Episode 81: The Arsenio Hall Show

The Overthinkers tackle the Golden Globes, the late night debacle (big winner: Arsenio), and the misattribution of agency.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Josh McNeil to overthink the coming season of 24, the Golden Globes, the late night debacle on NBC (big winner: Arsenio Hall), and the misattribution of agency in argumentation.

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Download Episode 81 (MP3)

8 Comments on “Episode 81: The Arsenio Hall Show”

  1. Gab #

    I’m just going to talk about agency a little. What I’m thinking of has been brought up in a different context before, about film trailers and ads. The “agency” over a film is assigned to whomever has the most cultural capital and clout within the industry when it comes to promotion and advertising. If the writers are more (positively) famous, the ads will say, “From the writers of ___.” If it’s the director, “From the director that brought you ___.” Etc. Producers are included, too, don’t forget. Further, if one or the other has a *bad* track record, the name (or names) will surreptitiously be out of as much promotional material as possible. I think this has more to do with ticket and DVD sales than it does actual appreciation for the artistry or work involved in production.

    And I’m going to stick my neck out and say I don’t think the fact that writers are industrially assigned more agency is really all that sensical, even if it’s “how the system works.” In some discussion about _The Simpsons_ here, for example, it was brought up how while a person’s name may be on the list of writers for the show for years, they may only actually write a handful of episodes during that time. And given how “special guest director Soandso” happens just as often as “special guest writer Bladdyblah,” I don’t see the difference. Joss Whedon gets to direct an episode of _Glee_, but why does that matter if the writers are the ones with the real power? I really don’t think they *are*. I can’t explain why TV directors get snuffed at the Golden Globes, but I see TV and movies treated very similarly by other forces.

    (And *YEAH* B5!!! I’d actually argue that the notion it was being cancelled made season 4 the best- cramming the rest of the plot into that one season made it exciting. Sooo much happens, it’s impossible to get bored. Sure, you can get a little confused because there is less time taken to make sure you remember what from before is being referenced, but that’s not the same thing.)


  2. sean from philly #

    when you were talking about auteur theory, my understanding of your argument is that the creation of a movie involves so many different artistic forces that it is impossible to assign complete creative responsibility to one person. but it would seem to me (and i am by no means a film expert) that this is the role of a producer. even if each individual creative decision is made by the responsible artist, the producer has at least some input in all of them. he hires everyone who works on the film (or at least hires the people who hire everyone else), he gets final say on all major production decisions, and, most importantly, he controls the money. he is also the first person who takes the blame if things get out of control. it may be hard to consider them auteurs, since they aren’t artists in the sense that we typically use that word, but theirs is the unifying vision that runs throughout the production.
    this argument, of course, conveniently ignores the fact that major movies often have multiple producers, sometimes including artists involved in the project in other capacities (like actors and directors). most likely, this is done intentionally to dilute responsibility and thus deflect blame. perhaps this is why so many major films are terrible, because they lack a single guiding force who can be held accountable for their failure.


  3. Matthew Wrather #

    I think you mean “snubbed” not “snuffed”, but I know people in the business who would definitely buy that porn.

    Well, yeah, you have to separate out the distribution of the “producer” credit (which happens for reasons of economics and ego) with the person who actually produces the movie — that is to say, finds the script or property, acquires it, develops it, attaches talent, raises money, shepherds it through various challenges, oversees production, oversees post, etc.

    And if you make that distinction, I think you raise an interesting point: A film’s producer (understood in the latter sense) is the agent causing all the individual artists to be a part of it. Hiring power can be artistic power, at least at the macro level.

    Maybe that’s why they accept the Best Picture Oscars?


  4. Gab #

    Uh, yeah. I uh, don’t know what to say, ‘cept, “Oops.” Yeesh.


  5. Sylvia #

    @Wrather: Only a couple of all nighters? I cannot count on one hand the number of times I stayed up 24+ or 30+ hours in college. Usually one a week. My record is three days. I know someone who was awake for 7 days. And on an adreneline rush like Jack Bauer has 24 hours awake is very easy.


  6. Tom #

    Re: Eponymous Sitcoms

    Well, *actually* . . .

    It seems odd, but having a sitcom named for a star who does not share his/her character’s name has a proud history. The Dick Van Dyke show leaps to mind (main character: Rob Petrie) as does , of course, The Cosby Show with the Huxtables. To a lesser extent The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Mary Richards) and The Bob Newhart Show (Robert Hartley) have the same pattern, but at least the first name is the same in those cases. The ’80s sitcom Newhart had a main character named Dick Loudon, but when you’ve had as many sitcoms named after you as Bob Newhart has, you can’t use your name for all of them.


  7. Paul #

    Tom beat me to the punch on the sitcom names, since apparently I’m behind on my podcast listening. Just to add to the list, Andy Griffith was Andy Taylor on his show. I can see where the name of the star might be the big draw for the show so they want to use it, but the star is playing a character different from themselves. The star might want to have some distinction between himself and his character. Andy Griffith wants it clear that Andy Taylor was the one who kept pinching Ellie Walker’s butt. He was just staying in character after the cameras stopped.

    Regarding the billboard that McClane wears being changed to ‘I hate everyone’ for TV, well, actually, it was originally filmed with that and changed to the n-word digitally so Bruce Willis didn’t have to walk around the streets of New York with that message.


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