Tag Archives: bill simmons

David Simon is sorry

It's interesting, the response generated pretty much any time show runners discuss their shows, especially if the shows are beloved shows like The Wire. We own these shows now, not the creators, actors, etc, so anything they say can be taken the wrong way. This phenomenon of a transfer of ownership always fascinates me and it was illustrated again yesterday when Facebook bought Instagram. It's a good thing for a brand/product for this to happen, it means people care enough to invest personally, emotions and feelings, in what you're doing.

Last week, The Wire creator David Simon was interviewed in the New York Times seemingly criticizing people for showing up to watch The Wire 4 years after it went off the air.
The number of people blogging television online — it’s ridiculous. They don’t know what we’re building. And by the way, that’s true for the people who say we’re great. They don’t know. It doesn’t matter whether they love it or they hate it. It doesn’t mean anything until there’s a beginning, middle and an end. If you want television to be a serious storytelling medium, you’re up against a lot of human dynamic that is arrayed against you. Not the least of which are people who arrived to “The Wire” late, planted their feet, and want to explain to everybody why it’s so cool. Glad to hear it. But you weren’t paying attention. You got led there at the end and generally speaking, you’re asserting for the wrong things.


In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, Simon clarified his comments.
And through a miscommunication — probably my fault, I have no way of knowing — I have apparently told everybody that I don’t want the show watched except on Sunday night at 10 o’clock, which apparently is the exact opposite of things I’ve been saying in interviews for years. It is contradictory of everything I’ve said before. I’m reading it in the paper and I’m not making sense to myself. Sorry. My bad.


Turns out his comments had more to do with the recent Grandland.com The Wire character tournament.
The comments I made that seem to critique viewers who found “The Wire” late were not so intended. I thought, when I made that remark, that I was speaking to the reporter not about viewers in general, but specifically about folks pursuing the recent bracket-tourneys about best characters, shows, scenes, etc.



Via David

Bill Simmons’ List of Comedy MVPs Since 1975

In a recent mailbag, Bill Simmons had occasion to name comedy MVPs for every year since 1975. The criteria:

You have to nail at least one of these questions to qualify for that given year: Were you in the hottest comedy of the year or, even better, in the middle of a run of hot comedies? Were you carrying SNL? Did you have an iconic stand-up special, cable TV show, late-night show or comedy series? Did you routinely crush any late-night appearance or SNL hosting gig? Did you have a huge approval rating with little to no backlash? Do we associate that year with you to some degree? I need resonance beyond just cult affection, which unfortunately rules out the great Bill Hicks (who has a strong case for 1990).


It's a pretty good list. Eddie Murphy's 3 year run from 82-84 is set up as the run all comedians should aspire to, which I agree with. There are some lean years, as well, which leads to a few underwhelming selections like Billy Crystal in 1990 and Gary Shandling in 1997. Without having other names to suggest, I think I have the most problems with the last 8 years or so. I love Larry David, but it's hard for me to see him on the list twice when his show hasn't really gotten beyond cult status. Ricky Gervais probably deserves a spot somewhere, and maybe the Lonely Island guys for Lazy Sunday. Also notably absent Stephen Colbert (2006 or 2007) and Conan O'Brien. This list, though, is at least a good place to start the argument. There is only one woman on the list, and a winner for 2010 has not yet been declared. Has there been a breakout comedy for this year, yet? My bet is on Steve Carell, Zach Galifianiakis, Jonah Hill or Russel Brand could be a dark horse, as well as anyone staring in a comedy coming out between now and December. Actually, you know who wins for 2010? Betty White.

Here is the list:
1975: Richard Pryor
1976: Chevy Chase
1977-78: John Belushi
1979: Robin Williams, Steve Martin (tie)
1980: Rodney Dangerfield
1981: Bill Murray
1982-84: Eddie Murphy (1984 Honorable Mention to Sam Kinison)
1985-86: David Letterman
1987: Jay Leno, Howard Stern (tie)
1988: Eddie Murphy
1989: Dana Carvey
1990: Billy Crystal
1991: Jerry Seinfeld
1992: Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers (tie)
1993: Mike Myers
1994: Jim Carrey
1995: Chris Farley
1996: Chris Rock
1997: Garry Shandling
1998: Adam Sandler
1999: Mike Myers, Chris Rock (tie)
2000: Will Ferrell
2001: Matt Stone and Trey Parker (tie)
2002: Larry David
2003: Dave Chappelle
2004: Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart (tie)
2005: Steve Carell
2006: Sacha Baron Cohen
2007: Larry David
2008: Tina Fey
2009: Zach Galifianiakis
2010: ????????

Bill Hall’s Expiring Contract

In this article about the Red Sox' recent moves, Alex Speier touches on their trade of Casey Kotchman for Mariners' utility man Bill Hall. It's been said this offseason that the Sox are especially concerned about the luxury tax and are doing everything in their power to remain under the $170 million salary threshold. This threshold is determined based on the average annual value of a contract, Bill hall's 4 years at $24 million for instance would be a cost of $6 million against the luxury tax threshold. However, since his contract was structured differently, and since the Brewers were paying the Mariners almost the full amount of the contract, Bill Hall's expiring contract is actually worth around -$1.5 million against the threshold.

Expiring contracts have a significant trade value in the NBA, but I've never heard of any baseball trades being made for this reason. Bill Simmons goes so far as to suffix Expiring Contract onto the end of any player in the last year of a contract, so at the very least, we should refer to Bill Hall as Bill Hall's Expiring Contract for this season, right?

Hall is in the last guaranteed year of a four-year, $24 million deal that will pay him $8.4 million next season. The Mariners, according to a major-league source, will pay $7.5-8 million of his salary — essentially sending the Sox the same money that was given to Seattle by the Brewers when the M’s acquired Hall last summer.

Hall’s contract is evaluated for luxury tax purposes as being worth $6 million in 2010, based on its AAV. But the full amount of the cash transfer — call it $7.5 million — will be deducted from the Sox’ payroll as determined for luxury tax purposes. That being the case, Hall will actually reduce the Sox’ payroll in calculating the competitive balance tax by roughly $1.5 million dollars. Overall, then, the Sox were able to sign Beltre and add Hall and a player to be named at a cost (for CBT purposes) of roughly $2 million in 2010.


Via Dave.

6 Tips for Tiger Woods

This week, Bill Simmons takes on the Tiger Woods saga in a 2 part Tiger Zoo mailbag. One interesting section at the end is an extended look at the Tiger Woods/Don Draper similarities (they're both the best and have beautiful wives, etc, etc). This list of 6 tips on how Tiger can rehabilitate his image, from PR pro turned filmmaker Dan Klores, also caught my eye. Especially #6:

1. If you can't tell your wife the truth from the get-go, recognize immediately that you shouldn't marry again, and that the grass isn't always greener from the other side.
2. Hit the links, start giving huge bucks to African-American charities, show up at church, double your dose of Viagra and use it for your wife, understand "it's never going to be the same," see a shrink two to three times per week minimum, do Larry King, then a few weeks later do Leno.
3. Demand your money back from The Enquirer, and demand your money back from any of the girlfriends.
4. Ignore every so-called "crisis communication" expert who sought a headline by claiming you didn't get out in front of the story, because they have obviously never been caught cheating on their wives.
5. Attend the NBA All-Star Weekend's slam dunk contest.
6. Tell the world that Sarah Palin is an idiot so at least 52.9 percent of Americans will agree with you.


The Future of Media – Howard Stern, Bill Simmons, Adam Carolla

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Jarvis picked up on a bit of the Howard Stern show where Stern mused about what could come next for him:
Tomorrow I could go on the internet and start my own channel with my own subscribers. You’d be able to click and watch us on TV, watch us in the studio live, streaming. You’d be able to listen to us streaming. You’d be able to get us on your iPhone. You’d be able to do everything right at the click of the internet. I wouldn’t even need to work for a company. I’d be my own company… So true it’s ridiculous


Jarvis then went on to say:
Entertainers (radio, music, comedy, books, columnists, even filmmakers) will have direct relationships with their audiences. Like Stern, they won’t have to work for companies or go through them for distribution. That’s already happening, of course, on the web for creation, distribution, and monetization...It returns to the age of patronage, only now the kings don’t fund the artists, the public does and less money is wasted on middlemen.


I think he's exactly right about this and I think I've talked about this before. Another entertainer I figured might be heading towards this model is Bill Simmons, and 10 minutes after I read the Jarvis piece on Stern, I read this Huffington Post interview of the Sports Guy. Simmons and ESPN had a dust up a couple years ago when he had the opportunity to interview Obama during the primaries, only to have it nixed by ESPN. This lead to less frequent posting and a general 'work to rule' feel to his columns for a bit. Just last week, Simmons was told to stay off Twitter for two weeks after an impolitic comment about one of ESPN's partners. These wrist slaps, combined with his enthusiasm for and embrace of new media in the form of podcasts and (after some initial derision) Twitter, combined with the release and success of his new book combined with the below quotation lead me to think Bill Simmons is done with ESPN.
Part of me can't shake the temptation of being the underdog again -- like, launching my own sports site, hiring some talented writers and designers and trying to compete with the big guns. Like what Frank Deford did with the National. All right, the National lost $100 million. Bad example.

But I could see doing something crazy like that. I like taking chances, I am not afraid to fail, and beyond that, I am not afraid to fail violently and miserably. So anything is possible. A really good prediction would be, "Simmons is going to fail violently and miserably with a super-ambitious idea within the next five years." Lock it down.


He's either going to walk or make ESPN bend pretty hard to keep him. With the podcasts he's created another platform for himself, and Twitter allows a channel of communication to his fans independent of ESPN. He'll continue to grow his brand with or without ESPN.

Earlier this year, Adam Carolla's insanely popular morning show ended when the station he was changed formats. He decided to start a daily podcast, and because his contract ran until the end of this year, there were no ads or sponsors. It quickly became one of the top podcasts on iTunes, and he continued to attract guests that had appeared on his radio program.

Aside from Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla bringing podcasts mainstream, which is another post, they've also presented a pretty clear model for their future. Couldn't Stern, Simmons, and Carolla start an entertainment website next year with streaming shows, podcasts, sports columns, etc and charge users $2 a month for access? They couldn't get 500K - 1 million subscribers? New media, baby!

The Truth About Going .500

I love when there's a stats question in Bill Simmons' mailbag. This one is as good as the 3 point shooting percentage stat from a couple months ago.

Q: As long as I have watched sports, the term "games over .500" has perplexed me. A 61-21 team is regarded as 40 games over .500, when in reality, it's only 20! Is there someone I can complain to that will fix this and prevent everyone from continuing to make this error and bothering me again?
--Mike U., Norwood, Mass.


SG: I get this e-mail all the time, and it never ceases being dumb. The 61-21 team is considered "40 games over 500" because it would need to lose 40 straight games to drop back down to .500. Also, I'm doing the Dikembe Finger Wag at you.


1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things

Following up on Kottke's list of culturally relevant movies that came out in 1984, and Fimoculous' list of culturally relevant albums that came out in 1984, I thought I'd find the culturally relevant list of books that came out in 1984. Using the best selling books as a barometer, you get the following list. Which seems kind of meh, no?

Fiction
1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum
3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
5. The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss
8. Full Circle, Danielle Steel
9. Life & Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Joan Rivers
10. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
Non-Fiction
1. Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
4. Pieces of My Mind, Andy Rooney
5. Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook
6. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School..., Mark H. McCormack
7. Women Coming of Age, J. Fonda & M. McCarthy
10. Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook


But you may also be interested in the NY TimesEditor's Choice: Best books of 1984. Interestingly, neither of these lists have "Bright Lights, Big City", "The Hunt for Red October", or "Neuromancer".

And then I fell completely into the rabbit hole of determining 1984's status of one of the more culturally relevant years ever. On the stage, David Mamet won a Pulitzer for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, and Glen Close all won Tony Awards. Doug Flutie won the Heisman, Desmond Tutu won a Nobel Peace Prize, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and John Stockton were drafted.

Of course, don't take my word for it, Bill Simmons has 84 reasons 1984 was a good year including his covering of:
Television
27. NBC's Thursday night lineup: "Cosby," "Family Ties," "Cheers," "Night Court"...and "Hill Street Blues." Just a murderer's row...
28. "Miami Vice," Season One...
29. "Growing Pains" and "Charles in Charge" both launched. So did the underrated sitcom "It's Your Move" with Jason Bateman, who should have been one of the five biggest stars of that decade...
35. During the 25th anniversary Motown show in February, Michael Jackson performed "Billie Jean" and unveiled the moonwalk...


Music

42. Also, MTV launched the Video Music Awards that fall -- and if you don't remember Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress at Radio City Music Hall, you obviously weren't a horny teenager in '84.
44. If that wasn't enough, '80s college music took off -- that Cure-Smiths-REM-Depeche Mode-New Order sound that holds up to this day...
48. Come on, tell me you didn't like these songs: "99 Luftballoons"..."Darling Nikki"..."Cruel Summer"..."Yah Mo Be There"..."Sister Christian"..."Sunglasses at Night"..."Relax"..."Head over Heels"..."Pride (In the Name of Love)"..."Caribbean Queen"..."Panama"..."Billie Jean"..."Hot for Teacher"..."Somebody's Watching Me"..."Boys of Summer"..."Jungle Love"..."Missing You."...(Note: Chuck Klosterman is having a heart attack right now.)
49. Run DMC became the first rap act to produce a gold record. It's true.
51. That's right, this was the holiday season when Band Aid came out with "Do They Know It's Christmas".


Movies
58. "Splash" and "Bachelor Party" -- Tom Hanks makes The Leap.
(And speaking of leaps, how 'bout Larry B. Scott appearing as the gay frat brother in "Revenge of the Nerds," then the only black member of Cobra Kai in the same year!.)
65. Not only did the porn industry shift completely to video, but Traci Lords, Christy Canyon AND Ginger Lynn made their X-rated debuts in '84....

Pop Culture and Other Stuff
72. ...this was the year of "What's my beef?" -- both the Wendy's commercial and Leno's bit on Letterman's show.
75. The Supreme Court made it legal to tape shows with a VCR.
82. By the way, the final list of "People and things in their absolute primes in '84": Bird, Bernard, Montana, McEnroe, Gretzky, Sam Malone, Hulk Hogan, Letterman, Sonny Crockett, Jason Bateman, Springsteen, Prince, U2, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Robert Smith, Kathleen Turner, Shannon Tweed, Billy Zabka, Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ronald Reagan, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Paulina Porizkova, the Cold War.
83. Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.


So there you have it. What year compares?

Mad Men Season 3 Preview Roundup

Mad Men Season 3 starts on Sunday and I am...excited. Here's a round up of some of what's been said about the show in the last couple weeks.

-Like cocktails? Here's a Mad Men Cocktail Guide.

-Lots here from Vanity Fair, including a word on their obsession with set design:
A scene-setting anecdote everyone in the Mad Men orbit tells is how Weiner came onto the set one day and focused on some pieces of fruit he said were too large and shiny and perfectly formed; produce in the early 60s—period produce—wasn’t pumped up. Get smaller, dumpier fruit, he ordered. (Depending on who was telling me the story, from cast members to network executives, the offending produce morphed from apples to oranges to bananas, but Amy Wells, the set decorator, said definitively: it was apples.)


-HuffPo's take.

-The New Yorker on advertising Mad Men:
The theme of season three is change. “We wanted our key art to be more high-concept,” Schupack explained, unveiling the new poster, which hits this week: Draper is sitting in his office, looking nonchalant, as water rises up to his knees.


mad-men-season3-hed

-From Esquire, Christina Hendricks and some other female players.

-Story about the real life person Don Draper is based on.
In the 1960s, Draper Daniels was something of a legendary character in American advertising. As the creative head of Leo Burnett in Chicago in the 1950s, he had fathered the Marlboro Man campaign, among others, and become known as one of the top idea men in the business. He was also a bit of a maverick.


-Playboy is getting Madmenized for the next couple weeks.

-Interview and podcast with Jon Hamm.

-Talking with the Mad Men costume designer:
Bryant mixes original creations with vintage pieces for the principal cast's wardrobe, which is designed from scratch, starting with sketches. Her use of kaleidoscope colors, sparkling jewelry, brilliant prints and florals can be deliciously distracting.


-New York Magazine got into the act with a profile of Christina Hendricks
Which is kind of the point of Mad Men. Bad is sexy. And then just very, very bad. The show lures you in with a glittering surface, but just below is a hothouse of homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and a more general and crushing sense of isolation.

and Pete Campbell whom everyone hates except Matt Weiner apparently:
“I went to an all-boys school, and Pete’s like the kids I went to school with. He could have been Holden Caulfield’s roommate, who borrowed his coat and didn’t bring it back.”

and a handy Guide to the First Two Seasons.

-Finally here's the Wall St Journal on the story, which seems to be getting a lot of play this year, of the writing staff that is mostly female:
The story centers on Don Draper and his shadowy past, but a key part of the series, the writers say, is its complicated female characters. “It’s less skewed than it appears,” says consulting producer Maria Jacquemetton.


“Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network.”

Or full quote from this Mediaite.com interview with Bill Simmons: "Facebook is a social network; Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network." It's interesting to see how hard Bill Simmons has fallen for Twitter because a couple months ago he was bashing it. In general, I think his take on media/journalism is too simplified, but this quote about Twitter is right on.