One Room Theory

MCMWednesday, November 8, 2006

A fantastic TV show model that thrives in Japan is "get a bunch of stars together in one room and make them talk about random news for an hour or two". It's chaotic, silly, and usually terribly funny as each personality tries to become the most entertaining one in the room. It makes actors, comedians and musicians into real people for their fans, and gives semi-discovered talent a chance to impress a new audience.

Here in Hollywood-land-world, we've moved away from that motif, because stars have carefully-crafted auras they want to protect at all costs... and besides, no one's able to get that many big names together anyway. A key prerequisite for this kind of entertainment is that the cost of engaging the participants has to be low enough that you can afford to have a room full of celebs in the first place. In a world with $20M+ pay days for ho-hum actors, it becomes less and less viable.

Vidcast stars are ideal for this model. They're already humble, they're already a bit unstable, and by and large they're not paid enough to reasonably demand a lot of cash to appear. What they need is exposure, a chance to impress, and (bluntly put) another easy outlet they might turn into a second (or third, or fourth) hit show.

Right now these stars are working alone or in pairs, designing a unique look and feel that best showcases their talents, and doing the true Internet schtick by not deferring to some controlling entity. There is not, as of yet, an NBC of the web world. Every vidcaster is an island, and they like it that way. But perhaps the desire to build and maintain so many unique little stages has blinded people to the value of ALSO getting together on a common stage for a time. It's not a question of replacing the independent streak, it's a question of complementing it. Enhancing it.

Andrew Baron, producer of Rocketboom, likes to imagine that the objective of this New Media world should be to do one thing, charge a lot for it, and live a life of luxury... basically emulate Hollywood until you are Hollywood. But Hollywood's current business model is in grave danger, and a smarter direction would be to embrace a sustainable plan that keeps everyone gainfully employed while doing things they enjoy. Otherwise you're desperately scrambling to get aboard a sinking luxury cruise-ship. The pretty chandelier won't look quite as glamourous at the bottom of the ocean.

The current stars of the vidcast world need to work together more often, in different combinations, with different themes, to create a viable alternative to TV. I currently watch over 3 hours of vidcasts a week, and that's only because there isn't much else that interests me right now. Stick Ze Frank, Alex Albrecht, the Ninja and others in a room with beer, and have Amanda Congdon as host... you'd make hours of great comedy with ease, and have a massive audience to boot.

The key to success in the New Media world is not simply to develop new styles that Hollywood hasn't imagined yet... it's to re-examine the styles they discarded as they became as bloated as they are today.

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