Tag Archives: TV

Can your DVR take it?

I have a friend who keeps two DVRs running day and night.  She loves TV that much.  I used to think this was one DVR too many.  Now I see her point.

House, Modern Family, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Glee, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, Fringe, The Closer, Weeds, The Office, The Simpsons, Psych. Just for starters.

Then there’s the anthropological riches of Reality TV The Real Housewives, Project Runway, Wipeout, Ice Road Truckers, Jersey Shore, Deadliest Catch, Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race and American Idol  

And now the new Fall season and lots of interesting newcomers: Terriers, Rubicon, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire.

So much for Newton Minow’s "wasteland."  So much for academic orthodoxy.  So much for the intellectuals who bet heavily on the idea that television was bankrupt and moribund.  (No metaphor was left unmixed.)  For a wasteland, TV is surprisingly fecund.

Would love to hear from readers how this Fall season compares to last.  I can’t honestly remember.

References

Minow, Newton.  1961.  Television and the Public Interest. An address delivered 9 May 1961, National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, DC. click here.

Virginia Postrel was kind enough to interview me for Enterpreneur Magazine.  

You can find an edited version of the interview at Enterpreneur.com here.

For the full version of the interview in which you will find me chatty and discursive.  

 

Virginia Postrel: What do you mean by “culture”?

Grant McCracken: I was just watching the movie I Love You, Man.  It’s a funny movie, and it’s a wonderfully observed piece of anthropology.  The Paul Rudd character doesn’t understand how to act like a “guy.”  Somehow this knowledge has escaped him.  That’s what culture is: the meanings and rules with which we understand and act in the world. 

This makes culture sound amorphous and absurdly abstract, I know.  But let’s put this another way.  Culture is the very knowledge and scripts we will someday build into robots to make them socially sentient creatures.  At the moment, we’re still teaching them to climb stairs. The more difficult task is to read social situations.  Unless we’re autistic, most of us do this effortlessly and in real time.  That’s because we have this knowledge “built in.”  Notice what it will take to build it into robots.  This is programming, exact, finite, and incredibly specific programming.  Nothing amorphous or abstract about it. 

VP: What’s the biggest mistake business people make when they think about the intersection of culture and commerce?

GM: Business people think that because they can’t see it, culture doesn’t exist.  They suppose that the moment of sale consists of a rational decision, a calculation of interest, a pursuit of benefit.  But every purchase is shaped by meanings and rules.  Whether a new product finds a place in the market depends on whether and how it squares with the meanings in our heads.  Think of all the innovations that were technically brilliant but failed because the consumer “couldn’t really get a handle on them.”  This is another way of saying that the innovation was not designed or positioned in a way that made it consistent with the culture in our heads.

VP: What can a small startup without the resources to have a dedicated “chief culture officer” do to make sure it pays attention to the relevant cultural trends?

GM: Start ups have access to lots of culture knowledge.  No need to hire a guru or a cool hunter.  They can boot strap this knowledge.  (They probably do need to read Chief Culture Officer.  I can’t urge this strongly enough.  But, hey, it’s my start up.)  The thing is to formalize all that cultural knowledge we have in our heads.  Right now it’s tacit knowledge.  Like how to be a guy.  Or things we know about culture, about television, cocktail culture, the local food movement, Burning Man.  We have to get it out of our heads onto the table.  And then we have to tag the changes we see happening.  Then we need to build a big board in order to track the changes that matter to us and we have to start making estimates about when they will reach our markets.  For the culture knowledge we don’t know, the trick is to start combing media more systematically.  In Chief Culture Officer, I talk about an investment firm in NYC that keeps track of culture by having 5 people read 300 magazines.  We don’t need to hire a cool hunter or a guru to learn about culture.  We just have to pay attention. 

GM: I think Alan Moore put his finger on the problem here in Crossing the Chasm.  In the early days, tech start ups are selling to people who are savvy enough to figure out the value proposition and make the product work.  Eventually, however, we are speaking to much larger audiences and this means talking to people who don’t get tech.  Now we have to build not from what’s technically possible.  Now we have to build to what fits in the world of the consumer.  Consumers are no longer coming to us.  We must go to them.  We have to cease being an engineer for a moment and become an anthropologist.  We must find out who the consumer is, how he lives, and what will make the product make sense to him.  In a perfect world, we build a product that understands the consumer so perfectly, he or she doesn’t even need to read the manual.  We all remember our first experience with the iPhone.  It was as if the iPhone understood us so completely, it was teaching us how to use it.  This is cultural knowledge in action.

VP: Could you give us an example of a startup that beat the big guys by understanding culture?

GM: The world of carbonated soft drinks is filled with examples of start ups that managed to spot the next trend and steal a march on the big guys: Snapple, Red Bull, Vitamin Water, Odwalla, and so on.  These startups spotted the trend and rode it to glory.  They get in early and ended up owning the market.  In the book, I try to show how Snapple accomplished this miracle.  The rewards here at breathtaking.  Snapple sold to Quaker for $1.7 billion.

VP: People often say, “You can’t teach taste.” At least when it comes to business, you disagree. Why?

GM: Culture is a body of knowledge like any other body of knowledge.  Saying we “can’t teach taste” is like saying we can’t teach finance, operations, or human relations.  Of course, we can.  But of course we have lots of people in business who have a vested interest in making it voodoo.   This is the way gurus, cool hunters, and various agencies keep themselves in business.  It’s time to get culture out of the black box.  I don’t say we don’t need gurus or agencies.  For certain purposes, they can create exceptional value.  I do say that they should not be allowed to make themselves sole source for what we know about culture.  In the run up of 1990s, serial startups found that the guy who was CFO for the last startup was now CMO for the next one.  The C-Suite is filled with fast learners, with mobile learners.  We need to get culture into this mix. 

VP: A.G. Lafley is one of the heroes of Chief Culture Officer. What can entrepreneurs learn from him?

GM: He’s the guy who helped teach P&G, that great temple of marketing, that it had much more to learn about being consumer focused.  In Game-Changers, Lafley insists that the marketer must dolly back from narrow utilities to see the larger social and cultural context, to see the consumer in all of his or her complexity.  This is the corporation making sure that the product services is “not about us,” not about what the engineers can build, not about what the marketer’s can sell, not about what the corporation has traditionally done.  It’s about who the consumer is and how he or she lives.   It’s about that software in his or her heads. 

VP: What’s wrong with “cool hunting”?

GM: Cool hunting is heat sensitive.  Cool hunters only care about the latest stuff, the fads and fashion.  But culture is vastly more than this.  It is deep cultural traditions.  These traditions change, but they do so slowly.  And when they change, they do not show on the cool hunter’s radar.  Hard to know how to quantify this, but my guess is that fads and fashions make up only 20% of culture.  Slow culture is all the rest.  What kind of professional ignores 80% of his or her domain?

VP: You’re a creative, divergent thinker, yet you seek to avoid what Claude Levi-Strauss called “wild thought.” How do you balance creativity and structure, and what would you advise entrepreneurs about striking that balance?

GM: I’m Canadian, a notoriously tidy people, the Swiss of North America.  But I am prepared to go where ideas take me.  I have this from my parents and from my education at the University of Chicago.  (The latter looks a little like Lafley’s P&G.  It accepts that the exercise is “not about us,” but about the ideas.  You adapt as you must to honor them.)  I think this makes me like most entrepreneurs who know that good things happen only when wild creativity is routinized and systematized.  Entrepreneurs have range!  They are there when the big ideas happen, driving people “outside the box.”  They then find a way to rebuild the box.  They then find a way to make something actually come out of the box.  Then they find a way to put that something out in to the market where it turns into ROI.  Phenomenal!  They are very smart and very determined.  But they are also masters of many cultures. 

VP: You introduce the idea of the “lunch list” as a way to stay in touch with culture. What is it, and how would it apply to the owner of a small startup?

GM: No one can keep track of contemporary culture but there are people who really understand individual pieces of it.  The CCO solution?  Take these people to lunch.  (Or otherwise engage them.)  My editor at Basic Books, Tim Sullivan, is a great guy to take to lunch.  He will give you the world of emerging ideas. He will let you his astounding powers of pattern recognition.  Chefs, journalists, politicians, CMOs, diplomats, all can give us a glimpse of the forces shaping the world.

VP: You talk about “fast culture” and “slow culture.” What do you mean, and how do their implications for business differ?

GM: Fast culture is great churn of our culture at any given time.  Some of the fads will cool into fashion, some of the fashions will cool into trends, and some of the trends will actually stay on to become culture.  But most fad, fashion and trend just keeps going, out of our world, eventually out of memory.  As I was saying above, it is fast culture that preoccupies us most. 

But there is also “slow culture,” and these are the long standing traditions that are part of our bed rock.  These get some attention from the academics.  The historians have warmed to the idea of culture over the last 30 years especially and this has results in some very useful work.  I am just reading a book called Hotel: An American History by Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz, a wonderfully interesting look at the hospitality industry as it has shaped and been shaped by the American culture.  We need to know about fast culture, but this is like taking a major leaguers’ stats for the season and not the career.  We need to know about slow culture too.

VP: Why would Chris Rock make a good chief culture officer?

GM: Mr. Rock knows about African American culture and he knows about non African American culture, and knows how to pass back and forth between them.  This makes him a cultural entrepreneur.  We might say he’s in the shipping business. Anyone who knows two pieces of our culture is well on his or her way to mastering the larger whole.  It’s a lot like language learning.  The second language is always the toughest.  The third and fourth come more easily. 

VP: How can social media tools help small businesses keep in touch with culture?

GM: Twitter and Facebook are great ways to listen in on the conversation and to engage in it.  I recently did an interview with Bud Caddell at Undercurrent and I liked his idea that you have to keep provoking the world with comments, suggestions, and experiments.  The reactions will give us a sense, a kind of GPS signal, of where we are, of what’s happening “out there.”

VP: Does being Canadian give you an advantage as an anthropologist?

GM: An American journalist asked Martin Short why it was so many American comedians were Canadians by birth.  Shore said, “Oh, that’s because you grew up watching TV.  I grew up watching American TV.”  My sister and I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  We enjoyed them immensely, but there was always a small sense that we were watching something from another world.  Now that we are a diverse society everyone has access to a difference of this kind.  As a culture we are so decentered that everyone has an exceptional point of view. 

VP: How much TV do you watch every week?

GM: I watch the national average, plus I have friends who are not as diligent as they should be, so I watch their hours too.  As a civic gesture.  TV is a wonderful listening device for our culture.  The networks and cable run out a constant series of experiments (aka, new shows) and these shows are so expensive that choice are made with great care.  Which is another way of saying the experiments are very carefully crafted.  Then the TV view audience votes with their viewership and we see, hey presto, America likes Modern Marriage and it doesn’t like the show that comes after it on ABC, Cougar Town.  It’s not impossible to draw cultural conclusions from this event. 

VP: What do you make of Lady Gaga?

GM: Lady Gaga burns brightly at the moment.  She has crafted herself in the tradition of David Bowie and Madonna, changing dramatically, vividly, and often.Indeed, Lady Gaga ups the transformational cycle.  Bowie changed several times.  Madonna changed many times. Lady Gaga appears to change with every performance.  So we can take her as a measure of the speed at which we change.  But she is also a fad struggling to stay on as a fashion and then a trend and then a fixture in our culture.  Bowie and Madonna made the cut.  Chances are she will not.  But I hope I’m wrong.  She is a vivid, interesting presence.  (The real mystery here is why the music is so utterly ordinary.  Bowie and Madona were transformational here too.)

VP: You ran a “CCO boot camp.” Who came and what did they do? Do you have plans for more?

GM: We had a great mix, people from the strategy world, the C-suite, entertainment industry, the military, designers, senior managers, grad students, a real range.   In the morning, we reviewed 6 parts of American culture.  In the afternoon, we looked at how to monitor and manage culture for the corporation.  It was amazing fun.  I am now planning to do one for a gigantic corporation.  I now have a poll on my website to see where people want the next one held.  At the moment, Boston is winning. 

Books

Brooks, David. 2001. Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. Simon & Schuster.  

Carey, John. 1992. The Intellectuals and the Masses: pride and prejudice among the literary intelligentsia, 1880-1939. London: Faber and Faber.

Docker, John. 1994. Postmodernism and popular culture: a cultural history. Cambridge. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fitzgerald, Frances. 1986. Cities on a Hill, A Journey Through Contemporary American Cultures. Simon and Schuster.  

Florida, Richard. 2003. The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. Basic Books.  

Fox, Kate. 2008. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.  

Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Anchor.  

Jenkins, Henry. 2008. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Revised. NYU Press.  

Johnson, Steven. 2005. Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter. Riverhead Books.  

Kamp, David. 2006. The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. Broadway.  

Katz, Donald R. 1993. Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America. Perennial.  

Klein, Richard. 1993. Cigarettes Are Sublime. Duke University Press.  

Lamont, Michele. 1992. Money, Morals and Manners: the culture of the French and the American upper-middle class. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Long, Elizabeth. 1985. The American Dream and the Popular Novel. Routledge Kegan & Paul.  

Martin, Roger.  2007. The Opposable Mind.  Boston: Harvard Business School Press

Postrel, Virginia. 1998. The Future and Its Enemies: The growing conflict over creativity, enterprise and progress. New York: The Free Press.

Shirky, Clay. 2009. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Reprint. Penguin.

Thornton, Sarah. 1996. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Wesleyan.  

Warner, W. Lloyd, J. O. Low, Paul S. Lunt, and Leo Srole. 1963. Yankee City. Yale University Press.  

Waters, Mary C. 1990. Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America. University of California Press.  

Weinberger, David. 2003. Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web. Basic Books.  

Wolfe, Tom. 2001. A Man in Full. Dial Press Trade Paperback.  

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1993. The Fine Line. University Of Chicago Press.  

Listen to this

The Wire was a drama that ran on HBO for 50 episodes over 5 seasons, 2002 – 2008. 

What follows is from the opening moments of the first episode of the 4th season. 

A young assassin goes in a hardware store.  She is carrying the nail gun with which she shuts up the abandoned homes in which she leaves her victims. 

She is approached immediately by a salesman, a middle aged, white guy who lays on the sales pitch.  He wants the young assassin to buy the top of the line “Cadillac” nail gun.  It’s costs $650 so he’s pitching  hard.

Naturally, he has no idea is talking to a woman who managed to kill (and entomb) 5 people last week alone.  He thinks he is talking to a neighborhood contractor.

The conversation runs invisibly on two rails, the assumptions of the salesmen and the assassin working side by side.

The salesman calls his nail gun “powder driven.”

“Power driven?” the assassin asks.

“No, powder driven,” the salesman replies.

“Like gun powder.” she says.

He says, “The DX460 is fully automatic with a 27 calibre charge.  Wood, concrete, steel, she’ll throw a fastener into anything and for my money she handles recoil better than the Simpson or the P3500.”

She says, “27 calibre, huh.”

He says, “It’s not large ballistically but it’s enough.  Anything more than that and they would add to the recoil.”

It turns out the nail gun is metaphorically a lot like a real gun.  Or guys being guys, they just can’t resist making the comparison as an act of self aggrandizement. 

But all this gun-ish talk shakes something lose in the assassin.

She says, “I seen a tiny ass 22 drop a nigger plenty of days, man.  […]  Big joints, though.  Big joints just break the bones and you say ‘fuck it.’”  She laughs.

No more metaphor.  The concert is over.  The salesman sees he’s not talking to a contractor.  He’s speechless.  Someone has called his metaphor and raised it.  This is real guns, real violence, a real gangster.

The assassin goes out to the parking lot where her partner in crime is waiting in an SUV.  He asks if the new gun will hold a charge better, and she says,

“Fuck the charge.  This here is a gun powder activated, 27 calibre, full auto, no kick back, never through mayhem, man.  This shit is tight.” 

Her partner laughs and she says,

“Fuck nailing boards.  We could kill a couple of mother fuckers with this shit right here.”   Geez, we can dump the metaphor.  The nail gun isn’t like a gun.  It is a gun.  

Perfect.  Has anything this good appeared on TV before or since?  Now that you have your new iPad, load it up with a little David Simon genius.

Calling all CCOs: how good is your gut?

Next week, Fox will launch a cop show called The Good Guys.  (It previews May 19th. The series starts June 7.)

Outwardly, things looks fine.  The producer is Matt Nix, who recently triumphed with Burn Notice. Its stars Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford, able actors to be sure. Plus Fox is good at making good TV.  

But my gut says this show is going to be a stinker.  The Hollywood Reporter description:

[The show] centers on Jack (Hanks), an ambitious, by-the-book detective whose habit of undermining himself has resulted in a dead-end position at the Los Angeles Police Department. Worse, he has been partnered with Dan (Whitford), a drunken, lecherous, wild-card cop who hangs onto his job only because of a heroic act years before.

This made the eyes roll back in my head.  At a time when Modern Family is reinventing the family comedy, Burn Notice the spy story, and New Christine the situation comedy, this doesn’t sound promising.  My first warning: I got bored in the middle of the 15 second promotion.  

Of course this is why people hate bloggers.  We don’t do due diligence.  We just make shit up.  We don’t investigate or even think very hard.  We shoot from the hip. 

But exactly!  This is precisely the time to judge the show   Before we know the details, before we have seen an episode, before any diligence is done.  When all we know is the concept, this is the best, the only real, opportunity to see whether our instincts are good for anything. (Sometimes, that is to say, bloggers do the wrong thing for the right reason.  Hasty judgment in this case is due diligence.)

It’s also a chance to go on the record.  So I’m going on the record.  I believe this show will be a stinker.  I believe it will be so bad Fox won’t run the whole of the first season.

I hope I’m wrong.  Unlike Angie Tempura (above), I am not a sneering, know-it-all, blogger.  I wish this show well.  No one likes to see this much talent, money and risk go to waste.  

Please come join me.  I would especially like to hear from those who like the sound of the concept. 

Your comments please!

References

Andreeva, Nellie.  2009.  Colin Hanks Revs Up for Jack and Dan.  Hollywood Reporter. November 3.  here.  (subscription fee may be required)

For more on The Good Guys, check out the Fox cite here.  But, please, form a judgment first!

Jeff Bewkes and the end of influence

I attended the Advertising Research Foundation meetings today and had a chance to listen to Jeff Bewkes as interviewed on stage by Guy Garcia.

Bewkes is now the CEO of Time Warner, but his remarks were devoted especially to his days at HBO.  And well he should. Over the course of 10 years, Bewkes and his colleague Chris Albrecht changed TV extraordinarily. They changed a lot of American cutlure in the process.

So when Bewkes began talking about the HBO program The Wire, I leaned in.  As did everyone in the audience of 300 people. The oracle was about to speak.

Two things struck me.  It sounded as if Bewkes was saying that HBO quite deliberately broke with the rules of mass media. Traditionally, TV shows have proceeded extensively. They seek a nice broad proposition in the hopes of attracting as large an audience as possible.  The Wire seemed to proceed intensively.  It traded away lots of viewers for a more vivid, visceral relationship with a smaller audience.

Normally, this would look like self indulgence and a kind of ratings suicide, except that something in the world had changed. There was now a new kind of viewer, more mobile, more questing, more prepared to find a show wherever it was and then patient enough to let it build a connection.  In this sense, one of the necessary conditions of the rise of HBO was the rise of a new audience out there.  Whether anyone at HBO was reading Henry Jenkins was not made clear over the course of the interview, but I must assume someone was.

But then a second, more seditious thought occurred to me.  And this was not proposed by Mr. Bewkes, and no one should blame him for my moment of delirium.  I thought to myself: listen (I have to get my own attention somehow), this new, more mobile, more literate viewer holds a more revolutionary promise.  If and when most viewers are active and engaged in this way, wouldn’t this spell the end of influence?

Here’s what I was thinking.  As and when viewers become more free wheeling, more curious, more prepared to stop in at obscure places and to bear with difficult shows, the "early influencer" matters less and less.  Viewers will be possessed of the ability to find their own shows and make their own choices.  They will not look to others to identify and vet shows for them.  Every viewer, or at least more viewer, would act as "masterless" men and women, making their viewing choices by their own lights.

And this would mark an interesting development in the world of media and marketing.  After World War II, the assumption was that in an era of mass media, it was really enough to fill the advertising and production cannons and eventually our messages and show would find their audience.  We might emulate those above us in the status hierarchy, but really the very point of the era of mass media was that it was now possible for Hollywood and marketers to make direct contact.  But as audiences fragmented, it was increasingly necessary to have some viewers leading other viewers.  Someone to play the role of the early adopter. Hence the work of Gladwell and the buzz students.  Hence all that talk of activating chains of influence.  Early adopters were now key to the viewing community, and increasingly key to the advertising research community.

But this is perhaps a temporary condition.  As viewers get better and better, influencers matter less and less.  In a weird way, we will return to the world of mass marketing.  Not because there are fewer, louder media, but because they viewer is so mobile, so charged with his or her own taste, so motivated by his or her interest in what TV has to offer, that the only person most viewers will be listening to is themselves.

It’s just a thought, really.

Note: This post was lost in the Network Solutions debacle.  It was reposted on December 26, 2010.

Chief Culture Officer watch: the troubling case of Jeffrey Zucker

The troubles at NBC have finally reached CEO Jeffrey Zucker, a guy so deft he had previously escaped criticism. Now the knives are out.

"Somebody needs to pay when a poorly thought-out experiment [i.e., the Leno move to 10:00] fails to the tune of millions of dollars, [and results in] the loss of a bankable star i.e., [the threatened departure of Conan O’Brien] and a public-relations nightmare that has the potential to threaten a proposed mega-merger [i.e., with Comcast].  And there is no doubt that the person who should pay for this instantly legendary [screw-up] is the man at the top who instigated the whole thing: Jeff Zucker." [Chez Pazienza, Huffington Post (as quoted in Macdonald, below)]

No doubt the factors that explain Zucker’s managerial difficulties are several and complex, but one in particular jumps out.

In the words of Richard Siklos, Jeffrey Zucker is someone,

who came up on the news side of the business, and he didn’t care for, or have an affinity for, the entertainment business and Hollywood per se.  [in Macdonald, below]

Apparently, Zucker is good at business…but bad at culture.  He knows how to run the company.  But he has no feeling for what the company does.

This is odd.  After all, NBC is mostly a cultural enterprise.  It works when it can read culture. It works when it can produce culture. Naturally, someone like Zucker needs to have the managerial skills to run a large and complex corporation.  But this is the necessary, not the sufficient condition of his (and its) success.  The sufficient condition is simple.  Zucker should know and love entertainment.  (See Maureen Dowd’s column for a nice treatment of the specific implications of Zucker’s incompetence here.)

It would be one thing if this cultural knowledge were arcane, possessed by a very few people tucked away in an obscure institutions (aka the university).  But what Zucker is missing is the cultural competence possessed by most of his viewers, especially the ones under 35.

Here’s what we know:

1) that popular culture became culture (see the work of Steven Johnson and Naussbaum).

2) that culture went from something very simple to something increasingly complex (for simplicity sake, let’s treat HBO as our case in point).

3) that cultural consumers have become increasingly well informed and sophistication (so says the book of Henry Jenkins).

A odd and uncomfortable possibility suggests itself: that NBC managed to hire one of the few people in contemporary America who doesn’t get TV.

How can this have happened? Checking someone’s cultural competence is pretty easy.  All someone at NBC needed to do was to take Zucker to lunch and quiz him on his favorite shows.  Even a brief conversation would have revealed the depth and sophistication of his knowledge.

And now a second possibility suggests itself: that the people doing the hiring at NBC don’t much know about the culture, either.  There is, perhaps, a systematic bias for business and against culture in the NBC c-suite.

Simply: NBC appears to be all about business and not about culture at a time that the corporation is increasingly about culture even when all about business.

Oh for a CCO…or just a CCO who grasps his culture at least as well as most of his viewers do.

References

Dowd, Maureen.  2010.  The Biggest Loser.  The New York Times.  January 12, 2010.  here.

Macdonald, Gayle. 2010. Boy Wonder’s Blunder. The Globe and Mail. January 14, 2010.  here.

Nassbaum, Emily. 2009. When TV became art. New York Magazine. December 4.

Note: this post was in the Network Solutions debacle of 2009.  It was reposted December 25, 2010.