Monthly Archives: January 2011

John Gapper

David Carr’s column on the return of Harvey Weinstein makes the case that the king of the US independent film industry is back in business with The King’s Speech and other films, despite The Weinstein Company having run through $1.2bn in financing.

Yes, his company is a shell of its former self and his partners are out a lot of money, but there is something to be said for relentlessness, a refusal to acknowledge that you are finished, and the will to just keep hacking away no matter what.

It is a nice tribute to a man who has a reputation for being overbearing and despotic in his constant quest for the next breakout independent film. But it does suggest that the business lives by something other than investor returns. Read more

John Gapper

Demand Media, which had a successful initial public offering today, has attracted a lot of attention for a relatively small company – although one that is more valuable than the New York Times by market capitalisation.

That is probably because a lot of journalists – also known as high-cost content producers – are worried by its “content farm” model of paying freelancers modest amounts to write short pieces that it determines from search algorithms will interest people.

Personally, I think that is fair enough. If  people really are interested in its “how-to” type content – such as how to cure a sore throat – then it deserves to succeed. The fact that it irritates professional journalists is neither here nor there. Read more

What does a failed mortgage giant have to do to get some attention these days? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have cost the US taxpayer $150bn and the bill could rise to at least twice that. Yet reform was not included in the Dodd-Frank bill and was ignored by Barack Obama in his State of the Union address.

John Gapper

My profile of Mark Landis, the Mississippi art forger who dresses as a Jesuit priest to donate paintings to museums, was published in the FT this weekend and has attracted some attention.

One thing I did not include, because Mr Landis only told me about it after I had finished the article, was how he painted some of the forgeries. I was puzzled by the fact that, when I visited him in his apartment in Laurel, Mississippi, there was no sign of any painting materials. Read more

John Gapper

I am on leave until the second half of January so I will not be posting here until then. Happy New Year to all.