Archive for February, 2007
One of my new internet partners, Tim Shey, wrote this post about the issue of Net Neutrality. Basically, without it the cartoons you post might never get seen by the largest audience unless you make deals with the big communications company. Bad for all us I think.
Wondering what all the fuss over Net Neutrality is about, and whether you should get involved? The good people over at SavetheInternet.com have put together a new video that pretty clearly explains their take on the issues and stakes involved.
The first attempt by big corporations to charge tolls for a fast lane on the Internet was roundly defeated due to popular outcry, but now the coalition of organizations and citizens behind Save the Internet are looking to make net neutrality a law. Please visit their website if you’d like to sign the petition and spread the word.
…but lots of car enthusiasts. Next New Networks wants to be your friend.
There are endless conversations about how to navigate the changing media landscape, and it feels to me people are working way, way too hard to create a new conventional wisdom. Let’s leave out that any conventional wisdom is suspect, but really, let’s be a little looser.
Cartoons suffer from the same malaise, because everyone think’s there’s “the” way to do things. Maybe that’s why the biz has had so few real hits in the last five years.
I’ve learned some of my greatest lessons from the musicians I most admire, and this picture of saxophonist/composer/theorist Ornette Coleman with my friend, Yahoo’s Todd Kreiger, reminded me of an important one relating to navigation in a wild world.
Some background: Ornette burst on the music scene in 1959 playing jazz like it had never been played before. Some called it “free” or “avant-garde.” Many called it unlistenable junk. Ornette felt that tonality and chord changes didn’t need to be as rigid as had been the orthodoxy. (For those who’re interested, see Wikipedia for a little more.)
So anyway, another saxophonist/composer, Anthony Braxton, moved to New York for the first time and crashed with Ornette for several months in the 70s. Anthony’s a pretty exacting and careful guy, very anal. As he tells the story, after about six months he got the nerve up to ask whether he could try Ornette’s saxophone and was given the surprising go ahead (Braxton was very particular about his horn and was worried Ornette would feel the same). Anthony noticed the b-flat key was broken and was told it had been that way for a year. “Geez, how can you stand that?”
“Well, you know, I just don’t play B-flat!”
Thank you Ornette.
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is a New Orleans styled street brass band recently relocated from Chicago to New York (check out their timely video of their composition WAR above). I really enjoy seeing them all the time in Union Square and it just occurred to me what a gas it would be to ask them to come over for a small show for our office and some invited friends.
Right at the moment we’ve got a completely unfinished office space upstairs that’s being readied for Next New Networks (you can see it in the tank promo above) and it seems like a great room for a show.
Jim is a good guy. We’ve never done anything but talk together (actually, that’s not entirely accurate; recently Frederator Studios made an agreement with CN for the movie rights to one of their shows), and I always found him to be a decent, humble, and dedicated guy. Someone I would have liked to work with if the situation ever arose.
Mostly I encountered a gentleman, someone who earnestly worked hard for his company, his network, and all his colleagues. Someone who never expected to be in the position he was in in the animation industry, but, once he found himself there, was going to work like the devil for all the artists he represented and making sure he never let down his business superiors at the same time. Not an easy task to be sure.
When Jim moved to the network (from running CartoonNetwork.com) he admitted his lack of programming and cartoon creds but he went to right to work, listening to anyone and everyone who could help him improve the outlook of his diminishing channel. After a steady ratings decline, and against the odds and naysayers, he reversed an early decade slide with a lot of hard decisions that went against the grain of conventional wisdom and Cartoon Network popped up from a weak #3 to a strong #2 against Nickelodeon’s long term (and still holding) #1 position.
I said in my comment “Do we like all the decisions he made? Hell, I don’t like all the decisions *I’ve* made either. But I’ve got to say, he tried, with all authenticity, to do his best with humility and dedication.” I stand by that.
By the way, Craig McCraken gave a great shout out to Jim at his acceptance of Best TV Production at tonight’s Annies. A classy move, I thought.
The cartoon business will miss Jim Samples.
Yup, tonight’s the 34th Annie Awards, produced by ASIFA-Hollywood. I’ve told you before, but it won’t stop me from telling you again, that our studio’s got three major series and films in contention in addition to our many friends up for individual achievement awards.
The Fairly Oddparents is created and produced by Butch Hartman and is one of the most consistently successful series in Nickelodeon history for a good reason: it’s a great show. (Funny yes, but great too). This nomination for Best Television Production is long, long overdue.
Bob Boyle worked with us on Oh Yeah! Cartoons and the Oddparents before creating his first hit series (for Nick Jr) called Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, a showcase for his unique vision and voice. Pre-school shows are rarely nominated for Best Television Production, so getting the nod is the first year is a real honor for Bob.
Pen Ward is pointing the way to the future of hit kid cartoons with his incredible Adventure Time, nominated for Best Animated Short. Watch out everyone, you’ll never look at cartoons the same way again.