ICYMI: Rushfield Gets Sentimental
Our biggest stories of the year, and an anniversary in the New Year
Happy New Year to you all! Today, I’m going to get uncharacteristically sentimental. Excuse any mawkishness.
Janice Min — the legendary dynamo of modern media — approached me last year with the idea to take my little newsletter, one-man musings on the state of Hollywood, and turn it into something bigger than one person. Her idea? That building on the brand of un-compromised information and perspective I had established could create something larger and fill the hunger for meaningful, intelligent coverage of this industry at its greatest moment of flux (and confusion).
I accepted the challenge, and in just a few days, The Ankler 2.0 will hit its first anniversary (Jan. 3, to be specific). In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined how much bigger The Ankler would become so quickly, while still retaining its brain and soul. We’ve well more than tripled our subscribers (around 40,000 now) and today count among our loyal community CEOs, studio chiefs, Oscar-winning producers, writers and directors, top creative executives across every streamer and studio, Wall Street analysts, and familiar names in entertainment everywhere from London to New York’s literary scene.
The Ankler’s new voices are so much more than my one-man musings. Sean McNulty’s The Wakeup newsletter quickly became how the most influential people in this business start their day through the right mix of headlines, smart (really smart) analysis and humor. Entertainment Strategy Guy’s charts and data are an essential way to understand an industry never more opaque about information. Rob Long’s Martini Shot podcast is an absolute gem about the creative community. And contributors that include Peter Kiefer and Nicole LaPorte deliver feature after feature that get the town talking.
We’ve kept it fun, lively and provocative every step of the way, all without (we hope) digressing into some of the hallmarks that afflict today’s media (coverage of trending Twitter stories for clicks, sophomoric gossip, etc...).
Here then, before we close the book on 2022, in case you missed them, are some of the greatest hits of The Ankler 2.0 Year One:
Among our most-read stories: Peter Kiefer first broke the amazing tale of a serial fabulist in Disney Investigating Grey's Anatomy Writer, which months later led to conversations with the writer in question in The Grey's Anatomy Liar Confesses it All. Nicole LaPorte took the first deep look at Bob Chapek’s mysterious right hand Kareem Daniel, which laid the bread crumbs for the future internal dissent that would blow open. And we published terrific stories on Hollywood’s NFT Madness, the Royals, Obamas and the End of the $100m Vanity Megadeal and author Michael Wolff took us inside Random House’s cancellation of Norman Mailer.
Our major series that turned the conversation in Hollywood:
Entertainment Strategy Guy’s five-parter on The American Viewer explored the data, demographics, and opportunity within the modern and often overlooked audience.
State of Slate went studio-by-studio, streamer-by-streamer, to reveal every single coming project and the strategy behind the decisions.
Our series on The Squeeze — the crunch being felt by workers across the industry — blew open the challenges facing writers, producers and below the line crew in the streaming age (in addition to useful advice on how to possibly survive layoffs).
This week, I saw the year out with a series of Exit Interviews looking back on the wreckage of the year just passed. My subjects included a top writer, producer, agent and marketing/PR executive.
Kit Sargent — a pseudonymous TV writer — has given us a terrific series of essays covering, among other things, Getting Fired the Hollywood Way, Hollywood’s Zoloft Blow-Off and her PSA for aspiring scribes. Vincent Boucher looks at the intersection of fashion and Hollywood, and the crafts behind them, in The Glossy, pieces such as Oscars and the Male Gaze, R.I.P., his take on the Makeup and Hairstyling category being eliminated from the 2022 Oscars broadcast, Emmys’ TV Work ‘Framilies’ and 'Bros' and an Elegy for the Gay White Male.
Meanwhile, our own podcast gathered every week, assembling The Ankler team and smart hand-selected guests to review the big stories and make sense of the latest twists and turns of the entertainment industry.
We also launched our first spinoff newsletter: The Optionist, Andy Lewis’ scouting report on available IP from the four corners of media, now with more than 2600 subscribers. It’s become the source of many a deal as readers have snatched up Andy’s highlighted projects. Bonus: Subscriptions are on sale for a limited time at 30 percent off!
And finally as The Ankler has grown, I’ve stayed on the beat, holding forth on the big and often overlooked stories shaking the business. From The Slap, to the Olivia Wilde feeding frenzy, to Hollywood's Gun Trouble, to the passing of Nikki Finke, to the looming possibility of a WGA strike, to the ousters of Netflix’s Bozoma St. John, Jeff Zucker, Peter Rice and finally, “Bob II” Chapek, I try to unravel the truths behind the official story.
Between it all, there hasn’t been a dull moment in Hollywood this year. Thank you for trusting us to be part of it with you. We hoped we helped you make sense of the spectacle. And if you’re not yet part of our community — come aboard and join us in 2023! Everyone is welcome.
Happy New Year to you all! - RR
Happy New Year. Love the Ankler. Wisdom, humor, perspective, honesty, fun!
Thanks a bunch, and very best from the UK! Caryn Mandabach