Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

Aereo’s Day of Reckoning In the Supreme Court

What are the stakes today as the Supreme Court hears arguments about Aereo TV today?

Other than the very survival of Aereo TV, we’re going to learn if our society is still one where the best idea can win against entrenched special interests, which include a news media whose own survival is on the line.

It is not a perfect comparison, but if you’ve seen Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker the Man and His Dream,” there are at least some similarities. Aereo is an upstart, a disruptor, a better idea that could devastate the very few multinational corporations that currently rule the television universe through the evil of bundled cable.

If you have a little gray in your beard, you remember a time when television was free. All it cost was the price of a television set and a pair of rabbit ears. Television stations and networks beamed a free signal over the airwaves, your rabbit ears picked that signal up and delivered it to your television. In those days broadcasters made money off of commercial advertising, and commercial advertising rates were based on the number of people watching.

It was a perfect set-up that allowed popular opinion to decide what would be broadcast over airwaves owned by the public.

Aereo wishes to return us to those days. For $8 a month, Aereo will install an antennae in your home [Correction: the individual antennae are centralized at a local Aereo warehouse] dedicates an antennae to you so you can watch any television network still available over the airwaves for free. Aereo also gives you something similar to a TiVo or VCR that turns the broadcast signal into a digital picture that can be streamed on your television, computer, or handheld device.

So why is bundled cable trying to murder Aereo when all Aereo is doing is leasing equipment to people that allows them to do what they want with television channels that are already free?

Like the three big automakers in “Tucker,” the very few multinationals that control the cable companies, the cable networks, the Internet, the broadcast networks, and the companies that provide content (news and entertainment) that airs on television, they are horrified at the idea that customers might choose to give up their $100 a month bundled cable for $8 a month Aereo.

They are terrified people will decide to go back to the days of choosing free TV over the excess of bundled cable. At the very least, they are terrified that if enough customers move to Aereo (or streaming, which is another story), that it will cost them billions.

The money, cultural, and political influence these monopolistic corporations have hoarded through bundled cable is impossible to quantify. You and I and tens of millions of others are not only paying for dozens of channels we never watch; we are subsidizing low-rated news and entertainment that undermines who we are and what we believe in.

Bundled cable is a left-wing affirmative action program that allows dozens of left-wing networks and hundreds of left-wing shows and two left-wing cable news networks (CNN and MSNBC) to remain on the air, despite the fact that no one watches — or at least too few watch to ever sustain these networks through advertising rates alone.

These cable networks would never survive in an environment based only on paid advertising rates that are in turn based on the number of viewers. These networks survive today mainly through a shared-monopoly that forces every American into paying all or nothing for cable packages that subsidize low-rated left-wing news and entertainment channels.

The beef against Aereo is a ludicrous one. After seven decades of rabbit ears, the Betamax, the VHS, and the DVR, all of a sudden Big Media believes it is a copyright violation and illegal for consumers to use an antennae to watch free TV and a piece of equipment that allows you to watch that free TV in a way most convenient to you.

But that’s all bull shit.

This is about power and greed and whispered monopolies among a very few that keep a corrupt business model in place.

Most importantly, it is also about whether or not we still live in a country where the better mousetrap can still win.


New Netflix Subscribers Beat Expectations, Price Boost Announced for New Customers

Netflix’s march towards an ultimate goal of 60 to 90 million US subscribers in the next decade is well on its way. The company just announced a better than expected increase in new subscribers: four million additions worldwide. Here in America, Netflix currently holds 35.7 million subscribers.

In the next few months, Netflix does plan to boost its monthly subscription fees by $1 or $2. This will only be for new subscribers. For the foreseeable future, current customers will be grandfathered in at the current subscription rate.

Especially when compared to bundled cable, the monthly fee for services like Netflix Streaming and Amazon Prime are extraordinary deals; less than $10 per month for a ton of content. Both providers could do better with their movie selections, but as far as quality past and present television, the supply is almost endless.

Like Aereo, Netflix is a major disruptor of bundled cable — a better mousetrap by a longshot.

What worries the bundled cable monopolies is demographics. Recent studies have shown that people who subscribe to Netflix are more likely to cut the cord to bundled cable. These numbers only go up as the customer gets younger.

If the same people trying to strangle Aereo in the crib could murder Netflix, they would. All these multinational octopuses can do right now, though, is use their Internet tentacle to bottleneck Netflix and muscle the company into paying more to deliver its service.

Which brings me to….


Netflix Comes Out Against The Comcast-Time Warner Deal

With Comcast hoping to take over 60% (!) of cable and Internet households through the acquisition of Time-Warner Cable, Netflix knows it’s as vulnerable as a blackmail victim to being muscled by this potential giant-among-giants to pay a ransom just so its service can break through a broadband bottleneck.

Comcast can basically say to Netflix, “Pay up or lose subscribers who will be unhappy with the service you provide when we don’t give them enough broadband to stream.”

If approved, “the combined company’s footprint will pass over 60 percent of U.S. broadband households…with most of those homes having Comcast as the only option for truly high-speed broadband,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Netflix CFO David Wells wrote in the letter to shareholders. “The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers. For this reason, Netflix opposes this merger.”

The statement comes less than two months after Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for access to its high-speed network to improve the video quality and loading speed for Netflix streaming customers. It also follows a strongly worded blog post by Hastings in March grousing about Internet service providers charging for faster speeds.

You see, Comcast isn’t just an Internet provider, it is another multinational octopus that also has massive holdings in bundled cable — to which Netflix is an existential threat.

But Comcast owns a huge part of Netflix’s distribution method: the Internet, and can mess with it. And now, Comcast wants to own even more.

These multinationals are not only way-way-way too big and powerful; in the case of Comcast, they own President Obama and Democrats body and soul.

Again, this is “Tucker the Man and His Dream” redux: Big Government and Big Business in a bed big enough to rape all of us.


Billy Bob Thornton: There’s a Prejudice Against South In Hollywood

In an interview with Fox411, Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton was candid about Hollywood’s portrayals of the American South:

FOX411: You’re from Arkansas. Does it bother you the way the South is portrayed on film and TV?

Thornton: For the most part, it’s a shame. There’s always been a slight prejudice against the South, actually not slight. I was trying to be kind. There’s always been a prejudice about the South and Southerners in movies because they are portrayed as bigots. Generally they’re cartoon characters and when they do romantic comedies about the South, they use that broad accent and all the women are these catty, Southern belles. It’s just kind of silly.

I actually think this is getting better, especially on television.

Other disagree.

On the whole, over the past decade, films and television have improved quite a bit in their portrayals of Christians and Southerners.


Bottom Line In the Bryan Singer Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

We have no shortage of shocking charges and big names, but I don’t see the Bryan Singer lawsuit story going much of anywhere without more accusers. There are plenty of twists and turns left in what has already happened with this one accuser. Especially when you are claiming that there is/was a Rich and Powerful Hollywood Pedophilia Ring, everyone’s going to lose interest real quick without witnesses and additional accusers to back up this one claim.

Accuser Michael Egan is not Anita Hill. Hill could come forward all on her own and earn instant status as a truth teller and folk hero among the left and media because her target was a black conservative.

The politics in the Singer situation are reversed.

Power wanted Clarence Thomas to be guilty. Therefore, Anita Hill didn’t need proof or corroboration.

Power wants Egan to be a liar.

That is just the reality of the way a world works when the Left dominate the levers that control our media and culture.

I didn’t make the world that way.

Like the Singer lawsuit itself, I’m just stating the facts, not my own opinion.


Quick Hits

John Turturro Replaces Robert De Niro in HBO’s James Gandolfini Mini ‘Criminal Justice’

Restored ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ gets Cannes slot

Aaron Sorkin Apologizes for ‘The Newsroom

‘Terminator: Genesis’ Begins Production; First Set Images Emerge

You can probably forget about the new Star Wars movies using the Expanded Universe


Classic Movie News

John Wayne’s “McLintock!” (1963) Hits Blu-ray May 20th

Because “McLintock!” went into public domain, you can purchase a Bluray copy now, but the May 20 release is the real deal through Paramount. You will get a 4k scan and a ton of extras. From the press release:

Legendary actor John Wayne demonstrates his comedic side in the uproarious Western classic MCLINTOCK! on Blu-ray May 20, 2014 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Scanned in 4K for the first time, this official Batjac release presents “The Duke” at his two-fisted best with the beautiful, fiery Maureen O’Hara as the proverbial thorn in his side. The MCLINTOCK! Blu-ray also includes commentaries by Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson, Maureen O’Hara, Stefanie Powers, Michael Pate, Michael Wayne and Andrew McLaglen, an introduction by Leonard Maltin, The Making of McLintock!, plus featurettes, a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

The retail price is $24.99, so you are probably looking at something like $17.99 for one terrific film.

George Cukor’s “The Women” (1939) Hits Blu-ray May 6

A one-of-a-kind masterpiece that was only possible during a studio system and then only possible through MGM’s Dream factory. A brilliant, beautifully filmed and acted adaptation of the Clare Boothe Luce stage play about “the excesses of pampered Park Avenue princesses.”

There are no men in the cast. All the male counterparts to our galaxy of female movie stars merely loom as something larger than life. Here is the press release:

On May 6, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Women (1939) on Blu-ray! Film Director, George Cukor, directs an all-female cast in this catty tale of battling and bonding that paints its claws Jungle Red and shreds the excesses of pampered Park Avenue princesses. Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Mary Boland and Paulette Goddard are among the array of husband snatchers, snitches and lovelorn ladies.

Vintage Special Features include:

· Documentaries, From the Ends of the Earth and Hollywood: Style Center of the World.

· Alternate Black-and White Fashion Show Sequence with Different Footage.

· Scoring Session Music Cues

· Theatrical Trailers of This and It’s 1956 Musical Remake, The Opposite Sex.


I Violated My $7 Rule Again Today




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