Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If someone wants to lose half a billion...

In case you didn't hear, News Corporation - the same people who bring you Fox News - today sold MySpace for the sum of $35 million.

That is not a small amount of money. Though it is much smaller than the $580 million News Corp. paid for MySpace in 2005.

Let's put this in perspective. Say you bought a house in 2005 for $200K. Now, in our recessioned world, you might get $165K for it (so I hope for you, anyway). Your house would have lost more than 17% of its value. Under News Corp., MySpace lost almost 94% of its value.

Some people thought this was a good deal at the time, by the way.

This will be broken down in business and communications textbooks for generations. Mistakes were made. Facebook, seemingly, didn't make them.

Whatever. That isn't what this post is about. As of the moment I am writing this, News Corp.'s stock price is $17.83/share. What was it on June 30, 2005? A hair below $17 per, according to News Corp.'s investor site.

What I' saying here is News Corp., no matter what you think of the MySpace acquisition, how it ran that business, how it runs any of it's other businesses... it can weather quite a storm.

So, I want to propose to News Corp. that instead of buying a social networking site and losing half a billion dollars (not including the dollars spent on funding MySpace while owning it), instead, if you're going to take the writedown... give the money to me.

Here's my plan:

1) Give everyone - everyone - in America a dollar. Because I'm a nice guy, I'm giving 307,006,550 people a dollar. Doesn't sound like much, but tell me you'd turn down a guy giving you a buck, just because.

That leaves about $196 million.

2) Buy a house.

No, no... a house.

OK, so let's just figure... conservatively, I'd have about $100 million left. With that...

Man, I don't know.

I wouldn't have enough to buy a National League baseball team and relocate it to Boston, just to mess with Red Sox fans, unfortunately.

I guess at that point you start thinking about charity stuff. Giving back.

I could give $10 million to ten charities of my choosing. That's get-a-wing-of-the-hospital-named-for-you money.

Anyhow, it's a modest proposal.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The next big medical dramas...

ABC has wheeled out a new show called Combat Hospital. I have not watched it. But just as CBS has made CSI spin-off after spin-off, it seems ABC is content to do this with medical dramas.

Let's recap:
  • Grey's Anatomy - Frightfully attractive hospital staff provide services to Seattle's sick and injured in between bouts of providing "other services" to each other. However, when you have good writing and good acting, this can work out.
  • Private Practice - Doctor leaves Grey's Anatomy for sunny Santa Monica to be part of a private medical practice that serves, well... the type of people you expect in Los Angeles that are rich enough to not care if their medical insurance pays for their procedures.
  • Off the Map - Frightfully attractive doctors (in Ecuador?) providing services to the stereotypically Latin American locals while doing some soul searching.
Now, we have Combat Hospital, which, from what I can gather, is doctors on the war front in Afghanistan. This is getting awfully close to M*A*S*H territory, but hey... Grey's Anatomy is awfully close to St. Elsewhere territory and it pulls things off.

So, what's next? What other outrageous places could we set things, preferably with tons of stereotypes to exploit? Maybe:

  • ED Appalachia - Frightfully attractive doctors work with minimal resources in a fictional West Virginia or Kentucky city to provide care for the region's citizens. The big episode of season one could involve a mining accident (pure ratings grab, but hey...). It would also be interesting to see how TV could handle crying families with no insurance...
  • USNS Respite - Four words: doctors on a boat. That's right, members of our Navy (with advanced medical degrees and frightfully good looks, of course) care for our wounded warriors. And the best part? They can be anywhere. Ratings down? Ship 'em someplace new. Would also be lots of chances for sunbathing scenes. Because I'm sure that's what happens on our nation's medical ships.
  • [NAME OF CITY HERE] Children's - This is basically Grey's Anatomy... but the only patients we see are children. Nothing anyone can tell me will convince me this wouldn't be a hit show.
The point - and the sad thing - in all this is that we've clearly come to a point where new ideas are rare. This sort of "people like [thing], so what can we do that's just like [thing]" thought process wins the day. I'd say I wanted any royalties gained from any of the above shows becoming a reality, but I am willing to wager - bad ideas as all of them sound - that they're already being pitched to network execs by someone else.

I'm sure that would be true of any concepts you could come up with in the comments, too (though I would love to hear the premise of a zombie hospital show...).

You see Game of Thrones and you wonder when, exactly, the major TV networks are going to start being a bit riskier with new concepts instead of wrapping the same concepts up in new ways.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The signs are clear

This past week, I traveled to New York on business. I had been back east since moving west, but this time, in particular, the signs were all there... I've become a west coaster. Let's review:

  • Tolerance for heat? Gone. Especially the east coast favorite of "HHH" weather - hazy, hit and humid. Last Tuesday, I basically wilted in the NYC heat and it was the coldest day of my brief trip there. On Weds, it hit 95 and, despite having grown up in this sort of weather, I was done with it. I guess it's more of a testament to the miracles of nature and how we're able to acclimate to the areas we live in. For now, though, if it must be hot, let's do dry heat, k?
  • Apparently, I no longer jaywalk. Or I have to remind myself to do so. I was walking to meet a friend in NYC and the sign said "don't walk." So... I didn't. If you've never been to/lived in NYC, this may mean nothing to you. If you do, you're probably going "You're the pedestrian that, at best, I laugh at and, at worst, want to slap!" But yeah, I have apparently lost my hurry while on two feet.
  • Also, it felt weird to me that the game was on after work. I walked into the bar and the Yankees-Red Sox game was on... and I had already had dinner. I am so used to the bulk of the sports world being done and over with before dinner it was disorienting (though, jet lag certainly had something to do with that).
  • This is going to sound snobby, but it must be said: we have to teach NYC about a good cup of coffee. For a long time, I celebrated the "average Joe" coffee in NYC served in diners, donut shops and more. And, yes, I know many New Yorkers who need their morning Starbucks fix. But the third wave hasn't quite hit the shores of the east coast, from what I can tell anyway.
I don't mean to say this in any way to slam New York or the east coast. I can go on at length over the need for more neighborhood diners, better pizza and bagels, real heavy rail transit systems and more in the West. Similarly, if this was a true pro-con on either coast, I could list things I have here (default rental apts are climate-controlled with a dishwashers, significantly easier access to hiking trails, moderate climate) that win in the west.

It's just, for me, those things listed out helped drive home that I've embraced my new left coast city and its lifestyle. I grew up knowing the northeast. I adjusted to the ease of southern life. We're adaptable... and it appears I've adapted to west coast living.