Monday, September 13, 2004

I See B.S.

What is The (brown) Eye spewing?

There has to be something more going on here than either side is letting on.

First, I should admit that I’m an unabashed Madonna fan. I caught her Re-Invention show back in May. The concert was an astonishing sensory overload that could never be convincingly translated to video. However, since there was much more going on than my brain and field of vision could possibly absorb, I was looking forward to seeing it televised.

Now, it’s hard to believe that these two parties would enter into such a pricey (reportedly $10 million) deal without first settling on the terms of the broadcast. Say what you will about Madonna, but she’s known for being a savvy, detail-oriented businesswoman. Even though she says that she doesn’t watch any television, she and her business people must have some familiarity with the medium – enough to know that to assume that a broadcast network would just air two and a half hours of commercial-free programming is as much mishigas as her fellow Michigander thinking that a network might air Fahrenheit 9/11 before the election.

If they had any realistic hope of these unrealistic demands being met, they must have known that they would have to get something on paper. As I recall, when negotiating the broadcast rights to Jurassic Park, there was a concrete stipulation that NBC also air Schindler’s List without commercial interruption. While airing Schindler’s List sans advertisements is much more of a no-brainer (though still unprecedented at the time) than a pro-bono broadcast of a Madonna concert, even this had to be agreed upon before money changed hands.

In addition, considering some of the more controversial, politically-charged elements of the Re-Invention show, Madonna and her people must have had doubts before signing with FCC-beleaguered, conservative, The Reagans-banishing CBS that the concert would be shown uncut. If they didn't seek some sort of guarantee, then they were being shockingly naive.

What’s also suspect is the timing of this announcement, just days before her final two tour dates. This doesn’t allow much time for another outlet to swoop in and record the concert. CBS could pass it along to one of their Viacom siblings (MTV, VH1, Showtime), which would seem to be a better fit – though I suspect that if that were going to happen, it would’ve been mentioned in CBS’ press release. HBO, which aired her last three concert specials to very high ratings, would also be a logical alternative. They reportedly dropped out of the bidding (presumably because CBS was offering such a high figure), but I wonder if any corporate bad blood between Madonna and HBO parent company Time Warner stands in the way of that alliance being reformed.

Regardless of how this suspicious business abortion came to be, the real losers (what’s $10 million to Madonna when artistic integrity is at stake?) will be her fans. Our only hope is that somebody records one of her Lisbon concerts, if only so that it can be released on DVD (preferably with the multiple-angle feature enabled so we can take it all in). Come on, there must be somebody out there who still wants to make a buck.


Post a Comment

<< Home