« July 2007 | Main | September 2007 »

August 2007 Archives

August 31, 2007

Niche dating

Yesterday we noticed that the usual JDate billboard on the corner of Broadway and 47th had been replaced by a new ad for BlackSingles.com.


JDate billboard


Black Singles billboard

Hm! Did JDate's lease on the space run out, and another dating service, eager to attract the attention of single tourists waiting in line at the Olive Garden who have some very culturally-specific dating preferences, snapped it up?

Or could the same company operate both services?

Yep, it's Spark Networks, a provider of online personals for, as they put it, "likeminded" singles to connect. Now that Match.com and Craig's List have been totally overrun by hookers and phone sex lines, this company covers the spectrum of identity politics in dating.

They've got religiously oriented sites, like JDate, Catholic Mingle, Christian Mingle, Baptist Singles Connection, Adventist Singles Connection and both the Mormon MySpace-y LDS Mingle and the somewhat more cut-to-the-chase LDS Singles.

You can screen your future sexual partners by race and ethnicity with sites for people of Asian, Greek, Italian, and Latino descent, and the all-American Interracial Singles. Some sites make some culture assumptions about the purpose of dating, like the Indian site called Indian Matrimonial Network which "facilitates Indian dating and marriage". There are sites for deaf people, college students, military personnel, old people, single parents, and people who want to get busy within the next 15 minutes. And of course, a site for people who admire big beautiful women (BBW Personals Plus).

With one company representing all these different kinds of people, how culturally sensitive can each site really be? It seems like they've tried in most cases to use language on each site that will appeal to each niche, with the Catholic dating service sort of confusingly described as "clean, safe, and fun" but not surprisingly with nothing in there about God, while Christian Mingle offers the chance to meet "singles that share your values and love for God in Christ." And the College Luv site's tagline-- "Sign up, Look up, Hook up!"-- shows an intimate understanding of its target demographic.

What about sites for gay people? This is interesting. There is no gay dating site on Spark Networks, and almost all the sites only include searches for heterosexual dating. The exceptions are College Luv (young people aren't as uptight maybe?), Hurry Date (because people who want to get laid ASAP are of all persuasions), American Singles (for people who are so bland they don't have any niche identity), and JDate! Good old non-homophobic JDate. The gay Christians out there can stick to the Minneapolis airport men's room, I guess.

August 29, 2007

A whole new way to destroy the world

Humane Society environmental ad

Last year, the UN came out with a report on climate change that said that the livestock industry generates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation all over the world. It sounds pretty unbelievable, but it's true: methane is 21 times worse, climate-wise, than carbon dioxide, so all those cow farts are screwing up the environment a lot worse than SUVs are.

Thing is, a lot of environmental groups and figures like Al Gore aren't saying anything about the livestock industry, at least not the same way they're talking about cars and coal-burning power plants and fluorescent lightbulbs. But today, the NY Times speaks up about it: an article about meat as a cause of global warming is right there in the Business section. The big environmental groups aren't targeting meat in their campaigns, but, not surprisingly, animal rights groups are.

PETA has this ad directed at Al Gore, who didn't include anything about the meat industry in An Inconvenient Truth:

Al Gore PETA ad

It's funny in that blunt, mean PETA way, and it's good to let people know that not eating a lot of meat will help the environment. But when groups like PETA or The Humane Society (who made the car key/fork ad above) talk about the environment only in terms of saving animals, it probably won't convince people to change their behavior. PETA is good at stopping KFC from chopping the beaks off chickens and sometimes getting attractive people to pose naked, but we need more mainstream environmental groups to start talking about the meat thing.

And why shouldn't they? The head of the Sierra Club says "we do not find lecturing people about personal consumption choices to be effective." But they have no problem telling people to take public transportation more often and to buy different air conditioners and those damn ugly fluorescent bulbs.

Is reducing meat consumption just too radical for environmentalists to mention? Even ELECTRIC COMPANIES are telling consumers to buy appliances that use less electricity to help reduce global warming.

It reminds me of the dust-up over top selling diet book Skinny Bitch that women are buying like crazy, then becoming outraged by one of the central messages of the book: a good way to lose weight is to be a vegan. In another Times article, we learn about readers such as Laura McGlinchey, 41-year-old computer network manager:

She bought the book on Amazon because she was attracted by the packaging and "irreverent tone."

So she was surprised to encounter chapters on meat and poultry farming practices. "It seemed to be pushing more of a PETA agenda," she said, referring to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights advocacy group. Ms. McGlinchey said she was so fed up that she didn’t even finish the book.

Aww, poor little offended baby. As Skinny Bitch author Rory Freedman said, "They’re mad that they spent $14 on a book that was not what they thought, but they’re not mad that chickens are having beaks chopped off their faces? How is that possible? I can’t even wrap my mind around that."

It seems like the best way to get people to actually change their behavior is to create a product that they can buy to feel like they're helping to save the environment. Toyota and Honda have done a great job letting drivers know how their hybrid cars are good things to buy if you want to reduce emissions, and Panasonic will happily tell you all about their energy-saving flat screen TVs.

The corporations that would benefit from more consumers adopting vegetarian diets need to get on the ball with marketing some celebrity-endorsed tofu. Forget those Sierra Club wimps--Vitasoy and Morningstar, you guys get on the phone with Pamela Anderson and Forest Whitaker and make some good ads, OK?

August 27, 2007

How to seduce your best friend's wife

Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight

There are already thousands of Beatles biographies out there, and all of them recount how George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd left him for Eric Clapton after he hounded her for years, and they both wrote all kinds of songs about her, including the beautiful and tender "Something", the classic rock standby "Layla", and maybe the worst song ever written "Wonderful Tonight".

So now Pattie Boyd has a new autobiography. She decided to go with Wonderful Tonight for the title, so that the world would never forget that this treacly piece of prom theme garbage that Eric Clapton insists on singing with his eyes closed is about her. Poor lady.

Janet Maslin reviewed it for the Times. She exhibits some kind restraint, but still notes some of Boyd and her collaborator Penny Junor's more vapid observations: "This book includes perhaps the least useful account of the much-described 1968 all-star idyll in India: 'If it was anyone’s birthday, and there was a surprising number while we were there, including George’s 25th and my 24th, there would be cake and a party.' "

But what makes my heart go out to Boyd is her account of Eric Clapton stalking her for 7 years until she finally divorced George Harrison and married him. The guy sent her anonymous letters like this--"for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move", started dating her 17 year-old sister, then wrote "Layla" for Pattie in 1970 and played it for everybody telling them it was about her, and then actually threatened to start using heroin if she didn't leave George for him.

She didn't, but the determined Eric Clapton started doing heroin anyway. By the time Pattie finally left George for him in 1977 he had become a big junkie, then in kicking that, transitioned seamlessly into raging alcoholism. "It was as though the excitement had been in the chase," Boyd realizes, and she eventually ended what sounded like a completely awful marriage in which he drank two bottles of brandy a day and impregnated other women all over the place and wrote songs like "Wonderful Tonight".

She sounds like she's doing OK now.

August 23, 2007

NY Daily News: Plan B a big success among tramps, jerks

Plan B ad

Barr Pharmaceuticals announced that one year after making their morning-after contraception pill Plan B available over the counter, sales have doubled, reaching $80 million! Judging from their predictions last year, this is better than they expected, but still isn't exactly a blockbuster drug (Viagra's at about $800 million.)

Doubling sales of emergency contraception is sort of a murky cause for celebration, though. It's great than more women have access to Plan B (unless, of course, they're under 18 or don't have any ID) and can prevent unwanted pregnancies, which is what NARAL and Planned Parenthood are stressing. But Plan B still has a lot of enemies among anti-contraception people and some pro-lifers, and they're looking for data that suggests that making Plan B easier to get encourages irresponsible sex.

"Over-the-counter access has not increased or encouraged sexual activity," says Traci Perry of Planned Parenthood of New York City. She stresses that emergency contraception is a method of backup protection such as when a condom breaks.

OK sure, but how do women use Plan B in real life? The Daily News has an article on Plan B's one year anniversary, which seems intentionally written to destroy the argument that access to contraception doesn't encourage risky behavior. It begins with this personal anecdote:

"When I started dating this dude, it was a hassle to get an appointment with the gynecologist, so I used it weekly for about a month," confesses Kendra, a 24-year-old New Yorker. "I'd have unprotected sex, then go and blow $60 on EC [emergency contraception]."

Whoa, Kendra, a whole month of emergencies! You or your dude ever hear about condoms? I can just see the Family Research Council's press office carefully clipping this article to add to their "Promiscuous Liberals" binder.

Later on in their article, the Daily News reminds us that even if Plan B is available to most women without a prescription, you still have to ask a surly pharmacist to hand it to you from behind the counter:

Phoebe, 25, recently asked for Plan B at her local suburban pharmacy. "A male pharmacist gave me the look down, then asked me how old I was. He was overtly unfriendly," she says. "Usually, they put it in a bag to respect the purchaser's privacy. He just handed it to me in front of a long line. It felt intrusive and embarrassing."

Yuck. What is going on, Daily News? Last year they published an editorial complaining that Plan B was "being held hostage to politics" while the FDA took forever to approve OTC sales, and now they make it sound like a humiliating drug for sluts. Can we get some Plan B pride, or at least one "I am so stoked not to be pregnant!" story?

August 22, 2007

Yushchenko completes Monster Hero transformation

Yushchenko battles forest fire

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has had a rough few years. It probably hasn't been easy reforming his nation while fighting off political adversaries who poisoned him with dioxin back in 2004 and then led to several disintegrations of his government. And even though the scarring of his face from his near-death experience made him look scary and Frankensteiny, did that hold him back? No it did not!

And just because his arch-enemy Vladimir Putin is posing around for the media flexing his saggy man-boobs, in my opinion he's no match for good old Yushy Craterface.

Here he is "personally taking control of firefighting" in Ukraine, where forest fires have been burning for a few days.

Yushchenko fighting fires

Yushchenko fighting fires

Yushchenko fighting fires

OK that's it. No more mean jokes.

August 21, 2007

MTV and Rhapsody: taking digital music a few steps back

MTV and Rhapsody

MTV announced today that they're scrapping Urge and teaming up with an online music service you've probably never heard of called Rhapsody to offer digital music to its viewers. Membership plans under the new partnership haven't been announced yet, but of all the online music download services I've ever seen, Rhapsody's looks like the worst. The service is part of Real Networks, the people who brought you the worst media player of all time, RealPlayer.

Here's the offer: you pay $12.99 a month, and can listen to all the music you want on your computer. But no downloading or anything. If you want to download music, it costs $14.99 per month, and you can then download your music onto a Rhapsody-compatible MP3 player, which does not includes iPods.

And if you want to download a song onto your computer, it costs another 89 cents per track! After you've already paid 15 bucks a month just to put music on your cruddy-looking SansaRhapsody MP3 player, you have to pay again if you want to be able to burn a song onto a CD! You can also download your songs onto your cellphone, but only if you have a contract with Verizon.

And of course it goes without saying that even these purchased tracks come with DRM that limits copying to 5 computers (with the exception of Universal, who are offering their songs without restrictions starting today.)

What kind of deal is that? Considering that the other big news today in online music is that Wal-Mart is offering DRM-free downloads for a mere 94 cents each, MTV/Rhapsody isn't looking so tempting. A year ago Rhapsody had only 4% of the online music market share, so they've got a lot of work to do.

MTV is assuming that people are going to keep buying bigger and better combined phones and MP3 players. Wired bets that the next big iPhone-related announcement from Apple will be that iTunes tracks can be downloaded wirelessly with an iPhone, since that seems to be the main thing iTunes can't do yet.

August 17, 2007

The history of crime in Hell's Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen 9th Ave

The Times offers a new feature series today called Weekend Explorer, in which a reporter does a sort of walking tour of a neighborhood with a local long-time resident, and describes the layers of history they can still see.

The first in the series focuses on our beloved Hell's Kitchen. The piece starts with a history of the working-class 19th century era, with Irish and German immigrants working on the docks and in factories. But the really interesting stuff is all about the criminal history: the neighborhood was a center of gangs, speakeasies and murder for the 100 years or so from the post-Civil War era through the '80's.

A few especially wonderful excerpts:

The Hell’s Kitchen Gang, whom Herbert Asbury called "a collection of the most desperate ruffians in the city" in his 1927 book The Gangs of New York (inspiration for the Martin Scorsese film), fought constantly with the police and with rivals like the Gorillas, the Parlor Mob, and the Gophers. Members had names like Stumpy Malarkey, Goo Goo Knox, Happy Jack Mulraney, and One Lung Curran, who, when his girlfriend complained of the cold, walked out to the street, "blackjacked the first policeman he encountered," according to Asbury, and stole his coat.


Two generations of Irish gangsters, nicknamed the Westies by the police and the press, operated in the neighborhood into the late 1980s. Murder, theft, arson, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking, liquor, drugs, nightclubs — the Westies did it all.

Mr. Robbins [local resident] said macabre stories about the 596 Club [formerly at the corner of 10th Ave of 43rd St] still float around Hell’s Kitchen. Old-timers remember jars behind the bar that held the severed fingers of guys who had crossed the Westies. There’s the one about gangsters rolling a severed head down the bar.

"I’ve heard a lot of that kind of stuff," T. J. English, author of The Westies, said in a recent interview. "Normally you’d dismiss it as absurd, but since it was the Westies, who knows? That place was certainly the proverbial bucket of blood."

The whole article is full of great, detailed, and often violent old-time stories like these, as well as descriptions of the gentrification that has made the neighborhood safer, though a lot less colorful.

August 16, 2007

Jim Naugle: scandal waiting to happen

Jim Naugle

If there's one thing that messy outings of conservative male political figures has taught us these past few years, it's that once you start going public with your promotion of anti-gay legislation and your personal views that homosexuality is a sin, your chances of being found to have had illicit/illegal sexual relationships with anonymous men, male hookers, or teenage boys go through the roof.

Jim Naugle is the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, the city with the highest concentration of same-sex couple households on the east coast. He's been quoted that he does not support gay rights, that homosexuality is a sin, and that ACLU stands for "Atheists and Criminal Lobbying Union". He also describes himself as being "extremely" conservative, though he is a Democrat.

Now he's in a fight with the local gay community over the issue of bathrooms at the beach--he wants to install single-occupancy bathrooms to deter "homosexual activity." When asked to apologize for making such an insulting statement, he agreed... then apologized to the families of Fort Lauderdale for not realizing "how serious the problem was of the sexual activity that’s taking place in bathrooms and public places and parks."

A grand total of 4 people have been arrested since 2005 for having sex in public bathrooms in Fort Lauderdale, and he's talking about a "serious problem" that compels him to be "concerned about protection of parks for our kids and saving lives."

Reading the Times coverage of Mayor Naugle and his bigotry, it's almost like the media is setting this guy up for some former Boy Scout to come forward and tell the world about his scandalous, possibly criminal, secret life. Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, former Washington state senator Jim West, even poor old Jim McGreevey--having such an anti-gay agenda just makes readers wonder exactly who's been spending so much time in those beach bathrooms.

Have you seen that clip of Ted Haggard telling his congregation about the Bible telling us not to be gay? [video]

August 15, 2007

I Love You Baby, But Not Like I Love My Verizon Wireless™ Cellphone

Prince is a slave to marketing

Did you know people love cell phones? And that they bring artists and fans together? Prince invited fans to text him about how awesome his show was! Fergie set up a green screen so fans can record their own music videos on their cell phones!

You would if you read this NYT article that takes it for granted that the growing use of rock show cellphone tie-ins is simply an opportunity for artists to interact more with their fans and perhaps gather some market research data.

Come on, New York Times. The music industry and concert promoters aren’t interested in building the fan experience. In fact, they’re not even interested in the small revenue from texting your favorite band, which is generally less than $100,000 per tour. They want the serious cash. And that's sponsorships.

The fact is, sponsorship deals are much more alarming than the idea that marketers are gathering your cell phone data – see the abovementioned Prince’s lucrative "partnership" with Verizon or Fergie’s Verizon concert tour. Maybe getting to text Prince’s promotional team about how sexy he is makes for a more intimate concert going experience – but it still means that you spent a bucket of money on that ticket (plus .99 per text) to watch what's essentially a paid commercial.

What do the artists have to say? “The cellphone is here,” says activist Perry Farrell. “You can choose to ignore it, you can grump at it, or you can say, ‘How can I take this amazing invention, how can I apply this and make my festival, and my life, more exciting?’”

I’ll tell you, Perry - you can accept AT&T’s corporate sponsorship for your Lollapalooza tour! And then, you can make your life and festival even more exciting when AT&T censors Pearl Jam’s anti-Bush lyrics from the festival webcast.

August 14, 2007

New York Times: All the news we can find without leaving our desks


Lately the Times has been particularly interested in filling us in on news stories based on information gleaned from social networking sites. Apparently Times rules allow this reliable information to be printed without any corroboration or factchecking. You've probably heard the hard-hitting, important news that Giuliani's daughter belonged to an Obama-supporting Facebook group (until she deleted her account).

But did you also know that Facebook is an essential tool for crime reporters? A report on the young woman found dead near NYU helpfully tells us that "A Facebook entry that seems to belong to Ms. McCallum lists 255 friends." In a piece on the suspects in the recent Newark schoolyard shootings, the Times tells us about one suspect: "The teenager’s page on the MySpace social-networking Web site has references to MS-13, an international gang consisting primarily of Latinos, along with a picture of him wearing a bandanna over the lower half of his face."

I am looking forward to articles telling us things like "a google search for movie times in Midtown seemed to show that The Simpsons is playing in Times Square."
Photo from silencematters

Miss America moves up the crumbling ladder of cable respectability

Miss America billboard

Two years ago, ABC dumped the rights to air the Miss America pageant. The ratings sucked, maybe because we live in a changing world where viewers no longer care about outdated feminine ideals, or maybe because now we see parades of blandly homogeneous beautiful people on every channel every single day, so who cares about 52 more? In one-piece bathing suits?

In 2005, CMT bought the Miss America rights for two years, which seemed perfect. The big hair, big makeup, and devotion to God and working with children fit right in with CMT's audience--representatives of both groups talked a lot about the "traditions" and "values" and "heartland sensibilities" that they share, and it seemed that the gaudy dresses, taped breasts, and hokey sentimentality of Miss America had found its new spiritual home. The giant billboard that CMT put up in Times Square of decades of Miss Americas screeching and crying and pulling at their hair showed that they totally got the enduring appeal of their new show.

But ratings fell from 3.1 million last year to 2.4 earlier this year, so CMT decided to go back to Coyote Ugly recruiting reality shows and Dukes of Hazzard reruns. Yesterday the winners of the bidding war/fire sale for broadcast rights was announced: The Learning Channel.

I can see how TLC offers its viewers learning opportunities in its How To shows about the real estate market, home repair and improvement, and creating a flattering wardrobe. "Big Medicine" and "Diagnosis X" are pretty good real-life medical shows that are fun to watch and arguably educational. But "Miami Ink", and the new hyper-advertised "LA Ink", about tattoo artists and their tattoos and the tattoos they give their customers? Not exactly the cable version of PBS.

It's nice for Miss America, sort of, to be adopted by a channel with a more respectable, sort of, image. But TLC isn't good at the glitz and pneumatic cleavage of Miss America. They're trying to make it more of a human interest documentary with a reality show about the contestants before the pageant. Boring! "This collaboration is a tremendous opportunity for us to present this scholarship pageant and great American tradition to our viewers with a contemporary production style unique to our channel," said the TLC president.

That's right, scholarship pageant! Yee-ha, Learning Channel. The president also calls Miss America contestants "52 of the country's smartest and most beautiful women", which I don't think was a selling point that CMT ever used in its marketing. We'll see if America goes for the "smart" angle in January.

August 9, 2007

The latest in pretend lesbian entertainment


I don't know how I missed earlier reports of this casting news, but Mischa Barton, canned actress from canceled teen drama The O.C., is starring in a new movie called Finding tATu. The movie just finished filming in Moscow, and tells the story of two young women who find love at a tATu concert.

Russian pop group tATu was a perfectly engineered specimen of pop marketing. Their cliche of a Svengali-like producer and former child psychologist, Ivan Shapovalov, said of his soft-porn entertainment product, "I saw that most people look up pornography on the Internet and of those, most are looking for underage sex. I saw their needs weren't fulfilled. Later, it turned out, I was right. This is the same as my own desires."

As an erstwhile tATu fan friend once said, what's better than two underage girls? How about two underage girls soaking wet? In school uniforms? Making out with each other? Here you go: the "All the Things She Said" video, which is like the KFC Famous Bowl of mainstream commercial fetishism.

By 2004 their popularity started to wane, Yulia got pregnant by her hockey player boyfriend, and the illusion crumbled. A year later during primetime sweeps, Mischa Barton locked lips with Olivia Wilde in a brief teenage lesbian relationship on The O.C. [screenshot], which generated a little ratings boost (the show was already starting its downward spiral) but didn't really raise any eyebrows. Now, in a complex layering of simulations, Barton plays a young lesbian inspired by performers that everybody knows are just pretending to be lesbians.

Since this is such a tireless niche market, somebody figured it was a good idea to write a screenplay based on a Russian novel called tATu Come Back (looks like the novel was never released here.) Actually, writing this story in anything other than screenplay form sounds like a big waste of time. The director is the same guy who did the recent schlocky Captivity. Today's Daily News calls the movie a "sexy romp" (2nd item)--demonstrating the robust appeal of manufactured pretend-gay pop culture. But who cares, everybody knows it's manufactured; two girls getting it on = built-in audience.

August 3, 2007

Small-town New England, the anti-LA

Small town Maine, fisherman dolls

In a world where celebrities' vacations, shopping trips, and visits to Starbucks are the sole content of hundreds of media outlets, it's refreshing to see parts of our country where famous people go about their lives among people who couldn't care less. A couple of small vacation destinations in northern New England have made the news this week, bringing national attention to parts of our country that are used to being out of the spotlight, and want to keep it that way, thank you very much.

On Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts suffered an unexpected seizure while at his vacation home on the coast of Maine. A NY Times article on the reaction of the townspeople to the brief onslaught of media attention is a beautiful example of Maine culture, where people are so committed to being under the radar that they take offense when outsiders create a fuss over local VIPs. It must be a shock for media people, used to working in parts of America where people will gladly suffer any humiliation necessary to get on national TV, to try to operate in towns like Port Clyde where locals are totally unfazed by their celebrities and seem to have no interest in drawing attention to themselves.

"I wish the media would go away and leave him alone," said Caroline Voile, owner of the Port Clyde General Store, where the chief justice buys his groceries. "There are a lot of people on the islands who have high notoriety. They’d just as soon live quietly by themselves."

"It’s back to normal, business as usual — that was just a quick thing," said Ann Coffin, sitting outside the Port Clyde Baptist Church, whose sewing circle had made the fisherman dolls.

The coast of Maine seems to be the world's best place for famous people to go if they don't want anybody to take their picture or mess with their business or even notice them. My favorite Maine understatements about Chief Justice Roberts came from a couple of local guys. Dennis Cushman: "Around here he puts his pants on the same way we all do," and his lobsterman brother Mike: "He’s a wicked nice guy."

And today, French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would spend two weeks vacationing in Wolfeboro, NH on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. The town manager's response in the press is somewhere on the border of a shrug and a whatever hand gesture: "We're going to have to get our French flags out, I guess."

August 1, 2007

All of Siskel & Ebert online

Siskel & Ebert

Growing up, I got just about all my information about new movies from watching Siskel & Ebert At The Movies on Sunday mornings. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert are still the best TV movie critics of all time, as far as I'm concerned, probably because at heart they were both journalists. They were incredibly knowledgeable and really cared about movies, and the focus of the show was always the movies, not the reviewers. I wonder if those two guys with their bad hair and anti-telegenic looks would ever make it on TV today.

Siskel & Ebert were famous for their fearless and passionate debates/fights, but that was part of what made the show so much fun to watch--rarely do we see any TV personalities (with the exception of Anderson Cooper) get so worked up over their subject matter today, unless they're talking about politics. After Siskel died, it was never the same: Ebert needs a thorny, more analytical partner to keep him from getting too soft, and I think we can all agree that Richard Roeper is no Gene Siskel.

Starting tomorrow, over 5,000 clips from the show are going to be available at AtTheMoviesTV.com! (Currently it directs you to the Ebert & Roeper site.) The site will feature over 20 years of reviews, the largest collection of online video-based movie reviews anywhere.

This is awesome news. It's been hard to find any clips of the old show online--YouTube has this one of Siskel and Ebert reviewing Blue Velvet (also available on the movie DVD) which Roger Ebert notoriously didn't like because he thought it was disrespectful to Isabella Rossellini, an argument that doesn't really make sense (since she agreed to do it.) He has since said he wishes he had done a more balanced review of the movie as a whole.

But tomorrow, you'll be able to search for thousands of clips by movie title, director, or actor, and watch the two reviewers almost come to blows over movies like Full Metal Jacket [video]. It seems that hardly any of the shows pre-1985 were saved, so only shows from 1986 onwards, after they moved over to Buena Vista Entertainment, will be in the archive.

On his own site, Ebert wrote about the archive: "Gene and I knew those old shows would be worth saving, but for a long time nobody agreed with us. In the years before home video, it seemed like a waste of expensive video tape to preserve hundreds of episodes of our earlier incarnations on “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You,” “Sneak Previews” or “At the Movies.” After all, the movies we were reviewing weren’t going to be opening again, and who’d want to watch a show of old movie reviews? Right?"

Ha. Clearly those television people were living before we entered the days of Always Archive Everything.

About August 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in August 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2007 is the previous archive.

September 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35