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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

January 16, 2006

I entered this New Year lethargic, headachy and less motivated than I would have wanted [a bacterial infection]. My consolation is that I am in good company. I swear a third of New York City has this creeping crud thing and while occasionally miserable, I am not Ariel Sharon, lying in his hospital bed, effectively removed from the world scene by a stroke while Israel, though distraught by his illness, continues to function at a higher level than many would have expected.

Nor am I the 35 year old policeman in New York City who, while answering a call about reported gunshots, complained of chest pains and died on the spot.

My bacterial infection is discomforting and manageable. Much of life is not, and I find myself in this New Year ruminating on the transience of life; and the speed of change. I live in the sci-fi world of my childhood.

Sharon is effectively gone though his presence will be felt for another half generation at least.

And the world that reports on events such as Sharon's stroke is rapidly changing in its methodology and, indeed, the speed at which information gets to us. For the last ten years or more, the technological changes at the gates of television and old media have been threatening old models.

Television and media as we have known it in our lives is changing, finally, and faster than most expected. The broadcast networks are still a force and they no longer control more than 45% of the primetime audience. Cable networks are busy emulating the broadcast networks old business models and are having trouble making a go of it. Broadness of content may not be a key to success.

One high placed cable executive was quoted as saying: NO MORE NETWORKS. Broadband plays only.

A year or two ago we hadn't heard of the blogosphere, really, and now it is all the rage and most everyone, it seems, has a blog of their own and the blogs are becoming major influencers of events.

The blogs don't let anyone get away with anything. caught Wal-Mart suggesting biographies of Martin Luther King to people who were interested in PLANET OF THE APES. Ooops….

Political blogs are having an Abramoff heyday these days. Scandal is their reason to be…

It is a different way of having news relayed, discussed, analyzed and assimilated into the consciousness. The technological changes are having a profound affect, not just on news but for entertainment also.

Andy Serkis, the actor who in motion capture, captured the character of Golum in LORD OF THE RINGS and Kong in KING KONG, is being honored, with the animators, by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Oscar, however, is not listening.

It occurred to me while I was down with my bacterial blight that the very definition of television as it has been understood by my generation is not the same definition younger generations have. Television is everywhere and is going to be even more ubiquitous in days to come. The CES Show in Vegas unveiled many devices to let us watch television anywhere we want, picking things up from the air or downloaded from the net [though downloading for one device won't necessarily let you play on another].

It reminds me that awhile ago someone was telling me about a three year old at her grandparents' house, frustrated with how little the “screens' at their home did.

I am, personally, no longer a passive watcher yet I'm probably more passive in many cases than a ten year old. It is the new world that began back in the 1970's with Qube, a cable industry experiment with interactivity in an experimental system. Those exciting things have happened, are happening and will continue to happen.

For those of us in the media of a certain age, we should be celebrating. This constant adaptation will result in us exercising our brains and staving off the baby boomers greatest fear ' the onslaught of age. For those not of a certain age, the challenge will be to continue to be flexible and to find fun in the continuing changes and for all of us to make visual content compelling as we become submerged in the digital river.