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Monday, April 7, 2008

Conan O Brien during the writer strike - highlights


Home copying - burnt into teenage psyche

Feargal Sharkey

Ex-Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey, now British Music Rights chief, is worried for the musical life of the next generation of 'sexually frustrated 17-year-olds'. Photograph: Brian Rasic/Rex features

More than half of young people copy the songs on their hard drives to friends and even more swap CD copies, according to research that reveals the huge challenge home copying poses to a music industry already battling internet file-sharing.

Three decades after cassette decks first allowed people to make free music tapes for friends, a study by the industry group British Music Rights suggests home copying remains just as ingrained in UK culture.

BMR's chief executive, the singer Feargal Sharkey, said the research underlines the urgent need to adapt to consumers' attitudes or face serious repercussions for the next generation of musicians.

The industry's anti-piracy efforts have largely focused on illegal online music swapping - with estimates suggesting only one in 20 digital downloads is paid for. But the online problem is potentially dwarfed by "offline copying", argues BMR. Its research, carried out by the University of Hertfordshire, suggests that, for 18-24-year-olds, home copying remains more popular than file sharing. Two-thirds of people it surveyed copy five CDs a month from friends.

Overall, 95% of the 1,158 people surveyed had engaged in some form of copying, including taking the music contents of a friend's hard drive - 58% - and the more old-fashioned method of recording from the radio.

BMR, which lobbies on behalf of composers, songwriters and music publishers, claims its research is the first academic study of its kind, and fills a hole in the industry's understanding of how people consume music.

Former Undertones frontman Sharkey said the aim was not to lambast young music consumers but to create business models that fit their behaviour and tap into the unrelenting demand for music. He hopes the findings will provide impetus for change.

"For somebody who has spent 30 years in the music industry, you instinctively know this stuff is going on. But when you actually sit looking at your computer and see a number that says 95% of people are copying music at home, you suddenly go, 'Bloody hell'," he said.

Many record label executives see the piracy problem getting worse before it gets better. The BMR research echoes other studies signalling that knowing something is illegal is no longer a deterrent. Well over half its respondents who know that copying music from a CD to a recordable disc is illegal do so anyway.

But Sharkey believes a combination of education projects and new ways of providing music to consumers - for example, advertising-funded downloads - will change that.

"Ultimately it has to get better ... At some point musicians and songwriters have to make enough money out of it otherwise they stop doing it," he said.

"My concern is for the next generation of sexually frustrated, hormone-ridden 17-year-olds that are sitting in a bedroom about to possibly, and I hope, write something like Teenage Kicks," he said, referring to the Undertones song the late DJ John Peel made his anthem.

The aspect of home copying that most worries BMR is the speed with which friends can now swap music, whether from one hard drive to another or on to MP3 players. Almost half the music in the average MP3 player collection comprises tracks that have not been paid for, the report says. People aged 18-24 keep around £750-worth of unpaid-for music on their MP3 players.

The study was carried out against the backdrop of government deliberations over how to introduce an exception in law so that people can legally copy music they have bought for private use.

Currently, UK consumers are technically breaking the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 by copying tracks from CDs to their PC or digital player, or making an extra copy to play in the car.

The Intellectual Property Office concludes consultations on changing the law tomorrow and BMR is submitting some of its research.

The music industry says it accepts consumers should not be punished for shifting music from one format to another, but some are concerned an exception will increase the perception music can be freely copied with impunity.

BMR has "no problem in principle" with the concept of changing the law. But Sharkey is urging the government to look to European law, which dictates that where a private copying-style exception is created there is also some sort of compensation for the creators and performers.

Whatever the outcome, the prevalence of offline and online music copying shows the music industry has "a lot of big challenges it needs to face up to very quickly", said Sharkey.

Original here

DV EXPOSE: Your "clever" marketing tricks have no effect on me

Your flashy publicity stunts do not convince me. Your “clever,” unusual viral marketing doesn’t interest me. No matter how oddball or innovative your marketing methods may be, they’re still just that – marketing. And we, as people, can see through that crap.

If you can’t hype me up through a movie trailer, a thermos ain’t gonna cut it

Look at this. That’s a bonafide, official, 100% real Iron Man Slurpee cup, meant to promote the film’s release in a few months.

Why?

Does Paramount truly believe that in America’s heartland, some untapped resource of film fans is sitting around just needing to hear about Iron Man, but without the benefit of seeing a preview or a movie poster? Do they believe that there’s some guy in Alabama who, lacking any sort of electricity in his mobile home but having grown up on Marvel comics, would absolutely love to see an Iron Man movie, but has somehow managed to avoid every sort of advertisement? Do they believe that this little plastic Slurpee cup will finally be the thing to rope this imaginary movie-watcher into the Iron Man ring, turning him into an avid fan?

I hate to say it, but that demographic either doesn’t exist at all, or can’t afford a movie ticket. Movie companies waste time and money on this bullshit: it’s supposed to “get people excited” for an upcoming film, but who the fuck gets excited about Slurpee cups? If anyone actually exists on this planet who gets physically hard at the prospect of licensed beverage holders, then that (A) need to be sterilized immediately, and (B) were probably interested in the movie anyway. Which leads me to my next point:

We don’t need to be told to look forward to The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight viral business has been kind of cute, what with Harvey Dent’s campaign website, the Joker’s travel agency, and the Concerned Citizens for a Better Gotham, but even with all this legitimately clever viral stuff going on, one has to ask…what’s the point?

Batman Begins was incredible in every respect, it made a shitload of money, and fans have been wanting to see Bale’s Batman square off against the Joker since the closing moments of the first film. We already really, really want to see it.

And as fun as it is to search through Harvey Dent’s fictional past using fictional websites in some sort of Alternate Reality Game, it’s ultimately not going to suddenly invigorate a huge number of hidden Batman fans. We love Batman and want to see The Dark Knight because the first movie was good, and the trailer for the sequel looked incredible. Why can’t marketers just have some faith in their own product, especially when it’s as sure-fire a hit as Dark Knight is likely to be?

We’ve learned to spot marketing shenanigans

Remember this picture? It hit the Internet roughly a week before the CGI TMNT movie was set land in theatres. Back in the old days of the Internet, we’d all have shared a few days or weeks of quasi-ironic glee: “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are real!,” we’d type, knowledgeable that the whole picture was a fake of some sort, but nonetheless totally happy to indulge in it. “I fucking knew they existed!,” we’d gleefully exclaim before eventually losing interest or finding out the full story from someone who volunteered the information unprovoked.

That’s not the case anymore; we’ve been exposed to so much viral bullshit, so much “clever” marketing, that we immediately shut down. Nowadays, this picture was on the Internet for, oh, about five minutes before everyone realized why it existed, and all the magic was suddenly gone.

It’s not really cool to see four guys dressed up as the Turtles if you know they’re just doing it to sell movie tickets; this might have been a legitimately cool ploy a few years ago, but we’ve been made so angry and cynical about marketing that this little piece of viral advertisement all but faded from memory a few weeks after it happened. Even now, it took me a good ten minutes of Googling to find a half-decent article about the whole story.

Don’t insult our goddamned intelligence

We are movie-goers. We are people. We are, to some degree or another, intelligent. So stop acting like all the weird, irrelevant, aforementioned marketing shit will necessarily have an effect on us.

You know what moviegoers really love? Mystery and quality. Look at Cloverfield – after that first teaser hit the Internet, everyone was freaking out about what the movie could be. Might it be an adaptation of the game Rampage? Another Godzilla remake? Will the entire movie be done in one continuous shot?

The trailer was appetizing, yet left many unanswered questions. It looked cool, but we were also confused: that is what makes a great viral marketing campaign. The Cloverfield campaign respected the ability of the viewer/potential ticket-buyer to use their imagination and try to suss out what the film might be about. It piqued our interest, and then left us free to pursue or deny that interest; it didn’t just thrust a bunch of irrelevant websites from the universe of the movie at us and continually demand that we be interested. It didn’t beg, and it didn’t assume we’d be stupid enough to buy a bunch of force-fed marketing bullshit just because it danced around in a funny costume or pretended to be a political campaign for a fictional character: it was sleek, it was mysterious, and it was intelligent.

So, if you must indulge in some sort of clever, viral marketing campaign, that oughtta be your template.

SIMPSONS DID IT

There is exactly one exception to the inherent stupidity of these “clever” marketing tactics that lack the deftness of the Cloverfield campaign, and it deals with The Simpsons Movie.

When 7-eleven turned a number of its stores into Kwik-E-Marts to promote The Simpsons Movie, it was fucking awesome. It was marketing that didn’t feel like marketing; it felt more like direct fan service to see an aspect of that fictional world materialized in real life with such a level of detail. We enjoyed it and we laughed about it, even knowing its ulterior motive, simply because The Simpsons had already garnered such a huge fanbase. We already loved The Simpsons, so the whole Kwik-E-Mart thing was just an incredible little cherry on top of what was otherwise a pretty standard marketing campaign.

Again, I dunno how efficient the whole deal was in attracting new audience members, but we certainly enjoyed it, it didn’t seem to insult our intelligence (the insides of the Kwik-E-Marts never break continuity; you won’t see too many advertisements for the movie in that flickr set), and it was cool.

So, either be Cloverfield or The Simpsons. Take your pick. Just don’t assume I’m going to fall for your “clever” marketing no matter what, Mister PR Man; it has no effect on me.

Original here

Ten Skinny-Ass Ladies Who Used to Be Hot

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Too many actresses are believing the line that you can’t be too thin. Please, ladies, eat a sandwich or something at the craft services cart. Here are a special shout-out to ten skinny-ass celebs that used to really turn heads.

Thandie Newton
Most recently seen in: Run Fat Boy Run
Last time she was hot: Mission: Impossible II

There was a time that Thandie Newton was the next Hollywood hottie. Then someone must have suggested that she had some jelly rolls, because she lost more weight than a cancer patient on Atkins. Now she looks more like a zero-body-fat lizard than a celebrity beauty.

Victoria Beckham
Most recently seen in: Ugly Betty
Last time she was hot: when the Spice Girls were

Not that I was a fan of the Spice Girls, but I will admit that they covered all the bases in terms of fantasy girls. But the former Posh Spice has lost so much weight that her once sultry figure makes her look like a lollipop - a wobbly head on a stick. I’m afraid her neck is going to snap and her hubby will kick her head around their flat like a soccer ball.

Jennifer Connelly
Most recently seen in: Reservation Road
Last time she was hot: Requiem for a Dream

Can you believe this was the girl from The Rocketeer? Or Dark City? This buxom brunette starts getting some Hollywood credibility and drops down to a size zero. There’s nothing wrong with losing a little pudge, but when you look like one of the starving children from Sierra Leone in Blood Diamond, something’s wrong.

Rachel Taylor
Most recently seen in: Shutter
Last time she was hot: Transformers

Okay, I really loved her debut in Transformers. Very few ladies in Hollywood could give Megan Fox a run for the money, especially in a two-hour Michael Bay beer commercial. But in Shutter, this girl looked like she hadn’t eaten since working with Bay. She could make it as an up-and-coming hottie, if she actually ate a sandwich.

Kate Bosworth
Most recently seen in: 21
Last time she was hot: Blue Crush

She just beat the house last weekend in 21, and she banged Superman without being mortally wounded, but I just can’t get over the fact she looks like a 12-year-old boy. It wasn’t hard to hide her nipples in the 21 sex scene, considering she’s about as anorexically flat-chested as Jim Sturgess was.

Ashlee Simpson
Most recently seen in: 2008 Kids Choice Awards
Last time she was hot: 2008 Kids Choice Awards, but still doesn’t look healthy

She was the less-cute sister of Jessica Simpsons, but thanks to silicone, collagen, rhinoplasty and crash diets, she now looks like a supermodel. But that’s not a good thing. It might work for a bulimic supermodel, but for a girl who could have been America’s sweetheart, she looks less like her former self than Michael Jackson does.

Angelina Jolie
Most recently seen in: Beowulf
Last time she was hot: Beowulf (hell, they can do a lot with CGI)

Not too long ago, I saw a tabloid compare photos of Jolie’s scrawny, veiny arm to that of geriatric Clint Eastwood. And you know what? Sometimes tabloids are right. This once hot chick has gotten way too thin. Have you seen the trailers for Wanted? Give me back the Gia days, baby!

Lindsay Lohan
Most recently seen in: I Know Who Killed Me
Last time she was hot: Herbie Fully Loaded

Granted, she’s up and down more often than Oprah lately, but let’s blame this on her lack of focus. I saw her nudie shots from New York Magazine. And while I’m impressed with her huge (but obviously fake) knockers, I just can’t get excited about the freckly femme’s whisper-thin frame. She was chubby-cheerleader cute for a while, but just a year or so ago, her weight plummeted, making her scary-thin for a while.

Saffron Burrows
Most recently seen in: The Bank Job
Last time she was hot: Deep Blue Sea

It’s arguable that former model Saffron Burrows ever really looked healthy. But watching this scrawny, lanky lady tower over Jason Statham in The Bank Job was enough to get her on this list. She made his evil co-star from Transporter 2 look fat. Still, that underwear shot in Deep Blue Sea was pretty nice.

Gwyneth Paltrow
Most recently seen in: The Good Night
Last time she was hot: Se7en

Anyone who is familiar with me as a film critic knows that I have been highly critical of Paltrow for years. But aside from her inability to act (and so many people’s inability to see that she can’t act), I detest how she is physically wasting away as she gets older. She’s one of those girls that went overboard to lose the baby weight. Now, as she enters her late 30s, that too-thin look is not working for her.

Sound off: Which actresses need a few more pounds?

Original here