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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 26, 2006

An Ordinary Week

Virtually every morning, I get up, pour coffee, do e-mails while making my way through that first burst of caffeine. I shower, dress and, depending on the day, move into my home office or head into the city for meetings. In the week just past, no extraordinary things happened. Neither death nor illness visited my family or loved ones; no major events shook my life. It was an ordinary week.

But was it? It also was a momentous week, even if not on a personal level.

In the media world, The WB and UPN gave up the fight for independence and announced they would merge to form a new network; the CW – for CBS and Warner Bros. The move garnered kudos for Les Moonves, President of the newly independent CBS while many television veterans wondered what had taken so long?

Two years ago it would have been unthinkable that Disney and Pixar would merge; now they seem to be in the process of doing it. What a difference a change in regime makes! Eisner and Jobs disliked each other intensely; Iger and Jobs seem to get along [though there are now office pools being formed on how long Iger will last]. Eisner, never to be left out or ignored, kvetched that the price was too high to anyone who would listen. Few were and his comments were mostly footnotes, a fact that might well have infuriated the former Disney Chair.

A small film entitled BUBBLE is opening today in a few theatres. Nothing special in that and yet what has made this tiny film with no stars by Stephen Soderberg [TRAFFIC], the object of abject attention is that it is the first film to be released on VOD, in theatres and on DVD all within the same week. Any one who follows “the movies” is studying this small experiment as it could impact the movie distribution model which has previously existed. No major, sudden change will result from BUBBLE yet it potentially heralds a sea change in movie going habits. With big screens beginning to burgeon in “home theatres” the movie going public may decide that the couch is the best place to view first run films.

On the political scene, seismic things have been happening, just not at home. Buried deep in the venerable New York Times yesterday was the story about the fact that the Liberals have been knocked from their political perch in Ottawa and the Conservatives are being asked to form a minority government.

What is momentous about this is that Mr. Harper, head of the Conservative Party and soon to be Canada’s leader, is a pro-Bush, anti-central government figure who opposes gay marriage and national health care. In fact, it seems he opposes much of what has been Canada’s social “givens.”

In Palestine, the peace process may be on the road to derailment due to the surprising showing of Hamas in the elections there. The current head of government has offered his resignation; President Bush is apoplectic and promising to do everything in his legal power to derail this nonsense.

How did these things happen? Well, both in Canada and Palestine, the voters were tired of scandal plagued regimes that seemed to be plundering national treasure for personal gain. Fatah and the Liberals found themselves on the short end of the ballot counting.

Makes me wonder if that could happen in our next election here?

In Palestine that could mean short shrift for the peace process and in Canada it threatens the social foundations which the country has accepted for at least two or three generations. Speaking to a couple of Canadian friends, they were almost as distraught about Mr. Harper as Mr. Bush is about Hamas.

Bill Ford is announcing that Ford Motor Company will eliminate something like 30,000 jobs over the next six years. DaimlerChrysler will cut an additional 6,000 jobs worldwide, following on the 37,000 it eliminated over the last four years. And at the Detroit Motor Show, China introduced a vehicle that will get high gas mileage and will cost under $12,000.

Hmmm…while I was showering, the world was changing – a lot. Even “ordinary” weeks are not so ordinary.