So we’re in the final 23 hours of ’23 as this is being posted. Color me pleasantly shocked I came out the other end intact.
On far more occasions than I’ve even been comfortable sharing with even the most loyal of you readers, I honestly didn’t think I’d be this resillient. Forget my personal struggles, if only for a moment. If you’re a person who loves media, politics and sports as I do, you know darn well any opinion you express these days is effectively inviting trolling and occasional online abuse. Take a look at the comments sections on these musings. I’ve apparently developed a following from a highly opinionated gentleman whose love for all things he sees right, including his wing, as unarguable and therefore, me, as somewhat deranged. I’ve also earned the extreme disrespect of two people I once considered friends who, to be fair, have classic signs of Trump Derangement Syndrome and, moreover, are of the belief that President Joseph Robinette Biden is the closest thing to a saint on Earth we have ever experienced. Not that I’ve embraced either camp as blindly as any of these “fans” have. I’m no fan of Fat Orange Jesus, either. And the fact my opinion is therefore unique, like a snowflake or a fingerprint, may somehow explain why, as this year ends, I feel perhaps lonelier, more isolated, more detached and more desperate than I have at any point yet in this journey some of you have joined me on.
As I explained yesterday to someone who HAS been in my corner all the way, I calls them like I sees them. And years ago, long before a bankrupt hair-dye embracing Masked Singer contestant hijacked the title of “America’s Mayor”, the New York I once called home was led by a very opinionated and at times outspoken thrice-elected mayor named Ed Koch. I voted for Koch twice and was proud to do so. At every campaign stop, and yes, he schlepped out to Queens to stump, he’d always ask “How’m I doing?” And that’s a question that a lot of us with opinions and predictions ask of ourselves, let alone to anyone else invested, on a day like December 31st.
So I looked back at how these musings kicked off 2023. And, let me tell you, I’m uncomfortable with how right I was about some things. And way more uncomfortable about what I got wrong.
I was spot on about my first predicton, though even I underestimated exactly how devastating the strikes and the overreaching of addled and egotistical corporate executives would be. And as 2024 starts, it’s damn clear this story will continue to unfold. I’ll get around to more specific Nostradamus-ings tomorrow, but suffice to say, while I assumed I’d be right about this one I kinda hoped this wouldn’t have been one that I was THIS right about.
I was way off the third, though in large part that’s because the gentleman who I believed was the most passionate about it didn’t survive 2023 as an employed mogul. Like many, I thought Jeff Shell was one of the most unlikely candidates for being #metood out of power as anyone in our industry. But he did indeed violate the policies of the company he was the CEO of, and he took that risk with a woman whose track record in that world was a bit questionable. So without his vision, let alone the fact that the strikes reduced NBC to a hodgepodge of reruns. repurposed reality and imported low-rated originals, at least for now NBC remains a three-hour-a night network, and depending upon how successful the upcoming Hail Mary moves of Peacock pan out, it’s probably gonna stay that way, Though I will have also have some thoughts about what and who constitutes what that damn bird’s gonna look like going forward.
I’ll tell you this much, I’m gonna run back my second prediction 100 per cent (and yes, I agree that phrase is overused by many). And I’ll give you a hint: If you take a look at the annual list of network winners and losers that VARIETY’s Michael Schneider again shared last week as he does at every year’s end, you’ll see some inexorable truths about linear TV that will have repurcussions as to what constitutes and defines streaming TV. These may not be viable networks, but they are viable brands. And that reality may very well see a strategic shift that could define at least one of the streamers, particularly if any of the rumored alliances come to pass. Again, I’ve got some thoughts on how that all winds up that I’ll share in the new year. Let’s just say that politicans aren’t the only strange bedfellows.
But I’m most upset that I actually understating how wrong I was about the last 20 predictions. On the contrary, I personally know at least a dozen more folks that will start 2024 on the sidelines, most of them against their will. And based upon all of the predictions circling these companies’ expectations in the early going, I’m fearful this will continue to be the case.
Fortunately, media cartographer and (dare I say friend) Evan Shapiro would beg to differ. Read his LinkedIn posts as frequently as you do mine, if not more. He seems to believe that the massive layoffs of 2023 have left companies scrambling for braintrust and while corporate positions may not be plentiful, someone’s gonna have to think for them in order to even have a chance to land their planes.
I really, REALLY hope he’s right. Because clearly I’m not doing all that well with my predictions.
Meanwhile, since the end of the year also means the end of the month, I’ll offer up one last hope and prayer you might be able to help me out with a notch more than hopes and prayers. I’m literally doing everything possible to change my situation, despite so many others’ feverish beliefs to the contrary. But, to this point, everything Joseph Robinette Biden promised would happen to someone like me hasn’t quite happened. Maybe you can put in a good word on my behalf?
As Allen Ludden used to say, see you tomorrow, I hope.
As Barry Manilow once peppily crooned, “Looks Like We Made It”. Yep, if you’re reading this, we’ve somehow all slogged through 2022, and now can skidoo into ’23.
What, you’ve never heard of Manilow? As my new bestie often eloquently says, “Google him”. You might be surprised how much of his work you recognize that endures more than five decades after their creation. Which is more than most of us can say about our output.
Which is why while there’s certainly tremendous hope and anticipation ahead for all of us, especially those in the media industry who truly, as Manilow once wrote for a certain hambuger chain’s commercials “deserve a break today”, there are storm warnings ahead that lead me to some somewhat troubling predictions as yours truly puts on his Nostradamus–or, as one former friend snarked back last year at this time–Nostra-dumb-ass– hat and takes his stab at predicting what may come to pass in the next twelve months with a fresh calendar at the ready:
1– The Scripted U.S. TV Business Is About To Change Forever
The seeds of such disruption are already in place, and they”re eerily similar to the landscape of 2007. As Cynthia Littleton of VARIETY! , one of the few media writers who was prominent then and now, wrote a few weeks back:
The outlook for the next six months is starting to look a lot like it did in the summer and fall of 2007, the last time the entertainment industry’s biggest employers faced a work stoppage with the Writers Guild of America.