Monday, December 31, 2007

TOM TV Says Goodbye to Two Favs

As many of you, we've been out of touch over the Holidays - but now that we're back, we've got USA Network's "The 4400" and "Dead Zone" Top of Mind.  

After the dramatic escalation of 4400's Season 4 and the Zone's major bounce-back last season, news is that what has aired thus far is all we'll ever get. We're definitely sad to see these sci-fi romps go - but I guess we've seen the last of these favs from the Patriot. *Sigh*

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Naked Tuesday Two-fer: An Evil Plot and a Game-changing Block

Couple of hot stories you should check out for Naked Tuesday...

HD-DVD/Blue-ray Wars

First, you gotta see what director Michael Bay thinks about the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war. Anyone who's tried it knows the amazing depth and superior quality of Blue-ray (Sha!). But until now, no one could figure out where the market confusion was coming from. Turns out it's all part of a fiendish plot from the evil empire, and we've got Michael Bay to thank for the scoop! ;)

Visit Crunch Gear for the full story.

A Game-changing Programming Block

Next, NBC has changed the game with a first of its kind deal to buy a two-hour — or perhaps even three-hour — block of prime-time programming from an outside producer.

This summer we introduced you to Thom Beers, the creator of "Ice Road Truckers" (my son's favorite show) and hilarious speaker at this year's LA TV Fest. Now Beers will produce at least two new hours of back-to-back programming, with a minimum of 10 nights - over 30 hours of programs. The key benefit is financial - these shows are incredibly cheap to produce, and this marks the first time a major network has commissioned outside producers to fill primetime programming. Check out the New York Times to read the full article.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Reality TV and E-Commerce: A Recipe for Success

Last July NI introduced you to one of our favorite sites in “Flypaper: Producer’s Tips for Sticky Sweeps.” The Bluefly sweeps are second to none, and now they have taken it even farther - integrating with every diva’s Wednesday indulgence: Project Runway.

This new promotion goes beyond a great sweepstakes (they are giving away a trip to the finale), and does what every online TV site or promotion must do to cultivate a loyal audience - extend the storyline.

What? A story-based extension that connects a Reality show AND a commerce site?? Not possible, you say? WRONG.

Each week, and PR take the show to the next level by inviting fans to “Get the Winning Look.” You can get it by shopping for items that epitomize the winning design. Throw in polls, the Bluefly Accessory Wall from the show, the previously mentioned sweeps, and clips from the previous night’s episode on Fly TV (First you watch it, then you Shop It) and fans can immediately dive right in to embrace or improve upon the designer's vision. It's a recipe for success - an extension that delivers an audience who joyfully comes back again and again throughout the season.

Everyone is trying to do online extensions, but the only other TV show that has done it this well is Heroes (with the most popular Comic Book of all time) - and NBC has never even come CLOSE to cracking the nut on elegant commerce.

Hats (and Hermes and my Prada slingbacks) Off to Bluefly and Project Runway - you've got my vote!

TOM TV Favs "Chuck" and "Life" Picked Up!

We hate to do it, but two props to Yahoo! scoops in the same day --- as they just broke the news that Top Of Mind TV favorites "Chuck" and "Life" have been picked up. HOORAY!!!
Read the article on Yahoo for the fully skinny.

Who Else Wants and Additional $40k A Year?

Today posted an amazing "American Dream" story that you'll love, "Rolling in Cash," courtesy of Kevin Sites via Yahoo's People of the Web.

The story is about Linda Katz, a part-time entrepreneur who started her online business, the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm, as a joke. It was 1994 and she wanted to teach herself how to design a website. Since she lived on the prairie in southwest Kansas, where rolling tumbleweeds are sometimes the only dynamic feature of an endless flat horizon, she invented a farm that sold tumbleweeds, listing prices at $15 for a small one, $20 for a medium and $25 for large.

Though she’s coy about her annual income from tumbleweed wrangling, she says it is over $40,000 a year. Not bad for a bunch of dead, dried-up weeds. Read the full article here - and then come up with your own unique, simple and original idea!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Attention Jericho Rangers: The Date is Set!

Couldn't resist announcing that it's official - start planning for February 12th. Jericho is coming back! Congrats to all the fans that contributed - GO RANGERS!

New SeasonSeason 2 starts February 12, 2008

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Twofer - Old Favs return to Reality TV

It's been a brutal week, but I had to find a moment for a couple of exciting updates.

First, Project Runway premiered last night with Season 4 and an all-new cast. HOORAY! I'm dying to riff about the show, but even more about a really great sponsor promotion they pulled in with one my favorite new media outlets. I'll give you a hint... it's a site that has had some buzzzzzzzzz on NI before!! In the meantime, if you didn't see it I'm not sure what to tell you - it's not on iTunes and I can't find it on Hulu. So keep your eyes peeled for reruns through the weekend.

Next, did you catch the news that TLC is bringing Paige Davis back to Trading Spaces!! E! broke the news today that perky Paige is coming back to the show that put TLC on the map - and I may just have to start watching again. :)

That's it for now, more to come...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

TOM TV looks into the Alpha Eye

Top of Mind TV has spent alot of time over the last few weeks discussing the latest shows - but it seemed time for a few reviews of what the 'Nets are doing online to support the Fall Season.

Let's start with our friends at the Eye. After launching a new Alpha site in September - you probably expected the full site rollout to quickly follow, but I hope you didn't put any cash on the line. While the hottest show subsites like "Amazing Race" sport the new look, CBS standards and Naked favs "Numb3rs" and "The Unit" are still in the old style.

If you haven't seen the alpha yet, going to still won't get you there. is where you wanna go for a peek at the new site in progress. IMHO, it looks very Apple meets ABC player - so to help you tell them apart, we'll call this one the 'Bowtie'.

The look may be new but the programming is rooted in the existing model - along the left side is a combination of primetime for the current night's programming, along with previews of the upcoming night. The rest of the lineup is represented graphically across the rest of the rows in the tie. You can view a clip directly in the bowtie by clicking a 'View this clip' link after you select a show via it's image, or choose to link directly to the show site. It's looks great when you first open the video window, until you want to adjust the experience for more comfortable viewing... then you notice the lack of video controls - you can only stop and start. *Sigh*

If you choose one of the elements within the Bowtie connected to a show subsite that hasn't been migrated before, clicking to view the clip has a totally different experience. It will actually launch the Innertube player within a new window to view the clip from there. Pretty wierd, but I think it's safe to assume that this will NOT be a part of the final experience.

If you're adventurous, you might scroll past the natural break in the page to find there's more 2.0-type features below the fold. I picked the Jericho widget, even though it's yet another reminder that Kid Nation is playing in the Wednesday slot... Unfortunately, you can see that this widget is clearly a left-over from when they reran the series earlier this year, as evidenced by the 'Friday' messaging (now that's just sloppy).

It's pulling in a current feed, so the copy is representative of the latest producton blog posts - but unfortunately clicking on any of them won't take you to the actual post. So if you're interested, you'll have to navigate separately to CBS to read it. *Double Sigh*

Exploring the BTF space even further, you'll find more 2.0-type features such as popular tags, most active users, and an image-based carousel ala Apple (and every other site that has copied this style). All good solid features and they look crisp and fresh within the new design, so I must say that even with the buggy Alpha experience, I do like where this is headed. We can only hope that the really innovative features are still to come.

So keep your eye on the Eye to watch how this alpha evolves. Enjoy!

Friday, November 02, 2007

"Must See TV" OR "Must RECORD TV"?

Top of Mind... according to Rebecca Dana from the WSJ, the research experts at the Nets are figuring out that there are LOTS of freaks like me trying to juggle multiple shows in the same time slot on their trusty DVRs.

We all know how much Programming execs LOVE to cage-match their biggest shows on Wednesday and Thursday nights to compete for the big dollars from advertisers... especially the studios trying to get butts in seats for Friday premieres. But it turns out that this brilliant strategy has a teenie itty-bitty drawback - according to Neilsen Media Research these are the same shows that audiences are choosing to record and watch later.


Since advertisers have traditionally paid a premium for ratings based on live viewership, the move away from appointment television could have a BIG impact on primetime programming. Increased playback could force a change that moves the hottest shows into less-congested time slots to command a bigger live audience. Many experts have said it's just a matter of time for ad rates to move away from live viewership towards C3 ratings - a new formula that calculates the number of people that viewed the commercial live, plus the number that saw it on DVR in the three days after the show aired (and you thought the "3 C's" was just something you learned in Marketing 101).

I say "Embrace the Change" - didn't you people learn anything from the last year's Jericho debacle?

Okay, that's all I've got on TOM for now. GO RANGERS.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Insight into Whedon's New Dollhouse

The LA Times reported today that "Naked" favorite Joss Whedon is coming back to TV!!! I'm so happy I could do a little dance and stake a vampire in the heart! Word is that Faith (Eliza Dushku to you non-Buffy fans) convinced Joss to partner with her company Boston Diva Productions. Provided the expected writer's strike doesn't go on too long, we can look forward to new series "Dollhouse" gracing the small screen in Fall 2008. Visit the Times site to learn more.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Monday, October 29, 2007

User Experience Week coming up in Vegas this December

Okay folks - it's that time again, time for User Week in Vegas! If you're a new media professional and haven't attended before, all I can say is "What's wrong with you?" Sign up now, or don't whine to me about your conversion and guest engagement.

User Experience Week is an intensive learning experience put on by the ultimate usability gurus from the Neilsen Norman Group - Jakob Neilsen, Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini and Don Norman. And you haven't learned ANYTHING about development until you take a class from the "Tog".

But for my money, the real brains of the outfit is Hoa Loranger (Thank Pete she's available for hire in addition to these conferences, I know I would have been lost without her many a time). If you're new to the business or need a refresher, take Hoa's "Rapid Iterative Design" course on paper prototyping. It really changed my entire outlook on development and testing when I took this course many years ago - and continues to help me today.

Okay, since I'm not making commission or anything, I'll stop gushing now. :)


Welcome Hulu!

Hooray - after months of simply calling it "Newsite" and then months more of malicious bloggers referring to it as "Clown & Co.", the new-media creation from giants NBC and FOX is finally here. Welcome Hulu! With a cornucopia of new and old TV Shows, Movies and a slew of advertisers, this beta should definitely be interesting. Sign up (if you haven't already) at Hulu, and if you want more info - check out this article from the New York Times.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

25 Awesome Action Heroes

I know that Naked has been on a huge TV kick lately, but most of you know of my deep appreciation for film. And for me, nothing taps into what audiences truly LOVE more than a kick-ass Action flick!

So I just had to share with you's "25 Awesome Action Heroes" list (I'm also a total sucker for lists). I can't quite explain my obsession with great action - is it the physicality? the excitement? or does it simply tap into the base human need for fantasy?

I don't think they got everything right with this list - they missed Jason Statham in Louis Leterrier's "Transporter", and the undeniable brilliance of Josh Lucas' death-defying fire plunge in "Poseidon" (although that was more about a spectacular bit of CG and an amazing stunt double versus a "Great Action Hero") - but overall it's a great list and I totally agree with #1.

Friday, October 19, 2007

"American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" bringing America closer together?

According to our friends at Neilsen Media Research, black viewers and white viewers are watching essentially the same TV programs, based on data from the 2006-2007 season. This is a big departure from a few short years ago - maybe if we all are connecting the same characters and stories, then there is hope for all of us after all?

You decide.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Naked Who?

Another night brings another new show to Top of Mind TV - this time it's a delightful twist on the thirty minute sitcom, Samantha Who?. Welcome back Ms. Applegate! Here's the skinny...

Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
Absolutely wonderful - Christina's timing is fantastic, taking each and every bit to a new level.

What was the sweetest moment?
When "boyfriend" Todd (Barry Watson, "7th Heaven", "What about Brian?") brakes down and tells Samantha a few choice - but quirky - facts about herself, the screen really starts to sizzle. Barry and Christina have amazing chemistry, and somehow are able to weave in this touching moment that makes you pause in the midst of all the ridiculousness - wonderful!

What was your favorite quote?
"Oooooohhhh..... I was Baaaadddddd!!"

What was the most interesting moment?
I found the never-ending lineup of friends and family who lie to Samantha for their own nefarious purposes both intriguing and hilarious... evil mom, slutty friend, boyfriend-who's-already-an-ex... SWEET!

What was the most annoying moment?
Jean Smart - admittedly ALWAYS funny was SO very, very over the top. Tone it down a bit, Jeanie. We get it, and we already love you. And I don't think Ty Pennington is coming to your house.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Samantha and Todd are fantastic together - I totally want to know what happens next!

Overall Grade: A -

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Naked Buzz on the new sites...

Okay, TV Junkies - if you're wondering how the new TV season is shaking out beyond the ratings, where do you look? Well, the Yahoo! Buzz Index is a great indicator. It looks like "Journeyman" and "Big Shots" might be in trouble, and it looks like "Cavemen" the sitcom is pretty much as big of a bomb as the critics expected it to be. Checking out the buzz on Technorati is another great way to keep your finger on the pulse - after all the drama with Jericho last year, I like to keep up with what people are saying about my fav shows.

Hold on... I need to go check out that "Pushing Daisies" and "Chuck" are doing ok...

Okay, I'm back. I think we've got no worries on that score. This seems like a great time for a review of why shows get cancelled. Is it because... the network execs are evil and shortsighted???? Well, that's certainly always a possibility. ;) But in general, TV is a business and shows pretty much get cancelled for only a couple of reasons. Ratings are obvious, but the score definitely isn't the only indicator. Another is how well a show can hold it's lead. This is one of the reasons why the buzz doesn't look to good for "Journeyman" on NBC, which is dumping one-third of its audience after the Heroes lead-in. OUCH!!! From a fan point of view, I think the show is developing nicely... but it frankly can't get a much better lead, and this news is definitely a concern in terms of whether this interesting sci-fi take has a future.

Another reason is if a show is bringing down the overall Network average in the time slot - this is also specifically related to what it's replacing, but the programming execs look for a hold at minimum and generally expect some growth to stay committed to a new property. "Big Shots" on ABC is in this predicament this season - having been given the very juicy "Grey's Anatomy" slot from last year. Look out - DYLAN'S IN DANGER!

The last biggie is if a show simply costs too much - your basic ROI equation. This was the killer for "Studio 60" last year, a loss that still gets my goat.

Ok - that's it for today, more Naked Buzz to come... keep your finger on the pulse!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pushing Daisies with TOM TV

Top of Mind on this beautiful sunny Sunday is last week's premiere of "Pushing Daisies" on ABC. I didn't really want to watch "Daisies", mostly due to an irrational contrarian streak that makes me always want to stay away from whatever the critics say I just can't miss. Hype can really be a pain in the tuckus - and it's just so damn disappointing when something doesn't live up to it.

Luckily, I have some goofy self-imposed rules that guide my life and keep me from doing stupid things. Like my rule to ALWAYS finish a book once I start it (this one is usually a good thing - like when I forced myself to finish "Ender's Game", which turned out to have one of the greatest endings of all time... but it wasn't so good when my best friend made me read "The Good Brother", but that's another post). In this case, I'm referring to my rule to try and watch every pilot. You just don't know what's going to stand out - and as we all know, the producers aren't usually the ones approving the marketing... it's just a good idea to watch everything and make up your own mind.

So last week I pushed some daisies. Some of you might be wondering why I didn't write about it. Well, the truth is - it was just so good that I couldn't do it justice. This show was so masterful, so delightfully quirky and intelligent - we've been quoting it for days. Any show that uses the word 'masterbate' to refer to 'masticate' and doesn't bother to stop and explain itself is my kind of show (I mean, if you don't get the joke the first time then why should we bother to explain it to you??)

Brilliant. And one of only two new shows this season that doesn't pander to the LCD. I'm gleefully looking forward to episode 2 this week, and encourage you to not put off watching if you missed last week. Although considering that "Daisies" scored the best debut ratings of any network scripted series in the Wednesday 8 p.m. time slot since the premiere of "Lost," you probably already know how wonderful it is! I know it stuck with me through the week, always Top of Mind. :)

Photo Credit:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Life in the Carpool Lane... with TOM TV

Top of Mind TV next takes on "Carpoolers" starring Jerry O'Connell . You may hear Jerry's name and think "Jerry McGuire" or "Crossing Jordan" , but to me he's always going to be the goofy timetraveller from "Sliders". :)

But back to our show.. here's what's top of mind...
Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
I was pleasantly surprised by the laughs, although that's mostly because I didn't expect any. But getting the new kid run over just to try and get a good parking space is just plain funny.

What was the most annoying moment?
For some completely unfathomable reason, the writers decided to name Jerry O'Connell's character "Laird". Um. No.

I'm sorry - I'm a fan of O'Connell, but he is DEFINITELY not a "Laird". As far as I'm concerned, the bronze Adonis that is the greatest big wave surer of all time does not need a goofy sitcom character using his name - and I found it totally distracting. Mostly it made me want to stop watching and pop in a copy of "Riding Giants".

What was the sweetest moment?
Every moment that Faith Ford walked on the screen as "Leila" was darling, that cutie can just do no wrong. She really adds depth to the cast, and I hope we see much more of her in future episodes.

What was the creepiest moment?
We don't, however, need to see any more of T.J. Miller as "Marmaduke", Gracen's ridiculous son who seems to just skulk around the house in his tidy-whities. What is the point of this character? Every time he came on screen I had to look away - CREEPY!

Overall Grade: B - (Cute, but without Faith I wouldn't be watching next week)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

TOM TV takes it to the Stoneage

So I'd heard ALOT about this show leading up to it, as we all have - and I, unlike others, actually like the idea of a really great commercial concept being turned into a series. In concept. I do actually think some of the greatest creative minds of our time are working in advertising right now - so 'crossover' creative really appeals to me.

However. See below to get my thoughts on the latest sitcom concept ABC has sic'ced on the world...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Okay, so basically this show is about trio of Neanderthals from the Geico commercials that struggle to live in modern day America. The thing is... the concept totally doesn't work when you're telling a full story. The beauty of the commercials (which I must admit, I love), is that you don't know anything about these guys. Nobody goes around explaining to you that one is writing is dissertation, or that another is heartbroken over his ex-girlfriend, blah, blah, blah. You just get a brilliant little story arc in 60 seconds or less. And that's enough.

What was your favorite quote?
Not much to go on from this episode, I'm afraid - the only thing that really stood out was the slang "Sape" for undesireable "Homo sapiens". Clever, but not interesting enough to keep my attention...

What was the most interesting moment?
Seriously, I don't recall a single interesting moment in the whole thing. I even found the fact that they were playing 'squash' totally annoying - I mean, the whole point seems to be that these guys are just like everyone else. So what the hell are they doing playing squash? Really? THIS is what all the hipsters are doing these days?

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Let's see, I found Joel slightly less annoying than Nick. This is about all I can say.

So to sum up - I would like to apologize to all of the EXTREMELY talented TV writers and producers out there that I ever thought the concept guys in advertising should be given a chance.

I was wrong.

Can we cancel this now?

Overall Grade: C- (Not as bad as Moonlight, but still very, very bad)

Friday, September 28, 2007


And finally - Top of Mind TV catches up with "Life" on DVR. I didn't watch this during the week 'cuz I was giving some love to ABC, but check out tonight's q&a to find out whether or not I made the right decision....

Credits & Logline:
From Rand Ravich ("The Astronaut's Wife"), Far Shariat ("Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"), and David Semel, who directed the pilot of NBC's "Heroes," "Life" is a new drama about a detective who is given a second chance. Damian Lewis ("Band of Brothers") stars as complex, offbeat Detective Charlie Crews, who returns to the force after years in prison, thanks to close friend and attorney Constance Griffiths (Brooke Langton), after serving time in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Nothing short of spectacular. It was so many different things - funny, dramatic, over-the-top, quiet and introspective. I've never been this bowled over in one short episode.

What was your favorite quote?
The writing in this show is absolutely brilliant - there were so many quotes that stood out to me - so, so, wonderful. Here are a few standouts...

  • Philosophical: "The man who killed your son is out there. Right Now. Inside this same moment that we are in. Now that means something."

  • Childlike: "That man didn't kill him and you know it. He had all his fingers and he seemed really sad."

  • Humorous: "Why does the Universe make fun of us all?" "Maybe it's insecure."

  • Insightful: "You don't have to understand HERE to be HERE."

What was the happiest moment?
When you knew that the dog would be ok in the opening scene.

What was the most interesting moment?
The way that Charlie 'connected' with the kid when no one else could by making him laugh and then tell everything he knows.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Charlie Crews was hands-down my favorite character - so undeniably unique, quirky and insightful. Just a delight. I didn't really have a least favorite - I mean Brooke Langton was as beautiful as always as Constance and Sarah Shahi was powerful and charismatic as Dani. And the brief appearances of Ted take over the screen as only Adam Arkin can.

Overall Grade: A

Final Note - I am now convinced that Rand Ravich is a SUPER-GENIUS. Hands-down my favorite of the season thus far - and I highly doubt anything can knock it out of the top spot.

TOM TV uses math every day!

Next up for Top of Mind TV is the Season Permiere of "Numb3rs" - another Naked fav...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Loved it - although unfortunately I called the "triple" in the first 10 minutes.

What was your favorite quote of the episode?
"I know math is full of absolutes. Unfortunately, the rest of life isn't." Ain't it the truth.

What was the happiest moment?
The moment "The Biscuit" entered stage right. HOORAY for Emmy-winner Peter MacNichol - I was so bummed when he took a hiatus last season to be on "24".

What was the most interesting moment?
The moment Val Kilmer walked on the scene. :) Val has such an amazing presence, he fills the screen and his voice sticks in your head for hours afterwards. Absolutely brilliant.

What was the most unbelievable moment?
"It sounds like a new chapter in the mathmatical analysis of friendship" - the whole "Trust Metric" theory was a little more out there than usual.

What was the most notable difference from last season?
Actually, I kept getting distracted by what must be the work of new designers. Charlie (David Krumholtz) was scruffy, had grown out his hair in messy curls, and actually wore just a T-Shirt in one scene - all totally out of character. And Megan (Diane Farr) wearing a hot pink, strapless hipster top over jeans? What? Both were very, very wierd in light of what we know of these characters. By the way - they both still looked great, and I don't really mind the changes, they are just a little abrupt. It'd be better if they did more of an evolution of the characters.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Pretty much loved all of them, but this is NOT new. It's a fantastic cast and although this isn't the kind of show that's going to change the world, it certainly does make my world a little better for about an hour a week.

Overall Grade: A-

Moonlight on the Mind. That is, Top of Mind TV.

Okay, I admit that I was totally looking forward to Moonlight based on the Joel Silver pedigree. I mean come on - this is the creative genius that brought us "The Matrix", "V for Vendetta" and "Lethal Weapon." What's not to love??? So for this evening's Top of Mind TV, let's take a look and see how it measured up to expectations:

Credits & Logline: Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin) is an immortal private investigator from Los Angeles who defies the traditional blood-sucking norms of his vampire tendencies by using his wit and powerful supernatural abilities to help the living. In a life-altering twist of fate, Mick was "bitten" 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive Coraline (Shannon Sossamon). Forever 30 years of age, Mick's as handsome and charismatic as the day he was "turned," and fills his infinite days protecting the living.

Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
A whole hour of vampires and damsels in distress... and all I can do is yawn. YAAAWWWNNN.

What was the most annoying moment?
Pretty much every time the "telling" started. Can anyone explain to me why the writers felt the audience was so stupid they had to have everything explained to them? Geeezzzz - I call this "LCD" writing, or writing to the "Lowest Common Denominator". To put it in context, I think "Moonlight" is the John Grisham novel of primetime drama.

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
"We're all Vampires. Every one of us." Yeah, this drivel was about as good as it got. How about "You don't have to be a Vampire to get a taste for blood" (?) *sigh*

What was the sweetest moment?
To be honest, there were no moments in this show that touched me - so either I have no emotional core, or this whole thing was totally off the mark. You be the judge.

What was the creepiest moment?
At the top of the hour I thought this would be a pretty important question - I mean, it IS a Vampire story, right? Not one. Seriously - not a single creepy second in the whole thing. Not a twitch. This should be the part where I clairify that I AM actually a huge fan of Vampire stories - "Blade", "Vampires", "Angel", "Buffy" - I love 'em and the creepy, crawlies that go with them. Just not this one.

Was there any redeemable moments?
His eyes - the Vampire eyes were great!!
Unfortunately, that was it. :(

Overall Grade: D+
I am reminded that "Dungeons & Dragons" also holds a Silver credit.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big Shots are Top of Mind

In the Ivy household, this nighttime soap has been known and anticipated as the "cute boy" show. I mean really - Michael "You'll always be Vaughn to me" Vartan and Dylan McDermott in the same show? Add to that Christopher Titus (Titus, Yes Dear) and Joshua Malina (Spots Night, West Wing)... and that's GOTTA be something to look forward to!! From the Top of Mind series, check out the q&a below to see if it was worth the wait:

Credits & Logline: The lines between boardroom and bedroom blur in Big Shots, the story of four friends who are at the top of their game... until the women in their lives enter the room. From Director Charles McDougal and Executive Producer Jon Harmon Feldman.

Overall, what did you think of the premiere?
Very mixed - I should have absolutely loved this... but I found it to be so all over the place, and way too over-the-top. It was tough to be completely into this... but there were many, many redeemable moments. Mostly the storyline with James and the cheating wife.

What was the most annoying moment?
So remember a long, long time ago (yesterday) when I thought the transvestite storyline on Dirty Sexy Money was hilarious? Yeah. That was then, this is now. A cliched plotline about getting caught with a trany is completely different than the future Senator who just can't seem to say goodbye to one.

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
"I'm sure all your dream candidates have perfect resumes, perfect lives, and have succeeded at everything they've ever tried to do." Ain't it the truth.

What was the sweetest moment?
"I never liked you, you know? Even when I said I did..." doesn't sound like the intro to a completely adorable moment, but when James finds out he's been made CEO and gets support from an unexpected direction - it's really pretty darn wonderful.

What was the creepiest moment?
The promo on ABC7 for the show... "They're calling it Desperate Housewives for Men". UGH. Not that I have anything against the wives, mind you. I just don't think we need any affirmative action in the primetime soap space.

What was the most refreshing moment?
Duncan Collingsworth (Dylan) might be a total cad - but he's a total wuss when it comes to his daughter. And the best part? I believed it. Good writing or good acting, time will tell.

Overall Grade: B

TOM TV's takin it to The Reaper

Silent Bob brings us a new freaky tale to follow (that's Executive Producer Kevin Smith to normal people who were never seduced by Clerks). Here's my take in the latest q&a from Top of Mind TV:

Logline: A slacker becomes a reluctant bounty hunter for the devil after his soul is accidentally sold to Satan by his parents, and he tracks down evil escapees to return them to hell.

What was the most annoying moment?
Nothing specific, although the whole episode started slow and took awhile to get rolling... and that was pretty damn annoying. Sam (Bret Harrison) was a total wuss - UGH!

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
"Just tell the Devil to Eat It" was a great one - but frankly, the marketing was fantastic "with buzz from... you KNOW."

What was the sweetest moment?
When Sam opens the present from Andi (Missy Peregrym), it is a completely adorable moment - with a fantastic punch line followup by Satan (Ray Wise).

What was the creepiest moment?
If by 'creepiest' you mean 'funniest' - I'd have to apologize before I say the Zamboni Scene. Eeeewwww.

At the end of the episode, who were your favorite/least favorite characters?
Forgive me for saying so, but I definitely loved Satan (HA!)... but of course, that's only because he's played by Ray Wise. You may know Ray from, uh - everything. Current and recent favs like "24", "West Wing", "Burn Notice", "CSI" and classics like "Twin Peaks", "LA Law" and "RoboCop". The ultimate working actor. :) Least favorite? The 'buddy' Bert played by Tyler Labine. Snoooozzzzeeee.

Overall Grade: B+

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Dirty. It's Sexy. But they didn't give TOM TV any money for watching.

Alright - so it's time that we give ABC some love on Top of Mind TV, so next up - Dirty Sexy Money!

Credits and Logline: Directed by Peter Horton and David Petrarca.
Power, privilege and family money are a volatile cocktail thrust on an idealistic lawyer when he inherits the job of tending to the legal (and sometimes illegal) needs of the absurdly wealthy Darlings of New York City.

What was the most unbelievable moment?
When Trip offers Nick the job plus an extra 5MM a year, and to close the deal makes a little speech along the lines of "Because, I miss your Dad. I miss having him by my side telling me which was is up. And, I trust ya." Really? This is the line that convinces Nick everything will be okay?

What was the most annoying moment?
Every time I had to look at Peter Krause's hair. Who thought this was a good idea?

What was the most ridiculous moment?
The Dan Rathers cameo. I'm supposed to buy Dan grilling Patrick about joining the Senate? Wow - Billy Baldwin on the Senate. I'm feeling queasy.

What was the most enjoyable moment?
Right after - when Billy's character sneaks out to calm down a slightly hysterical transvestite/girlfriend. WTF? Yeah - I loved it.

What was your favorite quote?
Acutally, I thought there were pretty great lines in this episode, including - "No, you do it - he's your girlfriend." and "I know she's not a hooker, but is she more of a man than you are?"

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Not really sure. I found much of the cast interesting (who doesn't love Donald Sutherland?), but didn't really connect with any of them yet. And I'm not sure I really get where they are going with this other than a bunch of pretty people running around being spoiled. But I love the pretty people as much as the next gal, so it could be fun anyway. Oh yeah - and the "someone killed my Dad and I'll make them pay!" storyline. Big mystery there - I'll give you three guesses as to who killed him (and the first two don't count).

But I'll watch episode two to find out where they're going with this.

Overall Grade: B

TOM TV's Got the Bionic Blahs

Okay, I really couldn't decide if I was looking forward to this one or not - and frankly, I've probably had a little too much TV this week... but read on for the Top of Mind thoughts on this classic remix...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
There's only one word for it - "Blah"

What was the most interesting moment?
Great car crash - really nice CG work pulling these shots together. And the first look at Jaimie's (Michelle Ryan) healing legs was kinda cool. But unfortunately, the VFX were downhill from here. They were WAAY too in love with the target overlays.

What was the most annoying moment?
Will Anthros (Chris Bowers) mind-numbing speech along the lines of “The world’s farther along than anyone would like to admit.” Blah, bla, bla, blah, blah - I could actually HEAR the Peanuts characters in my head. WhatEVER.

What totally captured or lost your interest?
What I reckon was supposed to be a intriguing moment at the end... random dude on a snow filled mountaintop... "I haven't seen the moon in a thousand and twenty four days." Ummm... why do I care? No reason? Okay, NEXT.

(NOTE - The husband just reminded me that he was actually the guy from the prison. Huh. Still don't care.)

What was the most unbelievable moment?
Jaime and Chris had absolutely NO chemistry - no way do these two characters really care about each other. Really? This was the best casting (Eric Dawson and Coreen Mayrs) could do? And the second most unbelievable moment - well, actually every damn time Jaimie tried to fight. No grace whatsoever - and trust me, I have a deep and abiding love of great fight scenes. If I wasn't old and fat and a total wuss, I'd be a stunt woman.

Maybe Michelle could get some lessons from Jennifer Garner?

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Unfortunately, other than the fact that Miguel Ferrer (Crossing Jordan, Robocop) is part of the cast - I'm afraid they just didn't succeed in making me care about any of the characters. Jaimie looks entirely too much like the girl from Kyle XY, and no one else stood out in a positive way.

Overall Grade: C--
(when one minus just ISN'T enough)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TOM says - The Unit is nothing without Jonas!

There's just something about The Unit. In the first season we ended up watching it because we didn't have any conflicts in the timeslot and loved the themesong ("How to Find the Mother's Laugh"). But after about 3 or 4 episodes, we found we were hooked. Last season's finale was amazing, and this was a MUCH anticipated premiere - check out the Top of Mind below...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Loved it - the rhythm, the raw, gritty way that David Mamet weaves together the storylines. And I love the way it still feels like the team is on a mission. Love.

What was the most interesting moment?
The cliffhanger at the end - I admit, there's no WAY I'll miss next week.

What was the most annoying moment?
Really? Molly and Tiff are going to go to the evil Colonel's wife for help?? No way I buy that Molly is that stupid. It simply isn't possible.

What was the most unbelievable moment?
What??! They changed the themesong!!? Absolutely and without a doubt this was the most disappointing moment of the night - now it's some totally forgettable crap about 'secrets'. That song defined the show and stuck with me for hours afterwards. It defined the entire tone of the show. Unbelievable.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Duh -who doesn't love Jonas? Dennis Haysbert is amazing - and don't you believe for a SECOND that Bob would have found Jonas in Panama unless he wanted to be found! Least favorite was a close race for most of the episode between Kim and the Colonel's evil wife (who I hate so much I won't even refer to her character by name). Kim redeemed herself somewhat at the end - so evil wifey it is!!

Any lingering questions?
Is Bob playing a game or what? I think he's too loyal to the Unit, but then again he's such a damn boyscout who can tell! ?

Overall Grade: A-

No Bones About It, it's TOM-TV

"Bones" is back on Fox - Double-HooRAY!!! I'm not saying that this show is going to change the world or anything... just that it makes me happy. Next up in the TOM TV (Top of Mind TV) series, here's what I thought of the premiere episode...

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Mostly I kept trying to figure out if there were new writers - the dialogue was totally choppy and threw me out at many points. Something that I can't remember ever happening before with this show.

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
After Zack returns, he says that they sent him home because he was "unable to assimilate."

What was the most interesting moment?
Everything having to do with "the Search" for missing husband X was hilarious, especially the 'Picasso-esque' sketch of the husband.

What was the most annoying moment?
Some really, REALLY bad green screen work in the final scene with the lighting coming from multiple directions - did the show go through budget cuts or something?

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Honestly - the whole cast. Love, love, love the ensemble. It wouldn't work without any of them - and I'm so glad they brought back Zack, but it breaks my heart how he thinks there's something wrong with him.

Overall Grade: B+

Monday, September 24, 2007

TOM - "Journeyman" may be worth the trip

Okay - so I've been really torn on this one, but following the 'must watch all pilots' rule I didn't really have a choice. Time travel is tricky - it can be wonderful (Pastwatch) or so incredibly bad that it scars you for life (Killing Time). But again, must follow the rules...

Credits & Logline: Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Kevin Falls ("The West Wing") and Emmy Award-winning director-producer Alex Graves ("The West Wing") comes "Journeyman," where Dan Vasser, a newspaper reporter from San Francisco, finds himself tracking the life of Neal Gaines. For Dan, time changes everything.

What was the most annoying moment?
Not sure - but is it a bad sign when 45 seconds in the hubby says "Okay. I'm already annoyed." (?)

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
None. While I loved how all of the pieces fit together, no single line/scene/personality really stood out to me.

What was the sweetest moment?
The anniversary 'gift exchange' was touching - Dan and Katie have great chemistry. But the end scene REALLY got me - won't tell you in case you've got it on the DVR.

What was the creepiest moment?
Dan waking up in "Golden Gate Park" with a snail crawling up his arm.

What was the most refreshing moment?
The brothers actually look like brothers - have you ever noticed how casting agents usually screw up family members when they are plain ol' white guys?

This pilot was a bit all over the place - but it ended strong... I'll be watching to see where it goes.

Overall Grade: B-
Last 15 minutes: A!

TOM TV is holdin out for a HERO!

It's back - HIPHIPHEROOOOOO(es) on TOM TV.

It's official, I'm happy. Heroes is back. Yes, it's true. I'm a very simple girl, and the return of Heroes on NBC tonight fills me with joy. Here's some goodies about tonight's Season 2 Premiere Episode from the Top of Mind...

Credits & Logline:
From creator/writer Tim Kring (NBC's "Crossing Jordan") comes "Heroes," an epic drama that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. This episode - "Four Months Later."

Overall - what did you think of the season premiere?
Good. Very good. But not spectacular. I kept getting thrown every time they showed Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) with a totally fake overgrown beard.

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
"The only thing I have to do, is find me a drink."

What was the most interesting moment?
Noah (Jack Coleman) breaking his new "Boss's" finger. I also like the new 'international' flair - not overly original, but still it's great to expand the world to Japan, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, etc. At least it provides lots of great accents!

What was the most annoying moment?
The end. :)

What was the most ridiculous moment?
Noah and Claire sitting with the family at the dinner table - even that psycho mom couldn't possibly have bought it.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Claire is definitely still a favorite, but newcomer Maya has promise.

Overall Grade: A-

"Don't Freak Out" It's Chuck from TOM TV

Next up on the Top of my Naked Mind (TOM TV) - IT'S "CHUCK"

Credits & Logline:
From executive producer, Josh Schwartz and executive producer-director McG comes a one-hour, action-comedy series about Chuck Bartowski -- a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government's most vital secret agent.

Overall - did you like the premiere?
Absolutely - I found "Chuck Bartowski" to be incredibly endearing, which was refreshing because to be frank - I had found the marketing to be a little flat and had set the bar really low. I'm almost disappointed I like this so much (really? ANOTHER show on Monday night?)

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
"Don't puke on the C-4" - Major John Casey

What was the most interesting moment?
In the beginning of the episode, there is a great 'ode to Jackie Chan' scene with secret agent Bryce. Some really nice stunt work in this scene, props to the double! Also loved the rip-off from 'Bourne Ultimatum' and every Bond movie I ever loved) as they went speeding down the stairs backwards.

What was the most annoying moment?
Hmmm... I'm ashamed to say I didn't really have one.

What was the most ridiculous moment?
Anything involving "Captain Awesome" (the fact that Chuck diffused a bomb searching for porn I found TOTALLY believable!).

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Chuck is great, as mentioned before. And I was thrilled to see Adam Baldwin (a.k.a. "Jane" from Firefly), although I really can't handle the geeky hair. Yes, I know that Adam has over 60 films in his long pedigree - I just don't care. He'll always be "Jane" to me - and frankly, I'll watch anything with him in it. My least fav would have to be the sister, Ellie, played by Sarah Lancaster. But that is definitely a very, very pretty girl. Maybe she'll loosen up in later episodes.

Overall Grade: B+

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Simply Survivor on TOM TV

Thank God for DVR - catching up on the premiere of Survivor this weekend as travel and moving offices last week made me miss a very enjoyable tube night on Thursday. HooRah for China - I'm lovin' having Jeff back...

Did you like this episode? / Was it worth the wait?
Yes, but. I always find the first episode of the season a little blah, it's hard to care about all the obnoxious people until you know 'em better (and sometimes even then you're just watching to root for them to fail).

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
Every line from Jeff - it's like having an old friend back. :)

What was the most interesting moment?
I loved the Buddist "Welcome" scene in the opening minutes - the temple was incredibly beautiful, and you really got the feeling that you were getting a very special peek at something from another world.

What was the most annoying moment?
Courtney's incredible rudeness during the ceremony... and each of the dozens of times we were forced to stare at Ashley's behemothic boobs (ewww). BTW - I didn't find Leslie's exit from the ceremony rude or annoying, she had her reasons and wasn't opting out due to simple bitchiness.

What was the most ridiculous moment?
That Chicken thought that he was "in" - he was obviously driving every one crazy as he couldn't commit to anything, but like all those "First-Kicked" before him... he just didn't get it.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Grave Digger James was my clear favorite, the strong silent type... and he was amazing on the challenge. Least favorites was a much tougher race, as the great majority of the cast was ridiculously annoying. There's Courtney - the pretentious and bitchy New York/Bostonian waitress, Ashley - the professional wrestler who's overly concerned with her 'fans' (WTF?), and Chicken - also known as Steve, a Chicken Farmer who we thankfully won't need to worry about any more cuz they gave him the boot. To say I don't care about these people would be overly kind.

Overall Grade: B-

Meteor Hits Napa! Web Analytics Set Back a Decade! Wine Saved!

Web analytics may not be for everyone in the high tech world, but those that are into it can really be passionate about it - check out this great review of SEMphonic's X Change Web Analytics conference in Napa, Ca. by Matt Nelson at ClickZ.

Monday, September 17, 2007

TOM TV: "Same 'ol Pretty" on Prison Break

As we start off the new season with a bang, I'll take a look at each premiere or pilot with six key questions - we call it "Top of Mind TV" or "TOM TV" for short. And to get us started... PRISON BREAK! Wanna join in, just send your answers to the same questions...

Did you like this episode? / Was it worth the wait?
Absolutely - been waiting all summmer for the return of Michael & Link.

What was your favorite quote from this episode?
T-bag comes through again - "Same 'ol pretty, just not good at makin friends"

What was the most sickening moment?
Plenty of these - but mostly Bellick in his underwear. EWWWWW.

What was the most thrilling moment?
Mahone's vicious end to the yard fight - DANG.

What was the sweetest moment?
Michael holding the crane and dreaming of sweet Sarah.

At the end of this episode, who were your favorite and least favorite characters?
Mahone earned favs for this episode based on the scene above, but T-bag was my
least favorite... or maybe the one you love to hate. He needs to come to a wicked,
wicked end.

Overall Grade: A-

Primetime is Breakin Out!!

Okay, as far as I'm concerned the Fall Primetime season is officially ON! Hooray for Prison Break - the countdown is running on their website, and the Season Premiere is on at 8. Afterwards, we'll check out the new series K'Ville - no real hopes up here, but who knows.

More to come later with a new series the hottie calls "Top of Mind TV".

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dollarprops for "Quarterlife"

Bucking the trend, producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick are launching a new hourlong drama with tv production values on MySpace and the web - "Quarterlife". Starting in November, a 10-minute segment from each episode will be posted on Sundays and Thursdays, and a day later on their site,, and a week later through other online distribution channels.

Can't wait to see this ambitious new undertaking from Marshall, who many of you know as the President of the Producer's Guild - read more about it on The New York Times site.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best Website Ever

Ok - haven't written in quite a while, mostly because I'm a total slacker and have been busy making 'sticks'... but I just found a new fav...

Granted, I may have exaggerated a bit with the headline - and surely won't go to this all the time like 'Indexed' or 'Cute Overload' - but truly, this is creative thinking at it's best. I'd like to tell you all about it - but don't wanna give away the gimmick. Sorry. Really. Can't even show you a picture.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Naked Quickie...

A quick update to my last two posts... I found this in the Indexed archives:

Old Insight: Everybody loves the pretty people

Yes, you already knew this - but researchers have found that attractive people are more successful than unattractive people. In fact, The Independent reports that Beautiful People earn 12% more than Ugly Bettys. It sad, but true - the halo effect is real. Read the article here.

Naked Indexing

It's official, I have a new hands-down favorite blog: INDEXED. If you are one of the few people in the blogsphere (like me) that hadn't heard of this yet, Indexed is a blog made up solely of visual observations created by Jessica Hagy on individual virtual index cards.

I don't know who Jessica Hagy is - but I love her. Jessica is good. Jessica's observations make me laugh. Jessica makes me happy. You should send her money and bags of yummy cookies.

Simple is hard... it takes insight. I might even say it takes naked insight. Hat's (and everything else) off to you, Hagy.


And for a clever animated take of Jessica's concepts, check out this little movie: "Le Grand Content", created by Clemens Kogler based on content from Indexed.

Brandbench: Small can be BIG

Today I'm taking a look at best practices in positioning - the act of putting something in a certain place within the mind of your audience by providing context. Sometimes differentiating your product or story from the competition is as simple as presenting it from a new perspective.

Take the work of photographer Tamra Hayes, shown here with one of her recent pieces "White Spider". Now I was sitting just a few feet away from Tamra for most of the day she took this shot, and yet I never even noticed this cute little guy. He's beautiful - but it's all a matter of perspective, and I needed Tamra's practiced eye to bring him into my field of vision.

Or for a different take, french storytellers Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo from Minuscule delight in the wonders of small. "Minuscule" recently won the prestigious international Pulcinella award for "TV Series for All Ages" for innovatively creating a world from real life footage and 3D characters, using humour and sound effects for adventurous stories. "Minuscule" shows insects in their day-to-day existence as if we were right there with them. The characters and setttings are very, very small - but the story and heart is BIG.

So we've covered the impact for artists and storytellers - how about from a community perspective?

It's likely that you've heard of, this community of cuteness reaches 65,000 broadband visitors a day with an estimated 90% of their audience comprised of women around the age of 25. That's a lot of floppy ear sightings.

CO founder Meg Frost loosely governs her chosen blog posts by a series of posted 'rules'. Rule #14 states that "If an everyday, small item makes you look small - it's cute." Further describing this phenomenon, Meg explains "Would you just look at the size of that green Post-It® note next to this kittens' "litter box"? Now, look at the Post-Its® on your desk—now look at the kitten. Repeat!"
The power of small is clear - it's BIG.

Take a moment to look at your story, marketing campaign, product positioning, etc. and ask yourself - "Could small be my new big?"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hot workers that have it worse than you

Having just returned from the seventh circle of hell (that's Houston for you fortunate souls who have never lived there), I was intrigued by a recent article from, "Where the hot jobs are."

Driving around that foresaken city was everything I remembered it to be - hot, steamy, sticky and miserable. But I was just commuting to a cushy super-cooled research room to observe comfortably from behind the glass. What about the folks that have to work outside in the summer? How bad must it be for them - and how in the world does the EMT, roofer, landscaper or road paver with the risks?

Check out the article - and then take a moment to raise your cool tasty beverage in salute to the crazy souls that brave the heat.
(I think my yard guys deserve a bigger tip)

Photo Credit: ALERT Workers in Little Rock, AK - Alert Academy

Thinking outside the box could land you "in the circle"

But not likely. I think that Phil Hansen has a lock on the space. If you haven't heard of "Phil in the circle" - you've got to check out the fantastic work from this delightfully unique and talented artist in Minneapolis.

Phil has started blogging and tracking his process via webcam, and I must admit that even though the finished pieces are wonderful - the process is what's really fascinating. For one piece, he created a mural of Bruce Lee using only hand-dipped 'karate chops' - be sure to watch the video. Another is comprised of over 12,000 victim portraits brought together to show the face of the Green River Killer... the piece gave me chills.

To me, the value of art is defined by the emotional response it illicits. How does Phil's circle affect you?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Best" Part Deux: Get in the heads of the people in your story

Continuing our discussions on the 'best in the world', I'd like to take a look at Denise Cramsey, Executive Producer of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As a recent panelist in NATPE's "State of the Industry" address at LATVFest in Hollywood, CA - Denise discussed her thoughts on uncovering stories that audiences love with Reality TV.

Denise - an incredibly classy and perceptive woman living in the tumultuous sea of Hollywood arrogance - is a firm believer that the single most important part of her job is to "get into the heads of the people in the story". Denise shared a clip from a recent episode on the Rogers family that had eyes welling up for even the most seasoned of network programming executives. In this episode, the emotional 'clincher' centered around a small hand-painted house sign that had been placed over the entryway of the Rogers' new family home.

Denise discovered the sign after observing the family matriarch while the movers were sorting family items - the mom saw one of the movers rifling through the junk in an old bureau and had asked if he could be sure to not throw the sign away. Something about her casual question made Denise pause, and she made sure to secretly grab the sign and give it to the designers for prominent placement as part of the new home's entry.

When the new home was revealed the mom was glued to her spot, overcome with emotion - not by the gorgeous new home, but by the sight of "The Rogers" sign over the door. Turns out the sign had been a gift from her father at her wedding to her late husband - and she had been so embarassed of their dilapidated home that she had left it buried in a drawer for years.

Denise's committment to truly knowing the people in her stories is one of the key characteristics that has made her one of the 'best in the world' - as evidenced by the success of Home Makeover and that other little show of hers that launched a network - Trading Spaces.

Technorati Profile

Friday, July 27, 2007

Want to create world-class products? Focus on the B.E.A.T.

I was reminded today of a great focus acronym taught to me by a very dear mentor - if you want to create world-class products, just focus on the B.E.A.T.:


The first might be obvious - but you absolutely have to BELIEVE in your vision - sincere and honest passion for what you are doing is critical to success. Be willing to die on the field of battle to achieve your vision - but choose your battles wisely. The EXPERIENCE refers to the Guest/User/Fan experience - making sure that each and every interaction point is designed to delight, inspire and fulfill - never settling even on the smallest details. No product succeeds without a deep understanding of your AUDIENCE, and their needs, desires, actions and expectations should be in your crosshairs every step of the way. And finally, without the right TEAM, your vision is quite simply doomed to fail.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Seth, Saturday & Savion: Comments on being the best in the world

In marketing guru Seth Godin's latest book The Dip, he talks about being the 'best in the world' at whatever you do. I've had Seth's words in my head for the last several weeks since I enjoyed his latest, but it's never been more top-of-mind than this weekend.

First, I spent a lovely Saturday doing basically the same thing as a record-breaking 8.3 million other fans across the world - reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I find J.K. Rowling inspiring - she is the creator of probably the best-known and certainly the best-loved character in contemporary fiction; she is also the author of her own escape from destitution, with no job and few prospects. She definitely has earned her place as one of the best. Now I can't help but mention that my FAVORITE part about the book was probably the conversations we started at all the tables around us when my husband and I pulled out our books and started reading in a swank Los Angeles restaurant Saturday night, but I digress...


Sunday then provided another 'best' look with an awe-inspiring performance from Savion Glover, in town to perform with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Savion caught my attention as the basketball-toting tap phenom in 1989's "Tap" with my personal hero, Gregory Hines. I then had the pleasure of meeting him in the early 1990's as he was again performing alongside Gregory in the Tony-award winning "Jelly's Last Jam". I knew then that he was something special - but I don't think I possibly could have imagined that goofy kid would grow and evolve into one of the greatest hoofers (if not the greatest) that has ever lived.

But watching Savion this evening with a beautiful rainbow bursting into color across the late California summer sky, it got me thinking about Seth's book - and about finding your niche to truly be the 'BEST' at whatever it is you do. Like many of you, I am also on this journey - scraping my way and picking up these refreshing reminders of how much is really possible for those with the focus, talent and determination to get there. Do you have it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

3D Update: Order of the Phoenix Smashes IMAX Opening Records

Following up on last week's post Sizzlin Stereoscopic 3D - visit VFX World to read the latest news on how "Phoenix" shattered opening box office records at IMAX theaters with a special 3D finale. I may have to see the movie again just to check this out!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Packing the house: Six takes on positioning a classic

I love movie trailers – absolutely LOVE ‘em – I think of trailers as little pieces of art. The beauty is that any story can be told any number of ways, so this is what I hope will be the first of many explorative pieces about what we can learn from movie marketing.

The first lesson is that any story can be told from a variety of viewpoints – even a classic like “Star Wars: A New Hope”. Check out the log lines below for a look at everyone’s favorite from six different points of view:

POV: Epic
Audience: General
Log line: In the continuing saga of the Empire, follow the adventures of a simple farm boy - Luke Skywalker – and a collection of unlikely allies (Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Ben Kenobi and Han Solo) as they attempt to rescue a beautiful princess from the evil Lord Vader. The ultimate battle between good and evil is about to be joined by new generation of heroes.

POV: Romance
Audience: Women
Log line: Han Solo was a rogue on the run. Princess Leia was a rebel leader trying to save her people from destruction. They had nothing in common and everything to lose. But together they would discover a love greater than all the powers of the galaxy.

POV: Darth Vader
Audience: General
Log line: Anakin Skywalker abandoned his greatest love for the powers of the dark side and set out to conquer the galaxy in the name of the Empire. But now, after his twisted dreams of dominion and hate have been fulfilled, he will find that the remnants of that love may spell his doom in the form of a naïve farm boy and his rag-tag band of allies.

POV: Underdog
Audience: General
Log line: After encountering a droid with a hidden message, young Luke Skywalker heads off to rescue the beautiful Princess Leia from certain death at the hands of the Empire and the evil Darth Vader. But first, he’ll have to leave the only home he’s ever known and learn to master the underlying force that controls us all.

POV: Buddy Movie
Audience: General
Log line: Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, a pair of unlikely traveling companions, find themselves at odds when they both fall for the beautiful Princess Leia. But before either of them can get the girl, they must travel the galaxy, battle Storm Troopers, attack the fearsome Death Star, and defeat the evil Lord Vader. The ultimate battle between good and evil has never been so much fun!

POV: Continuing Story
Audience: General
Log line: George Lucas' spellbinding "Star Wars" sequel, the battle to save the galaxy from the evil Empire rages on. Join Luke Skywalker - the owner of a droid with a secret message who discovers the ancient secrets of the Jedi . . . secrets Luke will need when he encounters the Dark Side of the Force in the ultimate battle between good and evil.
Photo Credit: Original movie poster for Star Wars (renamed Episode IV: A New Hope) Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Friday, July 13, 2007

Brandbench: My 2 Cents on a Monk-a-licious Site

So tonight's premiere was Monk-a-licious - but that's no surprise coming from me, I'm a biased fan of the defective detective.

But what I want to talk about is the craft that has been applied to the Monk show site. If you haven't been there, go and play - but for observers who want to learn something about truly bringing a brand to life, pay attention to the details that make this site a benchmark for extending the experience of character and story to life online:

  • Sticky games stick to the story
    Bringing a character to life outside of the actual show is extremely difficult - most character/show sites succeed in having cute names that fit the show and interaction that fits the theme... but that's as far as it goes. Monk's games are not only totally addictive - every teenie tiny detail ties in with the story and celebrates the quirks of the characters.

    Take, for example, Monk's Mind Game. This is a wonderfully designed flash game that uses a combination of high-quality still photography and animations to bring to life Monk's phobias - like straightening pencils so that they are all perfectly parallel or cleaning smudge marks with disenfectant all before time runs out. These games are not only incredibly fun to play, but absolutely every interaction is based on reinforcing the core elements that fans connect with in the story.

  • Purified promotions that pack a punch
    Not only do the games bring the core themes to life, but this site also has a new contest to help fans clean up their own act offline - a total closet makeover. What better for a Monk fan? And they do a great job of encouraging viewership by asking two pretty detailed questions from the show that have to be answered to qualify to win (I thought I was pretty good at this, but I actually got one of the questions wrong - I'm so ashamed)

  • Germ-free Community
    Community features are a key component to keep Monkaholics involved in the show, and in addition to the standard message boards and a fan of the week feature - this season they've introduced the community-based 'Monk Across America' where fans upload photos of their Monk bobblehead in different locals across the country.

    Brilliant - since in order to enter you have to HAVE a Monk bobblehead, which of course was featured in the primary series campaign and also in the season premiere. Now that's integration: community + brand + commerce.


It's tough to bring characters to life and make it look & feel this easy, but hat's off to USA for creating a benchmark for how a small-ish show site can get it done. yay!

Photo Credit: USANetwork Fan-Uploaded Photo


Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. Monk. PSYCH.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sizzlin' Stereoscopic 3Dillyicious!

This evening I was given a treat, courtesy of my good pals at the Producer's Guild: Stereoscopic 3D! Courtesy of Real-D in Beverly Hills, we attended a fantastic seminar on the things to look out for when producing a 3D feature - complete with examples from feature film and theme park applications. But first...

for those of you that are not familiar, our host explained that there are many types of 3D displays: stereoscopic 3D displays a separate image to each eye; autosteroscopic 3D displays do the same, but don't require any special eye wear or head tracking; and holographic 3D displays reproduce a light field which is identical to that which emanated from the original scene.

So today we were talking primarily about stereoscopic, or those 3D methods that provide a totally separate image for each eye. In production terms, that's like creating two totally separate features. Hmmmm... double the work, but does it have the potential for double the impact?

Well, award-winning Producer Chartlotte Huggins kicked off our panel with an in-depth discussion of the elements she looks for in a script that can really come to life in a 3D format. And I have to say that she really wowed the audience with a 3 min. clip from her upcoming Animated Feature "Fly Me to the Moon".

Forgeting that it's 3D for a moment, I thought that this clip was one of the most beautifully crafted and enjoyable CGI animation sequences I've seen recently. The stylized fly characters were absolutely joyful. Adding in the field depth of a photorealistic fantasy space setting and the extension beyond the plane with the characters drifting in space... wow. I hate to sound so dang positive through this whole thing, but Holy Buckets! I call this one 'plug-worthy', so look for it at your local IMAX theater. (Photo Credit: nWave)

Next up on the agenda was Jeff Kleiser - and if you don't know the name, you definitely know his work in visual effects that spans the decades from "Tron" to "X-Men United" and "Fantastic Four".

Jeff took us through some gorgeous concept art that was used for the Eddy award-winning Spiderman attraction at Universal in Orlando (really wonderful stuff, ALMOST worth visiting Florida for), and showed us part of the "Santa Lights Up New York" for "The Radio City Christmas Spectacular" project. The "Santa" project story was particularly interesting as they actually revisited it a few years after the original cut to freshen up everyone's favorite fat man with the latest CGI techniques... but I digress.

***TANGENT ALERT: To digress even farther, I just checked out Jeff's bio on IMDb Pro to find out that his brother Randal Kleiser is a pretty amazing Director as well. It makes me giddy as a schoolgirl to know that I was sitting three seats away from the Director of Grease! WHOPBODDALOOBOP-A-WHOP-BAMB-BOOM!!!***

Anyway, Jeff then then told us a bit about a project that his company Kleiser/Walczak produced for Bush Gardens based on the very simple concept provided to them... "Irish". Now known as "Corkscrew Hill", which takes audiences on a 3-D adventure back in time to experience the mythical creatures of 18th Century Ireland.

I wasn't as in love with the creative direction of this as with the previously discussed "Fly" feature - but only in terms of style. From a conceptual point of view, this is a story brilliantly written specifically to make the most of 3D. The audience actually gets to be a part of the story - watching the action from within a 'box' found by two small boys. It's a fantastic way to deal with the limitations of the 3D 'window' created by the film screen - and at one point a troll seems to actually pluck an audience member out of the box and try to eat him!! Very, very cool!

Unfortunately, at this point the evening was running a bit behind schedule and I had to depart due to a previous engagement... but my hat is off to Jeff and Charlotte, and my thanks goes out to Joe Russo from the Guild for providing this great session!

I'm glad to see 3D making a comeback and taking such enormous strides in quality. I did enjoy the recent release of "Monster House" in 3D, and also the Disney 3D versions of "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons". Although "Chicken" wasn't a story that lended itself to 3D as well as "Monster" or MTR. But if the effects that we saw this week are any indication, we will be seeing enormous strides in quality in this next gen of 3D cinema and park attractions. HOORAY!

NOTE: BTW, it should be clear to you that I am NOT an expert on either animation or 3D. But I'm always learning, and I'm definitely an afficionado! Please feel free to comment or correct!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Flypaper: Producer's tips for sticky sweeps

For those of you who haven't heard of it, I'd like to introduce you to Bluefly is a commerce site selling top designer goodies like Marc Jacobs, Prada and Vera Wang at deep, deep discounts.

Today I want to talk about STICKY SWEEPSTAKES. Not really a sweeps gal, I have been surprised to find myself as an addict of the Bluefly sweepstakes. They run these 3 or 4 times a year, and the build of these sweeps is simply one of the best examples of great usability you'll find on the web. Check it out for yourself, but here are a few of the key practices that they employ that absolutely every ecommerce manager should know and model:

  1. Give 'em what they really want
    The first thing that they do really well is tap into what their core users really, really want - free high-end merchandise. Take the current sweeps running today, every day someone wins a $1000 shopping spree on the site - with the deep discounts that's enough for a fabu Marc Jacobs bag or pair of Jimmy Choos. Yipee!

  2. Make it fun
    After logging in, the sweepstakes is always based around a totally fun and easy flash mini-game. The current one is on a fishing model, but past games have included the balloon toss, throwing darts, and fishing for Versaci in a jam-packed treasure trunk. They make it fun and anyone can play.

  3. Reward engagement
    In addition to the grand prize, they also always offer secondary prizes that keep you feeling like the BIG win is just around the corner. For example, 10% discounts on shopping, Bonus Plays, and other digital goodies that provide a feeling of accomplishment.

  4. Encourage world of mouth
    And for those shoppers who just can't wait another day to enter, you get an extra play for 'telling a friend'. A great way to make it viral and expand your audience.

  5. Once you've got 'em, keep 'em
    After you've played for the day, you then get dropped into a 'Thanks for Playing' page. But it doesn't just thank you, it leads you to 'Shop Now' with photos and links to the hottest products. If you can keep them in the site, they're more likely to spend. Isn't that why you invested in a sweepstakes in the first place?

  6. If you lose 'em, invite them back
    Next, they offer a feature that will send you emails to remind you when to play -but ONLY if you ask for it. The wording of the Opt-in is brilliant: "YES! I GOTTA WIN THIS! Send me an e-mail every day!" It's a great way to drive you back to the site. And if they don't hear from you for a while, they will send you an email invitation to come back to the site for more - often with an additional 10% off code to keep make it hard to ignore.

  7. And finally - you don't always have to SELL to sell
    It's all about the positioning. Bluefly really understands their audience and positions their site and sweeps as 'we're just like you'. Take their tagline... "the ultimate hook-up for the fashion obsessed". It's the perfect spin. This is reinforced with their 'fun' take on sweeps, and also an awesome blog with an inside look at the fashion world. Positioning your brand wrong can be the kiss of death, but when you do it right - like I believe Bluefly does - it can make the entire experience fun and exciting.

You don't have to be into fashion to appreciate this experience. How could you implement these practices in your own promotional efforts?