History’s Scariest Story

Last night I scared my wife telling her about the horror movie I’m outlining. She couldn’t sleep; I felt bad. But that’s not the scariest story I know. The scariest story I know starts like this:

Well-wrought this wall: Weirds broke it.
The stronghold burst…
Snapped rooftrees, towers fallen,
the work of the Giants, the stonesmiths, mouldereth.
Rime scoureth gatetowers
rime on mortar.
Shattered the showershield, roofs ruined,
age under-ate them.
And the wielders and wrights?
Earthgrip holds them—gone, long gone,
fast in gravesgrasp while fifty fathers
and sons have passed…. read more

Maps of America

The United States Constitution is a mess. For 73 years it held together, crudely, like a quilt of bandaids, all of the piles of compromises that were required to keep petulant slave states happy. After the Civil War, the thing should have been rewritten completely and all the structural compromises designed to placate the backward states should have been removed.

It has now gotten to the point where the American system of government is one of the biggest problems facing the country. The 21st Century moves fast, and yet America has an 18th Century operating system. We are unable to keep up with the world. The last two decades have essentially been lost to idiotic gridlock and the classic “land war in Asia” blunder. We can’t afford any more lost decades. read more

Concurrent Stories and Characters as Connectors

When people think of a single character connecting two fiction worlds, it’s usually part of a franchise universe. Like Marvel’s behemoth. I’ve recently developed a few TV show ideas that are woven together by a single character but in a way different than the classic TV “crossover.” We’re getting primed for this next step. Transmedia story extensions merely add another lane to the road, or a new track to the mix. Here’s a preview of my thinking…

First, some history: Audiences love crossovers. This is an old TV tradition, Lucy from I Love Lucy appeared on The Ann Sothern Show in character back in the 50s. There’s a lot to like with crossovers. If you’re a production company such as Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and you’ve got a bunch of shows on the air, the cross-promotion works for you just as much as it does for the network. Bruckheimer’s shows crossover all the time because he knows how to make money. read more

Xbox Television Studios And TV’s Future

It’s really too bad about Xbox TV Studios. Nancy Tellem and XBox Television Studios seemed to be heading in the right direction:  

The company is taking the unusual step of only greenlighting shows that can be combined with the interactive components to encourage users to engage across consoles, phones and tablets. By hiring a team of young Hollywood executives and pairing them with software engineers, Microsoft wants to finally crack a code that the entertainment and game industries have had trouble doing alone. read more

Meatpuppets & Transmedia Storytelling

In the early days of online politics, we invented a way to unfold key points of a campaign’s narrative in different online niches — depending on which demographic we needed to clue in. For example, the 2,100,000 active bloggers in the atheism subReddit could be counted on as a receptive audience for messages warning about theocratic Governor Huckabee, and for fundraising for the secular group “Doctors Without Borders” rather than faith-based charities.

Some strategists proposed using meatpuppets – a practice like sockpuppetry, except you drop the intel in online conversation using real interns or real staff identities versus invented personas. Most politicians and political organizations feared blowback from opponents, so almost every linkdrop came from the organization’s official office accounts. Also, we usually linked to some news story that was already out there on the internet rather than a leak. read more

Steven Spielberg Hearts Transmedia

This is what I mean when I urge storytellers to think of unfurling their stories "outside the box." Only Stephen Spielberg calls it "the square." “I believe we need to get rid of the proscenium,” Spielberg said. “We’re never going to be totally immersive as long as we’re looking at a square, whether it’s a movie screen or whether it’s a computer screen. We’ve got to get rid of that and we’ve got to put the player [viewer] inside the experience. That’s the future.” (Steven Spielberg, June 2013)

itsasickness – the obsession network

itsasickness was an obsession project honoring sicknesses; the objects of our obsession. It was a co-branding marketer’s dream.

That thing you geek out about, that you could talk about endlessly – obsessing over the minutia, that’s your sickness. People who are most interested are the most interesting. Ecstatic devotion to wonderful things – which were often for sale.

We celebrated the most extraordinary people that we found in our online obsession network with short tribute films on itsasicknessTV; Alan Cumming was the emcee. read more

Family Mythology

One of the first times I took notes with a source, laying-out a location was when my grandfather walked me around Boston to show me where he used to work.

My grandfather was a newspaperman in Boston starting in the 19-teens. Technically he painted the Sunday magazine covers like Norman Rockwell did for his paper. He knew Norman Rockwell. Before papa died, he took me around to show me where he and the guys from the paper would hang out. I was in the 6th grade.

That morning, we got to a bar called The Bell in Hand. This was the where the really old-timer newspaper men met for lunches. The name was mysterious – he had to explain what the hell a town crier was (Boston’s last one opened that tavern). Widespread public literacy is nice. read more