FMS 482 Entertainment Industries Spring 2009 httpfms482

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					FMS 482 Entertainment Industries Spring 2009 Dr. Kevin S. Sandler LL 648A 480.965.2835 Office hours: Monday 1pm to 3pm or by appointment Course Description This class explores the contemporary U. S. media industries. When we say “contemporary,” we do not mean last year, last month, or yesterday. Contemporary means the here and tomorrow, what is currently happening and what will be happening. The key assumption underlying this course is that the mainstream American media, first and foremost, exist as consumable goods in a capitalist economy. For the most part, the media are controlled by an organized collection of corporations and companies seeking profits through the production, distribution, and exhibition of programming and services to audiences and advertisers. A nexus of economic, cultural, and political forces determine the conditions in which the media is made, shown and experienced. This class will examine these relationships between networks, artists, advertisers, production companies, regulators, and reformers and how these relationships manifest themselves in an array of texts from the film, television, web, and video game industries. While we will address ideological concerns, media effects, and the social uses of media, this class will focus on how the organization and control of the media industries set the constraints by which aesthetics, meaning, and reception operate. For example, how does an R rating delimit or expand the boundaries of language and representation of drug use in a film like Pineapple Express? Or how does FX’s brand image predetermine the shape of older series like The Shield or newer series like Damages? Class sessions will be devoted to answering these and other questions by examining a spectrum of various media forms, topics, and literature. Relating issues of narrative, form and ideology to industrial concerns like corporatization, regulation, merchandising and licensing, branding, convergence, distribution, exhibition, synergy, globalization, stardom, genre, and authorship will occupy many of our discussions. Throughout the class, we will be following the marketing campaigns for two films: Twentieth Century Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine (release date: May 1) and Paramount’s Star Trek. Almost every week, we will discuss their promotional strategies, advertising partnerships, buzz, and media coverage. We will continually ask the question: How are these media conglomerates setting up their films for a blockbuster-opening weekend in North America? Questions we will ask ourselves are: How are the films promising something different in the franchise while still adhering to their established brands? Do the films have a consistent visual or iconic motif? How are the film attempting to reach a mass audience, appealing to men and women, over and under the age of twenty-five? (e.g. content for websites, posters, theatrical trailers, guest appearances, and television spots, etc.) How are other media channels being utilized to help consumers experience the Star Trek franchise? (e.g., cell phones, videogames, internet, television, etc.). The goals of this course are as follows: 1) To achieve a deeper understanding of how the economics of the contemporary mass media shape content and reception in entertainment forms; 2) To acquire the professional and critical terminology presently used by the media industries; 3) To cultivate and expand critical and creative thinking and writing skills for describing, interpreting, and evaluating the contemporary media industries; and 4) To empower students to be engaged citizens in today’s media-saturated marketplace by promoting self-conscious viewing practices and behaviors. Caveat Please be aware that this class requires a major commitment and great flexibility on your part. Unlike other classes, subject matter in FMS 482 is not predetermined and may not be announced until that very week. (Sometimes) you may have only a few days to do a reading or see a TV show, for example. Other times you will be expected to attend a film in a local movie theater, either on your own or as part of the class. In the past, some of the topics we have discussed have been sequels like Halo 3 and series like Casino Royale; branding of cable networks like FX with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; internet television series like lonelygirl15 and Prom Queen; multiplatform digital strategies like Heroes and The Dark Knight, product integration in Caveman and the MTV Video Music Awards; marketing and buzz of Beowulf and Survivor; censorship and the culture wars with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Fahrenheit 911. Required Texts Joseph Jaffe, Life after the 30-Second Spot: Energize Your Brand with a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2005)


Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good for You (New York: Riverhead, 2005) Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (New York: DC Comics, 1995) DVDs of the unrated/director’s cut and rated version of the same film Outside screenings of theatrical films Other readings on-line or distributed in class Class Structure and Screening Times Most screenings will take place outside of class time: in movie theaters, on television, in the Marshall building, on computers, or in homes. These screenings are mandatory and you must arrange access to movie screens, to broadcast and cable television, and to the web. Grades are based on discussion, projects, and essays drawn from these screenings, so missing even one weekly engagement will affect your final grade. The Blog Throughout the semester, you are required to participate in the class blog at Most of our readings and screenings for the various topics we cover in this course come courtesy of your daily posts. Given the organic and contemporaneous nature of this course, it is essential the blog remains alive and active. With your continual engagement, our class will thrive. Without it, we falter. Learner-Centered Teaching This is a class that operates on many learner-centered principles. First, you are treated as learners and co-creators in the learning process. For the class to be successful, both the professor and student must be prepared each day to critically discuss the readings and films. Second, you will be continually challenged and asked to support your opinions through the reading and examples from films. Third, you are given a degree of choice and control over the subject of your assignment. You will be asked to apply class knowledge to interesting and relevant new contexts. Lastly, you are given an upfront explanation in this syllabus of what is expected from you in this class. Assignments Brand Marketing: (Small Group) The HBO television series Flight of the Conchords had its second season premiere on January 18th. Your task is to design three new integrated brand marketing strategies for the show based on the futurist approaches outlined in Joseph Jaffe’s Life after the 30-Second Spot. For over twenty years, HBO has been the home for creative visionaries of original films, documentaries, and television series. The network’s climate of risk-taking extends from its development executives to its writers to its marketing department. With Flight of the Conchords, the marketing department has already developed a few multi-platform brand strategies involving Facebook and usergenerated content. The HBO web sites include the official web site (, Mel’s Flight Tracker Blog (, and the Lipdub Video Fansterpiece ( Before discussing how your multi-platform programming strategies will complement and enhance The Flight of the Conchords experience, you will need to identify the HBO brand and discuss how the show uniquely captures that brand essence (500 words). You will then need to present your own brand strategies for the show, keeping in mind the insights Jaffe identifies in his Business Model Redux (87-96) and the ten marketing approaches he outlines in Section III: 1) the internet, 2) gaming, 3) on-demand viewing, 4) experiential marketing, 5) long-form content, 6) communal marketing, 7) consumer-generated content, 8) search, 9) music, mobile, and things that make you go mmmm, and 10) branded entertainment (1300 words). Remember, that your strategies should engage consumers in positive, relevant, engaging, and provocative ways to succeed in an incredibly cluttered media marketplace. Your competition is pretty much everyone: marketers, brands, media, and even consumers themselves. Be sure to choose your programming and advertising strategies wisely. Your ideas must provide added value and contextual relevancy for today’s consumer (his/her behavioral shifts discussed on 51-65) in order to foster involvement, commitment, and loyalty to Flight of the Conchords. In addition, be aware that HBO is a subsidiary of a global media conglomerate, Time Warner. Synergy may act as a vehicle for cross-promotion and cross-pollination in your marketing strategies for Flight of the Conchords. The assignment is 1800 words long and requires a minimum of five sources (not including Jaffe) as well as proper citation and bibliographic format. Visuals may accompany your chosen strategies but are not mandatory. Groups will informally present their strategies to the class with the best ideas (voted on by the class) receiving a prize. Paper and presentation due: February 16


The Drive-In (Small Group) One of 400 drive-ins left in the United States, the Scottsdale 6 Drive-in is one of two drive-ins in the Phoenix area owned by Syufy Enterprises. The Scottsdale 6 Drive-In opened February 7, 1977, and currently has six screens with an 1800 car capacity. With a $4000 per month marketing budget, your task is to design different programming and marketing strategies for the Scottsdale 6 to attract people to the drive-in: one for families, one for twenty-somethings, and one for students. Your competition are movie theaters, DVD, on-Demand, and digital downloads. Figure out what makes the drive-in experience unique and adapt your strategies accordingly. To assist you in your project, Stuart Takehara, Marketing Manager at Syufy Enterprises, and his team will provide general information about the company and participate in a conference call on February 18 about the Scottsdale 6. We will follow this interview with a road trip to the drive-in after class. One to two-page accounts of each strategy should be bracketed by an introduction and conclusion. This should be followed by a true-to-life breakdown of the $4000 monthly marketing budget allocated for the assignment. Groups will informally present their ideas to the class. The strategies will then be forwarded to Mr. Takehara who will offer feedback on each of them. Paper and presentation due: March 4 Broadcast Television Project: (Individual) You will examine a television network’s programming strategies and advertising practices for one of its shows during the Spring 2009 season. In this paper, you will demonstrate how this network positioned the program and arranged its content amidst an increasingly fragmented, cluttered, and consolidated media environment. Simply, 1) Why did the network develop and/or pick up this pilot for airing? 2) How has the network shaped the show’s content (on-air and off-air) to attract viewers and advertisers in order to stand out of the media clutter? And as a conclusion, 3) Why (or why not) did the show attract a large enough audience to stay on the air? The industry strategies and practices you will address should include a number of the following (examples from past NBC Universalowned shows are in parentheses): • • Costs: the increasing reliance on cheaper “non-fiction” programming like news magazines (ABC Primetime, Dateline NBC and specials), and unscripted dramas (Wife Swap, Flavor of Love, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Howie Did It) in place of more expensive sitcoms and scripted dramas Franchises and Spin-offs: programs based on older series (Knight Rider, Beverly Hills, 90210), currently successful series (The Office, Kath and Kim, Life on Mars) or characters (Date My Ex: Jo & Slade, Private Practice) to minimize risk and generate buzz Permissiveness: a greater (or lessening) degree of pushing the boundaries of sexual behavior (Saving Grace, NCIS), language (Will and Grace, Kyle X/Y), and violence (Sons of Anarchy, Ghost Whisperer) to compete with one another Patriotism and conservatism: a growing reverence or capitulation to the politics of the (ex-) Bush White House and indecency concerns in Congress (Homeland Security USA, The Unit) Genre: an embrace or recombinancy of popular genre formats such as serial dramas (Fringe), procedural dramas (The Mentalist) or reality television (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) Stars: attracting well-known actors to the show and building it around their star persons (Damages, Californication, The Beast) Synergy: the cross-pollination of a media conglomerate’s assets across its media platforms, for example, to showcase films like Universal’s King Kong on NBC’s web site or on Dateline NBC Branded Entertainment, product integration and partnership: the integrated marketing sponsorship on American Idol and the product placement in Privileged Branding: the existence of a network identity of a block of programming with a core attitude or essence that attracts a desired audience. Convergence: Development of content for video-on-demand (VOD), TiVo, DVD, online, and other non-traditional environments to support or provide alternatives to broadcast television for viewers and advertisers. Repurposing: the replaying of shows on other nights of the week (Law & Order), or other channels (Friday Night Lights) to build audience awareness and exploit economies of synergy. Programming and scheduling strategies such as off-the-clock programming, supersizing, non-traditional reruns, and stunting (famous guest stars or special episodes during sweeps (like Oprah Winfrey on 30 Rock) Diversity: Attempts by the networks to address changing demographic data, consumption trends, and multiculturalism (Heroes, Samantha Who?, and Top Chef).

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Your 2400-word analysis will examine one of the following programs: Lie to Me (FOX, premieres January 21), Trust Me (TNT, premieres January 26), Survivor (CBS, premieres February 12), and Dollhouse (FOX, premieres February 13). Keep in mind the goals of the class when writing your paper: 1) demonstrate an understanding how economics shape mass media content; 2) demonstrate knowledge of industry terminology and strategies; 3) demonstrate critical thought and writing prowess; and 4) demonstrate self-conscious viewing practices and close readings of media texts. Your paper will be graded on conceptual rigor, research skills, and writing proficiency. A minimum of ten, properly cited, outside sources is necessary (do not cite the shows themselves and Wikipedia and IMDB are off-limits as primary sources), plus a minimum of four examples from the show need to accompany your paper. Additionally, you will come together with other classmates who were assigned the same show to give a group presentation at the end of the semester. So even when your paper is completed, do not stop watching the show since you should incorporate subsequent episodes into your group presentation. Please keep your recordings since you will need to show clips during your group presentation. A meeting outside of class is required to discuss the show after a few episodes have aired. They will tentatively take place after class on February 16 (Lie to Me), February 23 (Trust Me), and March 4 (Survivor and Dollhouse). Paper due: March 23 DVD Analysis (Small Group) You will compare and contrast two versions of a single Hollywood film (2000-present): the PG-13 rated version and the uncut/director’s cut version. Your task is to determine what changes were made, how they were made, and why they were made to achieve a PG-13 rating and unrestricted exhibition in the United States. The film you choose to examine must have gone through a regulatory process regarding concerns over violence. These issues and representations may involve explicitness, suffering, pain, torture, affliction, discomfort, and other elements related to the picture’s overall tone of violence. Your 1800-word analysis will be graded on textual analysis, research skills, and writing proficiency. Please take advantage of directors’ commentaries, deleted footage, and other DVD extras. A minimum of five, properly cited, outside sources is necessary (not including the DVD). Wikipedia and IMDB are off-limits as primary sources and should be treated with great caution. You will informally present your findings to the class using clips from the two versions of your film. Paper and presentation due: April 15 Broadcast Television Presentation (Large Group) By pooling your resources and arguments, each group will deliver a twenty-minute presentation to the class on your assigned television show this semester. Each presentation must include five to six minutes of clips (no more), and can include handouts, overheads, PowerPoint slides, etc. Keep in mind the following:

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You need to update your paper to the period after the due date of your paper. Do not repeat things the audience already knows. Carefully choose the information and evidence about the contemporary media environment to help frame your television show. Have your clips ready prior to the presentation. They must be intelligently and seamlessly integrated into your presentation. Always have a VHS back up. Provide an introduction to each clip. Assume that no one has seen the show or the episode. Make sure to point out to the audience what is important to watch for in the upcoming clip. Dress nicely and do not wear hats or flip-flops. Play to everyone’s strength in the areas of research, analysis, writing, and presentation. While each person must speak during the presentation, the individual in your group with the best delivery can speak more. Practice and rehearse your presentation. Each presenter’s section must logically and coherently flow out of and into the other section. The presentation should not seem piecemeal as if each person wrote their own section and then everyone finally came together the day of the presentation. Identify critics, theorists, and people affiliated with the show in your presentation. Clearly provide a thesis to your presentation just like you do for a paper. Each main point of the presentation must clearly support that thesis.


Your presentation will be graded according to three criteria:

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Information/Research: Do you have good information and points? Are your sources reliable? Do the clips, article citations, handouts, and other visual materials support your main argument? Clarity/Organization: Do you make your points in a clear and coherent manner? Presentation Style: Are you prepared, enthusiastic, and interesting? Do you come across as knowledgeable? Do you have a good command of the subject at hand?

20% of the grade will be based on student evaluations; 80% of the grade is the professor’s evaluation. Presentation dates: April 27 (Lie to Me and Trust Me) and April 29 (Survivor and Dollhouse) Participation Attendance is not taken in this class. However, your participation grade is based on the quantity and quality of your participation, and you can not participate without being in the class. Therefore, attendance is an important factor in the determination of your final grade in this class. You also will be required to post to the class’s web board frequently and with diligence. Absence Policies Since participation plays a large part in your final grade, attendance is strongly encouraged. Excused absences which do not count against your participation grade include: All holidays or special events observed by organized religions for those students who show affiliation with that particular religion; and absences pre-approved by the ASU Dean of Students (or Dean’s designee). Late Papers and Arrival to Classroom One letter grade will be docked every twenty-four hours a paper is late. Papers are due at the beginning of class. Papers handed in during or after class will be docked one letter grade. In addition, no one will be allowed in class five minutes after the schedule start time. Any lateness must be pre-approved by the professor. Plagiarism Policy In the “Student Academic Integrity Policy” manual, ASU defines “’Plagiarism” [as] using another's words, ideas, materials or work without properly acknowledging and documenting the source. Students are responsible for knowing the rules governing the use of another's work or materials and for acknowledging and documenting the source appropriately.” You can find this definition at: Academic dishonesty, including inappropriate collaboration, will not be tolerated. There are severe sanctions for cheating, plagiarizing and any other form of dishonesty. Disability Resource Center (DRC) Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to participate fully in course activities or to meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center. Any student qualifying for services through the Disability Resource Center for learning assistance should provide the instructor, by the end of the first week of class, with a Letter of Identification specifying the accommodations needed. Grading Participation 15% Brand Marketing 15% Drive-in 15% Broadcast Television Project 20% Broadcast Television Presentation 15% DVD Analysis 20% Total: 100% Grade Breakdown A (90-100) = Excellent: all course work is performed at a clearly outstanding level. B (80-89) = Good: all course requirements are met at a level measurably above the average. C (70-79) = Average: all course work is completed at an adequate level. D (60-69) = Poor: all course work is completed at a level measurably below average or not completing many assignments. E (59 or below) = Failure: not completing much of the course work, completing assignments inadequately, or both. I = Incomplete. The grade of “I” will be awarded only when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed. Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester. Schedule (subject to change)


WEEK ONE Wednesday, January 21 WEEK TWO Monday, January 28 Wednesday, January 30

INTRODUCTION My Bloody Valentine 3-D FALL 2008 TELEVISION SEASON Beverly Hills, 90210 Class meets at 7pm for screening of Sheldon Schiffer’s Comeuppance at The Brickyard (BYAC 240) (one extra credit point for one page response paper) TELEVISION, CONVERGENCE, BRANDING Crisis in Broadcast Television The Broken Broadcast Economic Model Read: Jaffe, Life after the 30-Second Spot, Sections 1 and 2 NEW APPROACHES TO SELLING CONTENT Read: Jaffe, Life after the 30-Second Spot, Section 3 Conference Call with Chris Spadaccini, VP of Marketing, HBO Green Hollywood Screen: Killowatt Ours at 5pm or Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town at 7pm Both in Coor 120 THE NEW DIGITAL LANDSCAPE Flight of the Conchords Brand Marketing Paper Due and Discussion Digital Television Transition THE BUSINESS OF THE “BUSINESS” Guest Speakers: Kevin Townsley, Midd Kidd Productions (The Shield, The Unit) Jamie Turner, Script Coordinator, Dexter Conference Call with Stuart Takehara, Marketing Manager, Syufy Enterprises, about the Scottsdale 6 Drive-In 5:15pm Site Visit to the Scottsdale 6 THE HOLLYWOOD TRADE PRESS Guest Speaker: Michael Speier, Exec. Editor, Daily Variety Drive-in Assignment Due and Discussion SPRING BREAK (See Watchmen over break) No Class No Class Film Adaptation and Watchmen Read: Alan Moore’s Watchman

WEEK THREE Monday, February 2 Wednesday, February 4 WEEK FOUR Monday, February 9 Wednesday, February 11

WEEK FIVE Monday, February 16 Wednesday, February 18 WEEK SIX Monday, February 23

Wednesday, February 25

WEEK SEVEN Monday, March 2 Wednesday, March 4 WEEK EIGHT Monday, March 9 Wednesday, March 11 WEEK NINE Monday, March 16


Wednesday, March 18 WEEK TEN Monday, March 23 Wednesday, March 25 WEEK ELEVEN Monday, March 30 Wednesday, April 1 WEEK TWELVE Monday, April 6 Wednesday, April 8 WEEK THIRTEEN Monday, April 13 Wednesday, April 15 WEEK FOURTEEN Monday, April 20 Wednesday, April 22 WEEK FIFTEEN Monday, April 27 Wednesday, April 29 WEEK SIXTEEN Monday, May 4 Friday, May 8

Read: Alan Moore’s Watchman Web Television Shows TBD Broadcast TV Project Due TBD MEDIA REGULATION I Guest Speaker: David McClafferty Dubbing Producer, SDI Media Group Sexuality and the Media MEDIA REGULATION II Violence and the Media Violence and the Media TBD TBD DVD Analysis Presentations MEDIA IS “HARD” Read: Everything Bad is Good for You, Part One Read: Everything Bad is Good for You, Part Two TELEVISION SHOW PRESENTATIONS Lie to Me and Trust Me Survivor and Dollhouse THE BIG FINALE (watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine over weekend) X-Men Origins: Wolverine discussion Class Party at premiere of Star Trek