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NATPE-Miami Beach Reveals the Changing Face of Studios, Brand Integration and Social Responsibility

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NATPE-Miami Beach Reveals the Changing Face of Studios, Brand Integration and Social Responsibility

February 09
11:38 2015

NATPE’s chat forum saw panelists from Tassie ‘Rookie Blues’ Cameron, to Vince ‘Breaking Bad’ Gilligan & Morgan ‘Super Size Me’ Spurlock comment on a wayward, brand-driven culture where self-absorption & full blown narcissism is mistaken for ‘individualism’. Are we really to be defined by the make/model of our ‘smart’ phone and what ‘ride’ we drive?
by Cristiane Roget, edited by Michael Guinzburg – for release on

Amazon, YouTube, Google, Netflix & indie web casters continue to leverage their limitless audience base to webcast original programming. The big news at NATPE-Miami was the aforementioned are jumping head long in the creation and ownership of original content. As harbingers of who will be Hollywood’s next media moguls, YouTube, Netflix and Google bet bizzilions on intellegent entertainment.

Miami/FL. Def Jam impresario, Russell Simmons, during this year’s annual National Association of the Television Program Executives (NATPE-Miami) ‘chat’ forums attended by top drawer to lower rung international programmers, content creators and TV and web based talent did not mince words during an unscripted conversation with Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein. 

Speaking of the opportunities (and lack thereof) for emerging and established creatives of all colors and stripes; the Def Jam founder emphasized that while the freedom to live as we wish is a marvelous privilege-it comes with responsibility and consequences. He encouraged the audience to take a proactive stance against social inequality, saying it is incumbent on all of us to invest in societies long term, betterment and growth; not in just immediate, mercurial self-gratification. 

As the no-holds-barred marketplace becomes more efficient at granting impulsive, narcissistic desires; we as a society are falling behind in attending to long term social necessities that come with education, local and global community planning, non partisan politics, health care refom, financial regulation, and concern for the ever growing extended family.  Influence-rs throughout NATPE addressed these prevailing concerns, speaking sotto voce, as in, ‘It won’t be cheap’.    

While the market sells ‘instant gratification’ as ‘pleasure’, the outcome is more attuned to myopic ‘anxiety’ and ‘isolation’. As the institutions of family and community are subsumed at the alter of boundless growth, the capitalist imperative, the ‘marketplace’ and ‘the self’ are merging to become dangerously indistinguishable from one another.  

It is with the realm of companies like All Def Digital that ground breaking innovation can take place.  Simmons is working with a number of YouTube, Vine and Instagram stars on a range of short to long-form content. With racial issues in the headlines again, following a string of police-related deaths of unarmed black men, Simmons said the entertainment biz should not be lulled into complacency.  

With a baker’s dozen of films in various stages of production under his Def Jam Film & Television banner, in a moment of reflection, Simmons said, “Hollywood today is as inclusive as it was three decades ago” when Norman Lear’s All in the Family was satirizing American bigotry in the character of the acerbic Archie Bunker.  Speaking to the complex relationship between personal and community responsibility, he inferred that a unified voice; free of prejudice, bigotry and fear must lead the way. 

He stressed that media titans (and anyone with a voice) set an example by leading the way toward a better society. Panelists called into question a socio-economic system that is taking it’s marching orders from power brokers manipulating America’s self indulgent fantasies and fears. Simmons, a master of diversification, is producing original content with All Def Digital, a new web based network positioned to address these concerns. Backed by Greycroft Partners and slated to be platformed on YouTube there exists ample bandwidth and SEO for the self-styled genius to find his audience. Taking strident and fearless steps in the scripting of an iconic entertainment brand is what has fueled Simmons abundant success to date. Just Do It!

photo by Federico Quevedo, L to R, Cristiane Roget,, Correspondent, Shelby Guity a Thompson Hotel host, Lourdes, creator of an 80s styled replay of the ‘Golden Age’ of South Beach and Director, Christian Johnston. (

Director Christian Johnston of, (as seen to the right on the NATPE opening night ‘Meet & Greet’ at the new Thompson, a Nobu Hotel) is an inveterate innovator of intelligent, reality-driven and scripted film fare. With a handle on a lot of moving parts, he has ‘September Tapes and the forthcoming flagship cyber espionage documentary ‘State of Control’ in play. The latter, documents China’s government sanctioned hacks during Complex Films filming in Tibet (see Washington Post). Announced during the NATPE proceedings; ‘Johnston has partnered with Producer, Rick Hack in a new company 360 Content®

360 Content with backing from notable designer brands and private equity is set to produce an engaging series across global luxury markets and well within the embrace of 500 MM international and domestic viewers. The program’s high concept pitch is ‘Entourage‘, meets ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ meets ‘Roman Holiday’.  Sweet.

Carpe Diem’ literally ‘seizes the day’ in advancing unique, up-market locations, hotels, yachts and fine dining for the scripted, episodic program.  Slated to air this spring, ‘Carpe Diem‘ features blue chip technology, luxury goods, and actors interacting with non-actors as they work,play and surprise.  Filming in some of the world’s most alluring destinations; the program has begun principle photography in Miami Beach and will be in Costa Rica ( this February 2015.    

The robust linking of studios, storytelling and brand strategy as evidenced in the success of Netflix’s 100 million dollar bet on House of Cards with Director David Fincher and starring Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey and programs such as PBS’s  Downton Abbey’ and ‘Episodes’, that stream 24/7 on demand.  With a thousand plus channels,the highly anticipated prime time lineup is untenable and are on a fast track to Hollywood Video and Blockbuster DVD Rental obsolescence.  

With almost two decades as a bold and uncompromising filmmaker, Johnston takes a global view; “With the Grand Recession, Wall Street bailouts & obscene payouts; widespread, political and economic corruption has resulted in a myopic winner-take-all society fueled by chronic self absorption.

Ever more isolated as a nation and as individuals; we exist in a culture of apathy, fear and cynicism. Buying into an endless pursuit of gadgetry and ‘upgrades’ has further isolated us in a cloud of complacency.  “High level, systematic changes are within our reach, provided we as individuals (and as a global community) push back, demand and create the changes for betterment and still be entertaining.” Herein lies the challenge.

correction on Article 1- NATPE, Photo with Rod Perth, Gigi Rosa, Artistic Director Dream & Dream Multi Lingual  

See, ‘The Impulse Society‘ by Paul Roberts, the author of ‘The End of Oil’ and ‘The End of Food’. 

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