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Sunday, October 30, 2005

TV and `Fast Food,' in today's NY Times

Jodi Kantor has a piece in the Sunday NY Times about what happens to television when the screens get extra large (wall-sized flat screens) and super-small (the video iPod).

She observes that the mobile screens will bring TV consumption to new places - the train to work, the wait at the dentist's office, the bathroom stall. But it's hard to watch some content - like a football game - on a cell phone screen and figure out what's going on, or where the ball is. Other content, like episodes of `Lost,' seem intended to be viewed on high-definition sets, as cinema-size images. Kantor writes of that show, "...its mysteries sometimes turn on intricate visual clues, as in a moment early this season when a shark menaced two characters clinging to the remains of a raft. In high-definition, viewers may have noticed that the shark was tattooed with a corporate logo, a significant hint about the bizarre ecosystem of the island."

Of tiny, portable screens, she writes, "Yet what the tiny new televisions lose in spectacle, they make up in intimacy. As large televisions become home movie theaters, small televisions may restore something personal and human-scale to the medium. And something wondrous: the long-lost surprise at moving images beamed directly into our personal space."

Also in the paper today: my friend Michael Joseph Gross has a piece about Richard Linklater and the movie version of `Fast Food Nation.' It's being produced by Jeff Skoll and Participant Productions. Gross writes:

    Participant's chief executive, Jeff Skoll, a co-founder of eBay, has promised to put his money behind films that make a difference. The company's corporate Web site, www.ParticipantProductions.com, explains that the company "believes in the power of media to create great social change."

    "Our goal is to deliver compelling entertainment that will inspire audiences to get involved in the issues that affect us all," it continues.

    In an interview, Mr. Strauss said that "Fast Food Nation" advances Participant's mission "in the sense of encouraging corporate responsibility."

    The marketing plan for each Participant film includes activist outreach, especially on another company Web site, www.participate.net. Participant's first dramatic features, "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "North Country," opened this month - and the campaign for "North Country," whose plot involves issues of workplace discrimination and domestic violence, invites Web site visitors to "Sign the Women-Friendly Workplace Pledge" and "Implement a sexual harassment policy at your school." Although Mr. Strauss said Participant has had "internal discussions" about its "social action campaign" for "Fast Food Nation," the company will wait to announce its plans until the film is complete.