Hollywood makes an appearance at TechCrunch50
The TechCrunch50 panel was moderated by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and featured Michael Yanover (pictured at right), head of business development at Creative Artists Agency, whom Arrington called one of the "secret power brokers in Silicon Valley."
Yanover's take: Silicon Valley and Hollywood have been talking for years but couldn't really hear each other. Now they are finally starting to appreciate and respect one other, he said.
The star of the show was writer and director Joss Whedon (pictured at right), who created the cult favorite television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and, more recently, produced the Internet hit, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog."
The Hollywood studios don't get it, Whedon told the TechCrunch50 crowd. His contention: Hollywood's creative folks, such as his fellow panelist, FunnyOrDie.com's Chris Henchy, a television writer for shows such as "Entourage," do get it. That's why they are taking their act onto the Web where they can generate excitement, an instant following and, hopefully, some money.
Whedon said he produced "Dr. Horrible" for low six figures on the Internet instead of ...
... the millions typically spent on television. (He also called in a lot of favors.) He offered the show for free for a week before putting it on iTunes. It's now available on ad-supported Internet television site Hulu.
"I think they are all trying," Whedon said. "I think it's hard to get. I am not entirely sure I get it."
YouTube was a wake-up call for Hollywood, which does not want to become the sequel to the music industry, the panel agreed. But the studios are coming at the Internet from an "ossified point of view," Whedon said.
"They're trying to recreate the model of a successful television show: You pour in millions and you get back many more millions," he said.
TechCrunch50 was an interesting backdrop for the lively conversation. Hollywood opened and closed the technology conference, with actor Ashton Kutcher launching a new site on the first day and the Hollywood panel coming at the end of the final day.
The bottom line? If studios don't evolve, "they will lose," said Stan Rogow (pictured at left), executive producer and director of online series "Gemini Division," starring Rosario Dawson.
And no one likes to lose.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photos by Steve Maller