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THIS WEEK: OVER VAGINA’D HBO & INSTAGRAM GOES INSTABOOK by Marauder

THIS WEEK: OVER VAGINA’D HBO & INSTAGRAM GOES INSTABOOK

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Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls

© Jojo Whilden/HBO. All rights reserved.

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The new series, Girls, comes to HBO this Sunday and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. I watched the first two episodes in Austin at SXSW spawning my lady crush on its writer/creator, Lena Dunham. The show follows a group of NYC Williamsburg hipsters through their daily machinations focusing on the somewhat unglamorous side of their romantic transgressions. I spent my 20’s living in NYC, the latter half in which I was working at HBO, and hence, was especially excited to see this story unfold.

I’ve been watching the critical reviews come across the internet wires and they all boil down to one thing: sex. The sex in Sex & the City was glamorous Jimmy Choo-laced fantasy, thick with witty Samantha-isms and adorable recaps from Carrie. The sex in Girls is uncomfortable to watch and ‘real’ in a way I’ve never seen on screen before. Slate Magazine describes this realness as the “chronicling of bad sex” whereas New York Magazine raves that the sex “isn’t a reward, it’s a revelation.” So which is it? Lena Dunham writes, stars, and partially directs this series. She plays Hannah, a post-collegiate brutally torn from the parental financial purse strings to go out on her own for the first time. The first sex on screen carries out between Hannah and her sex buddy Adam, and while not ruining anything, I’ll just say, that I would never tell a friend about sex that bad.

That said, it wasn’t only the sex that I found so intriguing. It was the comfort level by which these girls interact with each other and by which Dunham herself is comfortable exposing the world to. There is one scene in particular that I have obsessed over, obsessed because I think it indicates some lack of cool on my part and therefore has been a conversation piece for weeks. Dunham’s character, Hannah, takes a bath with her towel-clad roommate Marnie chatting about their lives, a pastime which in most respects would be done over breakfast or perhaps, any other place with clothes on. I’ve obsessed because I’ve wanted to know if this happens in real life. Do women get together naked and talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives? I don’t even like to look people in the eye in the women’s locker room, let alone sit naked in a bathtub and talk about my sex life. Does this make me uncool?

Lena Dunham, as Hannah, with actor Adam Driver.

(Photo: Jojo Whilden/HBO)

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Back to the sex. The attempt to categorize this show at the ‘everygirl’ story would be dangerous. In the same way that Sex & the City did not translate to the lives of most American women at the time it debuted, I don’t think Girls has the intention of direct translation. How many women buy Jimmy Choos on a Monday and Monolo Blahniks on a Tuesday? In the same respect, how many women catch up on their day with their best friend sitting naked in a bathtub and then have discussions about how maybe they really do want AIDS at the doctor’s office? Here’s where I had to reel myself in. Being that you, the viewer, are presented with a woman (Dunham) who looks more real than the skinny plastic surgery-disfigured faces of so many Hollywood actresses, the viewer immediately thinks that what happens on screen will look more similar to their own world. In my case, even though I spent some time living in Williamsburg, the attempt at direct correlation was lost in translation. Frankly, that’s not the point. I think Dunham’s intention is to entertain with her own story and hope that each viewer draws inspiration in whichever way makes sense. Whether that’s making one person feel less embarrassed about their own bad sex moment or more comfortable in simply sharing something with a friend, so be it. So, I’ll attempt to stop thinking about how uncool I am for my lack of bathtub friend time…but seriously, does this make me uncool?! Maybe not, but quotes like this one, make Lena Dunham fresh to death.

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In other news, Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 Billion (scaring the sh-t out of this Instagram user right here and this one over there), Google busts out some augmented reality glasses which sadly bring on the Star Trek jokes, and Bravo announces plans to bring a Silicon Valley reality series to screen.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Architecture Meets Outdoor Art Projection

Photo Credit: Designboom



THE PERFECT HOLIDAY DRESS?: RENT THE RUNWAY by Marauder

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY DRESS?: RENT THE RUNWAY

Rent the Runway2

I just received an invite in my inbox to try out Rent the Runway, the latest web site to take on the high fashion rental market. Remember Bag, Borrow, or Stealmade popular by Jennifer Hudson’s character in the Sex and the City movie? Well, it appears we’ve moved past renting accessories and on to renting a whole look. Need a dress-to-impress for that holiday party? Think of how amazing you will look in a Hervé Léger. Gorg. Here’s how it all breaks down.


Rent the Runway

The site offers a smattering of designers from Catherine Malandrino, Tracy Reese to Cavalli. Dress rentals run from $50 – $200 for a 4-day rental including the price to ship to your doorstep. That’s one-tenth of the typical cost.  While dresses come in sizes 0-10, this is high fashion. Not surprisingly, most are only available up to a size 8. They also allow another dress to be shipped to your house free of charge in a separate size when you rent from a new designer. Girl, you know how you like to lie about your size… These designers don’t front like Banana Republic trying to convince you that you actually weigh 10 pounds less! The site offers returns within 24 hours for any reason.


Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler– Peekaboo shoulder sheath


After rocking out the dress and impressing your friends with your style and apparent wallet-size, simply place the dress in a pre-paid envelope and return to RTR. Dry cleaning is included but damage insurance costs an additional $5 extra. If you happen to all-out destroy the dress (think Can’t By Me Love), you can either find a geek to go out with you or pay up for the entire cost of the dress.

The inventory currently includes 160 dresses and the founders claim that twenty thousand women have signed up on the site, which has only been shipping dresses for a week.  No men’s fashion for now boys.

So far, a few things seem to be critical to the site’s success.

Timeliness

In planning for a big event, if the dress doesn’t arrive on time, it could spell disaster.

Selection

No one wants to be rocking a Proenza Schouler from 3 collections back. Travesty.


Consumer Behavior

There’s a clear difference between sauntering around with a rented handbag on your arm vs. wearing a dress that many could have worn before you. Yes, we’ve all tried on clothes in fitting rooms. Have those clothes walked out of the fitting room, into a cab, gotten wasted at Spring Lounge at an after party and proceeded to eject the contents of the most recent Jack & Ginger on a street corner? I think not.


Business Model

The key is to rent each dress enough times that RTR can make back what they spent on each. Netflix only has to make back the cost of a DVD. A piece of designer threads costs substantially higher increasing the potential risk.

So far the service is invitation-only but we’re working on getting some invites for loyal readers. Check back later.

It remains to be seen if this model can prove successful but in the meantime, yes, this is a Christian Siriano. Glad you like it.

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BROADCAST/CABLE by Marauder

BROADCAST/CABLE

USA Network‘s “Burn Notice” pulled in a whopping 6 million viewers for the finale of its second season, coming in third in its time slot behind new episodes of “E.R.” on NBC and “Eleventh Hour” on CBS. “Burn Notice” also scored big with the 18-to-49 demographic group, amassing 2.74 million in the advertiser-coveted segment. TVWeek.com (3/6)

burn-notice

America’s Best Dance Crew finale on MTV Thursday night delivered a 2.97 rating among the 12-34 set, the highest delivery for this series, season to date, out delivering it season to date average of 2.2 rating by 22%. For the whole of the season, America’s Best Dance Crew reached 70.7 million total viewers, and 32.9 million in its sweetspot, persons 12-34. (Cynopsis 3/9)

abdc

Scott Carlin, HBO‘s president of domestic distribution, and his team will meet with potential buyers this month about syndication sales of three of the network’s iconic hits: “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Sex and the City.” And, despite the economic conditions, Carlin is optimistic about chances for the shows: “Everything has its own life and time. We think now is a pretty interesting time to begin having some conversations with people about these shows.” Broadcasting & Cable (3/9)

satc

Epix, the forthcoming Viacom-Lions Gate-MGM movie channel, is having trouble securing distribution with cable and satellite TV companies. Carriers are skittish about adding a pricey new network during a recession. In response, Epix could turn to online pathways into the home. (Iwantmedia 3/9, http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2009/03/studios-epix-ve.html 3/6)

If it’s March, it must be madness. That’s what CBS College Sports Network and the NCAA are hoping, at any rate, as they begin offering multichannel providers the sophomore season of “NCAA VOD: The Best of March Madness.” “March Madness is a huge event and VOD is an asset that MSOs and other distributors can use to differentiate their products and drive their business,” said Bob Rose, executive vice president of distribution for CBS College Sports. Multichannel News (3/8)

The new AT&T-sponsored Music Vault will enable users to unlock a virtual portal that offers access to music videos from MTV Networks that have never before been released on the Internet. Fans access the videos via an online trivia game and can share their access with friends. (Iwantmedia 3/9, http://www.worldscreen.com/articles/display/19998 3/6)

CBS and NBC, looking to cut costs as advertising shrinks, are turning to Canadian television producers for new shows. Both networks will debut shows that are filmed and set in Toronto. Canada is “palatable” to U.S. audiences; Canadians “drive on the same side of the street.” (Iwantmedia 3/9, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=afYDvToAWJks 3/9)

Bravo’s luxurious mix of shopaholic housewives, millionaire matchmakers and fancy chefs is displaying a good amount of resiliency against hard financial times. In February, the NBC Universal network reported a 16% increase in young-adult viewers over the comparable period in 2008. Variety (3/6)

Fox’s lucrative “American Idol,” the most-watched U.S. television series, is “the last of its breed,” says Fox exec Mike Darnell. “I don’t believe there will ever be another show like this,” as the consumer pool is increasingly splintered by broadcast, cable, DVRs and the Internet. (Iwantmedia 3/9, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090308/ap_en_mu/american_idol_empire 3/8)

Tosh.0 is a new weekly series ordered by Comedy Central with host and comedian Daniel Tosh.  The series will include ten episodes, airing weekly, and set to premiere in June.  The mission of Tosh.0 is to change the way people think about the internet, with a closer look at blogs, vlogs, tweets and pokes. (Cynopsis 3/9)

ABC has ordered a new single camera pilot called Pulling, from ABC Studios.  Based on the 2006 British series, the story is about three women who decide to live together after one of them breaks off her engagement just 24 hours before the wedding. (Cynopsis 3/9)

Disney-owned SoapNet, the cable channel that, so far, has featured reruns of daytime soaps in prime time, is getting into the business of original, scripted programming. Brian Frons, who oversees the network, said SoapNet was investing in two original series — “Julia’s Tango” and “Santa Monica” — and would present them to ad buyers during the upfront selling season. TVWeek.com (3/8)

As the economic tailspin continues, advertisers increasingly are considering the value of the 10-second commercial. These quick-hitting spots, according to Kal Liebowitz of KSL Media, typically cost less than half the price of a 15-second spot and often run in relatively clutter-free environments that are outside of commercial pods. TVWeek.com (3/8)

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ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Marauder

ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA

HBO just launched a sweepstakes leading up to the premiere of Sex and the City The Movie on HBO. Get your Manolo on all over again with Sex and the City: The Movie Girls Night In Cross-Platform Sweepstakes.  The grand prize is a $10,000 ultimate shopping spree plus daily instant win prizes. Create your Sex and the City Fashionista and post her to your Facebook page. Unlock new must-have accessories by watching short Sex and the City videos on HBO on Demand, HBO.com, HBO on Broadband, Comcast.net, Fancast, Road Runner.com, Cox.net and various other sites.  Or join the Facebook fan page and upload a pic of your Fashionista there.

satc-game

To rev up for the premiere of The Watchmen, Joost has put together a compendium of comics-themed video clips dating back to the original Flash Gordon shorts from the 1930s. (Cynopsis 3/2)

joost-comic

Many U.S. Christians are swearing off Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other new technologies for Lent. Thousands of Facebook users are signing up for “Giving up Facebook for Lent” groups on the site, posting notices that they will be gone for the next six weeks. (Iwantmedia 3/2, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/03/most_days_you_can_find.html 3/1)

After a couple of false starts, 2009 just might be the year that interactive television begins to fulfill its potential for the cable TV industry. According to this report, the country’s largest cable firms have upgraded about 20 million set-top boxes to make them more amenable to interactive applications and, as Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke said, “Clearly, there is a huge, huge business out there if you can get the interactivity that you currently get when you advertise on the Internet married with television spots.” Multichannel News (3/2)

Nielsen released its January Video Census numbers revealing that total video streams topped 10 billion in the U.S. for the first time. Live streaming of President Obama’s inauguration helped increase the overall internet video audience increased to 135 million. After a basically flat Dec., YouTube increased its traffic by a measurable clip to 5.8 billion streams from 92 million unique users, up from 5.5 billion streams/84 million users in Dec. Following its Superbowl ad campaign, the aliens at Hulu rolled past Fox Interactive Media to the #3 ranking in terms of total streams while ABC nearly doubled its video viewer base from 3.5 million to 6.2 million. CNN also saw a huge boost from its Facebook inauguration integration, delivering 152 million streams to 5.6 million unique viewers in Jan., up from 95 million streams/8.3 million uniques in Dec. (Cynopsis 3/2)

Overall Online Video Usage (U.S.)
Nov-08      Dec-08      Jan-09        Percent Change
Unique Viewers (000)           124,262    124,611       135,617            +8.8%
Total Streams (000)          9,548,267  9,593,320  10,457,785             +9.0%
Streams per Viewer                76.8            77              77.1               +0%
Time per Viewer (min)           177.9         170.7            178.6             +4.6%
Source: Nielsen Online VideoCensus, Includes progressive downloads, excludes video advertising

Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for December 2008 (U.S.)
Brand                                          Total Streams (000)   Unique Viewers (000)
YouTube                                            5,810,271                     92,563
Yahoo!                                                 273,968                     24,518
Hulu                                                    232,444                       7,238
Fox Interactive Media                             213,351                     16,318
Nickelodeon Kids and Family Network        204,212                        6,268
MSN/Windows Live                                171,909                      14,468
ABC.com                                              163,503                       6,221
CNN                                                    152,780                     11,444
Turner Sports and Ent. Digital Network      143,481                       5,698
Megavideo                                             90,952                       4,439
Source: Nielsen Online VideoCensus, Includes progressive downloads, excludes video advertising

Top 10 Parent Companies/Divisions for January 2009
Parent                Unique Audience (000)    Time Per Person (hh:mm:ss)
1.  Google                       140,202                        2:13:20
2.  Microsoft                    128,870                        2:35:34
3.  Yahoo!                       120,032                        3:32:25
4.  AOL LLC                       88,989                        3:52:12
5.   News Corp. Online         82,746                        1:26:10
6.   InterActiveCorp            67,670                        0:17:25
7.   eBay                           66,942                        1:51:31
8.   Amazon                       65,374                        0:28:08
9.   Facebook                     62,459                        2:50:02
10. Wikimedia Foundation     60,852                        0:19:28
Source: Nielsen Online

Top 10 Web Brands for January 2009
Brand               Unique Audience (000)  Time Per Person (hh:mm:ss)
1. Google                    135,613                    1:31:58
2  Yahoo!                    118,824                    3:33:04
3. MSN/Windows Live    105,900                    2:24:41
4. Microsoft                   99,169                    0:46:59
5. AOL Media Network      88,989                    3:52:12
6. YouTube                    84,240                    1:02:19
7. Fox Interactive Media   71,244                    1:26:05
8. Facebook                   62,444                     2:50:04
9. Wikipedia                   60,382                     0:19:26
10. Apple                       59,482                     1:24:16
Source: Nielsen Online

Average U.S. Internet Usage, Combined Home & Work, Month of January 2009
Sessions/Visits per Person                   62
Domains Visited per Person                 115
Web Pages per Person                    2,580
Duration of a Web Page Viewed     0:00:55
PC Time per Person                    74:45:35
Active Digital Media Universe  168,734,519
Current Digital Media             229,254,813
Universe Estimate
Source: Nielsen Online

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MISC by Marauder

MISC

Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City claimed a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Bray and Bray division for two new novels for the teen market centered on character Carrie Bradshaw. The books will focus on Carrie’s high school years where, according to Bushnell Carrie “began observing and commenting on the social scene” around her. The books are due out in the fall of 2010. (Cynopsis 9/18)

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SEX AND THE CITY: SAMANTHA’S LOST HER GROOVE by Marauder

SEX AND THE CITY: SAMANTHA’S LOST HER GROOVE

Like the millions of other 20-something females out there, I saw Sex and the City over the weekend. Turns out, the film exceeded expectations beating out Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for the top spot at the box office with $55.7 million. Here are some interesting stats as quoted by the LA Times: 85% of the audience was female and 80% of the audience was 25 years or older. My favorite quote about the craziness surrounding the film is pulled from a reviewer from the Herald Tribune who called it ‘feminine ground zero.’

In essence, the movie did very well and I would add that I definitely enjoyed it. That said, I’m just wondering here. . .

. . .what the hell happened to Samantha?

I may remember her appearance being a bit younger i.e. (above) but at least I remember her as a complex, intriguing character.

And frankly, after watching re-runs of Sex and the City on TBS in syndication in which most of Samantha’s parts are cut out to remain squeaky clean, I miss her.

Do not read on if you don’t want to incur some soft spoilers.

In the movie, Samantha’s character is brutalized into a bland, silly and frankly caricature-like vision of her former self. Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte approach Samantha in a mini-intervention to tell her that they are concerned over her weight gain. I propose an additional intervention, this time to Michael Patrick King (writer of the film), to ask him to re-think Samantha if in fact the sequel becomes a reality.

Samantha’s character is crucial to the plotline in a way not as obvious to the Carrie-obsessed. Within a cast of marriage-obsessed characters, Samantha keeps the story well-balanced, reminding viewers that not every woman dreams of one day walking down the aisle, baby in tow. Even for those women who do dream those things, it may not be the one priority. Old Samantha was sex-obsessed and powerful in her career. In this movie, she’s become de-sexualized. Even more shocking, her career revolves around a man (a plot which resolves itself by the end of the film).

So, here’s the deal:

Times Samantha Has Sex in Sex and the City:

Zero

Years Samantha Has Remained Faithful to Smith

5

Pounds Samantha Gains While Trying to Remain Faithful to Smith

15

Times Samantha’s New Dog Attempts to Hump Something

3

Recognize Our Girl?

Me neither.

To help Samantha get her groove back, I propose a showing of support:

Designed by: Minki Kim

Just so I’m not accused of being overly critical, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, particularly the moments between Carrie and Miranda. One-sided Samantha isn’t Samantha at all.

For an interesting review of Sex and the City that I don’t agree with but find hysterical none the less check out:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2008/06/09/080609crci_cinema_lane?currentPage=1

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BROADCAST/CABLE by Marauder

BROADCAST/CABLE

A trio of Bravo reality shows — “Top Chef: Chicago,” “The Real Housewives of New York City: The Lost Footage” and “Work Out” — have gotten off to a hot summertime start. Culinary cook-off “Top Chef,” for instance, is averaging 2.69 million viewers, a 20% increase over the same time last year. (Multichannel News 5/30)

Top Chef Chicago

HBO has picked up the US adaptation of the BBC Two comedy series Sensitive Skin, with Kim Cattrall in the lead role, reports THR. The series is written and exec produced by Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green. Cattrall will also take an exec producer role. The story revolves around a middle-aged NY wife and mother, who begins to question her choices in life as well as her sexuality. (Cynopsis 6/2)

Time Warner Cable is heading into one of the biggest crossroads of its corporate future. In this Q-and-A interview, CEO Glenn Britt talks about why the split with Time Warner makes sense, the company’s leap of faith with Clearwire and his skepticism about video for portable devices. (The Wall Street Journal 6/2, The Wall Street Journal 6/2)

Most interesting in this clip is Britt’s thoughts on programming partners putting free content on the web day-and-date with linear television content. Suffice to say, he doesn’t like it.

Analyst views of Time Warner’s growth prospects once the media giant separates from its cable operating business are too low, says CEO Jeff Bewkes. Some analysts have estimated growth in the mid-single digit percentages. “We’re going to do considerably higher than that.” (Iwantmedia 6/2, http://www.reuters.com/article/hotStocksNews/idUSWEN599120080530 5/30)

Time Warner and General Electric are said to be starting “preliminary efforts to explore a commingling of their entertainment assets,” including GE’s NBC Universal. However, CEO Jeff Bewkes says: “We don’t need to own anything [else],” in a clear reference to NBCU. (Iwantmedia 6/2, http://www.newsweek.com/id/139425 6/1, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ie29ff31c80c6e3df1cd7337014291256 6/1)

Ad-supported cable nets accounted for 60% of all TV viewers in May, with TNT, USA, Disney and ESPN leading the way, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by the Disney-ABC Television Group. The analysis contained more bad news for broadcast networks: They were down 11%, to a household share of 40%. (Multichannel News 6/2)

At the end of 2007, DISH Network had 1.3 million HDTV subscribers. The company does not typically release subscriber counts, but the figure surfaced in documents filed with the New York state Supreme Court in a Voom lawsuit. (OneTRAK 6/1)