Max About: Who’s a modern day Glick?

what-makes-sammy-run

By Max Tarlton

Budd Schulberg’s novel What Makes Sammy Run tells the story of young boy, Sammy,  who is constantly “running” to better his career by manipulating and backstabbing others to get to the top of the entertainment industry. Seen as very eager in the beginning of the book, the views os Sammy Glick become radically different by the end. When, after everyone has been used and flushed, he was pretty much left to his own devices. As I analyzed the story of What Makes Sammy Run, I saw multiple people in todays media that are relatable to the young, poor boy trying to be successful. Only knowing very little about celebrities’ personal history, a couple of television personalities stuck out to me the most. Not because of their manipulative abilities or because everyone has left them, but because of the running force they had to climb to the top of success.

Immediately, Oprah Winfrey came to mind. Also a rags to riches story like Glick’s, she started out as a poor girl in the south, who after an abusive home life, escaped to make a drastic change in her future. Though Oprah wasn’t a backstabber or a manipulator, Winfrey still had to build certain relationships with people to create the type of success she aspired to have. She, like Glick, had to work her way up.

“You know I told you the other day I had something I wasn’t ready to to break yet? Well, it still hasn’t quite jelled, but there’s a good chance I won’t be writing much longer. I’ll be on the hiring end…” (188)

I found said quote to be relatable to that of Winfrey and a moment in her professional career. Showing how Winfrey moved up the entertainment industry ladder. Starting out as a morning show reporter moving to a talk show host, to writer, producer, and director. She put her name on so many things, while at the same time, having a huge influence as to who was going to be apart of her productions.

“He wasn’t working to make money… He enjoyed living well, like anybody else. But that wasn’t the main part. He was a picture maker. He had pride in his work, like an artist or a shoemaker. The reason he worked was to make good pictures.” (260)

This quote also rang true to how Oprah is a huge success story in the television industry. She’s passionate about everything she has done and has made many productions in the industry to share what she is passionate about. Oprah created many works she felt were very important to get exposure, like The Color Purple for example, which she has expressed her devoted passion for.

In another aspect, Sammy Glick’s rise to “the top” similarly resembles the rise of Kris Jenner in the way she’s using people to become more successful. Raised by her single mother, she moved her way up the ladder by marrying high-class men, hanging around prevalent people in the industry, and then moving on to the next best opportunity. After she had children of her own, she basically sabataged her daughter  Kim Kardashian, by releasing her sex tape with recording artist Ray J. Well, she used he daughter and struck gold.

“I was just thinking about me. I just kept thinking nothing but me. I just kept saying Sammyglicksammyglick over and over inside my head and it kept growing louder SAMMYGLICKSAMMYGLICKSAMMYGLICK. I guess that don’t quite make sense, does it?” (33)
The quote, reminded me of Kris Jenner. As the media portrays, she’s always worried about the next project or business plan she’s going to do to make more money- from the work of her daughters of course. Though Jenner acts like a “team player” and helping her children succeed, It comes across as a manipulative move to ride the coat tails of her children to make fame and fortune of her own. Similarly, Glick used other people’s works to better his career and essentially make more money and a bigger image of himself in the industry. Kris relates to Sammy in the way the she is constantly manipulating the people around her to increase her personal fortune.
Though many people say the novel resembles that of Sam Goldwyn, I lack the knowledge of his history to be able to compare the two men together. Though, Kris Jenner and Oprah Winfrey have a bit more respectable rises to success than Sammy Glick, I still notice similarities of them trying to make it to the top of the entertainment industry. In fact, many people in the entertainment industry are relatable to different aspects of the book, whether it be for money, fame, or both.

The Market for Serialized Shows Optimistic Because of Netflix

By: Lizzy Buczak

As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with an abundance of TV programming. Serialized shows continue to compete with the success of procedurals, especially in the syndication process, which is where most of the money is made. J.J Abrams produced shows Lost and Alcatraz; both heavily serialized with a huge focus on mythology. One show did exceptionally well and one tanked, but neither has had an easy time finding a home in syndication.

Serialized shows include characters, story lines and themes that develop over a period of time. They build up towards a gradual climax, usually leaving viewers with a suspenseful finale.  Procedural shows introduce a new and specific circumstance that the characters must solve by the end of the episode. They can be aired and viewed out of order and they are specifically good for leisurely and mindless watching. Procedurals are often big competition for serialized shows, which must be viewed in sequential order to prevent the viewers from getting confused and losing pace with the plot and character development.

The ratings say it all. Although Lost was a heavily serialized show, requiring the viewer to commit on a week-to-week basis, viewers proved they enjoyed the more complicated form of storytelling. The series premiere of Lost drew in about 18.6 million viewers in 2004. On its series finale in 2010, it drew in 13.57 viewers.

Drawing in 10 million for its two-hour premiere, Alcatraz was unable to match the value of Lost’s success and lasted only one season. For the season finale of Alcatraz only 4.7 million viewers tuned in. The two-hour finale also fell 6% from its previous week, which made the show end on a complete low. “Viewers will make the investment if the show is top quality; if not, they won’t and the show will be more likely to get cancelled early on,” said Phillip Swan, president and CEO of TV Predictions, Inc.

Procedurals do great in syndication on both prime time and cable networks because they have proven to be more likely to get viewers to tune in, regardless if they’ve skipped an episode or two.  Networks avoid serialized shows because they generally do poorly in syndication, especially when played out of order. Grey’s Anatomy, which is a mildly serialized show, pulled in 1.2 million per episode in syndication on the cable channel Lifetime. Shows like Lost and Heroes, which were heavily serialized only pulled in about $500,000 per episode. Procedural shows like CSI make as much as 2.5 million an episode in syndication. Netflix and other digital platforms bring new hope for studios and serialized shows giving them a new medium for syndication.

Netflix has no restrictions to program viewing, which is great for people who like to binge watch a series.  “ If the show is not discovered instantly it can be discovered a year later. People can watch one right after the other to catch up on a series,” said Shauna Phelan, director of the television department at Varsity Pictures. Watching the show at ones leisure makes viewers more likely to tune into the next season when it airs on TV and creates buzz around the show, giving it a longer shelf life. Swann agreed, “More people will give shows a spin after they originally aired on their networks which will help ramp up ratings for future seasons.”

Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime started a new independent model that could become potentially hurtful to networks, yet really beneficial for serialized shows. “Netflix is creating original shows at the same quality and content as networks like ABC, but there is no network attached to it. They are bypassing the TV space and going straight to consumers, which s really an important shift,” said Phelan. Netflix has created the demand that you have the whole show on the spot. “This is what I want to watch when I want to watch it. That’s the mindset Netflix is setting for consumer,” said Phelan. There is no guarantee that people will keep coming back week to week, but if its out there all at once, their more inclined to watch.

Netflix has a strategic advantage for content licensing of serials. While other television network competitors are competing for the same sitcoms and procedural shows, Netflix has struck up deals with hard to syndicate serialized shows. According to Swann, “Netflix and Amazon and other new creators of original shows will become players in syndicating shows but I expect they hold to their exclusivity a bit longer than networks tend to do.” Networks like The CW, who might not otherwise get multi-million dollar syndication deals, can put their shows on Netflix, different networks and box the seasons as DVD’s, creating the ultimate money making package.

Q+A with Bennie Williams, VP Audience Tester

By: Lizzy Buczak

Bennie Williams is a VP Audience Researcher at FOX. Part of Williams job is to test a show with various audiences and find out what pilots will work and which ones wont. I got to chat with Williams briefly about serialized and procedural TV shows, specifically LOST and ALCATRAZ. Serialized shows include characters, story lines and themes that develop over a period of time and build up towards a gradual climax, usually leaving viewers with a suspenseful finale. Procedural shows introduce a new and specific circumstance that the characters must solve by the end of the episode and can be aired and viewed out of order.

qwrqr3

Q: As someone who works at Fox and does a lot of audience testing for shows, why do you think Lost did so well and Alcatraz failed after just one short season??

A: In my opinion I think LOST was a much better show with much better casting.  The idea/premise of LOST (in the beginning stages) was very straight forward whereas ALCATRAZ was a much tougher “buy-in” for viewers.  So from the very early stages I think LOST had built in advantages that ALCATRAZ did not.

Q: What types of shows do networks prefer to get committed too? Serialized shows, that have more of a thematic storyline or procedural shows that could be watched whenever and out of sequence? Why??

A: That’s a tough question because every network is different.  Generally, serialized shows are thought to be much tougher to maintain than procedural’s; however, network look for shows that they believe in more than anything.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the importance of syndication to a network versus syndication to the production itself?

A: Syndication is only important to the network if they or their studio owns the show.  NBC doesn’t have much at stake if a WB produced show makes it to syndication.

Q: What impact do you think Netflix and other online streaming site have for shows in the future? 

A: That is yet to be determined.  In my opinion it’ll impact network viewing somewhat, especially for serialized shows, but that’s a long time from now.

Q: Did you ever watch Lost?? Do you think that the mythology in the story line was a little too complicated for the average viewer?

I didn’t watch LOST at all.  I disliked the pilot and never really gave the show a chance.  Judging from the ratings it got I think average viewers didn’t find it too complicated at all.

Networks Lack Diversity In Their Programming

By: Lizzy Buczak

In a world of diverse human beings, why do we only see one race dominating our T.V screens? What is the point of having a color T.V, if all you see is one color; white! Almost any show that’s on The CW has a predominately white cast, which really doesn’t depict the world we live in very accurately. America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, often referred to as amelting pot, with the most immigration and even a black president. But despite all of that, most of our primetime TV series feature white casts. Often times this goes unnoticed to viewers, who are used to seeing white people in heroic and leading roles, but when dramas are focused in major cities like New York or California its hard to believe that all we have are white people.

3ec22

Gossip Girl and 90210 are good examples. Both shows focus on white rich kids living in major cities. Gossip Girl takes place in New York and my guess is that if you walk a block in New York, you will run into more minorities than you do white people. So why is there no diversity in the cast? Is it because African Americans, Mexicans, or any other nationality cannot be perceived as “rich?” Although I was born in the US, I am of Polish decent, which is why I was appalled to find that the only maid in the show was the stereo-typical Polish woman and that the doorman was a Russian that could barely speak English. Even though they’re not people of color, they are still ethnic. The same idea is repeated in 90210, which is set in California. The whole main cast is white with the exception of one African American male that was adopted into a white family and acts “white.” After being in California just a couple of days it’s become clear to me that most of the population consists of Hispanics, so when a show like 90210 or Gossip Girl only shows a white cast, the networks are skewing the perception of reality that viewers take from the show.

tqy5

My all-time favorite show, The Vampire Diaries, follows the same idea, which is terrifying because the show is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is known to have a huge population of African Americans. Well, the only African American on the show is a girl with caramel skin color. She is a witch on the show, which technically isn’t the stereotypical black character, but it is racially biased when every other African American that makes an appearance on the show is also a witch. Basically they’re all from the same bloodline, The Bennett line, which goes back to the Salem Witch Trials and delves into their beginnings in slavery. Yet in 2013 their all still witches and fans have begun to joke that every black character is obviously a witch. The new African American casted on the show is Bonnie’s father who becomes the mayor of the town. So cliché it’s actually expected. What do all of these shows have in common if not the idea that a minority cannot be a main character, but just background story for the white person.

I had an African American friend who loved Boy Meets World because Shaun’s girlfriend in the show was the only black girl and that gave her hope that one day, she too might be able to date a boy as cute as Shaun and be treated just like the white kids. With such a focus on whitening the world, our T.V shows lose any type of spice and variety. After all, variety packs are always better than sticking to the plain flavor right? But a bigger concern isn’t the lack of different ethnicities its how they are placed in the show. Throwing in a black guy as a criminal or gangbanger isn’t necessarily making the show diverse because not every black guy commits crimes. Making the Asian a super smart doctor isn’t accurate because not every Asian dreams of being in the medical field. Having a Mexican that’s a lawn-care worker is also not accurate because we know that isn’t always the case.

rg

For this reason, many Disney Channel T.V shows have been successful because their lead characters are of different races and have rather unpredictable personalities. “That’s So Raven” was a show I grew up on which brought a black family to the screen without forcing along any stereotypes. Raven was psychic, had an awkwardly quirky white best friend and a guy friend that was a DJ.  “Wizards of Waverly Place” also did a good job with blending together a white and Mexican couple that had multi-racial wizard children, which told the world that it was okay to date outside of your own race. Both shows went on to be huge successes. “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” did have an all white cast, but instead of following the stereo-type that Asians are smart and white blondes are dumb, they reversed the roles leaving Maddie to be a smart blonde and London Tipton to be the dumb, but funny, Asian. The outcome was hilarious. These shows gave children characters that they could identify with and showed that everyone was equal. But unfortunately, these T.V shows are all on cable or satellite, which limits its reach and ultimately leaves prime time colorless.

Thankfully, television networks are realizing that it is 2012 and there were more shows featuring minorities 30 years ago than there are today. Although pure white shows still find success on the airwaves, shows that feature characters with diverse backgrounds appeal to a wider audience. Clear examples of this are The Mindy Project, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Prison Break, Scandal, Community, Elementary and so forth. Yet, while these shows feature characters of different races and ethnicities, most of the time they are part of an ensemble cast or a supporting role, which is enough for the producers to say that they are fair to everyone. Recently, Scandal is one of the first T.V shows in years to have a black female lead and The Mindy Project is the first show to have a woman from Southeast Asia as the lead. Although were still far away from where we should be, I think were definitely moving in the right direction, straying from the colorless to the colorful.  All we need is one leader for everyone else to follow, but as we know from history, that might take years.

1346173210-mindy-project-12

Q&A with “Lost” director Marita Grabiak

By Alex Stedman

Even in Hollywood, director Marita Grabiak’s resume is nothing to scoff at. On the contrary, her reel contains clips from hit shows such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Smallville,” “Dawson’s Creek” and even “Lost.” She directed the eighth episode of the first season of “Lost,” entitled “Raised by Another,” and took some time to chat with journalism student Alex Stedman about shooting in Hawaii, the excitement of a new show and working with Hollywood giant J.J. Abrams.

Marita

What was your experience on “Lost” like?

“Lost” is a high watermark. It was wonderful working with J.J. Abrams. I also did a couple “Alias”’s. And it was new and fresh show and there can’t be anything better than the location of Hawaii. I’m the kind of person that fully takes advantage of my weekends, so I really got to know the island of Oahu quite well. It was a fabulous experience.

And then it’s always exciting working on the first thirteen [episodes] on the show because the energy’s usually high, everybody wants to succeed, everybody’s kind of just digging in and pulling together. Nobody wants to see it fail. It’s quite a different atmosphere than when you’re stepping into, say, “Cold Case,” or “CSI” in their seventh season. Every single TV show is a different blueprint and a different personality.

How creatively involved was JJ Abrams in “Lost”?

In the beginning, he was, I would say, dominate over everything.  We had lunchtime meetings to talk about the tone of the story. And when I was in Hawaii, there’s daily phone calls checking up. He would get the phone call when we wrapped and he would call and ask how was the day and discuss the scenes. Sometimes he would make comments on dailies. I would say he was extremely hands on, which is pretty typical with a very good, sort of genius showrunner/creator. He would just kind of make my bones shake being in the room because you just know you’re in the room with somebody of such genius level. He was extremely, extremely smart. You know how people can throw hissy fits and he can judge people by their inability to handle stress. He’s the kind of person to cut through the mustard with his calm and I admired him very much for that. He was involved in every aspect of the outline, the first draft, the second draft, just constant phone calls back and forth because, basically the challenge of that show was making the schedule.

What challenges came with shooting in Hawaii?

Oahu is an island where you can’t just walk in and film anywhere you want. It’s an island, so it’s mountainous and you have postal roads, and then you have a couple roads to cut through. So if you film, you have to film where you can plug in your electricity. You have to have generators to make lights, to run cameras, to park your entire caravan of all these cars. So you would look at the island and you look at the TV show “Lost,” and you think that you’re shooting all over that island, you’re  not. There’s a few pockets of places, and then to get to these pockets of places, you’re literally crossing around the whole island, which could take two or three hours.

“Lost” seemed like a pretty big risk. What do you think made it such a hit?

Because he thinks big. J.J. Abrams thinks big. You think big, you shoot high, that’s basically it. You have people that shoot low and it’s just a personality thing. He’s just a larger than life personality, so larger than life personalities who have intellectual capabilities and great artistic talents are going to think big.

El Capitan Theater: Beautiful in Architecture, Rich in History

By: Joachim Jocson

In many big cities there is always an old classic movie theater. In Los Angeles however I have seen so many theaters both vintage and modern.  One such theater has always caught my eye for two reasons, one it reminds me of an old school theater house and two because it’s owned by Disney.

Image

The El Capitan according to their website was developed after the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and three themed theatres were created. It was created by Sid Grauman who made Egyptian, the Chinese, and the El Capitan. All three of these theaters are along Hollywood Boulevard and within close proximity between each other.

The Theatre opened May 3, 1926 and was known as Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama. When you enter the theater, you’ll be welcome by colorful lights as an almost opera theater like atmosphere with an organist playing just before your performance. The organist is playing Disney music from past and present.

According to the El Capitan website between 1926 and 1936, more than 120 live plays were produced at the El Capitan Theatre, including “No, No, Nanette,” “Anything Goes,” and “Ah, Wilderness.” In 1941, Orson Welles’ Academy Award winning Citizen Kane premiered at the El Capitan before it was closed for remodling. A year later, it made a name change and was called the Hollywood Paramount, it was known as a sleek, new “art moderne” movie house.

In 1989, The Walt Disney Company joined forces with Pacific Theatres to begin a two-year archeological dig, which led to a museum-quality restoration of the legendary palace. Under the supervision of the National Park Service’s Department of the Interior, and with guidance from conservator Martin Weil, architect Ed Fields, and renowned theatre designer Joseph J. Musil, the certified national historic site was restored to its former grandeur and reopened to the public in June, 1991, with the world premiere of Walt Disney’s The Rocketeer.

The El Capitan Theatre was an early participant in Hollywood’s recent revitalization efforts. In 2001, the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex which houses the permanent home of the Oscars at The Kodak Theatre opened directly across the street. As an exclusive first run theatre for Walt Disney Pictures, The El Capitan Theatre hosts live stage shows, world premieres, and other special events that have helped restore showmanship to Hollywood Boulevard.

Before every movie Showtime an organist plays for the audience using a 4/37 Wurlitzer according to the Disney website. It was the last of five magnificent “Fox Specials” built in the 1920’s, and is considered the top of the line in theater organs and was designed with all the “bells and whistles” for movie palaces. Every year they try to improve and fine tune the instrument for better quality and for the enjoyment of the audience.

Image

The El Capitan’s “Mighty Wurlitzer,” which is the name of the organ, was originally installed in 1929 at the World Famous San Francisco Fox Theatre and subsequently purchased

What the future holds for The El Capitan Theater consists of Oz the Great and Powerful opening weekend, the Iron Man 3 premiere and opening weekend and Monsters University. Disney still plays movies both previous and current hits. Plus next door is The Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store with food and Disney Memorabilia. Also the theater has hosted many Disney movie premieres. Just recently Oz the Great and Powerful hosted their premiere at El Capitan Theater. Coming in April they will play host to the premiere of Iron Man 3. Disney and the El Capitan will have a long standing relationship that will last for years to come.

From The Earl Carroll Theater to Nickelodeon

by: Lizzy Buczak

The grandiose supper-theater offered “two famous orchestras, a CBS broadcast and a chance to dine on superb dishes created by world-renowned chefs,” according to an old advertisement.  All that for just $3.50. Talk about fine living! With more lives than a cat, the theater, located on Sunset Boulevard just east of Vine St. was entertainment heaven, with a sign that read, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” This theater was the magnificent and glamorous Earl Carroll Theater, opened in 1938 by Earl Carroll.

rfh

The club had the mostdistinctive façade, swings that came down from the ceilings, extravagant staircases, and of course the most beautiful girls in the world. The front wall of the theater displayed a portrait in neon of Beryl Wallace, an avid entertainer and Carroll’s companion. While the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre attracts tourists with handprints and autographs on the sidewalk, The Carroll Theater had a wall dedicated to celebrity signatures. The plaques were posted next to the entrance of the theater, aptly named, “The Wall of Fame.”

When Carroll did something, he did it big. He figured out that if you give off the impression that something’s worth it, it will be, despite the depression affecting the country. This theater was the definition of old school, Hollywood glamour; the kind you can only catch snippets of in books, movies and black and white pictures. Attracting the biggest names in town at the time, no nightclub or venue has been able to live up to the theaters extravagance and success. Unfortunately, in 1948 Carroll and Wallace died in a United Airlines crash above Pennsylvania. The theater struggled to stay afloat and was sold in 1953 to Las Vegas resident Frank Sennes.

Sennes had a vision to make this space, a taste of Vegas while preserving some essence from its predecessor. The Moulin Rouge became the largest theater and restaurant in the world, after Sennes remodeled the inside. Sadly, when the venue went head to head with competing venues in Vegas, Sennes found it hard to attract big names to the establishment, while paying them competitive prices and that was the end for The Moulin Rouge.

The theater than went onto become the home for many Rock n’ Roll fans, changing its name to The Hullaballoo Theater, which got its named from a popular TV show. The place where you used to see the most glamorous and prestigious names in Hollywood, you now saw the youngsters of Hollywood, lightly resembling the children of the hippie era. Many people weren’t pleased by the transformation even stating that in the dictionary hullaballoo meant a disturbance or uproar.

DSCN2387

In 1997, the building was acquired by the children’s cable station Nickelodeon. The theater was splashed with the colors orange and green to give it that Nick feeling, covering up quite a bit of its history. After seeing the building on our tour of Sunset Boulevard, I was pretty thrilled to see the studio that produced many of the shows that shaped me as a teen (All That, The Amanda Show, Drake and Josh, iCarly, Victorious.) After finding out all this history behind the building, I could not help but feel a little disappointed that the historical landmark (protected in 2007 by The City of Los Angeles Historic Preservation Board) is just Nickelodeon.  I’m pretty sure that if Carroll were alive he would agree with me that the space has the potential and magic within it to be something better. With such a grand location, across from The Hollywood Palladium, the theater could well in fact open up to be another Moulin Rouge. With the success of movies like “Burlesque” and “Chicago,” we know that people are still dying for a bit of that old fashioned Hollywood glamour. This becomes even truer after watching The Oscars and seeing that Broadway musicals are making a huge return.

Those times in “What Makes Sammy Run,” are gone and when I close my eyes I can envision Sammy going to this theater after a long day in the world of show biz with his cigar in one hand, a lady on his other arm and Al following in tow. Its unfortunate that while Hollywood has been expanding and becoming bigger than itself, it has lost a lot of its glamour and devilish innocence. The stars of Nickelodeon, although charming, are far from being the “most beautiful girls in the world.”