Lightning in a Bottle

It's very difficult to break into the media business (film, television, music, publishing) because the industry is so averse to risk. And somehow "new" and "risky" have become equated.

I suppose there's something to be said for the tried and true, but there's just as much to be said against the old and tired. Studies have shown that open systems are more successful than closed ones, that drawing from the same pool of talent is akin to drawing from the same DNA—that is, it's incestuous and inbred and eventually leads to serious problems.

I look at all the excitement around J.J. Abrams and Star Wars and can only think: Is this really a good idea? Never mind that people tend to remember his hits and forget his misses, of which there have been just as many. I mean, I like J.J. but . . . when you keep dipping into the same well, it will eventually run dry. It seems to me just as risky to hope it won't dry up on your turn at the trough as to dig a new well.

Of course a big part of it is the work involved in the digging. So much easier to pull from what's already been dug. And the important thing is to keep things moving, preferably as quickly as possible. Who has time to dig a well?

But it's the "lightning in a bottle" metaphor I used when titling this post. Because that's another reason bizzers keep going back to the same writers and directors and actors and singers: they've had a hit, maybe several. (And again, it's easy to only see and remember the ups; people only start looking at the downs on someone when they've hit a slump.) They've caught lightning in a bottle. So the idea becomes: Let's have them do it again.

So if you have a hitter who bats .5 and someone who's yet to have a chance at bat . . . (Sorry, I'm just full of metaphors today.) At what point do you give that rookie a shot? In this industry, maybe never, so long as you've got a lineup of .5ers. Never mind if the rookie could do better. You go with ol' reliable.

But really, if you want to catch lightning more than once? You're gonna need a new bottle.

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