Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Entertainment "Industry-al" Revolution

It's not working, Gang.

The entertainment industry is failing itself, its audience and the world. TV shows (scripted and unscripted) and feature films are becoming more mean-spirited, violent and vulgar. Faith-based material is attempting to make its comeback. The Hallmark Channel, the i network, ABC Family, and a chosen fewsw other cable and broadcast networks and movie studios and production companies are attempting to create positive product. But the Simon Cowell/Jerry Bruckheimer school of producing is winning over too many students - and viewers.

There are a few pearls are among the swine (Women's Murder Club, the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV-movies for CBS), and big-screen gems like Little Miss Sunshine - way from 2006). But the majority of product out there is damaging and destructive - to all parties concerned.

Who takes responsibility? The industry or the audience?

Most likely, both are to blame. Though much of this inferior product is created by not-so-nice people, an equal amount of what might be considered fluff-and-family programming and movies are also sometimes created by those with less integrity.

I have watched and enjoyed many wonderful family TV shows and films that, ironically, were created, produced and performed by what might even be considered undesirbales. And that's been a quandry for me for years - on many levels.

It's like the swearing right after you leave church thing...what good is going to church and praying if, in the next moment, you start disrespecting yourself and others with common words and street language well beneath your intelligence level?

Also, too, I would watch many TV shows or feature films about some smalltown soul who makes it big in the big city, and then returns to his or her smalltown life, because he or she finally realizes the beauty and contentment of simple treasures.

I then realized that instead of watching those beautiful TV shows and movies for one or two hours, I woud prefer to live the scripts of life than watch them, much less actually write them. I would rather experience first hand in real life - in every moment - of every day what those fantasy characters were experiencing in reel life for only 60-120 minutes.

Basically, my general observation is this:

The kind of love for life and work that I have does not seem to fit the present state of the industry.

If I may one more time address the issue of my experience in being involved with the Bewitched feature film:

No one, no where, no way, no how, knew more than I of what that Bewitched motion picture should have become. But my kind of affection, dedication and knowledge was not substantial enough for the powers that were. Conversely, a young person just out of graduate school, who may have worked briefly as a receptionist for the Bewitched feature production company had a better shot than I at becoming one of the movie's producers, or main screenwriter. Apparently, my 20+ years of Bewitched experience (as the author of two Bewitched books, numerous magazine, newspaper and website articles, and consultant on three Bewitched TV specials, etc.) paled in comparison to that receptionist's two month pre-production period.

in the midst of the Bewitched feature film, I was also working with a production company and a writer on a behind-the-scenes TV movie based on my Bewitched books. Those parties involved here also failed to properly incorporate my talents into their product. But unlike the Bewitched feature film, the TV-movie never saw the light of day. It still may - and I still may also one day rescue and resurrect the Bewitched feature film franchise. But until then, again, my brand of affection, wisdom, and know-how of the ins-and-outs of Bewitched mythology, charactgerization, storyline, was not enough for those who would have been smart enough to hire me.

Somehow, my enthusiasm and knowledge for a product with which I was quite familiar worked against me. Yes, I may have been overzealoust in applying for the job, but had I won the Samantha/Darrin big-screenwriting assignment, the results would have been nothing less than magical. Loyal, original and novice Bewitched fans would have welcomed my assignment, and been assured that their property was in the right hands. Instead, little ol' Herbie J, from little ol' Rochester, New York somehow intimidated big ol' Hollywood. It's almost like the dark forces of Hollywood see my light and turn away. Consequently, with regards to the Bewitched feature film, the results were devastating: that movie went down in history as one of the worst motion pictures ever to have hit the big screen. My good-guy mentality, enthusiasm and strong knowledge was resented instead of embraced.

In the meantime, former and present drug addicts and dealers, along with talentless friends of agentss and investors, continue to sell scripts, be cast, and produce both great and ghastly product for the large and little screens.

I say there is a win-win scenario waiting for us all. I say Hollywood can still be saved. I say there is a way to to create quality product in the reel world, free from violence and vulgarity; to still be a good person - in the real world - free from ignorance and lies that a self-absorbed, materialistic-seeking existence has the unfortunate power to sustain.

Are you with me, my friends...my colleagues...my fellow producers...actors...directors...singers...songwriters...make-up artists, costume designers, production assistants and receptionists?

Are you ready and up to the challenge of not only being able to create beauty on screen (which movies and TV shows have periodically accomplished over the years), but to also create a beautiful life off-screen as well?

I know you can do it. As a creative individual it is your birthright to bring joy. Whether you're a member of the industry or the audience, creativity is a powerful gift. And as Spider-Man's wise ol' Uncle Ben has been known to say, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

Allow me to expand on that thoght by saying, "With great power, comes great responsibility - and great potential for creating great product - and sound, happy and productive lives."

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