Ankler 1.0

Of all the things! Who the hell needs another Hollywood trade?  Don’t we have too many of those already? Way too many?

Well, we do and we don’t. The great innovation of the internet is that so many have been given the opportunity to say exactly the same thing at the same time everyone else. If you want that breaking news about the Mid-Season premiere date of Agents of Shield, or what director is in talks for the new Loki standalone, or who said on the red carpet that they are “very excited” for their new season, then you’re very covered.

But if you’re looking to find out what’s happening in this loony bin of ours, you’re out of luck.

Hollywood deserves better. To read the coverage of this place, you’d think it’s just a bunch of nice, smart people, getting up early and manning their desks to churn out the best darn content any content mill has ever spat out.

You and I, the folks who keep this town churning, we know better.

On every side, the way we do business is under siege, and the industry by and large is responds by changing the subject with all the powers at their disposal.

A brief tour of the state of our world:

  • We just survived a summer so miserable and creatively bankrupt, it calls into question whether Hollywood can make mass entertainment anymore.
  • The independent film world is in a state of near collapse, held barely afloat only by the largesse of the streaming TV world.
  • The streaming world is going guns a’blazin’ in a drunken sailor buying spree that’s on track to drive most of the networks out of business before they run off a cliff themselves.
  • The industry has never been more dependent on the money supply from just one nation, as investors and ticket buyers. Unfortunately that nation has no shared sense of cultural freedom or transparency, and is turning off the spigots.
  • The flight from cable is turning into a flood, and with it goes much of the bundle-supported ecosystem.
  • On the big screen and little, we’ve never been more dependent on the giant hits, which are produced in a five year plus pipeline. At a time when the way we consume changes every 30 seconds.
  • We’ve now got all our money on a very small number of big bets. What happens when those don’t pay off for more than one or two cyles?
  • Half of Hollywood’s great studios stand a more than nothing chance of not existing soon.
  • A generation decades past out of touch clings to the levers of power and shows no signs of passing the torch.
  • Every day, another piece of news provokes a crowd with ptichforks at the studio gates demanding heads on pikes. The story has run away from the storytellers.
  • At movie premieres these days, you’re lucky to get free popcorn. Buffets you can forget about.

All of which is to say: these are insane times when no one in their right mind could tell you what this industry will look like a few years out. If this is the business where no one knows anything, then that’s made slightly worse by the fact that at this moment, nothing is knowable.

And people aren’t just freaking out. They are FreakingOut.

For those who have made their living here, the business has been very very good to them. But there’s lots of reason to think that the party may be ending for lots of us; not all of our friends are going to get to stay on this party train. Or at least that there’ll be a lot fewer seats at the table, and those of them that are left will mostly be filled by 20 year old putting cat ears on selfies.  And if you think the terror of this moment is making people act smarter, more effectively, then you don’t know Hollywood.

Now at this time of maximum chaos, we need a light to shine through the bedlam,, if nothing else, to capture the madness in its full glory, and a voice to make sense of this magical moment.

However, it’s not like we’ve all become innocent victims here. Well into the 21st Century, Hollywood’s way of doing business remains, much too often, horrifying. Gender, racial and age discrimination exist on levels that would get a pharma or petroleum executive thrown into jail if they dared such shenanigans. Casting couches survive and flourish. Serial abusers and psychopaths rise and are celebrated.  The middle class that fuels the business across the board is being squeezed out, begging the question, who will write, light, edit, market produce and act in all these contents that are going to fill the streaming pipelines of tomorrow.

Hollywood is the only industry in the developed world that relies on child labor.  And not just relies on it, but to relies heavily on it. Heck, we’re even the pace-setter in animal abuse!

So what’s not to like!

There’s a million stories out there in this naked industry and I want to tell them all.

I spent the past two decades covering Hollywood for every publication and website there is, and I grew tired of only being able to tell a sliver of the real story on their pages. I wanted to start something that’s not about conning suckers onto my homepage for my daily click quote; or worse, dependent on the largesse of the industry I cover.

I wanted to start something where I could have a direct conversation with the people who know what’s going on and not have to dance around the truth, shade it, spin it or turn my back on it.  Where I could report the stories I hear, and dig deep, turning over rocks willy nilly, for an audience who understands and cares about what these stories mean.

I started this project at the beginning of this year as a quiet experiment to see what would happen if I went ahead and just reported the truth as best I understood it, without fear of consequences, something I’ve had very little opportunity to do in recent times.

The result has been overwhelming. Our subscriber list has skyrocketed. I’ve received so many kind words of support, confirming my sense that there was a hunger for an independent voice to speak out in this industry. I will forever be grateful during t to the family and friends who stood by this lunatic project during this tire-kicking period, to the readers who reached out, who passed The Ankler along and told their friends to get on board; and to my growing cadre of Ankler friends who have taken their time, and for many, put themselves at risk, to share their stories and perspectives of what is going on this racket.

I thought that in one-to-one newsletter format, we could break free together of the deadening tone of the internet and have a real conversation among peers. And I hoped that if this project could support me, I would have the freedom to do the digging, and rock-turning and hard spade work that it really takes to uncover the truth on these stories.  I have a fantastic list of stories that need digging on, and my hope is to be able to do that digging here.

And that’s where you come in. I started The Ankler to create an industry voice beholden to no one but its readers. But to do that, I need your support. To be able to continue writing this newsletter, and hopefully to grow with even more reporting and more services, I need the readers to keep it alive.

Starting in two weeks, on October 2nd, The Ankler, will become a paid subscription newsletter, delivered to those who buy a year subscription.  In making this leap, it was important to me that those who have supported us during these rickety months be able to come over with minimum pain.  That’s why I’m starting this out, for a limited time only, at the low low price of $45 a year.  As I say, that offer will not last, so make the leap today.  Click here to subscribe, in a very painless sign-up process.

A lot is still to be determined: the final exact price-point, whether I take on advertising, adding on forums, more reporters and columnists, events! For all this, we’ll take it as it goes, and I’ll keep checking back and being as transparent as I can be about all that. I want to offer as much as I can, things that will not find anywhere else. Doing that requires turning this into a sustainable, going concern, so I hope you can help me get there.

Most of all, however, a report on entertainment should be entertaining, first, last and always.  Even though the topics of the day might be appalling, horrifying and absolutely grotesque, if we can’t find a way to have a little fun with them, we’re in the wrong damn business. Reading the industry news some of these days, you’d think you’re reading the daily newsletter of the Ditech regional sales conference.  Things might be crazy, but we’re still showbiz! Capturing Hollywood’s craziness and getting it down on the page should never be less than one of the great spectacles of modern times, filled with laughter and tears, terror and dreams. Here’s hoping I can give you that in every edition of The Ankler.  Subscribe now, while supplies last.

And thank you!