombshell type with horrible delivery. The two Peters touched on topics like the relationship between Arnold and Hollywood, as well as the $7 million paid for the movie rights to the best selling book The DaVinci Code. As a total aside, this could have been a great main topic for the show (i.e. the role of writers and the script, or the lack thereof, in Hollywood).

Overallgrade: C

Free advice:

  1. Mr. Guber: It is perfectly fine to cut people off in a group discussion format. However, it is standard operating procedure that if you do cut in, you shouldhave a comment that is of at least equal value, if not more value, then the one you’ve just ended!

  2. Peter Bart: Please get a little bit more aggressive before Guber has this promising show canceled.

  3. Show Producer: Please take the topics up a couple of levels, and don’t be afraid to go a little more in-depth. Anyone who is going to spend part of Sunday morning with you guys is in the business, or aspires to be, and doesn’t want to have to wade through simplistic discussion for a few insightful crumbs. Give us the chunky, deep and gooey stuff.

The show will be repeated on: Mon., Oct. 13 at 1:35 AM / EST; Wed., Oct. 15 at 11:25 AM / EST; and Fri., Oct. 17 at 3:05 PM / EST.

Weblogs, Inc. week one: Two more weblogs down, 96 to go.

Today is the end of the first official week of Weblogs, Inc., the company I founded with my life-long friend Brian Alvey recently.

Brian runs the company, I’m the hands-off chairman. Really. However, I thought I’d give you a little update from my perspective on how the project/experiment is going.

For background, Brian and I have known each other since high-school and we’ve spent more time working together then with anyone else in our lives (Silicon Alley Reporter magazine, CyberSurfer magazine, VentureReporter.net, etc). Not sure I want to expand on this any more, but let’s just say Brian and I finish each other’s sentences and other cute things like that. OK, too much information.

This week we launched two new blogs. If you combine that with my personal blog (you’re soaking in it right now) and the Weblogs, Inc. corporate blog, we’re up to four blogs.

For some insane reason I told Wired I didn’t think having 100 blogs in a year would be too difficult. We’re now 4% of the way there, and we’re going to try to keep up with that prediction.

So, the two new kids in the family are:

http://socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com

A soon to be “group” weblog focused on social software. Social Software is a big word for software that lets you communicate and basically means sophisticated stuff like Friendster, Groove Networks, Tribe.net, etc. People used to call it collaborative software, but that is so 1996. This site is focused on the *business* of social software, so you won’t find a lot of academic stuff on it.

and

http://telemedicine.weblogsinc.com

This site is dedicated to distance medicine and education. This space is booming and the ramifications of having the top medical knowledge, practices and talent available to anyone with an Internet connection is mind blowing. Of course, if you’re from a major city like New York this is hard to get your head around. Think about if you lived a couple of hours, or days, from a basic hospital. Well, a lot of the world does, and telemedicine will be the way they will get their healthcare. What I love about this space is that it is here today, unlike things like digital patient records and other healthcare related technologies.

Also, in week one we changed our revenue split to be more blogger friendly. Our goal is to make money for bloggers. If we can’t make bloggers money there is no way for us to build our brand. More details at the corporate blog.

Have a great weekend.

Kicker shows some love today…

ItGirl Elizabeth Spiers shows some love for Fred Wilson and I today

New York Venture Capital Flatiron Partners’ Fred Wilson recently started a blog, as did Silicon Alley Reporter founder Jason Calacanis. (I feel so 1999!) Wilson says he’s in the process of raising another fund and that he feels optimistic about the technology sector in New York. “I think that we are seeing a resurgence of entrepreneurial activity around the Internet and Technology,” he writes. “I see it in NYC, I see it in Silicon Valley, and I see it everywhere else.” I guess that comes as no suprise. I’ve never met a venture capitalist who wasn’t optimistic, even if it’s?to use Radar editor Maer Roshan’s favorite phrase?cautiously optimistic.

Busted up bad (or White men can jump, and they can almost break three fingers if they're not careful.)

Some wild man decided to fall on me playing basketball the other night, and three of my fingers on my right hand got bent so far back that they almost snapped. Scary.

Expect a slow down in overall blogging for the next couple of days while the swelling goes down. ESPN SportsZone should have the highlights, as well as my 360 windmill dunk, tonight at 10.

Watershed moment for Social Software (or What happens when Fakesters become Friendsters?)

Xeni Jardin of Silicon Alley Reporter/BoingBoing fame IMs us that Robert Smith of the Cure now has a Friendster page and that it is real!

If this it true it will, of course, turn the social software world on it’s head. Months ago Friendster started deleting fake celebrity profiles, known as “faksters” in social software circles. Perhaps the move was in order to make wrong for the real celebrities?

More importantly, does the creation of a Friendster page by an 80’s icon represent the nail in the coffin of their carrer or their rebirth. As Xeni, and Coffee Talk host Linda Richman, would say:”discuss amongst yourself.”

Robert even took the time to place five photos on his page:
http://www.friendster.com/user.jsp?id=107799

[View Full Photo]

[View Full Photo]

[View Full Photo]

[View Full Photo]

[View Full Photo]

Some easy answers to common questions about Weblogsinc.com…

I’ve been getting about 50 emails a day about Weblogs, Inc., a company I co-founded with my longtime friend Brian Alvey. Brian is one of the smartest people I’ve met in my life and we’ve known each other since high school, having worked on a number of projects together over the years (CyberSurfer magazine, Silicon Alley Reporter, VentureReporter.net and Meet The Makers to name a few).

Brian and I concieved of the Weblogs, Inc. idea at the Knicks game where they raised Patrick Ewing’s number to the rafters last year.

The concept of Weblogs, Inc. has attracted a ton of attention in the week since it launched and I thought I would take some time, as the Chairman, to give my perspective on it.

What is your role in Weblogs, Inc.?

I’m the co-founder and Brian’s partner on it. I have no day-to-day operational role in the company. Brian is the CEO and makes the daily decisions. I’m working full-time for Wicks Business running VentureReporter.net, the company they bought from me in April.

When is the Weblogs, Inc. IPO, and can I get friends and family stock?

You’re kidding right? Publishing companies have a hard enough time going public, let alone a weblog company. I mean, Nick Denton has the most successful blog in the space and he’s making less than $25,000 a year from it. Then again, Rafat Ali is making $70,000 a year off of PaidContent.org, so I wouldn’t say the space is a bust.

I hear you’ve raised, or are raising, a round of venture capital for Weblogs, Inc. Is this true?

Our policy is not to comment about such issues.

Do you think it is wrong to commercialize blogs?

The name of the company is Weblogs, INC. We have no interest in working for free and we think bloggers should be able to make their own minds up if they want to use blogging tools for profit, fun, or both.

This reminds me of the early days of the web. You remember when Hotwired.com and Netscape started posting banners and everyone started complaining that it was the death of the Internet? Well, that is what is happening now. A few people who were first to the Weblog space are upset that some people are planning to make money off it. Ironically, the person who has critized me the most Nick Denton is commericalizing blogs eight way to Sunday!

What is your deal with bloggers?

We’ve come up with what we think is a compelling option for bloggers who want to make money off of their blogs. Basically we are partnering with bloggers to create niche b2b blogs. We provide the business and administration (i.e. software, sales, accounting, etc.) and the blogger provides the blog entries. We split any profits that come after hard costs which we define as a) sales commissions (20-30%) and b) credit card fees (1.5-4%). The bloggers own all of their content and can leave our network at any time. We own the network and we get to keep a copy of the blogs in our archive should the blogger leave to start their own blog in the future.

Is this a good deal? Well, it you want to start a blog today, not spend any money doing it and start making money immediately, then yes. If you want to own your own brand, do all the business functions yourself and not work with anyone, then clearly no. If you have an existing blog and you’re looking to move to our platform you probably have to think about it because you’re giving up your domain and gaining a sales and opertational force.

The bottom line is that if the blogger is happy and makes money, we make money. If the blogger is not happy and doesn’t make money, neither do we. It is a partnership and that’s not for everyone. Plain and simple.

I heard you’re going to have 500 blogs, really?

Our goal is to launch a blog or two a week for the next year. On that pace we think we can get to 100 in about a year. If this all works having a couple of hundred in a couple of years doesn’t seem far-fetched.

How much money do you think a blog can make?

We think a b2b blog can make anywhere from $250 to $2,000 a week today. Now, this will vary by blog and industry obviously. Rafat claims to make $70,000 a year (or a little about $1,500 a week) and Nick Denton claims to make $24,000 a month on two blogs (or $12,000 each, which is $250 a week). We can’t guarantee this, but we are going to be giving bloggers the first $500 a month so that if the blog is low revenue they can at least make something before the 50-50% split comes into play.

How are you going to make money?

We have a number of revenue streams planned. You’ll see them on the sites as they are launched. None of them are radically different then what has been done on the Web previously.