Monday, August 1, 2016

The Constant Changing World of Entertainment: Happy Anniversary MTV!

35 years ago today, MTV was launched.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
-George Bernard Shaw

August 1st, 2016
August 1 is the 214th day of the year. There are 152 days remaining until the end of the year.
As I began my blog today, I was listening to War Is a Science from the original production of Pippin. It's ALL science...even when some presidential candidates feel there is no such thing.
What a strange time in our culture. Things are constantly changing around us. And as things are changing, we are bombarded with the news of those changes. 
August 1st 1981: MTV begins broadcasting in the US and airs its first video, Video Killed the Radio Starby The Buggles.
Not only do we hear the news, we have to hear EVERYONE'S take on that news. In today's world of
From Selznick to MGM to NBC to TNT to TCM
social media, everyone has a platform. If you are on social media, as I obviously am, it seems as if that platform is ever evolving. In addition to this blog, I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler. I also have 5,000 names in my data base. I have a huge outreach. I am also ON stage from time to time. 

I don't use those opportunities as a pulpit, but it IS available to me. 
All of this has it's pros and cons. We know more about our friends, fans, fellow artists than we need to? Do we really need to know when someone "checks in" to a theater or restaurant? Do we really need to know that you at the gym? 
Bobby Sherman (seen here in Here Come The Brides) A different era in TV viewing
Do we need to know what you had for dinner? Then there are those that post a photo of themselves every time they pass a mirror. I think all of this has led to the proliferation of "reality" TV. It's this idea of peeking into the private lives of others.
I have been too busy living my own life to ever be concerned with the PRIVATE lives of others. 
Judy Garland once said that she found that every time she looked through someone's keyhole, there was someone looking back at her.
I do a lot of celebrity interviews. 
1968: Fantasy! Not Reality!
My interest is focused on what makes them tick, their body of "worth". How did they get from Point A to Point B and beyond. Hopefully, my readers can glean something from their experiences. What goes on behind closed doors does not interest me one iota.   
I also find that "reality" television celebrates bullying. Someone is going to be kicked off the island, rejected, fired, or worse. What possesses anyone to want to spend their time watching these types of shows? Does it make them feel better? 
I think this has all contributed to the rise of Trump. An entire generation has been weaned on this behavior and therefore tolerates it. They have no other gauge.
People are more angry and jealous of each other more now than I remember at any given moment in my life. (I'm 55). 
Someone holds a party and there are pictures all over the net showing who was invited and who wasn't. People are seeing others' successes (and failures) posted every time someone turns around. There are studies showing this is truly affecting many people. I have a friend who cannot put down his iPhone (even at a funeral). It has become an addiction. I was at a dinner party last night in which everyone had left their phones in the car. How refreshing. 
I have another friend who makes everyone put their phones in the middle of the table when he goes out with friends. The first one who reaches for the phone has to pay the bill!
A few years ago, I was having dinner with a friend. Portions of a private conversation were posted on Facebook by someone I didn't even know who
I remember the first time I saw Hello, Dolly on TV! Summer of '79 on CBS
overheard our conversation. It wasn't gossip or salacious (thank God!). 

They just happened to be interested in a project that I was working on. 
The bottom line is everyone seems to think that everyone feels that what THEY have to say needs to be heard. AND they want to be the first to report it, EVEN when they don't have all the facts. 
Every year around this time, I get very nostalgic. It was 37 years ago this Friday that I arrived in New York to pursue a career in the theatre. I've written about this on more than one occasion. 

I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. 
1960s: A different way for us to get our news
I loved the world of entertainment and I wanted to be part of that world that it consumed every aspect of my being. I have learned, as I've gotten older, that it was the people that I was attracted to. 
I wanted to be a part of their world. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I was exposed to a world of entertainment that sadly no longer exists. We had three networks, ABC, CBS, NBC. Those networks were on from 6AM until 1AM. 
TVs would sign off with the National Anthem. Thank God, because I probably would never have slept. Many nights, I would fall asleep either curled up in front of the TV or my Dad would get up in the middle of the night and force me to go to bed. 
I would stay up to see who would be on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson or The Late Show on CBS. That's where I came to love old movies.
What was wonderful in those days was that networks vied for the largest demographic possible in the time allotted. Therefore, I would see contemporary artists sharing TV shows with those from my parents' generation, as well as my grandparents'. 
Jack Benny on the CBS game show Password, 1962

As a result, I was exposed to a wider range of talent AND different styles of music. Ed Sullivan, The Hollywood Palace, and other variety shows gave those artists a platform in which to be seen and because families came together to share in these shows and EVENTS, they WERE seen! 
When I arrived in New York in 1979, that pretty much still the paradigm. It truly was the end of an era. I was lucky enough to even go to a taping of the Merv Griffin Show. His guests were President Ford and First Lady, Betty and Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson who was friends of theirs. I remember every detail vividly! 

Being in New York, there were a few more channels to choose from. Channel 5, now the Fox channel, was showing old movies as well as the late show on Saturday nights on Channel Two (CBS) hosted by Rex Reed. I was in heaven at those opportunities to see more classic films. There were also several revival houses in New York. 
I spent many afternoons and nights at The Regency, The Carnegie Hall Cinema, the Thalia on the
Or family watched TOGETHER Elvis Presley's comeback special in 1968
Upper West Side, the Film Forum, and a few others. In addition to the movies, Manhattan  Public Access Cable exposed me to the world of independent producing and it was here that I was first exposed to Robin Byrd, John Wallowitch (who became a dear friend...we also shared a birthday), and Ingrid Leacock. We are still friends. 

Shortly after I arrived in New York, I began hearing that television was starting to expand and that there were several new TV networks that would be launching. I began hearing about CBS Cable and MTV around the same time.  CBS Cable was an early cable television network operated by CBS, Inc., dedicated to the lively arts (i.e. symphony, dance, theatre, opera, etc.). It debuted in October 1981 and ceased operations on December 17, 1982.
I actually went to the taping of one of the shows. It was The Jack Gilford Show with special guest star Anita Gillette. I never would have believed that someday I would be able to call her friend.
It was around this time that I began seeing posters touting a new cable network devoted entirely to the top hits of the day. This, of course, was MTV.
Aug. 1, 1981, might not immediately come to mind as an important date in history, but to a generation of music fans, it was monumental. On that day, 35 years ago, a cable TV channel that played music videos around the clock made its debut. I also believe that it was the demise of entertainment as we knew it. Because they catered ONLY to a specific demographic, an entire generation has grown up not knowing what became before...or, for that matter, other aspects of entertainment, if it did not fit into that demographic.
Ron Greenfield
I reached out on Facebook today to ask for others to weigh in on what they think are some of the greatest (and worst) changes to occur in their lifetimes in regard to entertainment. Ron Greenfield who has a wonderful blog responded. Follow Aspects of Entertainment. Here is what he had to say:

1975
The Home Entertainment Revolution
In the early eighties something radically new was introduced to consumers – home entertainment – that changed the entire
entertainment industry and its paradigm of doing business. Now anyone could watch a movie without going to their local Cineplex or having to wait for a network or PPV airing. There were VCR’s and Betamax machines, Laserdisc and CED machines, all with one purpose – to bring the movie-going experience into the home.

For those of us who were there in the beginning of this nascent segment of the industry it was an exciting time, but also a perplexing and challenging one. At first, we weren’t sure how to market this “new concept,” let alone where people could go and purchase these videos and discs because the concept of “rentals” hadn’t even come about yet.

When anything captures the public’s attention, the playing field will eventually narrow and ultimately it was the consumer who preferred the VHS format over Beta and Laserdiscs over CEDs.
TV viewing this week 1979
At first videocassettes and discs were sold in music and book stores because they were the only viable extension at the time, but in time came the giants like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video as well as neighborhood mom and pop stores came to be.

The sky was the limit for those of us involved
Just after midnight on August 1st, 1987, a new television channel was born.
in marketing, advertising, and promotion. We were writing the "playbook" as we went along.  Literally anything could be put on tape or disc and sold. At the company I worked for, CBS/Fox, it could be just about anything – the release of George Lucas’ Return of the Jedi to “How To” videos for plumbing and gardening.

And then the floodgates burst open and Hollywood took notice. At the time, home entertainment was looked upon as the bastard child of the industry, but when the studios saw its potential as a major revenue source, things changed very
quickly.

BAYWATCH CAST 1995.
Every major studio as well as a glut of independent companies now had fully staffed Home Video divisions that included tion, marketing, promotions, and publicity. Home entertainment was now big business and a
major factor in contributing to a film’s profitability. Films, long relegated to studio vaults, were dusted off and found new life and were significant sources of revenue to these companies. Films like The Wizard of Oz, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Gone
With The Wind.
Ron Greenfield
www.aspectsofentertainment.com
From left to right: Ryan O'Reily, Vernon Schillinger, Miguel Alvarez, Tobias Beecher, Kareem Saïd, In the front sits Augustus Hill
Author, Perspectives on Entertainment, Pursing Our Passion  - on Kindle and iTunes
Author, Perspectives on Entertainment 2, Pursuing Our Passion - on Kindle and iTunes
Publisher, Aspects of Entertainment - on the Newsstand app for mobile devices and iPads
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AspectsofEntertainment
Twitter:@ rongreenfield1

For me, I would LOVE to go back to the days of good old fashioned variety shows and showe where we celebrated talent instead of knocking each other down. Perhaps if that were to happen, we would find people being nicer to one another and not knocking everyone down.


Thank you, to all mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!


With grateful XOXOXs from YOUR pro-active friend,
 





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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com










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