‘The Big 10’: Who needs a Hollywood bailout?
By Patrick Kevin Day, Joseph A. Kapsch, Stephanie Lysaght, Todd Martens, Denise Martin, Jevon Phillips and Rebecca Snavely
Uncle Sam’s been pretty free with his pocketbook in the past few weeks. Banks and insurance firms have already gotten hefty sums to keep their boats afloat in the current economic crisis. Now the Big Three automakers are asking for some cash. It seems everyone has an idea for who should get some green goodness: Can Las Vegas casinos, movie studios and TV networks be far behind?
We surveyed the entertainment landscape and hit upon some other bloated, creaky entertainment franchises that once bestrode the world like Colossus but now are desperately in need of some outside assistance (whether they want to admit it or not). Luckily, our crack team of experts has words of wisdom for each of them. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
The glory days: 2003’s “In da Club” is still stuck in our heads, a dance hit that introduced the world to the drug-dealer-turned-rapper-turned-gunshot-wound-survivor.
Troubled times: Sure, critics didn’t love the movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” but you don’t retaliate by doing a coming-of-age drama that goes straight to DVD. You don’t delay your album. You don’t do a combo-pack of said album with said DVD. And you certainly do not fake retirement. (I won’t even get into stooping to do bland MTV reality shows like “50 Cent: The Money and the Power,” and hawking vitamin water.)
Bailout plan: Retire for real, or follow
The glory days: Depends on who you ask. In its inception, MTV was anti-establishment, just rock ‘n’ roll VJs, ‘round-the-clock music videos and plenty of attitude. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the network reached ratings highs by became a breeding ground of sorts for teeny-bopper franchises from Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to Blink-182 and Offspring. Shows like “The Real World” introduced a new kind of documentary series, a look into the lives of young people nearing the turn of the century.
Troubled times: MTV became a victim of its own ratings success right around the dawn of trainwreck TV hits “The Osbournes” and “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica,” which birthed lesser copycats and a mandate to find similar fare. Meanwhile, “TRL” devolved from a booming interactive music video countdown to just one of several stops on the celebrity promotional circuit. Now, MTV stands for little else than “The Hills.” (Seriously, is there anyone that can name even one other show that airs on the channel?)
Bailout plan: Stop doing cheap reality. Steal “American Idol” from Fox. Come up with a bigger, better version of “High School Musical.” Hire Josh Schwartz or Joss Whedon to come up with a music-centric equivalent of “Gossip Girl” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (Peter Kramer / Associated Press)
The glory days: “The Simple Life,” when America found it funny watching Paris and her BFF Nicole Richie try out life as average Americans, or Paris go to jail as a pampered celebrity.
Troubled times: Facing a global economic crisis, everyone is cutting out the fluff in their lives. Paris, her extravagant image and her new show “BFF” may be casualties of the cuts.
Bailout plan:Desperate times call for rallies and a run for public office. From a bob to extensions, sweater-sets to sequins, Paris is an agent of change. She has already revealed her presidential platform, her cabinet, and her pick for VP (Rihanna, “She’s hot.”) in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. (Andrew Gombert / EPA)
The Jackson siblings
The glory days:
Troubled times: After relentless court battles and claims of pedophilia, Michael retreated. He has since had to sell his fabled Neverland Ranch, albeit to a company to which he has ties, and has had to settle out of court with Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad al Khalifa, the prince of Bahrain, who was suing him for $7 million. Haven’t seen the kids much.
Bailout plan: Take advantage of the name, siblings. Ban together to open up Neverland in direct opposition to Disneyland and
The glory days: In the nineties, Jennifer Aniston was riding high. She landed the role of superficial-yet-lovable Rachel Green on Friends, an entire generation of women copied her hairdo, and she won an Emmy for best lead actress. Then, in 2000, she married golden boy
Troubled times: After Aniston and Pitt called it quits -- and Pitt started dating
Bailout plan: Appealing as it is to cozy up to Oprah and gush, you may want to adopt the phrase no comment with regards to all things Brad and Angelina. And as for your unlucky-in-love image, how about trading in the actors and musicians for a regular guy? Get out of the spotlight and focus on what you love: acting! Why not star in a Broadway play? Added bonus: youll get out of L.A. for a while. (George Burns / Associated Press)
Glory days: In 1999, Simpson was the fresh-faced, big-voiced virgin alternative to pop princess Spears and the original Good Girl Gone Bad Aguilera. Unfortunately for Jess, America is a two-party system, so her label’s attempts to sex up her image looked set to make her the teen-pop bubble’s first casualty. Still, an impending deflowering from Nick Lachey made her the envy of millions of girls, women and sexually confused teen boys. “Newlyweds,” the last ditch effort to save the couple’s careers, proved an unlikely pop culture phenomenon and jump-started her career to multi-platinum sales, sellout tours, prime-time variety shows and endorsement deals galore. At last, she was America’s sweetheart with a heart of gold, straw for brains and Lachey in the background making jokes for more oral gratification.
Troubled times: Jessica’s headlining gig at VH1’s Divas Live in 2004 sank the franchise like a battleship. The only reason to laugh at her role in “Dukes of Hazzard” were tabloid reports she let Johnny Knoxville tag and bag it. Simpson’s refusal to open up to the media about her split from Lachey cast her as the villain by default, and without the public on her side, her first post-divorce album shifted less units than her line of weaves. Oh, and it was rumored that she was dumped via text message by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Hooking up with America’s Quarterback Tony Romo and going country have done nothing to help.
Bailout plan: Some things in the pop economy can’t and shouldn’t be saved. The Fed let Lehman sink because ... well, it wasn’t that important. Sorry Jessica, but whether it’s a bull market, a bear market or even a pink wig market, you were always a distant third anyway. (Evan Agostini / Associated Press)
The summer concert festival
The glory days: Coachella in 2004 brought a challenging mix of new, old and underground acts. Headliners included experimental rock act Radiohead and electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. Meanwhile, that same year in
Troubled times: Attendance at festivals may not be hurting -- yet. There was a time Coachella was the West Coast destination spot. But now there’s Outside Lands in San Francisco and Sasquatch in Seattle. There used to be one in Las Vegas -- Vegoose -- but it has ceased to exist. We can run down the list of fests that now populate the entire country, but were on a word count. And what’s worse, each fest is riddled with the same acts, allowing artists to simply play a summer festival circuit, of sorts, and most contracts actually forbid the artists from playing in a nearby market for weeks before and after the event.
Bailout plan: The growth must stop. No more festival additions for years to come, as they’re no longer a “destination” when each fest is loaded with the same lineup. And with acts not allowed to play in the same city for a number of weeks surrounding the fest, music fans are forced to shell out $100 or more to see abbreviated sets in the summer heat. So one fest per state, and no fests in a surrounding state. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)