August 2011 Archives

Brilliant Fox Strategy Doubles Piracy

dohBack in 2007, rival media conglomerates News Corporation and NBCUniversal put aside their differences and joined forces to create Hulu, a video site designed to combat rampant piracy. If you miss your favorite shows, you can just catch 'em the next morning on Hulu for free in exchange for watching some commercials. It's been a big success, and something that many viewers have become accustomed to. Well, if you've been using the service to watch Fox shows, THE FREE RIDE STOPS HERE, BUCKO. Recently, Fox changed its rules so that Hulu viewers will have to wait eight days to watch new episodes from Fox shows, unless they pony up the cash for the subscription service Hulu Plus or prove they pay for DISH Network.

Unsurprisingly, people have turned to piracy to get their fix:

Over the last week TorrentFreak tracked two Fox shows on BitTorrent to see if there was an upturn in the number of downloads compared to the previous weeks, and the results are as expected [...] During the first 5 days, the number of downloads from the U.S. for the latest episode of Hell's Kitchen increased by 114% compared to the previous 3 episodes. For MasterChef the upturn was even higher with 189% more downloads from the U.S.

And keep in mind the fall season hasn't started yet; these trends may increase once shows like House and The Simpsons return to the airwaves.

Admittedly, ad revenue from Hulu is paltry compared to television - former NBC executive Jeff Zucker once quipped "We're exchanging analogue dollars for digital dimes." But surely it's better to make some money rather than no money, right? [TorrentFreak via TechCrunch]

Now We'll Never See An All-Bort Episode

bortA couple weeks ago, Ben Joseph, a first-time Simpsons writer, went onto the notorious pony-fetish website reddit and took some questions about his experience hanging out with Bart Simpson. Some of the answers are sorta-kinda interesting - how the writing process works, how much money you get before taxes, what Hank Azaria looks like ("a bronzed Adonis") - but then he let this little nugget of info slither out:

No restrictions. But, as much as I'd have loved to pitch an all-Bort episode, I also worked hard to pitch something that felt like something they would actually do.

Thanks for dashing our dreams, jerkwad. [reddit]

EXCLUSIVE: Season 23 Preview!!!!!!!

We have a saying over here in the news-media industry: it goes "Thank God* For Press Releases" (*replace with your deity of choice). Reporting the news can be such a hard, thankless job - breaking scoops, raking muck, threatening informants with bodily harm until they squeal - that it's always a pleasant surprise when a publicist sends us a press release that we can just republish in full and take the rest of the day off. So, from the bottom of my heart, and the hearts of everyone else covering the Simpsons beat, I just want to say "Thank You," to the publicists of the world! You are what keeps us going.

Anyway, our star insider Virgil Texas over at Klasky-Csupo just faxed us over this EXCLUSIVE press release about the upcoming 23rd season of the Simpsons program. Wow! 23 seasons! It seems like only yesterday they were on Season 19. Let's see what magic the writers have cooked up for us this time...

A Primer on Possible Simpsons Replacements

Okay, listen up people. We all know The Simpsons can't go on forever. Yes, it's been on the air for a fifth of a century. Yes, we're almost at the point where The Bad Episodes constitute two-thirds of the series. But it has to end at some point. Now, the smart money is on the show wrapping things up when Year 25 rolls around. But Fox can't just cut and run; the network needs an exit strategy to take care of the gaping hole in its formidable Animation Domination programming block The Simpsons would leave behind. Luckily, the executives have thought ahead and ordered a whole bunch of animated series - some of which is already airing, some of which will probably get cancelled after a couple episodes, and some that probably already died in utero. Just for funsies, let's pretend it's a big Sport Game with brackets and stuff, which I have helpfully diagrammed below:

so you think you can replace the simpsons?!


As you can see, these cartoon sitcoms are locked into a NO HOLDS BARRED BATTLE TO THE DEATH. Only one show can take over the coverted 8pm Sundays timeslot sweetspot The Simpsons currently occupies. Or, actually, maybe one can take it over for a little bit, then be replaced in mid-season by another one. Who knows. Let's take a closer look at the competitors...

Simpsons Writer Tom Gammill and Cathy Guisewite Looking at Nancy Comics Together

The Simpsons writer/The Doozies drawer Tom Gammill and his best friend Cathy Guisewite (creator of Cathy) recently visited the Ernie Bushmiller Museum to pay their respects to the creator of Nancy and Sluggo. This video is a MUST-WATCH if you are a big Nancy fan!!!

[YouTube via GoComics]

Greg Daniels Getting Back Into Animation

greg danielsFormer Conan O'Brien roommate and Simpsons writer extraordinaire Greg Daniels ("Homer Badman," "Lisa's Wedding," "Bart Sells His Soul"), who left the show before it got bad to co-create King of the Hill, then the American version of The Office, then Parks & Recreation, is getting back into animation, it looks like. NBC appears to be interested in prime-time animation, so they've signed Daniels to a "major production deal... [that] will include various programming but emphasize animated series."

Of course, Fox is the only broadcast network in the past quarter-century to have had found success with prime-time cartoons - it currently has five series on the air, with more waiting in the wings. Other networks try, occasionally, with little success so far; the last two animated series to air on NBC were Father of the Pride (they're just like a normal family, except they're lions!) and Stressed Eric (America loves to watch cartoon characters get nervous breakdowns!). Mayhaps Daniels, with his amazing track record, can reverse the trend??? [AP via Deseret News]