Archive for September, 2012

Letter From New York

September 25, 2012

Letter From New York

September 23, 2012


It’s a Sunday night and as I write this, the 64th Annual Emmy Awards are on and I’m watching them out of the corner of my eye.  The organization behind the Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is an organization about which I cared a lot, for many years.  Still do but now I live in New York and it’s pretty hard to be engaged with a Los Angeles based organization when you live in New York.


I moved here to New York just as I was finishing my fifth year as a Governor of the Academy.  Four of them were as Governor for Television Executives and the fifth was as Founding Governor for the Interactive Peer Group, the first new Peer Group approved by the Academy in fifteen years.


A group of us had worked for six years to establish the Peer Group, working to see that as new technology emerged the “tent” that was the Academy would not be closed to those who were working in that arena as the Academy had shut out the nascent cable industry a decade before.  Most of us working for this change were from the cable business – people who saw that the business was going to change as the technology evolved.


The same group that worked to create the Peer Group had also helped to stage the Superhighway Summit, a conference that was probably the single most successful event staged by the Academy outside its regular events such as the Emmys or the Hall of Fame.  Every mogul in Hollywood attended.  Some, like Rupert Murdoch, still run their empires, others have faded but they were all there.


So was then Vice President Gore, who was the main draw for all the glitterati.  Somewhere there is a picture of us shaking hands.  Later on, I was part of the team that produced the Emmys on the web for the first time.  That was a hoot and I don’t know where all the team has gone though Omar Ahmad, who helped pull it all together has passed on, gone much too soon.  He ended up as Mayor of San Carlos, CA.


Then I moved to New York and it was hard to be involved.  But I still care and watch the events as best I can through the eyes of my friends who are.  Tip of the hat to Sheila Manning and the wonderful Nancy Wiard, who keep me informed as they remain my closest ties, two bulwarks of the Academy who have been actively engaged for years.


Watching the Emmys, I am rejoicing in my history with the organization and saddened that I can’t be as engaged as I once was.  And as I watch the Awards I am aware that the industry is changing rapidly.  Once a pariah, cable is now an established part of the television industry.  Winning a lot of awards…


Riding down on the train from upstate tonight I was riding with Patrick, who was on his way to shoot an episode of 666 Park Avenue, a new show on ABC [unfortunately the buzz is not good but who knows?] and then will be on his way to Baltimore to shoot two weeks on House of Cards, a series being produced for Netflix where all episodes will be released at the same time allowing for an orgy of viewing if it is as compelling as some rumors have it.


“Television” is changing.  First it was cable that threatened traditional “television” and now it is emerging technologies.  House of Cards is a “television” series being produced for an alternative distribution outlet, Netflix, which has as many subs as Comcast, the largest cable system.  It is also resurrecting the brilliant Arrested Development.  Amazon has a streaming service but has not delved into original programming nor has Vudu, the streaming service owned by WalMart but how long will that last?


What is “television” in this new age of OTT [Over The Top] solutions like ROKU and Apple TV?  Of streaming services like Netflix and Vudu and Amazon?   It’s a whole new world out there and I’m playing in it and that’s fun.