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TV Network Upfronts ( In not boring language)


It’s that magical time of year where the giant corporate monster, known as the TV industry whores itself out to the giant corporate wildabeast, the advertising industry. The point of all this is for the TV networks  to get as much upfront cash as they can before advertisers actually see how crappy all the shows are - a beautiful game of slight of hand. Usually, this is when the networks make their big announcements as they try and position themselves as the next hottest channel.

As of now, these are the Wall Street predictions via Credit Suisse’ Spencer Wang predicts this morning that CBS will record commitments (advertising dollars) of $2.8B (+4%), followed by ABC at $2.4B (+2%), Fox at $2.0B (+2%), NBC at $1.7B (no change), and CW at $477M (-1%).

Most of this boring insider stuff is more effective for sleep than an ambien and a glass of wine, so I’ll just mention other cool stuff in network news:

* Television ratings are falling everywhere, and with the economy still hovering around toilet level, advertisers won’t be spending the big bucks on TV advertising at the moment.

* ABC renewed Modern Family and Happy Endings. Yeah for both of those, which are just be getting better and better.

* NBC renewed 30 Rock for a 7th and final season. I need to pause for a moment and shed a tear. Okay I’m back. Tina Fey put an amazing show together with her stellar writing as the foundation. NBC also renewed Up all Night, and Parks and Recreation to my delight - although there are rumors that there will only be one more season of Parks which makes me extremely angry. There’s so much they can still do with those characters. For some reason, NBC also renewed Community and Whitney. Whitney is just not funny, and while Community has rabid fans, it seems like only a good sitcom if you are on coke. It is so bipolar and inconsistent, like its bipolar coked up creator Dan Harmon. Harmon also went overboard in his fight with Chevy Chase recently and has lost my respect completely. You don’t talk about one of the Three Amigos like that dude.

* Fox renewed New Girl. It had no other choice for this charming breakout hit. Zooey Deschanel could not be any more adorable. Well she could, but it would probably be illegal in most southern states.

Think that’s about it on fun TV news for now. I am going to make some hot tea, cry and read over some old 30 Rock Scripts. I am going to miss you Kenneth Parcell.


A Good Ol’ Turf War: Oakland vs. SF

Fast Company has just come out with a pretty cool article touting Oakland as an up and coming place to do business. SFist had a lovely and perfectly snarky response.

As a Bay Area born and raised lad, and a lover of comedy, I can’t tell you how much the SF versus Oakland shit talk battle delights. It’s a time honored tradition here in the Bay Area to talk shit about cities and neighborhoods, and the Oakland vs SF fued has been going strong since I can remember - and I feel extremely comfortable making fun of both sides. I was born in SF, grew up down on the peninsula in a beach town called Pacifica, then to the East Bay, then back to San Fran.  I’ve got ghetto love for all of the Bay.

But Oakland vs SF is comedy gold. It’s like New York and New Jersey. You can make a thousand Jersey jokes, and they don’t get old. Jersey-raised Jon Stewart makes some of the harshest and funny jersey jokes I have ever heard. If you’re in LA, it’s kind of like the LA verses “the valley”. Valley jokes just don’t get old.

One of the funniest Oakland jokes recently came when I was walking down the street with the fam. A homeless friend of mine, eyes lit up when he saw me. “Hey brotha!” he yelled. “Guess what?” “what!?” I said, riveted. he pulled out a set of keys from his torn jean pockets. “I got a house!” I smiled. “Awesome!” I think I said. But his face suddenly  wilted. “Yea, but it’s in Oakland,” he said disdainfully.  

Honestly Oakland is an amazing, dangerous yet thriving and misunderstood city. It is true at the moment there are a few more restaurants and bars and hispters and I would love nothing more than for Oakland to become Brooklyn. But until then. Let the jokes fly.

As a good friend poignantly said the other day, “Oakland will always be up and coming.”
This hilarious video from the SF based Sketch Comedy troupe Killing My Lobster will give you a sweet taste of what Oaktown is all about. Oakland!



Sweet Sassy Molassy. “New” Recordings from Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong!

I missed this little gem over the last week, and am so very ecstatic that this came out. No, there was not a half million dollar hologram of Satchmo at Coachella. There is apparently an archived recording of Louis Armstrong performing live at the national Press Club in Washington on January 29th, 1971. This historic recording would be the last live recording of Louis before he passed away less than six months later on July 6th, 1971.

It’s really exciting news for us jazz and music nerds. Louis is my god, as he is for a lot of us jazz folks. He’s a mythical idol that us mere mortals only wish we could sound like on our best days. Louis had it all. He took the music of Europe, Africa, and America and created some of the most creative and brilliant music in history. His raspy marijuana tinged scatting is recognizable in a nano second. His technical abilities on trumpet and improvisations are unmatched decades later. His composing skills were light years before his time. In other words, God.

As a musician who has poked around on the trumpet since I was six years old, I have never been more angered or motivated by a musician than Louis Armstrong. Some days I spend hours transcribing a solo of his, trying to figure out why a certain solo is so bad ass. And some days, listening to him makes me want to throw my trumpet into Lake Merritt. Why even try, when I’ll never sound like Louis.

I am going to download this new Louis Album ASAP, and check back in after a listen through.

Check out this video from the AP with more background on the album.


San Francisco International Film Festival

We’re already a few days into it, but the San Francisco International Film Festival is back for its 53rd year. The festival will run from April 19th to May 3rd, and promises a glorious few days of excellent films.

The film festival provides more than just intriguing films: this year will feature live music, filmmaker salons, master classes for filmmakers, and even classes for college filmmakers in the Bay area.

There are tons of parties and award events; this year’s festival honors Kenneth Branagh with the Founder’s Directing Award.  

The big highlight is the Film Society Awards night, held on Thursday April 26th. If you have an extra $600 to $2000 for a ticket laying around on your couch somewhere, you are good to go and should enjoy this event. I guess I shouldn’t be too snarky since it benefits youth education programs. But $2000 for a ticket? If they had an extra $2000 laying around, most of the filmmakers I know would probably 1: buy a lot of pot and 2: Start there own little film festival with that money. Or just go and shoot something.

Anyhow, I digress. Go check out the festival and support San Francisco and the filmmaking community.



E! True Hollywood Story Presents - Sex Drugs and Jazz

We’re overdue for an update on our comedy series Sex Drugs and Jazz, as this project has meandered in and out of consciousness for the past couple years. So what is Sex Drugs and Jazz you ask?

Originally when I went to New York, I had it in my head that I wanted to do a project about Jazz. And I wanted to do comedy. Pretty much my two favorites things, besides Sophia Vergara’s bosoms. So I got to New York, and explored the music and film scenes and the city itself as much as possible.

At first I actually wrote a feature film script for the project, revolving around a piano player who puts a band together in one night to try and save a famous old jazz club. That was around the end of 2009. I can remember it clearly now, as we sat with our investors, right after the financial collapse having cocktails. Laughing is all I remember. Laughing at the thought of investing in independent film in these economic times. “Independent film as we know it is dead my friend,” lamented my producer.

I took a month or so to regroup, and concluded the future would be in tv/web content a la hulu, netflix, and the Youtube’s out there. So I decided to make the Sex Drugs and Jazz project into a comedy series. I took some of my favorite characters from the film and went into production on this comedy show.

The first season of Sex Drugs and Jazz follows the brilliant jazz gypsy guitarist Neptune played by the charismatic Ashley Springer. Neptune is really a super dumb narcissistic stoner, but also one of the most talented jazz guitar players in New York. Neptune finds it hard to make a living as a jazz guitarist in NYC, and gets into the business of marijuana. We follow along as Netpune balances his life, friends, family, musicians, and ladies.

Where the hell are the episodes? Great question. Although we shot the series quickly, post production has been a brutal mofo. It has dragged on and on, not unlike your drunk racist uncle at Thanksgiving. Good things were happening, but at a snails pace.

Thanks to the addition of an additional superstar editor to our team (Big ups to my girl Viva), we are back on track to get all these episodes out throughout this year! The episodes will be coming out on the first of the month each month starting in May, and go until 2013.

I will be writing more in depth about the Sex Drugs and Jazz project as we move along to each episode with pics, anecdotes, and dirty uncensored behind the scenes stories. This week, we’ll release the first single from the soundtrack, the trailer and the Pilot episode. Check it.

Below posted is the lead single from the soundtrack entitled “Sex Drugs and Jazz”. It’s spliced together with clips from the first season. I produced the track along with my brilliant producing partner Taylor Ryan at AM studios. It was written by Rick Russell, Shaun Manley, and Todd Woodward. The emcee on the track is Woodz, and vocals are by Angela Workman.