USC Annenberg Online Journalism ReviewUSC

Coming Attractions Moves to Cinescape; How Music Fan Sites Bring in Bucks
Special Entertainment Edition

An indie bites the dust

What's next? Harry Knowles as an blogger? Patrick Sauriol, who started pioneering insider site Coming Attractions, is taking over as news editor at Cinescape magazine and for its Web site. Sauriol will continue to oversee his other news sites, Test Pattern (for TV), and Lost Hours (for videogames), which employ the same basic pattern: Get the inside dirt on what's coming out from tipsters and other online news sites, and present it in weblog format.

Sauriol starts his "important message" to readers about the move by simply tallying up the site's longevity: "Eight years." He explains the new partnership, and says, "no, we haven't been bought out and absolutely nothing's changing about the way Coming Attractions reports about the movies." That could be technically true, but one important change for readers is that they now have to slog through Cinescape's graphic-heavy site to find Sauriol's movie news, which are mixed in with book and videogame news. Worse still is the loss of the weblog format, forcing readers to load a separate page for each item.

Trading in the free-wheeling weblog with reader input, the Cinescape version of Coming Attractions is more like the entertainment news you'd find on commercial sites such as E! Online or IGN. It's hard to say if other commercial sites are looking to pick up insiders as well, but you can't blame them for trying. The independent online gossips have proven to be popular for fans and biz types alike, and their influence on Hollywood and moviemaking has grown over the years. But their power is often a result of their independence.

Still, of all the online enterainment journos, Sauriol deserves a plum job, and has proven to his colleagues that there is a potential payoff after so many years of hard (unpaid) work.


What did Bowie eat last night?

It seemed stupid a few years back when rocker David Bowie put a price tag on access to his most intimate thoughts on BowieNet. But his site has not only survived as a pay service, but it has shown the way for other artists, who don't mind emailing fans, keeping a weblog and perhaps posting a message on the bulletin boards.

ContentBiz recently talked to Larry Peryer, who oversees the business behind Bowie's site as well as fan sites for the Hansens and the Rolling Stones. So how do they lure fans into paying the magic number of $64.99 a year for inside dirt on stars who are already blanket covered by so many media? "Our proposition is pretty simple," Peryer says. "It's the topmost level of access to the artist. People join clubs mainly because they can't get enough. They really, really love the idea of getting insider looks at content. Early mixes and studio photos -- that's must-have stuff for the real fan."

Of course, that means that journalists are likely shut out of the fun, unless they plunk down money on all the fan sites. That leaves the artist as purveyor of his/her most important insider news, and the hardcore fan as prime recipient. That's a business model that could pay off for the most popular stars, and one that could spell trouble for journalists that are largely shut out.


Beyond the Quote

"I was mostly just on and off saying 'no, stop.' But I wasn't fighting really because, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go."

-- Samantha Geimer, detailing her sexual attack at the hands of director Roman Polanski to a grand jury in 1977. The transcript was recently unsealed, and all the tawdry details are (where else?) on The Smoking Gun.

"The entire event is troubling. No matter which way you cut it, a 43-year-old professional filmmaker had sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. Beyond legality, the moral and ethical issues are overwhelming... The issue can provoke hours of debate, even between people whose feelings about what happened are not far separated. None of this, however, makes the appearance of this transcript during the heat of an Oscar campaign any less suspicious."

-- Movie City News, running an unbylined editorial explaining the troublesome questions the transcript raises, as well as questions about who was behind its recent public appearance right before Academy Awards ballots were due.

Mark Glaser currently writes technology features for TechWeb, occasional features for The New York Times' Circuits section, marketing material for Comcast Online, and a bi-weekly e-mail newsletter for the Online Publishers Association, whose membership includes most major media companies online. That won't stop him from taking cheap potshots at these outlets, when necessary. You can contact him with any juicy tidbits about online journalism at [email protected].

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