Thursday, October 1, 2009

Connect Four

Well, there's really nothing connecting these four items, they are simply a few of the stories and blogs that have caught my attention this week that I wanted to comment on.

1) When I first read that the FCC was going to look at issuing new regulation regarding so-called "net neutrality" I planned to write a lengthy blog post on it.  But then I saw this posting over at and I decided that there is no use parroting what someone else has already said so well.  The fundamental question is this:  Do you really want to put the federal government in charge of the Internet?  Because that's what this is.  It's about giving the government the authority to decide the right way and the wrong way to manage the Internet, it's about allowing the government to pick winners and losers among Internet companies and service providers, and it's about the government limiting your choices as a consumer.  I don't understand how anyone could think this is a good idea.

2) Hollywood celebrities have taken on a new urgent cause with the arrest of Roman Polanski in Switzerland and his pending extradition to the United States over 30 years after he fled the country.  Lest anyone feel sorry for this man, here is a stark reminder of exactly what he did to put him in his current situation.  Do not give this man your sympathy.  Hollywood knows no shame.

3) I hesitate to put too much stock in unproven, unattributed speculation, but this item suggesting that Disney may attempt future "Pirates of the Caribbean" films without Johnny Depp raises interesting issues given Depp's reported disappointment with the firing of Dick Cook.  As I've said before, Depp is to Pirates what Harrison Ford is to Indiana Jones.  It just won't work without him.  Remember when George Lucas launched the "Young Indiana Jones" tv series?  You probably don't.  It flopped.  I'm personally a big fan of that show, but audiences just weren't interested in Indy if Ford wasn't the guy on the screen.  Disney needs to understand that there is no chance that a big screen Pirates movie will succeed without Depp.  He appears to still be commited to number four.  Let's just take it one at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves, okay?

4) Finally, there's a couple of interesting looks at the business of big media.  A NY Times piece previews an upcoming book positing that media companies have embraced rapid growth in pursuit of short-term gains and trends while in fact losing long-term value.  The AOL-TimeWarner merger is the obvious example of this, but News Corp's purchase of MySpace is another example.  Disney has experienced their own headaches of this sort, notably the acquisitions of Infoseek and the Fox Family Channel.  Then there's this interesting speech given by Bill Mechanic, former studio chief at Fox who was also once an executive at Disney, regarding the state of the motion picture industry.  His remarks contain a certain amount of self-aggrandizing pats-on-the-back, but he articulates a pretty compelling grasp of the challenges that face the studios.  I can't help but think he would be an attractive candidate for Disney's new studio vacancy.