Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Media Mashup: Tax breaks (that allow the rich stay rich), Clueless: The Video Game, and Sesame Street goes hipster

Some interesting entertainment news stories rolling down the pike today. First up, Nikki Finke reports that Jon Favreau has appealed to the Governator to get some tax breaks in place for Iron Man 2 (and all of H’wood, really) in an effort to staunch the flow of recent runaway productions. It brought up an interesting point I hadn’t even considered and now I feel kind of bad. See, when I heard Ugly Betty was enticed by the NYC tax breaks into jumping to the east coast for the upcoming season, I was happy for two reasons. One, I hate shows that are very NYC-centric but obviously film in Los Angeles, because as authentic as the citycentric storytelling may be, the look is always so fake. (See also: Seinfeld.) Second, I’m always buoyed by the hope that I might actually be able to someday work in television without having to relocate to Los Angeles, because I am very, very pale, and it’s not yet clear whether I could habitate in such sunny environs for a long period without suddenly immolating. But my little happy bubble was pierced when I realized that, as usual, the below-the-line workers are getting screwed in this deal. And while it’s easy enough to shrug and say, “Hey, at least there are plenty of other productions in Los Angeles, and with Ugly Betty in NYC, now all the city crew members won’t have to jockey for same few jobs on Gossip Girl and the Law and Orders,” and while I’m sure the left-behind Betty crew will quickly find work elsewhere, it still sucks to work somewhere for two years, get attached to your coworkers, then suddenly get the boot.

And then, hey, here’s some bizarre news. Variety reports that Paramount is ramping up for a slate of casual videogames aimed at girls. First up, adaptations of Clueless, Mean Girls, and Pretty in Pink. Mean Girls: The Video Game? I think I’ve played that one already. It’s called “working in media”.

I don’t know. I mean, I personally think videogames are best when they let you do something you can’t – or at least shouldn’t - do in real life. Like smack a ho and boost some rims. Personally, the only video games I’ve really ever enjoyed are the two Buffy games for Xbox and the Silent Hill franchise. They’re fun because I have always tried to limit the amount of time I spend running around the streets bashing in heads with a steel pipe, but in the games I can bash away with total impunity (except to maybe my thumbs and overall brain function). But I don’t see the point in playing a video game that lets me drive to the mall and be a catty gossip. Isn’t the reality of those activities depressing enough without making me pay $50 for the game, too?

Finally, if you’re not a regular viewer of Sesame Street (and if you’re reading this blog and in the show’s target demo, we’ve probably got some issues here), you might have missed these recent cameo appearances: Neil Patrick Harris as the singing shoe fairy, Feist singing a Sesamied version of her song "1234", and an oddly unsettling appearance by Jack Black (that sadly doesn’t feature Robert Downey Jr. whaling on his ghoulies with a hammer). That's definitely some indie cred-baiting stuff there, which confirms what we've all long suspected - Sesame Street is located somewhere in Williamsburg.

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