urx unit loader Woz, the Future of Television, 'Numb3rs' & Some Pigeons

Today's cuppa: morning Viennese roast and an afternoon cappuccino from the studio coffee cart


Before packing it in for the night, here's a note to catch you Cuppers up on what I've been doing the last couple of days (aside from cheering on Steve "Woz" Wozniak on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," as he survived elimination despite the judges' disparaging remarks about his samba. He puts the tap in my toes, a smile on my face and a song in my heart! Go, Woz!)

Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at the lovely Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood — in a ballroom that I was told has been restored to the way it looked during the first Academy Awards presentation — at the first day of the two-day Digital Media Wire Future of Television Conference West.

I haven't had the chance to digest everything I heard (some of which is available on my Twitter feed, including a running livetweet of the keynote speaker, Fox Broadcasting entertainment chief Kevin Reilly), but here are a few of my takeaways in brief:

  • TV is thriving, what's not thriving is linear TV, a k a the traditional network schedule. People are consuming lots of TV, but rather than watching it in its broadcast time slot, it's increasingly on DVRs and online.
  • But, because people actively choose shows for the DVR and to watch online, they tend to be more engaged with them that shows they watch just because it's 9 p.m., and they're on.
  • Because of the Internet, viewers have never been more fully engaged in their TV shows. On the other hand, the digital revolution is throwing the TV industry into a financial and, in some ways, existential crisis (and that goes for advertisers as well, who are scrambling just as hard to figure it all out).
  • This trend is highly unlikely to slow down or reverse, and the pace of change may accelerate exponentially as new hardware and software products are released — forcing studios and networks to run even harder to keep up.
  • While there is an increasing amount of original online video content (professionally produced, not just amateur YouTube videos), the Web is still dependent on traditional studio, network and production-company sources both for original content and for subject matter for blogs and fan-oriented websites.
  • Some folks, especially (but not exclusively) students and young people just entering the workforce, don't bother with a TV at all, preferring to watch on laptops or flat-screen computer monitors. Easier connectivity between HDTVs and PCs will improve on this viewing experience, making it a viable choice for those who want to watch their shows on a large TV screen.
  • Whomever figures out how to make product advertising really pay on the Internet may become as rich as Bill Gates.

I'll be reviewing my recording of Reilly's keynote, so look for some highlights from that soon.

In other news, spent Wednesday afternoon across downtown Los Angeles at the sets of CBS' Friday-night math-oriented crime procedural "Numb3rs," which was celebrating its 100th episode, "Disturbed," airing on May 1.

According to remarks by CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler, the show is up 18 percent in its fifth 95479_D1027r

season, an unusual trend also seen in another CBS drama, "NCIS" (most shows decline over time, very few go up in maturity).

Also among the speakers was Tony Scott, whose Scott Free Productions — in which he's partnered with  brother Ridley Scott — produces the show for Paramount and CBS (and who stated repeatedly that he's much more comfortable behind the camera than making speeches — but he did just fine).

There was a multitiered white cake with white-and-silver icing decorated with the show's logo — very tasty and created by, I was told, a bakery full of big "Numb3rs" fans — along with nonalcoholic sparkling beverages for toasting (it was a workday, after all).

Star David Krumholtz also presented producers and crew with jackets commemorating the 100th episode and embroidered with each recipient's name.

Also on hand for the festivities –even though he wasn't in the episode — was Bill Nye the Science Guy, who has a recurring role as Professor Bill Waldie.

I've been visiting the "Numb3rs" set since before the show premiered and have to say, it's hard to find a nicer bunch of folks, who also happen to make a critically overlooked but consistently excellent, smart and engaging show (and, according to Tassler, on time and on budget). Even a math eejit like me can follow along.

Fans may want to keep an eye out for the episode, since star Dylan Bruno said there are a few inside jokes and references to keep things fun for the dedicated viewer.

Did some cast and producer interviews, so I'll let you know where you might see some of that.

Lastly, came across this YouTube clip from the animated movie, "Bolt." Don't want to spoil it, but suffice to say it might sound very familiar to Hollywood types.

I sent it to one writer/producer pal, who emailed back, saying, "Holy Crap," and then stating that he and his writing/producing partner "must never talk to anyone together again."