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POPCULT NEWS OF THE WEEK, non-drunken-celebrity edition
Oct 11th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

  • The exodus of established stars from the decaying music industry continues, with Madonna signing a concert management company, not a record company, to distribute her next few CDs. Other artists, including space-heater heir Trent Reznor, are going further and selling direct to fans.
  • That quintessential “legacy media” company, NBC, is buying up Oxygen (one of the last big non-conglomerate-owned cable channels) and vacating its historic studios in Beautiful Downtown Burbank. Under California laws intended to preserve media-biz jobs, the network has to offer the lot to a buyer that’ll keep it operating.The Tonight Show will move to the Universal Pictures lot, which NBC also now owns; the NBC News bureau, the KNBC-TV local news, and Access Hollywood will move to a new building nearby. The other network show still made on the Burbank lot, Days of Our Lives, is rumored to be ending in ’09.

    But by that time, the whole company might be sold off.

  • Get ready for more Letterman “Network Time Killer” segments: The movie and TV industries are bracing for the first writers’ strike since 1988. The difference this time: The networks and cable channels might let a strike go on for a while, running a bunch of cheap reality shows instead of scripted fare.
  • Our pal Sherman Alexie is in the running for a National Book Award. It’s for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a “young adult” novel about a Spokane Reservation teen who finds himself an outsider everywhere he goes.It’s also got fabulous illustrations by another of our ol’ pals, the one-n’-only Ellen Forney. It couldn’t have happened to two nicer folks.
  • Looking for an industry even more moribund than recorded music? Try mass-market beer. Miller has already merged with South African Breweries; Coors has merged with Molson. Now both seek to merge their respective U.S. operations.The deal would turn the once competitive domestic swill market into a duopoly between “MillerCoors” and Anheuser-Busch. (The Pabst brands are now owned by a marketing company that contracts out its production to Miller.)

    I can still remember when there were five mass-production breweries in the Northwest alone, each operated by a different company.

    Fortunately, we now have a wealth of microbreweries, whose broad range of tasty product has long since rendered superfluous the likes of “Colorado Kool-Aid.”

  • As the world gets hotter, it also gets humid-er.
  • Ann Coulter inanity of the day: Now sez she wishes all Jews to “perfect” themselves, by becoming Christians.
  • Office whoopee? Go right ahead, say many companies. Just don’t try to cover up the aroma by burning microwave popcorn in the break room.
  • While other commentators wax nostalgic about the fiftieth anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, P-I business columnist Bill Virgin gushes undeserved laurels on the semicentennial of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (that other favorite novel of male virgins everywhere).Let’s compare n’ contrast, shall we?

    Both Kerouac and Rand are better known today for their celebrity and their ideas than for their prose stylings.

    But both authors’ rambling self-indulgences actually serve their respective egotisms.

    Both liked to hype themselves as daring rebels, valiantly crusading against the stifling anti-individualism of grey-flannel-suit America.

    Kerouac helped provide an ideological excuse for generations of self-centered dropouts and anarchists to proclaim themselves above the petty rules of mainstream society.

    Rand helped provide an ideological excuse for generations of self-cenetered tech-geeks and neocons to proclaim themselves above the petty rules of civil society and rule of law.

    But at least Kerouac’s devotees don’t go around declaring that the oil companies and the drug companies somehow don’t have enough power.

    (P.S.: Digby has much more lucent thoughts than mine i/r/t Randmania.)

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