Can “Talent” Be Blamed For Show “Failure”?

This is a response to Tyme White‘s article: “Experienced vs. inexperienced ‘advice'”, which was a response to my article, “Personal Brand? No Crossover”.

@Tyme: Good points.

First of all, I was specifically talking about internet shows. Actually, FIRST OF ALL, no… I don’t have ANY experience with hiring ANYBODY to be the figurehead or “face” of a show. What I *DO* have experience with is watching a show and determining whether a) it’s good, b) it sucks because of the production (technical issues), c) it sucks because of the script-writing, d) it sucks because the face of the show is entirely talentless, or e) EVERYTHING about the show sucks.

Bill CammackGranted… That MAY be because I’m an editor AND a show producer.

I wouldn’t know what the average joe/josepine takes away from looking at a show that “fails” (whatever that means in the context of this discussion). All I can do is ‘project’ and believe that distinctions are made between whether the show a) wasn’t good, and it’s the talent’s fault, b) wasn’t good, and it’s NOT the talent’s fault, or c) WAS GOOD, but got shut down for other reasons (or didn’t make money or didn’t grow it’s audience… whatever you’re defining as a “failed” show).

For instance, we just received news that MobLogic was shut down. According to articles on the net, Lindsay Campbell is still an employee of CBS. Before MobLogic was cancelled, they were outputting sporadically compared to the regular schedule they were using when they first started.

Without “inside information” from “the horse’s mouth”, there’s no telling what the reason was for the shutdown. It just so happens that WallStrip was shut down on the same day, apparently. Let’s say the average person isn’t going to search for articles about WHY a show got cancelled, and all they know is that it was here today and gone tomorrow.

What that person’s going to take away from the show, as far as the “face” of the show, is the sum of their experiences from watching her. They either liked her style, didn’t like her style, or felt she was inconsistently good/bad. If she gets selected for a new show, that sentiment is going to drive whether that viewer goes “YAAY!” or “oh no. She got ANOTHER show? :/”. That’s what the talent has to carry forward, their own performance. Unless the public feels that the show “failed” because the talent sucked, the ending of a show, which as you mention, is the BUSINESS side of things has nothing to do with the ENTERTAINMENT VALUE they received from the talent.

Bill Cammack in Indy Mogul's 'The Spirit's Day Off'Slightly-related story… I was just in the Indy Mogul Test Film “The Spirit’s Day Off”. As I’m reading the script, I read “I am the millipede, and I have a thousand of everything”. So, the director, Erik Beck tells me to say “a million”. So I’m like “yeah, but milli -> thousand” and he’s like “I know, but a million sounds funnier”. So even though it was a technically incorrect statement, I said “I have a million of everything”.

So the video’s been viewed over 25,000 times, and ONNNNNE person decides to bring this up. That doesn’t mean that other people didn’t notice, of course. Now… that person is going to take whatever they personally perceived away from that situation. They might think that the character “The Millipede” is a dummy. They might think the actor is a dummy, because he [I] said a million instead of a thousand. They might think the script-witer is a dummy if they realize that the actor was reading a script. They might think the director’s a dummy for wrapping the shoot without correcting that error. The might think the editor’s a dummy for not cutting around it or re-tracking the actor saying “a thousand” and dubbing it.

This brings us to the other part of your point, which has to do with people who are in charge of hiring people to work on shows. Anybody who’s looking for on-air talent should be…. wait for it…… KNOWLEDGEABLE about how shows are put together and the extent of the actor’s responsibility for the production of a show and therefore his or her CULPABILITY when the show “fails”.

Therefore, if the acting was POOR, then the person doing the hiring should be able to properly low-rate the actor/actress because they didn’t look good on camera or they read the teleprompter like a left-back 3rd-grader or they weren’t any good at interacting with their viewers/community… Similarly, let’s say the talent was involved in more than reading a script. The extent of their involvement in production should also be analyzed/criticized. If the production is what caused the show to “fail”, then the talent can AND SHOULD be charged with the failure of whatever role they played.

Other than that, it’s out of the talent’s hands… like any. other. job. 🙂 You can’t blame the assembly-line worker in the sock factory who’s been making socks for YEARS and has done he same quality job or better each review period for when the plant gets shut down, and they’re suddenly jobless. It’s obviously not their fault, the way the “failure” of an internet show is obviously the responsibility of SEVERAL people, unless it was a one man/woman show.

On top of all that, who’s to say that they would hire the figurehead to have ANY say in production anyway? Let’s say the talent WAS culpable in the mishandling of a show…. What difference does that make if you don’t let them get their hands on any of the controls in this case? None. I didn’t edit “The Spirit’s Day Off”. What difference does it make that I’m an editor? None. I was there to play a position. I did what *I* had to do, everyone else did what THEY had to do, and the video ended up sweet. 🙂

Also, the reason you might want to take a chance on talent from a “failed” show is that they come equipped with automatic reach. They have a built-in fanbase as well as an established communication network to inform their viewers what they’re going to be doing next. If you start out fresh, with a newjack, they have to build their community from ZERO, meaning that you either have to hire someone else to start building community for them and getting the buzz out, or part of their time that they could have been making the show BETTER is going to be wasted on doing PR for themselves.

So, no… I don’t think culpability for a show’s “failure” follows the talent AT ALL, unless the REASON for that failure was the talent’s ability to entertain.

~Bill Cammack

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