r.i.p. trio ... long live trioweb?
November 22, 2005
Alas, poor Trio, we hardly knew ye. And now we'll have to have major broadband width to see ye any more....
Trio, the pop culture-obsessed cable network that's been languishing in the digital hinterlands, will quit broadcasting at the end of this year. But it's not going away entirely.
Instead, NBC Universal, which owns Trio, plans to move the network to the Internet, where it will become a broadband platform on Bravo's web site (BravoTV.com). The new service is scheduled to launch Jan. 1.
"NBCU's launch of Trio on broadband is a testament to the strength and popularity of the Trio brand," says Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo and Trio. "Trio has always been for people who are obsessed with the arts and pop culture. The web is a perfect place to expand that programming philosophy to an unlimited audience."
Although Trio never reached even 30 million homes as a cable network, it drew a sizable amount of critical attention for its programming, particularly its "Brilliant, but Cancelled" series in which short-lived TV shows of years past were given new life. The channel also features documentaries, music specials and reruns of old "Late Night with David Letterman" episodes. Following the merger of NBC and Universal, however, Trio became something of a forgotten child, and it suffered a further blow when satellite provider DirecTV dropped it at the end of last year. The network has aired little original programming since then, but NBCU says it will beef up the broadband channel's original content starting in 2006.
The real problem with the merger, from Trio's point of view, was that it brought NBC's Bravo under the same corporate umbrella as then-Universal's Trio, both essentially art channels with smallish audiences. Unfortunately for Trio, it happened just after Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and a few other shows kicked up Bravo's visibility, and unless Trio could establish itself as a separate, successful brand, it made no sense for NBC Universal to keep both channels running.
That said, the web option is ... intriguing, if peculiar. Frankly, it doesn't seem like Trio would have a chance of reaching even as large an audience as it did as a cable channel once it becomes web-only. The advertising challenges become greater -- both in letting people know it's there, and because ad rates will necessarily drop, since they'll be reaching a much smaller audience. (My guess would be that Trio will become part of an ad package with Bravo -- pay one fee to get ads only on Bravo, pay a very slightly greater fee to get ads on Bravo and Trio. It doesn't make a lot of sense for Trio to have its own rate package after the shut down.
The question is, what happens to the channel space. NBC Universal is starting SLEUTH on January 1, a channel dedicated to detective television and movie features. It's possible that the channel will go over to them, depending on how the agreements with the various cable services were worded. And given that NBC Universal has all sorts of channels that people like -- NBC proper, SciFi, USA, etc. -- it's likely that they may be able to bludgeon cable systems into carrying SLEUTH: "Put this where Trio used to be, or several of your most popular cable channels will sleep with the fishies...."Posted by iain at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)
and there she is! part 3: she's going WHERE, again?
November 18, 2005
The Miss America pageant does seem to be landing on its feet. Mind, those spike heels are a mite unsteady, but at least they're still on.
After 84 years of crowning beauties on the Boardwalk, the Miss America pageant is moving to the Las Vegas Strip, organizers announced Wednesday. It will be the first time the contest has been staged outside Atlantic City, N.J. The Aladdin hotel-casino will host the pageant, scheduled to air Jan. 21 on cable channel Country Music Television, organizers told The Associated Press.
"What we wanted to do is find a new host city that has all glitz and glamour Miss America is known for," said Art McMaster, chief executive of the Miss America Organization, the nonprofit charitable group that runs the annual event. "Obviously Las Vegas is right at the top of this list." [...] "When I think of Vegas, I think of the showgirl image, and I don't think it's necessarily the environment that Miss America has always touted being," said Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett.
Villadolid and McMaster insisted that the move to Sin City won't taint Miss America's image. McMaster said he plans to keep contestants too busy to spend time or money in casinos. ...
Right. Too busy to spend time in casinos ... when the pageant will be held in one, and the contestants will be staying in that very casino.
Leaving aside THAT particular issue, you kind of wonder how they're going to manage to finesse things. CMT is certainly a decent match for the overall wholesomeness of Miss America's image, but Vegas? And you'd think that maybe the large numbers of showgirls around -- women who are there because they're gorgeous and glamorous and arguably talented (depending on which shows they're in) would perhaps put Miss America in the shade in a way that didn't happen in Atlantic City. Yes, gambling became a big deal there as well, but Miss America was there before the casinos, and casino glamour never really seemed to rub off on Atlantic City as a whole, somehow.
The times certainly are changing for that hoary old pageant, aren't they?Posted by iain at 08:09 PM
reeling 2005: adam and steve
November 11, 2005
Friday night's feature was Adam and Steve, from Funny Boy Films, the same company that brought us last year's opening film Latter Days. In the question and answer following Adam and Steve, the producer said that they wanted to do something altogether lighter than Latter Days-- he said that something that produced fewer death threats was what they were aiming for. (Apparently, some people did not appreciate the religious commentary of Latter Days.) If they wanted lighter, they definitely succeeded. And yet, there's a certain amount of substance here and there as well.MORE...
you will be assimilated ... or at least acquired
November 10, 2005
We interrupt your ongoing series of film reviews for this brief announcement and analysis: all your gay media are belong to us.MORE...
reeling 2005: strange fruit
November 9, 2005
Strange Fruit is the story of William Boyals, who is, as the Reeling 2005 site summary notes, a high-powered lawyer living in New York City. He has a thoroughly neglected boyfriend -- whom he thinks of merely as a booty call, and who, despite having had a relationship with William for a few months, did not actually know that until an unfortunate exchange near the beginning of the film (and a much much more unfortunate one later on)-- a job he clearly loves, a secretary deeply in love/lust with him (heaven only knows why, since he knows better than even William's booty call how driven he is), and a family so fractured that he hasn't been back to Louisiana to visit in nearly 20 years. He's pulled back to Louisiana by the murder of his closest friend from childhood. The film is a story of William's investigations of Kelvin's murder, and of his tortured relationships with his real family and his semi-adopted family.
Unfortunately, the balance between those elements is badly off, and Strange Fruit simply isn't a very good film. Frustratingly, there's the kernel of a interesting -- if briefer -- film buried inside this one, but it never quite breaks out.MORE...
reeling 2005: boys will be boys (short films)
November 8, 2005
Boys Will Be Boys shorts contained a program of seven short films -- or, actually, videos. A couple of them I'd actually heard of independently of Reeling, so I was looking forward to seeing them.
reeling 2005: opencam
November 7, 2005
What would you do if you found out that almost everyone you'd had sex with in the past few weeks had been murdered?MORE...
reeling 2005: when i'm sixty-four
November 6, 2005
For lo! 'tis November! Which means that it is once again time for the Chicago International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival!, edition number 24..
First seen: When I'm 64, an import from the BBC. (Their site has more information about the film than the Reeling site itself.)MORE...
sex vs the single author
November 1, 2005
Ran across an interview with the Luna Brothers, creators of the Ultra superhero and Girls horror(ish) comic books, at UGO.com. It contained something truly ... odd, it seems to me.
Jonathan and Josh Luna created Ultra, one of the most compelling and fun books that Image Comics has ever put out. The story focuses on four female superheroes in a world that idolizes them like they are matinee idols. They recently collected the series into the trade paperback Ultra: Seven Days.
[...] UGO: Jonathan, do you have a day job?
JON: I'm the artist. I do the pencils, inks, colors, letters and I handle most of the business and do all the website stuff. Before we submitted Ultra, I was doing web design in Columbus Ohio.
UGO: Since you two have created such great female characters, I have to ask if either one of you are gay.
JON AND JOSH: Oh, we're not gay. [...]
[...] JOSH: It's funny because the Ultras originally started as a story about three guys. Like a Swingers type of story. It was how they deal with like a bad breakup. But we kept adding all these elements, like what if we did like a superhero. Once we started adding things, we thought of girls, then we thought of superhero girls, and all the cool factors started to play off each other and we created this whole thing that we could never have thought of in one sitting. [...]
So apparently, the only way to write realistic women in comic books is to be either gay or, presumably, a woman. (What being gay has to do with it, I'm sure I don't know.) Except, of course, that the Luna Brothers seem to have done it without being either one ... but are they some sort of anomaly that proves the rule? Is there a rule?
Weird thing is, a friend of mine used to have the same sort of convictions about science fiction writers. He was firmly convinced that a good woman science fiction writer could handle men and women equally well, but that only a very very VERY good male writer could handle women. He thought this was especially true of space opera, where women in general tend to be either hangers-on, bimbi, or, to put it kindly, receptacles. To some extent, I think this was a function of the science fiction he actually read ... but given that this is coming up in a different literary area, one has to ask: is it maybe true? Is there something innate about one's gender or sexuality that enables a writer to create better characters of the opposite sex?
I have to admit, most of the comics I read aren't the sort where you necessarily notice of one set of characters or another aren't well drawn. In general, with the notable exception of Invincible (and, if you want to stretch the point, the Hellboy titles) I don't really read superhero comics, and it seems to me, with its appeal to adolescent males, that you're likely to find more wish-fulfillment type women there. (SEE: Vicki Vale, All Star Batman and Robin and her magic bolt-ons, as noted in previous entries.) I do think that Liz and Kate, in the Hellboy/BPRD titles, are reasonably well drawn female characters, but the BPRD title is such an ensemble title that maybe it takes less effort to create a well-rounded woman. I think that Debbie Grayson, the mother in Invincible, is really well done and very interesting; Kirkman gives enough time to the character that we can empathize with her struggle in adjusting to her new, seriously altered reality.
I think that Willingham in general does well by his female characters in Fables. This stands in sharp contrast to the apparently severe case of women-in-refrigerators syndrome he seems to have developed in the Batman titles -- but then, Fables is [a] not a superhero title, [b] his baby, created by him, nurtured by him, and Batman can never be that, so he has some incentives to do better by the characters. There's also the fact that, very generally speaking, the type of reader who likes and understands Fables -- who has read enough to really understand the background he's put together for it -- may really be very different from the general Batman reader. (I have absolutely nothing to support this ... but I have a sneaky suspicion that if you did demographics on Fables, its readers would be both older, and possibly more female, than those of most of the Bat titles. Again, just a hunch, with no evidence at all to support it.)
Here's the other thing: does the fact that the characters in Ultra originally started out as guys (and boy, would THAT have made a change in the last three issues) mean anything? Is maybe the answer that you need to create good characters, and the sex/gender of the characters matters only insofar as it matters to the story? Because, honestly, with a few tweaks here and there (and there, and especially there), the story in Ultra might work just as well for male characters as women ... with the notable exception of the consequences Ultra suffers for her night of passion with one of the minor characters. Unless he was supposed to be a monk, it's pretty much unthinkable that a male character would have received the public condemnation for ordinary sex with one other person that gets heaped on Ultra ... but it is fairly believable that it would happen to a woman, unfortunately. Society's double standards do still exist.
So, really: does the sex (or sexuality) of the author necessarily make any difference? Or are the UGO editor and my friend seriously mistaken?
Inquiring minds want to know!Posted by iain at 06:14 PM