Rosenbeast here, at my desk, in front of my computer, fingers on keyboard, eyes on screen, shooing off cats while writing this…
You’re transfixed, all tingly, on the edge of your seat, I know, because what you’re reading is…
What you see here is unedited, unrehearsed, uninformed, unfiltered, unbridled, unburdened by logic or critical thought. But c’mon, more importantly, it’s reality, real life in real time. No safety net or five-second delays. You’re reading it just as I’m writing it. Yes, there are misspelled words and typos. Yes, I’ve made sum clumsy mistukes. As clumsy as Donald Trump wolfing down a Big Mac with chopsticks. Wait, that’s not only hideously unfunny, but maybe a mixed metaphor. Too late, can’t fix. There’s nothing I can do about it, nuthing. That’$ the trade-off for the excitement—the electrifying, pulsating, heart-stopping, pee pee-in-your-pants thrill of…
You’re right. This blog is already overlong, overcooked, overwritten, my point pounded in with a sledgehammer when a strategic tap-tap would be more efficient and persuasive. You think I don’t know that? I’d change it, shorten it, tighten it, lighten it, but I can’t because—get ready, here we go again—it’s…
The above is a whimsical metaphor for the perils of TV’s ubiquitous liveness, a large part of which—goosed non-stop by the Internet—is instant news. No safeguards as it roars around blind curves. It’s the ultimate gamble, Russian roulette. And don’t forget deception.
When TV goes live it’s often a sham, a fraud, a trick, a gimmick.
Live cameras are can be peerless when covering breaking big news, from massive shootouts, volatile street dust-ups and calamitous natural disasters to devastating wildfires when instant information can save lives. And oh, yes, sports events.
Largely, though, live TV is a stunt, a device to seduce and sucker viewers by projecting false immediacy—so edgy, raw, so now—in a mirage of excitement. On Wednesday, MSNBC flashed a graphic advertising Rachel Maddow’s coming “live” interview with Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, as if “live” added value. It doesn’t, it didn’t.
Take, also, the long tradition of local news reporters delivering irrelevant live stand-ups in the field—often hours, if not days after a story has occurred (Behind me is the house where three days ago a body was found…)? Oh, brother.
But I’m heading somewhere else with this.
To Fox, which Sunday will air Jonathan Larson’s stirring Tony/Grammy/Pulitzer-winning stage musical “Rent.” Naturally…
Live only in the east, that is. Underprivileged viewers in other time zones will see it on dull, humdrum, unexciting, dusty, musty old videotape. Oh, nohhhhh. Which means, I suppose, their experience will be diminished. (yes, that’s sarcasm).
“Rent” loosely reimagines Puccini’s “La Boheme,” moving its struggling young artists to the East Village of New York City (actually an L.A. soundstage) in 1989. I’m a fan of “Rent.” Saw it on stage and watched the under-appreciated 2005 movie version that, despite a slew of slams, ranks as one filmdom’s better stage musical-to-screen adaptations.
I hope Fox’s “Rent” is wonderful. But if it is, live cameras won’t deserve any of the credit.
Why is Fox shooting it live, adding risk instead of value? As it did with its productions of “Grease and” “Rocky Horror Show?” As did NBC with its own string of stage-to-TV musicals that were telecast live?
It’s all about labeling. Just as Roman numerals gave the super bowl its early heft, and someone got the bright idea that “pre-owned” looked classier than “used,” TV’s marketing mavens know “live” is a gimmick that sells. Whatever the product, news or theater.