Friday, February 09, 2018

That New York Times Piece About Los Angeles: Symptomatic of a Larger Problem?

Every time I want to once again support the New York Times, the paper comes up with a story like this. And so my money continues to go to the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and a few other journalistic outlets. But NYT, why is Los Angeles still such a mystery to you, in the year 2018?

"For all its successes, Los Angeles has not developed the political, cultural and philanthropic institutions that have proved critical in other American cities." — No, Los Angeles didn't turn into New York. (Although, with so much being built in downtown and elsewhere, it's sure moving into that direction.) But it was never going to be — it's an entirely different kind of city, something that the LA Times' architecture writer Christopher Hawthorne recently wrote as an attempt to explain how the NYT ruffled so many feathers:
People who are accustomed to making quick sense of the world, to ordering it into neat and sharply defined categories, tend to be flummoxed by both places. And reporters at the New York Times are certainly used to making quick sense of the world. If there's one reason the paper keeps getting Los Angeles so spectacularly wrong, I think that's it. Smart, accomplished people don't like being made to feel out of their depth. Los Angeles makes out-of-town reporters feel out of their depth from their first day here.

Their reaction to that feeling, paradoxically enough, is very often to attempt to write that feeling away — to conquer that sense of dislocation by producing a story that sets out to explain Los Angeles in its entirety. Because it's a challenge, maybe, or because they simply can't be convinced, despite all the evidence right in front of them, that Los Angeles, as cities go, is an especially tough nut to crack.

But of course, it's hard not to see where things went so wrong in the story. Equating "the turmoil at The Times" with the retirement of Eli Broad, for one. Or this: The idea that the problem is there are many cities in Los Angeles County. (Doesn't New York have plenty of suburbs as well?) "People here are more likely to identify themselves with the city or neighborhood where they live — be it Glendale, Compton, Beverly Hills or Whittier — rather than Los Angeles" — but again, that's true everywhere. In NYC, don't you say you live in Brooklyn, Queens, the Village, Hoboken or wherever? We're ultimately all still Angelenos in SoCal — driving on the same freeways, going to the same stores, looking at the same skyline, rooting for the same teams. We all know that our tacos are what really make New Yorkers jealous.

I mean, I don't even know where to begin. Watch Nathan Masters' "Lost LA" series on KCET. Go through the archives of L.A. Observed. Eat at a few Jonathan Gold-recommended restaurants. Check out the Natural History Museum's "Becoming L.A." exhibit. And I invite the authors of this piece to join us in November for the 13th annual Great Los Angeles Walk.

Honestly, this piece seems to be a part of the larger trend of the NYT continuing to focus on the contrarian — Los Angeles as foreign, in need of help; and of course, its obsession with focusing on angry white voters, the ones who elected Trump, rather than the majority of voters (like African American women) who voted against him, and have their own stories to tell. In all these cases, there's a story to tell, yet the paper is asking the wrong questions. In the case of the decline of the Los Angeles Times, it was years of negligence by out-of-town owners, some really bad decisions and an overall changing media environment that hurt the paper — not a confusing metropolis. The question isn't why the City of Los Angeles couldn't support the L.A. Times, it's how the decline of the L.A. Times has impacted the City of Los Angeles. (And as a sidebar, how the L.A. Times has managed to still pull off some amazing scoops in the past few years despite the utter incompetence of its owner.)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Screengrab: Joe Adalian and I Talk TV, Every Tuesday Morning on KCRW

You may have noticed last year that Joe Adalian and I ended our KCRW podcast, "The Spin-Off," which we recorded at least once, or sometimes twice, a month. The show was always sporadic, and ultimately had sort of run its course. But out of the ashes of "The Spin-Off" came something more regular: "Screengrab," a weekly segment that airs on Tuesday mornings at 8:45 a.m. on KCRW during "Morning Edition." Not only does that give us an on-air slot for the first time, but podcast listeners can still subscribe (at iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere you download podcasts) and download the show each week to listen on their leisure.

It's still Joe and I talking TV, but in bite-size form, and focusing on one major topic per week. The frequency actually allows us to talk about news as it happens, and there's no shortage of things to talk about these days.

On last Tuesday's episode, we talked about the evolving nature of streaming comedy in light of recent cancellations:
Sorry, fans of 'Lady Dynamite' and 'One Mississippi.' Both shows were cancelled recently--the first on Netflix and the latter on Amazon. They join the likes of also recently cancelled comedies 'Difficult People' on Hulu and 'I Love Dick,' also from Amazon. Though these shows all had critical acclaim and niche fan bases, they clearly weren't getting enough eyeballs to keep their respective studios happy. In the old days of streaming, almost everything would get a second or third season, but now, as the streaming networks all have a massive amount of content, they don't need to hang on to dead weight.

Listen below!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Backstage At The SAG Awards 2018

Another year in the press room at the SAG Awards — check out IndieWire's full coverage here. Most of the film winners didn't bother to come back stage, but TV was in full force, as always. Above, Allison Janney — who won the supporting film actress award for "I, Tonya," but TV can still claim her as one of its own. A few more pics from backstage:

Nicole Kidman, best supporting actress in a TV movie or limited series, for "Big Little Lies"

Gary Oldman, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for “Darkest Hour”

Sterling K. Brown, outstanding drama actor for "This Is Us"

The cast of "This Is Us," best drama ensemble

The cast of "Veep," best comedy ensemble

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Scenes From The Women's March 2018 In Downtown Los Angeles

We had to miss last year's Women's March, as I was flying to the Sundance Film Festival that day. With no Sundance for me this year, we weren't going to miss it again. Maria, the Blogger Kid 2.0 and I all donned our "Feminist" t-shirts (thanks to "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee"), the kid made a sign ("Women and Immigrants Make America Great"), and we took the Metro Gold Line from Highland Park to Little Tokyo.

And what we saw was as inspiring as we hoped. Women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Amazing young girls marching together, chanting. Men and boys showing their support. People of all walks of life marching together. Some highlights:

These girls may have been our favorite of the entire march.

"Worst 'Black Mirror' ever."

Good use of cheetos.

More amazing young women.

Loved seeing this female cop talking to these young girls about using their voices.

Another great scene: Women with "Love Trumps Hate" signs surround a few awful hatemongers in the crowd.

Ten more months. Ten more months.

Friday, January 05, 2018

End of Year Round-Up: My Favorite IndieWire Stories From 2017

It was my first full year at IndieWire (having joined in April 2016), and I'm proud to say the site is humming along nicely -- and ended the year with its most-read month (December) in IndieWire historu. I went through and selected some of my favorite stories fron 2017. Read 'em below.

Jimmy Kimmel: Here’s What Fueled His Reluctant Transformation into the Nation’s Moral Conscience (Oct. 4)

The 20 Best TV Spin-off Series of All Time, Ranked (Sept. 27)


Chuck Lorre on Following Up ‘Mom’ With a Pot Comedy, and How Making a Single-Camera Comedy Is Torture (Sept. 6)


The 15 Greatest TV Presidents of All Time, Ranked (Aug. 22)


How Netflix Has Ignited TV’s Talent War — and Network Fears — By Stealing Away Shonda Rhimes (Aug. 14)


As Disney Cuts Ties With Netflix, the Real Battle for Streaming Supremacy Begins (Aug. 8)

The 20 Best HBO Series of All Time, Ranked (July 25)


‘Game of Thrones’: Where to Find The Real-Life Staircase to Dragonstone in Spain (July 17)


How Donald Trump and James Comey Destroyed the Way Film and TV Depict the FBI and CIA (June 29)


‘Power’: When Starz Began Targeting African-American Viewers, It Paid Off With More Ratings and Subscribers (June 23)

Jim Carrey on The Perils of Standup Comedy In Our Outrage Culture — IndieWire’s Turn It On Podcast (June 7)


‘Transparent’ Star Jay Duplass on Why He Loves Acting More than Directing, and His Disgust for Superhero Movies (June 6)


Netflix and Bill Nye Aren’t Censoring His Old TV Show – Sorry, Conspiracy Theorists, Here’s What Really Happened (June 5)


The Mystery of Why Top TV Producers Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti and Chuck Lorre Haven’t Won an Emmy (May 30)


These Are the 100 Most-Watched TV Shows of the 2016-17 Season: Winners and Losers (May 26)


‘The Bachelorette’ Rachel Lindsay Gets Grilled By Comedian Paul Scheer And Tells All — IndieWire’s Turn It On Podcast (May 24)


Women Leads on TV Decline As Networks Discover White Dudes in Crisis (May 19)


‘Downward Dog’ Creator Shares His Diary on How This Unlikely Show Ever Got Made (May 16)

‘American Gods’ Producers and Stars on How A Nudity Gender Equality Mandate Led to So Much Penis — IndieWire’s Turn It On Podcast (May 12)


Alex Jones Is Too Crazy For TV: Why Shows Can’t Pull Off Conspiracy-Theorist Characters (April 21)


‘Tales from the Crypt,’ David Chase Miniseries, ‘MTV Unplugged’ and More: A Status Check on Shows in TV Purgatory (April 14)

Trevor Noah Isn’t Angry with Donald Trump, and That’s Why Millennials Are Flocking to ‘The Daily Show’ (April 4)


‘Black-ish,’ ‘Insecure,’ and Others Aren’t Just ‘Black Shows,’ As Nielsen Study Proves (March 17)


Jimmy Kimmel Producers Reveal Oscars Secrets – What You Didn’t Know Happened Behind the Scenes (Feb. 27)

Joel McHale’s ‘The IT Crowd,’ Scott Baio’s ‘Rewind,’ and More TV Cancellations Before Their Premiere
(Jan. 5)

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