In case you haven’t noticed, the world is changing faster than the speed of … well, something really fast. And that includes the world of arts and entertainment. Expect some big changes, locally, nationally, internationally and Internetally, in 2008. We take a sneak peek at what they may be.
In case you haven’t noticed, the world is changing faster than the speed of … well, something really fast. And that includes the world of arts and entertainment. Expect some big changes, locally, nationally, internationally and Internetally, in 2008.
We take a sneak peek at what they may be.
1. Will the Google Phone take over the world?
First, there is no Google phone. Mid-summer chatter and rumors led people to believe that Google was going to jump into the mobile phone race and compete with Apple’s iPhone. They aren’t. But they may produce something much, much cooler.
There won’t be a physical Google phone, but there will be Google software, likely to officially arrive in 2008. It’s called Android, and it will serve as a platform for a number of different cell phones.
Vincent Nguyen, editor and founder of www.google-phone.com, has been following trends in the cell phone industry for the past six years and says that 2008 will be the year of the cell phone.
“This year was a good one for the cell phone, but it’s just a precursor of what we’re going to see in 2008,” explains Nguyen. “There will be a paradigm shift because Android is open source.”
Right now, each cell phone is locked into its own platform. You buy a Verizon phone, and you get the bells and whistles that come with it, and nothing more. Android will open that up, making software that can be used on multiple phones and allow people to create original, independent applications. For techies, it’s similar to the difference between Internet Explore and Firefox.
And because it’s made by Google, it means that the programs you use on the computer now (Google Maps, Gmail, etc) will be available on the phone.
Nguyen says no current phones can handle the Android software, which means “new hardware” (new phones) must to be developed. Some pictures of a prototype have surfaced and resembles a Smartphone. So, in essence, there won’t be a Google phone. There’ll be a bunch of different ones.— Francis Ma
2. Who will be the local breakout singer-songwriter of the year?
Antje Duvekot (pronounced Aunt-ya Doo-va-kot), the Heidelberg, Germany, native, moved with her family to Delaware when she was a kid, headed for New York to make it as a musician, and moved to Somerville a few years ago because she liked the Boston scene better. She’s been given the blessing (and support) of the Irish supergroup Solas as well as local folkie Ellis Paul. Last week she signed a deal with Bank of America for her song “Merry Go Round” (re-recorded from her first CD “Little Peppermints”) to be part of the bank’s new TV ad campaign.
Thing are looking way up for Duvekot, a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Award, whose most recent album “Big Dream Boulevard” is getting lots of alternative air play, and features lyrics such as “Dandelion’s” “You are looking for an orchid and I will always be a dandelion,” and in the song “Jerusalem” she describes the city as “a town the is delicate where old grudges run deeper than mud/ where peace is a term that is relative, written in blood.”
She’s got a soothing voice, complemented by melodies that flow, almost as if they’ve been made up on the spot. Her songs are as lovely, dark and deep as a Robert Frost poem.— Ed Symkus
3. Which big resident theater company will have a more difficult transition in 2008, the Huntington or the American Repertory Theatre?The ART.
Earlier this month, the Huntington named the artistic director who will take over for Nicholas Martin, the man who has helped transform the Huntington during his stellar tenure. Incoming a.d. Peter DuBois’ biggest problem will be that he’s got big shoes to fill. Martin brought the Huntington to the next level during his run, helping to build new theaters at the Boston Center for the Arts, and staging acclaimed shows (“Hedda Gabler” with Kate Burton and “Butley” with Nathan Lane) that traveled from Boston to Broadway. That’s a tough act to follow.
But at least Dubois enters a stable situation. The ART, on the other hand, is a theater in flux, at best, and a theater facing an identity crisis, at worst. Former artistic director Robert Woodruff was dismissed this year, and it’s still unclear whether the difficulties that led to his demise were even his fault. If the theater is unsure about who they just fired, how can they be confident about who they’re about to hire? And how confident can the new artistic director feel about coming into this situation? He or she will enter a tense situation, as the ART must ask and answer some fundamental questions about its mission in these turbulent times. Is it that same edgy theater company that bestowed complete faith in the (sometimes quirky) visions of its (sometimes quirky) directors? Or will it bow to the harsh economic realities of making theater these days and soften its approach? Hard questions. Tough times ahead.
— Alexander Stevens4. Will the music industry die?
It was another horrible year for album sales, which were down about 19 percent. Even digital music sales leveled off.
But there are pockets of good news, including a site called TuneCore.com that’s poised to breakout in 2008.
The Brooklyn-based company has been distributing music to vendors like iTunes, Rhasody, Napster, eMusic and AmazonMP3, while giving the artists all the royalties.
Here’s how it works: for a fee, TuneCore stores and distributes your song or album to the vendors mentioned above. Once a song is bought, all the royalties go to the band, who also keep copyrights and masters. Essentially, TuneCore is a delivery service.
“It’s basically the music industry in a box,” says founder and Brookline native Jeff Price. “For the price of a six-pack and a pizza you can distribute your music around the world.”
It costs $19.98 to store an album for a year (and an album can be any length) and a one-time charge of 99 cents for each store you want to be in. Since it began in 2005, TuneCore customers have made $4 million and that list includes a wide range of people, from local indie rock heroes Harry and the Potters to hip-hop artist Lil Wayne.
Come March 2008, the site will launch a plan to promote the participating musicians. There will be “Band Pages” where they can post tour information, a bio, stream certain songs and post pictures.
The music of TuneCore artists will also play in Guitar Center stores around the country. And in terms of sales, Price says artists will soon be able to track who is buying their music and where they live.
“This way they can identify certain pockets where they can market more heavily,” explains Price. “It used to be that if you wanted a real career in the music industry you had to deal with a record label. With TuneCore, everyone can be their own label.” (F.M)
5. What will be the surprise hit movie of 2008?
While Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett worked on the acclaimed hit “Babel,” they talked about acting in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a film adaptation “loosely based” on the 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. It happened. They’ve already finished shooting the film.
The offbeat story is about a man who is “born at the age of 80,” and gets younger as time goes by. When he reaches 50, he meets a 30-year-old woman named Daisy — who is aging normally. You see the problem.
Pitt and Blanchett are among our best film actors today, and it sure doesn’t hurt that it’s being directed by David Fincher (“Se7en,” “Fight Club”) who is also quite the hotshot. Though Fitzgerald set the story in Baltimore, Fincher moved it to New Orleans and made it, according Paramount executives, darker and more complex than the source material.
The film is scheduled for release on Nov. 26, 2008. It’s already on my Top-10 list for next year, and I haven’t seen a frame of it. (E.S.)
6. Will free TV’s two best comedies — “The Office” and “30 Rock” — get canceled in 2008?
When Tina Fey, creator and star of “30 Rock,” accepted last year’s Emmy for Best Comedy, she thanked her “dozens and dozens of viewers.” Unfortunately, that’s a little too close to the truth for comfort. The two shows are critical darlings and ratings duds. “30 Rock” averaged 5.4 million viewers during last year’s debut season, and the numbers look about the same so far this year. That means more people watched shows called “3 Lbs.” and “National Bingo Night,” and those shows are long gone.
The numbers for “The Office” are about the same, and the grim truth is that “The Office” may already have been canceled if it weren’t for iTunes. “The Office” was the most downloaded show on the Internet, and in the ever-changing media industry, a “new media” hit is worth saving, even if no one has really figured out what that means yet, in terms of ratings and revenue. NBC and iTunes had a fight over money (what else?), and “Office” and “Rock” have since jumped to Amazon, a less hip and less user-friendly system. The move could be a mistake — the last thing NBC needs is to create obstacles for anyone who wants to view either of these shows. That’s probably why NBC has developed Hulu.com, a Youtube-like site where you’ll be able to watch recent episodes for free.
Still, the outlook for the two shows seems optimistic for 2008. NBC sounds committed to both of them. “30 Rock,” only in its second season, deserves more time to build an audience (and what other show has gotten Al Gore to guest star?). And NBC seems unlikely to pull the plug on “The Office” — its status as a download hit reflects an attraction with the young, techno-savvy, disposable-incomed demographic that’s so attractive to networks. (A.S.)
7. Will the “war” between high definition formats — HD DVD and Blu-Ray — come to an end in 2008?
Remember the original video “format war” in the 1980s? VHS crushed Beta. Now there’s a new battle raging between “high definition” formats HD DVD and Blu-ray. Both formats boast radically improved picture and sound quality. (Blu-ray players retail for about $499, while HD players cost about $249.) But unfortunately, they’re now splitting the market — some HD videos are released in HD DVD (the upcoming “Pan’s Labyrinth”) while others are Blu-ray (“3:10 to Yuma”), but rarely are movies released in both. This split isn’t good for anyone, and it will probably be resolved in 2008. It could be knock-down drag out fight for market-share, but we’re predicting a merger that will result in an entirely new technology. (E.S.)
8. Will 2008 bring us a reality show as weird and annoying as “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila”?
You bet. The writer’s strike is still in full swing, so that translates into more “reality” TV. Get a load of this line-up.
“The Baby Borrowers” (Feb.18, NBC): Young couples get thrown into the world of parenting as their “child” grows from an infant to a teenager (and maybe older) in a matter of three weeks. Don’t we have enough baby drama with the Spears family?
“When Women Rule the World” (March 3, Fox): Twelve “macho” men will be placed in a society that is completely ruled by women, who act like dictators and treat the men like slaves. The last man standing wins $250,000 and an immediate need for therapy.
“The Moment of Truth” (Jan. 23, Fox): People will answer personal and probably embarrassing questions about themselves while hooked up to a lie detector. And just to make things interesting, Fox plans to fly in people’s friends and family to be in the audience (because the millions watching at home isn’t embarrassing enough). (F.M.)