Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Yup, Still Working: 4.25

Why yes, I AM still at work at 8:00 pm.

Okay, technically, I am not physically at work-- hence the ability to post. The thing is, I'm staying by the computer, cramming down pizza and sending out work from my trusty laptop. Wee!

Although I have already said that I am not working during "24". You've gotta draw the line somewhere, ya know? That's fine, say the bosses, as long as I get back to work afterwards.

So I'll post something more substantial when I get a break. Which should happen soon-- because I'm going to cry if it doesn't.

Responsibility sux, man.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Reason Why NBC Sucks So Bad: 4.24

Want to know the exact reason why NBC is in such trouble?
In an acronym: GE

Surprise! A corporate overlord is messing things up. Who would've thought?

There is a surprising thing, though. It's that this time, it isn't really Jeff Zucker's fault.

So how is The Man screwing things up this time? By destroying every creative instinct in the entire company.

Hey everybody, meet Six Sigma, the worst corporate philosophy for a media company in history of corporate philosophy. Allow me to summarize Six Sigma: constantly improve little things through a rigorous system of "eliminating defects."
If you want to actually read more about this idiocy, I just changed the Wikipedia page on it to make it more objective. (before, it read like a press release for the system) But here's the (unchanged by me) money quote from the "Definition" section:

And okay, yes, I couldn't resist making my own comments on the definition, which are in bold.

"Six Sigma has now grown beyond defect control. It can be defined as a methodology to manage process variations that cause defects, defined as unacceptable deviation from the mean or target;(aka-People who use drugs) and to systematically work towards managing variation to eliminate those defects.(and by "defects", we mean anyone who is imperfect by our corporation's standards) The objective of Six Sigma is to deliver world-class performance, reliability, and value to the end customer." (The "end customer"? Ewww.)

So why doesn't Six Sigma work in entertainment? Because the only way to survive in the entertainment industry is to constantly innovate, create and change. (Otherwise, you get boring) Unfortunately while it may not sound totally antithetical, Six Sigma in practice is the enemy of independent/creative thought.

Oh sure, it purports to be a theory that offers the promise of tiny innovations every ever-lovin' day. But in a nutshell, here's why it's totally screwing NBC:



Do you people realize I'm a 24-year-old with no formal business education- yet I can tell you with absolute certainty that the philosophy guiding one of the largest companies in the world is costing them BILLIONS OF DOLLARS! And yes, I know this is hubris, but it's also accurate. I would like to point out this Business Week (the business magazine for people who can't afford The Economist) article detailing current GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt's plans. It mentions NBC once. And it includes a terrorist attack in the same paragraph. Not good.

Please, for the love of money, GE! Please spin off NBC/Uni so they can get back to the business of catering to everyday idiots instead of overpaid ones who micromanage what they can't seem to grasp.

I know that GE doesn't actually use quite the same standards to measure NBC as it does in its lightbulb factories. But the problem is that the execs who are in place- and seemingly, the ones who are rising- are absolutely Six Sigma-d. The few creative people left in the NBC camp are marginalized or forced to conform to Six Sigma standards.

But if NBC/Uni is going to conquer the world like the media giant it could be, the execs need to de-emphasize (read: end) Six Sigma in the entertainment units. Like, right now. Otherwise, NBC could find itself in the previously-unimaginable position of fifth place. So get crackin', Zucker. Protect those creative types or you could find yourself peddling more "Friends" spinoffs and CSI rip-offs.
Screw you, GE!
I'm not a superstar partially because of you!

TECHNORATI TAGS: , , , , , , Jeffrey Immelt

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's a Meta, Meta, Meta HollyWorld: 4.23

I was wasting a little time on Friday after work, catching up on a little celebrity gossip just for kicks when I discovered something interesting over at Egotastic! More on that a below.

First, a bit of backstory. I had been composing a post entitled "Austin Nichols: He'll Be A Star, I'm Calling It Now" about the actor on the left. If you don't know who he is, click here to go to his IMDB page. Notice that he's going to be in a movie called "Lenexa, 1 Mile", written and directed by a guy from the titular suburb of Kansas City. For a Kansan like me, that's major bonus points.

Anyway, the reason I was positing that Austin will be a star is because he seems to be a talented actor, he's attractive without being a total pretty boy(ie-dudes will like him), but most of all, he's an awesome guy. And since he's awesome, he's great to work with and therefore likely to keep getting work and heading toward stardom.

How do I know? Well, besides the fact that he keeps getting asked back to do more work for any show he guest spots on (Surface, Deadwood are the most recent two) which is always a sign that an actor is nice to work with, besides that-- I know. Personally, in fact.

See, way back in the day, we went to USC together, majored in the same thing and had at least a class or two together (American Literature 1865-1920: pretty much overrated cowboy lit except for Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein- oh, and we read Gatsby...again). USC's Arts & Letters classes are pretty small, and the fun kids tended to band together besides. And we both showed up at a few of the same SC parties. I actually had no idea he was an actor, but IMDB says he was getting decent work even back then.

Here's the weird thing about Austin. Still, having known someone as just another normal college student, and now they're all hanging out with Jake Gyllenhaal and stuff- it's weird.
And as you know, Chad Michael Murray is my celebrity avatar since I can't exactly slap my own picture on the site. He's pictured at right with his former blushing bride and current ex-wife, Sophia Bush.

And now, according to Egotastic!, Austin may be dating my avatar's ex-wife. And cheating (Chad's in this case) broke them up, just like it recently did me and Famke. It's all so meta, right? Hey, what is meta, anyway? Oh. So it's kinda meta. I guess it would be more meta if we all like wrote essays about Hollywood together, or something. Anyway, onto more gossip...

Sophia actually took to the pages of whatever magazine would interview her (People) to deny the Gyllenhaal and Nichols rumors first proposed by Egotastic. Her excuse? They were all just having a nice hike together. Although, her excuse "if I have to be in the company of men" made her sound vaguely lesbionic. Which is great for her, because I love lesbians. Although, not that great for Austin.

Note to Egotastic: I'm guessing That's Sophia Bush's comfort sweatshirt. When you get cheated on, you can develop an unnatural attachment to a seemingly random item of clothing. Trust me on this one. I haven't washed by big, fluffy USC sweatshirt in like two weeks.

And finally Austin, if you're reading this, drop me a line, buddy. We haven't talked since graduation. And I can even remember what you did during the graduation ceremony.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How To Get A Table Anywhere In LA

Normally, I love Defamer. But I don't know how Mark let this get past his editing, in a recent feature entitled "You'll Never Make Reservations In This Town Again." According to them, Hollywood Momentum isn't completely stupid, and they even go so far as to say that a recent column: "features a fine return to form for its Screamers section".

WTF, Defamer? Are you effing kidding me?

Return to what form? And also, if Hollywood Momentum is a "trade paper", then this blog is a giant pink unicorn.

As to the Screamer: Look, if you've got an A-list, Oscar-nominated boss and you can't get a table at any restaurant in Los Angeles, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Sorry, Charlie.

But listen, I know that not everyone has the years of assistant experience that I have. So listen up, kiddies. If the maitre'd is for a second thinking he's not going to seat your boss, then there's any number of things you can do. Here are just some of my favorites. . .

For starters, if the party is large, always start with a party of 4, one of whom is boss person's significant other/girlboyfriend. Then, once they accept that, you can slowly bump it up to 6, then up to 8 over a few hours.

Tell the maitre'd that it's the birthday of A-Lister's brother or sister or father or whatever. Special occasions always help secure a seat. Personally, I've used this one a lot and have good luck with it.

Use your supporting players. Tell them that the other people at the table are important, too. For example, who would you want more at your restaurant than say, JJ Abrams? Joss Whedon? Les Moonves' third cousin? A development exec at Sony? Well, maybe not that last one.

Beg. Beg like your job depends on it. Which it does. Or should. Ho'wood Momentum, I'm talking to you.

Ask who they ARE seating tonight and make an argument that your boss should get their table instead.

Subtle threats of anonymous reporting of the kitchen staff to the INS are usually effective, but should only be used in more extreme scenarios. Like, Oscar night.

If you've got any more you'd like to share, feel free. That's what comments are for, people...


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Who's the Bigger Ho: My Girlfriend or the 405 Freeway?

Normally, I wouldn't leave you without an explanation, or at least a guest editor. Sorry. Thing is, it hasn't exactly been a great week. Last Sunday (the 5th) I headed over to the house of my now-ex-girlfriend "Famke", after picking up some sushi from her favorite restaurant. I wanted to surprise her-- she'd told me she was having kind of a cruddy day and was just cleaning and doing laundry at home.

Of course, we were all pretty surprised when I arrived just in time to hear her climax with some guy who looks like Billy Zane's retarded cousin.

Look, I know I'm in my mid-20s, and she's much, much, much older. I know it probably wasn't meant to last. And I knew that as great as she and I got along, I wasn't Mr. Right. I probably wasn't much more than an apparently-not-satisfying-enough-f&ck for her. Still, BREAK UP WITH ME FIRST IF YOU WANT TO SCREW SOMEONE ELSE!

I really don't feel like re-hashing all the verbal fireworks, so instead, check out this fun survey that speaks to the twin banes of my existence: My Ex and the 405 Freeway. And it answers the question: "Who's the bigger 'ho: my girlfriend or the 405 freeway?"

The 405 can look tempting no matter where you enter. Same thing with Famke.

You can be going down on the 405 for hours and never get off. The Ex takes much less.

Thousands ride on the 405 every day. Apparently, pretty much the same thing for Famke.

Both are slippery when wet.

The 405 never promised to be faithful. Famke did.

So guess who's the bigger 'ho?

Oh- and happy effin' Valentine's Day to all.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The TV Wants the President to Die: 4.22

TO THE SECRET SERVICE: I DO NOT NOW, NOR HAVE I EVER, NOR WILL I EVER, IN ANY WAY, FORM, OR MATTER, APPROVE OF OR ENDORSE ANY ACTION THAT WOULD BRING HARM TO ANY PERSON, ESPECIALLY IF THAT PERSON IS THE PRESIDENT OF MY COUNTRY. Note that what follows is simply meant only to entertain and perhaps explore some Left Coast attitudes. If you are not entertained by this, please consider yourself outside my demographic. Thank you.

It's not a happy time for political leaders on television.

It was announced that West Wing is in its last year as its ratings sink and its critical acclaim dissipates. Goodbye President Sheen.

President Palmer is dead. He had his awesome brains blown right out of his skull.

President Geena Davis has been placed 'on hiatus' as hot network ABC thinks "Commander-in-Chief" is cooling off. It's the TV equivalent of a tranquilizer dart in the back of the neck, being tossed in a black van with tinted windows, and waking up in a dark warehouse with your hands bounds and mouth gagged. Whether Steve McPherson chooses to just slap her a couple of times and tell her to shape up, or actually do the deed and ice America's first woman president in her first season, is up to him.

Are pop culture trying to tell us something? Are Ho'wooders abandoning politics? Or are viewers?

Actually, both. Viewers are abandoning "West Wing" and "Commander-in-Chief", but it was the "24" writers who killed off my favorite of the TV Presidents. See that? It's a combo. The good Presidents are written out or become shadows of their former selves, and viewers don't want to see that. Just sayin', people. . .

And finally, since the subject is presidential politics, I'd like to throw a name into the "Anyone-But-Hillary" hat for the Democratic Presidential nomination. It's one you probably haven't heard: Kathleen Sebelius. Currently, she's the popular Democratic governor of one of the reddest states in the nation: Kansas. Before being elected Governor in 2002, she'd previously won two statewide elections for Insurance Commissioner, which is one of five elected statewide offices in Kansas. Anyhoo, she's a sensible, pragmatic, centrist Democrat from the Plains, she'd probably play pretty well nationwide. And it's about time we elected a woman President anyway. Just not Hillary.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Travel Channel, Cable's Red-Headed Stepchild 4.21

Dear God,
c/o Les Moonves

I know I haven't exactly been the nicest guy this year, and that I'm about 30%-35% evil on any given day. But I'm really trying to be better. But regardless of the relative goodness of the person asking, what is being asked is just. And it is good.

I ask you, God, please strike down the Travel Channel with Your most holy fury.

Because, frankly God, they are the red-headed stepchild of cable.

And I know you already answered one of my prayers by destroying the WB. But I was kinda hoping that since it seems like you're listening and all, maybe you could do me another favor. Please?

We both know, God, that the Travel Channel people are grade-A idiots. Forged in the wilds of Silver Springs, Maryland, instead of a normal media birthplace like LA or NYC, the Travel Channel people grew up with a bushwacky mentality that included things like wanting to avoid paying for anything. Which is fine, except they don't understand that you've ultimately gotta pony up the cash if you want to keep the hits going.

It's not just me that hates them-- though, I have hated them since the days of Sloane. Let's just say it's like pitching to a group of stoned West Virginia coal miners who've suddenly been put in charge of a cable channel-- about TRAVEL, no less.

A few days ago, I was informed of some additional info about the situation. It seems my readership has become more widespread and more international-y since my lil blogroll re-design. And today, something caught my eye on the Hollywood Reporter website that made me know it was time to unleash the wrath of God. The title ain't fancy, but it gets the job done: 'Poker Tour' creator, Travel Channel end dispute.

If you were curious about the inside scoop on that, the little assistant birdies say that essentially, the World Poker Tour people are still full of bile toward the Travel Channel folks. They'd put together a highly-rated show for the Travel Channel that cashed in on the still-potent tv-poker bonanza. And they were trying to score an expansion of their franchise on ESPN, after they realized Travel Channel wasn't going to pony up for enough for them to develop a spin-off there.

So when the Poker people bat their eyes at ESPN (which has a bigger audience and therefore, can and will, pay more for shows), the Travel Channel yokels threaten to yank their own most successful show off the air in the corporate equivalent of a murder-suicide. Realizing Travel Channel people are insane idiots, the Poker people re-doubled their efforts with ESPN, only to find themselves threatened with unwarranted litigation. So the Poker people sued right back, alleging that Travel Channel was impeding its efforts at ESPN (which it was). But as the inexorable snail of justice began to move, Travel Channel did something even more stupid.

Instead of justing letting the spin-off go, they paid out the wazoo to get yet another poker show on a channel that has a pretty dubious connection to games of chance anyway. And to get the now-furious Poker people back on board, they showered them with money, pretty much ensuring that Travel Channel wouldn't make a profit-- and making even less money available for actually developing shows about travel. Plus, now they've got 44 weeks of new programming to air-- none of it really having much to do at all with travel. AND- they're infecting their corporate masters, Discovery Networks, with their idiocy, too, which is the real shame.

Quite simply, when Travel Channel finds a good concept that draws good ratings, they don't have the sense to keep it going. And in the world of cable television, there are few greater sins. So please, God/Mr. Moonves, find it in Your heart to strike down the Travel Channel.


PS- For more Atlas goodness/evilness, please check out my Oscar nomination rundown, entitled: "Oscar Shocker: Gays and Famous People Do Well In Hollywood", over on NewsDrunk.