The Importance of Being Michael

“Why aren’t you talking about Michael Jackson more?” The question, from a caller to Larry Mantle’s KPCC-Pasadena public radio program “AirTalk,” interrupted a discussion of the budget mess in Sacramento. Actually, it was more a wail than a question – a crack about the Michael mania that had hijacked the… More

No Time to Think

One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It’s pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of… More

Surveillance Entertainment

In some ways we love being watched – or at least we love the results. Not only are Nielsen ratings essential to the entertainment and advertising industries, they also make for entertaining content. Who hasn’t perused within the last week at least one list of the highest grossing movies, the… More

Bling Was a Bubble

  USC Annenberg clinical professor Christopher Holmes Smith explored the emergence of a new type of American celebrity — the hip-hop mogul — in the Lear Center’s Celebrity, Politics and Public Life project, and he’s now exploring the limitations and possibilities of brands, advertising, celebrity advocacy and consumer philanthropy in… More

Technologies of Taste

Ever wondered what kind of magical juju lurks within ‘recommendation engines?’ Anyone with a Tivo knows just how wrong it can be about your preferences, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fallen into an if-you-like-this-then-you’ll-like-that click-hole, pleasurably stumbling across stuff that you can’t believe you hadn’t… More

All’s Well That Ends Zell

Los Angeles Times owner Sam Zell didn’t file for bankruptcy because the newspaper business is being battered by the recession or by online competition. He went into Chapter 11 because of the irresponsible and boneheaded deal he made to take over Tribune Co. in the first place. Zell’s own financial… More

Remember, Nobody Gets Fired For Not Doing a Film Deal

  Oh, what a difference a year makes. Last year, I attended the Finance Conference at the American Film Market and I heard suit after suit sound off about the beauty of having money, money everywhere! With all that easy money washing about everyone’s ankles, no one, even in their… More

Does Your Tivo Think You’re a Republican?

Henry Jenkins, the pre-eminent scholar of fandom, hit the nail on the head in a recent blog entry about surveys on entertainment and politics. The Lear Center has conducted two of these surveys with Zogby International and, while we found that entertainment tastes break along ideological lines, we also found… More

Meet the Purples! Decoding the DNA of the Swing Voter

Both Obama and McCain will make huge efforts on Election Day to turn out their bases — the revved-up Reds and Blues. But it’s still likely that the outcome will depend on the Purples, the swing voters in the middle. Who are they? Working with Zogby International, the Norman Lear… More

iSummit Remixed

I’ve just returned from Sapporo, Japan, where iCommons held their fourth annual iSummit, an occasion for a rowdy bunch of movers and shakers from education, technology, government, business, and the arts to share ideas about promoting a free, creative online culture. I’d been invited to give a talk on a… More