My 2 Cents


If we really stop to think about it, we'll soon discover that this industry survives by a stream of miracles and good luck. We're fortunate that the public has a love of entertainment, second only to its love of food.

Just imagine if, by a turn of events, the whole world becomes Islamic and thus, austerity and multi-daily prayers replace entertainment.

The miracles that we enjoy every day come despite a corporate system that, nowadays, works against the industry itself.

Take, for example, the entertainment conglomerates' CEOs. One might think that their jobs are to run their companies, right? Wrong! Today, the CEOs' main responsibility is to serve and obey Wall Street. The CEOs have to: make sure ttheir companies' Wall Street-imposed short-term goals are met; make sure investors love the CEOs' companies: make sure Wall Street gives them their daily growth; and make sure the CEOs companies are "efficient" according to Wall Street's definition (i.e. works with mirrors and smoke).

But, under this new paradigm, who runs the entertainment companies? Well, in short, committees run them, in a system reminiscent of the Soviet Politburo. Because, you see, under Wall Street rules there is no freedom: creative or otherwise. Under the Wall Street regime, there is no capitalism and no competition. Wall Street loves monopolies, dominant positions, cartels and "paper" companies, better yet a house of cards.

And I'm not exaggerating. Just browse through the large number of books now in the bookstores written by Wall Street's dissidents now in exile: "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," by John M. Perkins (optioned for a movie by Beacon Pictures as a vehicle for Harrison Ford); "Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst", by Dan Reingold; "Is the American Dream Killing You?: How the Market Rules Our Lives," by Paul Stiles; and, the soon-to-be-published "Dark Fiber," by David Chacon.

Let me give you an example closer to our predicament. Let's say a good movie project comes to a studio. The studios' gatekeepers love the script and the concept. The script is then sent to the MBAs, who promptly dispatch the script to all division heads: Theatrical, Home Video, Domestic Television, International Television, Pay, New Technology, etc.

Each division head is asked to estimate how much the finished product could make on the market. The MBAs tally the final figures, the CEO gets ready to present the project to the financial analysts, and, if it seems as though the project's total revenues might satisfy Wall Street, the movie gets to be made. If not, it is nixed; no ifs, ands or buts allowed. Business is [Wall Street and Wall Street] business.

The fact is that, nowadays, the word "show" before "business" has been almost completely eradicated and this doesn't bother anyone . . . except the creative folks who, frustrated in their quest to bring originality, innovation and challenges on the screen, go back in the drawer to pull out yet another tent-pole franchise: Tarzan - The Revenge of the Nerd, Part II.

Now, I ask you, is this a way to run an entertainment business? The answer is, of course, "no." But is there any solution in sight?

One solution, of course, is to fight another Cold War against the Wall Street dictatorship. Another way is to hope for a Democratic government, which might restore Capitalism. A third way is to wait for yet another miracle that would cause all big conglomerates to crumble under their own weight, the way the old Soviet structure collapsed under Communism.

Today, in the name of Wall Street's mandated "efficiency" fewer movies are being produced and fewer high-quality TV shows are being aired. In the process, audiences continue to laugh with old sitcoms, produced when creativity was encouraged and Wall Street doctrine discouraged.

Dom Serafini