The bleeding edge of screenwriting and media convergence

December 1997-January 1998

by Terry Borst & Deborah Todd

filed 16 November 97 Copyright ©1997 alt.screenwriters

It’s the end of another year, almost the end of another millenium, and time for alt.screenwriters to look at the digital crystal ball to see what we might expect in the future, when it has to do with screenwriters, New Media and the Industry:

  • Having just switched to all-digital archiving, NBC is struck by a tragic Y2K (that’s Year 2000, representing the problems many computers will have when we enter the new millenium) glitch: all episodes of Friends, Seinfeld and Cheers being deleted from the digital “vault”. Fortunately, all episodes of Manimal and ALF survive, and NBC instantly orders these stripped for immediate syndication — with post-production underway to combine scenes from disparate episodes into new “recombinant” episodes, thus readying full 13-week strips for MSNBC-at-Nite…
  • Broderbund announces that Where on Sepulveda Boulevard is Carmen Sandiego? will be the last in the series.
  • Motion capture actors, now comprising 65% of SAG, rename their union the Virtual Actors Guild, aka VAG.
  • The last copy shop in L.A. closes its doors, lamenting the passing of actors’ headshots and two-brad screenplays — the end of an era, they say. Kinko’s Holograms, however, opens storefronts in Silverlake and Studio City.
  • Microsoft completes its acquisition of every major movie studio and decides to merge them all — putting out one movie a year which movie “end-users” around the world will have no choice but to see (because there are no other studio movies). Independent movies will be derided by Microsoft as “buggy” and “non-compliant” — and print and TV media will understand that advertising the indies will cost them Microsoft advertising. The Department of Justice will begin an anti-trust investigation, but Microsoft will invest in Lichtensteinian and Lesothan movies and DOJ will be satisfied that the company is not stifling competition.
  • In the wake of ER, all television programs shoot their premiere episodes “live”. Actors, director and crew work 24 hours straight — as live episodes are done for East Coast, West Coast, Tokyo, Moscow, Tel Aviv, London and Havana.
  • Because of a national policy that made arcade and Sony Playstation entertainment cost-free for girls, “twitch” games are now played almost entirely by women. Teenage boys have fallen back on pinball and skeeball for entertainment.
  • After Microsoft’s successful takeover of the US Government, the long-rumored merger with Apple Computers & Coffee Company becomes a reality. Free hardware, now called the MSUSPC, is distributed to all Microsoft customers using Windows 20/20, effectively putting IBM & The House of Blue Brothers out of the computer hardware business. Ready to hit-the-ground running, their very first product is hailed as the single most important invention in computing history. Combining the best of both worlds, the company, renamed SoftApples, and affectionately referred to in the industry as “Mushy,” offers up a simple program that has the benefits of user-friendly icons, software that actually works, and an installed base of the entire planet, the lunar surface, and our orange neighbor, Mars. Called PictureWindows, the program costs $666, and comes bundled with a coupon good for free MSUSPC upgrades for the next 15 years.
  • Screenwriters still using manual typewriters must now register for a permit (and pay a stiff permit fee) in the City of Los Angeles.
  • Combining multimedia, creative content, and capitalistic commerce, producers market the first new web show based on two of the most beloved children’s characters of the late 1990’s. Updated for their now 20-somewhat aged fans, the grown-up version of Where’s Waldo? meets Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego becomes the first smash hit on the Internet, proving that it is possible to make money on the Web if professional writers are used and the content is there. This historic event is marked by their flagship webisodes for the NC17 internet-active adventure entitled, Where’s It Feel Good? and Where in the World Did You Learn That?
  • After barely surviving another two decades of dismal progress on fixing the Internet band-width problem, Microsoft launches its global software/serverware solution – a gold disk the company sends to all of its clients via snailmail, which holds vasts amount of graphics and audio and requires no downloading off the net to run. Many historians believe this is a retro-drive by the company, who they accuse of using technology that suspiciously resembles the old CD-ROMs of the late twentieth century.
  • The World-Wide Writers Guild Interactive Writers threaten to strike for the first time in history, a move that could bring the Web to its virtual knees. Within nano-seconds of the news, world leaders, and Bill Gates, are called into on-line-closed-camera sessions with 200,000 of the world’s top writers, and a settlement is reached, granting writers back-residuals on all interactive projects written from January 1988 to date.

Written by tborst

November 16, 1997 at 7:41 pm

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