The award season is now upon us. Soon envelopes will be opened and winners announced. The Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, Oscars and People Choice awards were originally intended (or so we were told) to recognize individual achievement in the performing arts but they have become so much more than that.
The Academy Awards are now recognized as the second most watched television show of the year worldwide (the first being the Super Bowl). It now boasts a U.S. audience of over 40 million people with a broadcast to over 200 countries worldwide.
The award shows are about glitz and glamour. We intently watch the red-carpet events hours before the actual ceremony hoping to get a glimpse of our favorite movie stars. In the days to follow, a multitude of television shows and magazines are dedicated to what each star wore and/or said. The world is enthralled with Hollywood...and Hollywood loves it!!
The entertainment business is exactly that...a business...plain and simple. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It is a billion dollar industry that provides jobs to tens of thousands of people.
I am enthralled with Hollywood...not with the stars per se...but rather how the studios, record companies and the stars themselves have taken marketing to new heights. They realize that the world has an insatiable appetite for the glamour of Hollywood and their antics help to feed the frenzy each day.
Outrageous seems to be the word of the day whenever we talk about the entertainment business. Perhaps it’s always been somewhat outrageous (think "Beatle mania") but I can’t visualize Frank Sinatra being delivered to the Grammy Awards in a giant egg.
Sports have also become big business. Recently there seems to be more talk about the labor unrest in sports than the actual games themselves. After several decades of harmony among the players and owners, the NFL is now talking about lockouts and strikes.
Professional football is now America’s favorite pastime (supplanting Baseball many years ago) with a $9B pie to be divided between team owners and the players. It would seem to me that with so much money involved, a deal could be struck where that pie can be divided in an equitable manner.
The entertainment business (both the arts and sports) are built on the "star system" where the stars are marketed to drive purchases.
Several years ago, there was a documentary about Sting (the former lead-singer of the pop group "The Police") called "Bring on the Night". In the movie, Sting’s manager, Miles Copeland, described why the pie should not be divided equally among the players in the group. As he explained it, the people coming to the concert were there to see Sting not particularly the other players.
He volunteered that the other members of the group were extremely talented and gifted musicians but at the end of the day, Sting had the recognition that made people buy tickets. That’s why he should get the lion’s share.
In any business, there are some extremely talented people from the janitors, truck drivers and assembly line workers to the CEOs, product development teams, attorneys and accountants. Each plays an important role in making a business work. However, who is it within the business that makes customers want to spend their money buying that company’s goods or services?
Is it that incredible customer service rep that people will wait on hold to speak with? Is it the sales person whom is always there to offer up new solutions? Is it the phenomenal engineer who comes up with innovative and exciting new designs?
The star system is one of the last pure forms of capitalism. If you create profits, then you get paid...regardless of the talent that you might bring to the table.
One could argue that there are questionably talented performers that get paid great sums of money (Adam Sandler earned $41M in 2010...playing the exact same roles over and over again), yet there are extremely talented people who wallow in near obscurity.
Is the system it fair? Perhaps not...but still at the end of the day...it’s about who those who actually create (buzz/ profits / wins / innovation / etc.) ...not necessarily those who try to create...
Just something to think about when watching acceptance speeches over the next few weeks...
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