TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: In terms of entertainment, when you look back on 2006 it’s tempting to do some name dropping: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Borat and You Tube. Mike Speier is the managing editor for the Daily Variety. Welcome Mike.
MIKE SPEIER: Hi, how are you?
THOMAS: So let’s play word association. I say Pirates of the Caribbean, you say:
SPEIER: Mega money. It’s a huge movie. Everyone says that the old studio system of making huge blockbusters is going away and everyone’s focused on the small movies. Un-uh. Pirates is a huge film, it’s in the top 5 of all-time worldwide and it just shows that studios are in love with making huge movies.
THOMAS: Well they’re in love with making lots of money.
SPEIER: Correct. So they’re in love with making huge movies that do well.
THOMAS: Of course. Here’s another film, it received both praise and some lawsuits I think: Borat.
SPEIER: Yeah. I mean if pirates is the example of overspending, then here’s a movie, Borat, that is the equivalent of nothing, which is make it for nothing, get picked up for nothing, and make a lot of money. But it also shows that the movie business never knows anything because it’s either going to be a major, major movie that costs a lot of money or it’s going to be something small that makes a lot of money. So there’s room for everything.
THOMAS: Let’s talk about TV. What about American Idol?
SPEIER: No one wants to keep talking about American Idol, but it is the singular-most influential show on television. Other networks change their scheduling around it. The show keeps bringing in the ratings, it keeps making people very, very wealthy, it creates megastars like Carrie Underwood. It creates ratings, it creates money, people want to be associated with it and it’s still the No. 1 show on television.
THOMAS: Google buys YouTube. How big was that? How big is that going to turn out to be in the future?
SPEIER: We’ll have to see what they can do with it, though for news value, strict news values, the purchase of it — I think was more than $1 billion — was one of the most, in fact, the most influential and expensive deal of the year. Why? Because first of all it was in shares, not cash, and everyone said how can a company like YouTube, which hasn’t been around very long and is really just about putting your own home videos up, how can that sell for so much money? But they did, for a reason. And Google knows what they’re doing and they bought it because they know that when you get a video on your e-mail, when someone sends you a little clip, usually it’s from YouTube, they want that audience.
THOMAS: Look into your crystal ball. Is there anything coming down the road, anything you’ve heard that you think might really impact consumers, make a lot of money in 2007?
SPEIER: Well I think that if 2006 was the year that broadband took a very major step — whether it was in the workplace or the home — in terms of getting people connected, I think 2007 is the year it really takes over and gets rid of dial-up. And that’s a big deal for corporations and for businesses and for people. Because like the CD did for the record business and the DVD did for video tape business, broadband will do for the dial-up business. It will change things, It will digitize things. It will make everything come together quicker, faster and that’s what America wants.
THOMAS: Mike Speier is the Managing Editor for the Daily Variety. And in Los Angeles, I’m Mark Austin Thomas. Thanks for joining us. Have a great holiday weekend.
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