Film & TV: March 2005 Archives

Predicting the future is a dangerous business.

I'm reading Emergence, by Steven Johnson, which was published in the heady and optimistic era of 2001. Much of it holds up. But then you come to a passage like the following, which describes what TV watching will be like in the magical, futuristic world of 2005:

The entertainment world will self-organize into clusters of shared interest, created by software that tracks usage patterns and collates consumer ratings. These clusters will be the television networks and the record labels of the twenty-first century. The HBOs and Interscopes will continue to make entertainment products and profit from them, but when consumers tune in to the 2005 equivalent of The Sopranos, they won't be tuning in to HBO to see what's on. They'll be tuning in to the "Mafia stories" cluster," or the "suburban drama" cluster, or even "James Gandolfini fan club" cluster. All these groups--and countless others--will point back to The Sopranos episode, and HBO will profit from creating as large an audience as possible. But the prominence of HBO itself will diminish: the network that actually serves up the content will become increasingly like the production companies that create the shows--a behind-the-scenes entity, familiar enough to media insiders, but not a recognized consumer brand.

Harry Potter for Sale

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The British film industry is having a barn raising!

Well, actually, more like a roof raising.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts--aka BAFTA--is holding a few dozen eBay auctions to generate money for its "Raise The Roof" fund (which helps pay for some much-needed repairs of BAFTA's building.) Although most of the items are out of my range, it's fun to browse the list. At the moment, the most expensive item is an authentic "Wanted: Sirius Black" poster from the set of the latest Harry Potter film. If you have a extra £922 (about $1750) to spare for the young Harry Potter fan in your life, then come next Christmas, you can be the coolest aunt/uncle/mom/dad/grandparent ever. (Unless you end up shattering their innocence when they discover that it doesn't actually move like it does in the film.)

If, however, your niece is a young single woman, maybe she'd rather cozy up to the sweater Colin Firth wore when he plunged into the lake in Love, Actually.Or perhaps she'd prefer Paul Bettany's tennis racket from Wimbledon, or the cashmere scarf that Liam Neeson wore to the 1996 Oscars. For anybody keeping score, Firth's sweater is currently at £225; Neeson's scarf is £30.85; and Bettany's tennis racket is £26.75. The final sales price of these items will, at long last, provide a scientific demonstration of the relative sexiness of each of these three men.

Personally, I covet the signed Wallace & Gromit watercolour painted by Nick Park.