SXSW snapshots: queues, Supermensch, Nate Silver and Bill Simmons
SouthBySouthqueue, a superb flick on a showbusiness legend and two journalists do some chinwagging
This note was, to make this the most meta snapshot of all, written while I was in a queue. At SXSW, there seems to be a queue (or a line, as they call them over here) for everything – even queues to join queues. You may have a super-duper badge around your neck that says you’re someone, but you’re still queuing. My hands down favourite queue is the lengthy queue to get SXpress passes which allow you join a slightly smaller queue to get into a film screening. I am currently writing a film set in a SXSW queue which I really hope the festival will screen next year.
Do you know who Shep Gordon is? Nope, I didn’t have a clue who he was either until I saw Mike Myers’ fantastic new documentary about this entertainment business figure and loveable rogue. Told through a superbly edited series of re-enactments and talking heads (including Michael Douglas, Willie Nelson, Tom Arnold, Myers and many more), Supermensch is about how Gordon got into the business and stayed in it. Gordon, it turns out, is some man for one man. Since bumping into Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at the Landmark in Los Angeles, he has managed Alice Cooper for over 40 years but lasted just nine days with Pink Floyd, worked with Anne Murray, invented the celebrity chef and basically had a whale of a time. A great, full-hearted, hugely entertaining, zinger-filled profile of a mighty man.
“There’s a lot of people here for two nerds” notes Nate Silver as he and Bill Simmonds, now buddies at ESPN, sat down to chew the fat about media and personal brands. Silver recently high-tailed it from the New York Times – you get the feeling from his comments that he didn’t get enough love in the negotiation stakes from them – and his revamped FiveThirtyEight will launch on March 17. Meanwhile, Simmons and Grantland continue to set new benchmarks in sports journalism. It was a really strong discussion with both throwing light on why they went with ESPN rather than going indie – networks help – and also how they’ve grown the sites. For instance, neither are necessarily podcasts fans but that doesn’t mean they don’t see the potential and audience there. A reminder of media’s current rate of change and acceleration.