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Fred Seibert's Blog

Archive for November, 2006


Calling all cover fans.

November 30th, 2006

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Being an album cover fan is probably the sole provence of aging baby boomers like me who lovingly remember the days of wondering whether to spring the extra buck for the stereo version (OK, classic illustation freaks count too). But my friend Matthew Glass’ blog also goes for the exotic, the strange, and the sexy.

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Secret T-shirts.

November 29th, 2006

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It has nothing to do with cartoons, but I started a new blog last week.

Three schools in eight days.

November 13th, 2006

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After my Western swing last week in Denver and Los Angeles I got to do my annual act at Jim Arnoff’s SVA class tonight in New York. Maybe it’s the practice, but I had a great time again.

Happy with the mess.

November 12th, 2006

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Wanna read about cartoons? That’s mainly in the second section down below. Someone asked me for this piece because of my recent rants about the changing media. I believe it has everything to do with you and cartoons, but you might diagree or be too bored with my writing to care. Either way, thanks for hanging around our blogs.

Happy with the mess.
Thanks goodness media is in an upheaval again. As every art form should be. Sure media is a ‘common carrier’ of writing, music, film, and all sorts of art. But media itself is art, an expression. And like everything in art, in order to remain essential it’s got to be turned upside down and shook out ever so often to maintain its vitality. And its viability.

I’m pretty happy with this state of affairs; it seems like most of my baby boomer life it was television exploding network radio and movies, or the Beatles throwing over Elvis and Sinatra. Then as professionals in cable television we rewrote the rules of how TV talked to the world, and watching the beginning of interactive technology and communication alter everything in media that has come before in almost inexplicable ways. For me it’s always been the way of the world. And the way that I work.

TV, the massive bore.
Early in my career I struggled looking for places in the media where the rules weren’t already written (the Beatles influence was pretty clear; the idea of creating wild eyed commercial success crossed with high art held on strongly). Radio sure didn’t have it, music recording should have had it, and television and movies…please! Bob Pittman came along and made me the first member of his new cable programming team and we brought the rules of Top 40 radio to all kinds of television, from music to kids to comedy, and eventually around the world.

Let’s face it, to us 20-somethings, broadcast television was one massive bore, programming to everyone, satisfying no one except the out of touch advertisers.

The rules had been happily, and profitably, established 30 years before and there was an incredible army of conventional wisdom established that didn’t want to be rocked. We just wanted take over the world, so minute by minute and day by day (I’d say show by show, but we didn’t have no TV shows) we dissected how they did it, tore it apart. We reinvented the pieces that didn’t work (and kept the ones that did) and had the conceit that no one else knew how to do what we were doing.

I Want My {Brand} TV.
We were so conceited that when I took the world’s most famous TV moment, the 1969 moon landing, and planted a flag with 100 MTV logos, I joked that six year olds would forever wonder why the official version of the photo had an American flag. (And now those 31 years olds work with me and confirm my worst fears about how communication works.)

Unwittingly we were aided by mature industries (broadcasting and publishing) that had no room for our skills, our talents, or our ideas. There were hundreds of us that were too impatient to wait 20 years to take our place in the middle ranks of media management.

Along the way, the new orthodoxy presented itself:

• No TV stations, just channels.

• Don’t watch a show, watch a channel that talks the way you talk and sings the way you sing.

• It’s not your parent’s channel, it’s not your siblings’ channel, it’s not even all your friends’ channel. It’s your channel.

And my creative, marketing, and programming groups invented a brand new idea. Networks, nah! Shows, nah! Ratings, nah! (At least, not yet.) But what instead?

Brands.

Long before our current, common vocabulary, every channel I worked on was an idea, a community, an audience. A set of beliefs. In marketing: a brand. Add a vanity that our beliefs would not only change the media, but change the world. And now, take a look. MTV is the largest channel in the world, established in more countries than anything else in all of television, and synonymous with youth around the globe. Nickelodeon has more viewing than the children’s viewing of all the broadcasters combined (that is, before they abandoned kids altogether).

Now, if only MySpace and Neopets don’t steal their thunder.

………………………………..
CU Timmy Turner: “Ah? The internet?!?!”
But, of course they will. They’re already doing it.

I now produce cartoons. You know, like Looney Tunes, but newer. Cartoons went through their own paradigm shifts I won’t totally bore you with, but suffice it to say great feature cartoons (like Bugs or Mickey) gave way to simpler, more graphic TV cartoons like the Flintstones. They giving way to ‘animated sitcoms’ –yuck– and got really boring (The Snorks, anyone?). The producers like us who entered in the last generation couldn’t take it anymore and initiated a silver age explosion that resulted in The Powerpuff Girls, The Simpsons, and South Park. And now, they’re even boring! Why? I’ll let others speculate exactly how, but the truth is everything in media always wears out. And the new has to rush in.

What’s the new this time, and how’s it happening?

To quote Timmy Turner from our production of The Fairly Oddparents: “Ah? The internet!?!?”

You bet. All over the media (cartoons, news, sitcoms, whatever) a crucial link is being killed. It’s the network. Or more specifically, the network executive (or a producer like me, for that matter). Makers of all kinds of stuff are talking directly to their customers. Bloggers publish their own newspapers, filmmakers exhibit at their own theatres, cartoons run their own asylums.

Out of frustration with being ignored by the powers that be I’ve worked with regularly for 25 years (and we get in the door, they at least attempt to take us seriously) we’ve started over 50 blogs, and a handful of video networks. Within weeks we’d established millions of monthly viewers and readers and rendered out heretofore
back-room companies to brands with worldwide recognition. Advertisers are knocking on the door, and we’re being consulted daily within the automotive and entertainment industries as to how traditional brands can see the light (one day I’m hopeful they can, depressed the next they’re more interested in only protecting what they have instead of going boldly forward).

And the whole effort is being aided again by the perfect storm of talent and ideas. If you’re a young person with designs on media once again there’s a back-up. Buck the odds and get in the door and you’ll see a ten or fifteen year line ahead of you to get the job (or show) you really wanted in the first place. But, make your own idea, post in at Blogger.com or YouTube.com or ChannelFrederator.com, and you can have 500,000 friends in a couple of days waiting for your next pronouncement (ask my colleague Dan Meth what happened to his video Hebrew Crunk for a real life proof of concept).

The revolution will be televised.
Want to be a star? Want to be a living brand? Don’t wait for MTV, don’t wait for the New York Times, don’t wait for me.

Mostly don’t blame me. From now on you’ve only yourself to look at in the mirror if no one knows you’re alive.

Random! in the East?

November 11th, 2006

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It’s up to you Dave.

It’s Veterans Day.

November 10th, 2006

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Maybe’s it’s being a dad of a couple of boys. Maybe it’s getting older. Maybe I’m just smarter, but since 9/11 I pay attention to Veterans Day every year. It feels a little unusal for a dyed-in-the-wool progressive leaning person like me, but the thought of young people on battlefields anywhere, in any era –no matter what position they represent– breaks my heart.

Paul Parducci & his great results.

November 8th, 2006

Paul Parducci is a writer/director I’ve been working with since the 80s, when he was part of the avant-comedy group The Poster Boys (and the co-writer of a 1997 What A Cartoon! called Zoonatics).

Anyway, Paul came around last year in a bit of a career funk and I told him about the success of Channel Frederator and he got excited enough to start his own video blog series called Nightmare Boss, which was a character he always thought he’d like to play. Tens of thousands of viewers later Paul has a deal for mobisodes on Sprint Mobile and is busy writing a pilot script for his series that should warm the hearts of all the Dilberts in the world.

There’s no one to blame anymore for not getting a series.

Please vote!

November 7th, 2006

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Please vote!

November 6th, 2006

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Kit Laybourne and ‘The Animation Book.’

November 2nd, 2006

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I’ve been writing a lot about people who make their own films and it reminded me of filmmaker Kit Laybourne and the animation bible he wrote. For the few of you who don’t know the book, it’s a “complete guide to animated filmmaking” and was the reference that Mike Judge used on his dining room table to invent Beavis & Butthead.

Kit is a exceptional individual. As he writes in an AWN article, more than just a filmmaker, he’s truly “a sucker for new technology.” I’d add teacher, mentor, and curious enthusiast. It’s rare, when I’ve had the luck to spend some time with Kit, that I don’t come away feeling better and more inspired.

If you live in NY you might want to try and talk your way into one of his media classes at The New School; you’ll be glad you did.