Entertainment Industry Goober of the Month: John Wells

From an article in Slate about the use of letterboxing by mainstream TV shows:

ER producer John Wells, looking for ways to bring buzz back to his medical drama, [adopted a] 16:9 [screen ratio] at the start of the 2000-2001 season. As Wells explained it to the Akron Beacon Journal: "We noticed that a large number of commercials were being broadcast in letterbox form. We called the advertising department and asked why ... and they said, 'Well, because it looks classier.' Well, we've got a classy project. And I think that, increasingly, you want to be able to distinguish your show in an ever more cluttered marketplace as something that stands out."

newer goober

- tom moody 2-08-2002 9:22 pm

can see-thru scrubs with victoria secret underwear cross marketing be far behind? tastefully done, of course.
- dave 2-08-2002 9:41 pm [add a comment]

Are we supposed to be more shocked by the idea that someone getting payed to be a TV producer doesn't know what 16:9 format is, or that he actually says the real reason why he chose it. "It looks classier!" WTF? Obviously that's the reason, but shouldn't he have made up some shit about higher quality ("real film") equipment being used. Or that it's "optimized for the HDTV market." Or some other lie that at least tries to sound impressive? I guess he's probably got "technical staff" to take care of pesky back burner issues like aspect ratio. He must be an "idea man." I've heard that's where the money is.
- jim 2-08-2002 11:41 pm [add a comment]

The reason that John Wells is Cinefiles' Entertainment Industry Goober of the Month is (1) he couldn't figure out why the advertising dept was using letterboxing, (2) he called them to ask why, (3) he thought their reason, "it looks classier," was good, and (4) he adopted letterboxing for his own show, for the same reason. The reason he didn't come up with any of the clever excuses you mentioned is because he's a goober.(*) I'm sure Roland Barthes would have had something to say about the use of an inefficient format--designed solely to address a discrepancy in screen sizes--to connote "class."

*It's also possible that he has a libel suit against the Akron Beacon Journal for making him sound like a complete idiot.
- tom moody 2-09-2002 2:19 am [add a comment]

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