"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 15 July 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Packet FishRman



In the wild kingdom of

premillennial postmodernism,

media breed with other media in

the mating rituals of the marketplace.

Music begat videos, which begat movies,

which again begat TV, which begat a

companion paperback and CD-ROM.

It's cross-pollination of data,

and the whole loop depends on

the Viacom-piped opiate of the

masses, which fastens itself,

remora-like, onto other

audiences to sustain life.



Entertainment Tonight will go

"behind the scenes" and hype

just about anything that

twitches and draws a significant

audience: blockbusters, video

games, Vanity Fair, the sweeps.

But not everything works on the

tube - there's no Siskel and

Ebert of the book world. Those

darn books: too much to explain,

not enough to show. Note also

that nothing plays worse on the

small screen than the smaller

screen - don't wait for Leeza

Gibbons to fawn over your website

And the Web was drained of

news value long ago, so even if

you cached them all ahead of

time, your gifs would still make

for lousy local color. To a TV

producer, the Web is strictly

talking head territory.



To get play, you gotta pay, and

with cable stations CNBC, MSNBC,

TLC, Computer City TV, ThinkPad

TV and so on, a new generation

of infomercials promises to

evangelize your Intranet

Solutions in terms the Heartland

can understand. The Web's own

Ron Popeil plays so-called

celebrated technology

spokesperson Mark Bunting, who

shills hardware, software, and

webware for cable and the

imprisoned, oxygen-deprived

viewers aboard United Airlines.


With sanitized cyberfunk theme

music and a John Tesh

up-with-people delivery,

Bunting's Window to the Net is

Incredible Inventions for

bitheads. When you hear him gush

"Apple is solving some pretty

unique problems for IS

Managers..." the echo is the

sound of Cupertino opening its

wallet. It's what Bunting

himself calls a "closed-loop

marketing program. A television

show, print supplement and

massive direct mail campaign is

what the program is all about."



Then there's Mark Hamill. The

comic book star and video game

producer came to our attention

four days after we registered a

domain name, when we received an

invitation for our

as-yet-nonexistent website to be

included in "fall programming of

the .com television series

hosted by Star Wars celebrity

Mark Hamill. The show is seen

nationally on CNBC and The Bravo

Network featuring the best Web

Sites on the Internet ...

including Kodak, UPS, Ragu,

Lombard Securities,

NationsBank, and many more..."

Realizing we visit Mama's Dining

Room every other day, we

pretended we were launching a

video game site, and tried to

get Hamill interested.



Associate Producer Garrett Miller

was interested, provided we

shelled out a pre-production fee

of between $1,500 and $130,000,

depending on "how [we] fit into

the storyline and how much time

is needed in order to properly

promote [our] website." For that

kind of coin, we expect more

than talking heads, and Garrett

assures us we'll get it. When

they go to closeup, says

Garrett, Hamill is "physically

inside the website." Thanks to

blue screen technology, Hamill

appears "inside a gridded globe

that is traveling through

space." We love that grid; it's

so Tron. So holodeck. It's

Gibson's vacuum of cyberspace.

Just add Death Star.


If the Web - itself trying to

make a decent living with ads -

must resort to infomercials to

get the attention it needs, then

what's the medium really worth?

That's a philosophical question

we're much too busy to

answer. If we're not ready for

prime time, then maybe we're

ready for heavy rotation at 3 am.

Hey, go with it, we say.

We've just signed John Tesh

into a banner exchange deal, and

there's a videocassette series

we'd like to tell you about.

courtesy of James URL Jones