Old Hollywood Meets the Future – Bikash Chatterjee
On Monday July 18, 2011 the Churchill Club sponsored an extraordinary evening of discussion on the impact of social media on Hollywood’s dyed in the wool approach to talent management. Entitled A Talent for Talent, Kara Swisher, Co-executive editor of All Things Digital moderated a conversation with Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. Emanual is an icon in the industry and is the thinly veiled inspiration behind Jeremy Piven’s character Ari Gold on the hit HBO TV show Entourage. Having started William Morris Endeavor in 1995, the same time as the cable networks WB and UPN, Emanuel touted that the company had covered the 240 Million dollar investment made by Fox and Disney within the first two months of operation. The evening’s discussion revolved around several key points exploring both the potential power and limitations of social networking platforms to provide insight and analyses regarding demographic preferences.
Weiner highlighted the fact that in today’s fast paced society people are highly aware of the value of time. If we could we would use one platform for all of our networking needs we would. But today there is no such convergence. We use LinkedIn for our professional networking, Facebook for our social networking. Now Google Plus steps into the fray. What makes these platforms successful? Is it that their algorithms are better or they provide more information faster? Weiner purports the answer lies in curation, which is the tailoring information for maximum impact. So the question is can Hollywood find a way to leverage the power of media through these social networking platforms and focused curation? When asked where he believes Hollywood will be in five years Emanuel predicted the books and music would thrive but that the movie industry would find tough going. He predicted that social gaming may become a new market segment within the industry, therefore understanding how to leverage digital distribution portals may become more significant as these market areas develop.
Both speakers felt the need for great vision and great voices within their respective industries will become more important than great technology. They pointed out that both of them make their living trying to guess what is coming next in the marketplace. Emanuel highlighted that no one in the industry could have predicted the immense success of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Voice, highlighting that benchmark for the industry is still the old school method of measuring success; the Nielsen ratings. They make their movie decision based upon what they believe the international potential of a project yet they do not use any algorithm to base these decisions on.
As Silicon Valley strives to translate human intuition and instinct into algorithms the chasm remains large between theory and reality. Weiner pointed out that despite our inability to predict a hit we can find ways to measure the resonance with audience and perhaps through intensive data analysis move closer to the gift of clairvoyance. For now the linkage between Hollywood decision makers and social networks remains distant at best, but who knows what the future may bring. Someday we may be able to answer that question.