The official announcement today that Comcast will take over NBC/Universal marks the greatest counter-revolutionary change in show business history with flyover country now postioned to put its stamp on Hollywood, rather than vice-versa.
We in Hollywood are used to being bought and sold like day labor on a sugar plantations, but our dignity hangs on at least maintaining a certain level of glamor in our masters. Studios have been sold to the French, the Japanese, Austrians, Canadians and even New Yorkers. But to have one of Hollywood's great studios fall into the hands of Philadelphians...a city which from where we sit on our porches in Malibu, is indistinguishable from Topeka or Des Plaines, is an indignity that the hometown of Rita Hayworth and Nicole Richie never believed could befall it.
Well, like it or not, the Philadelphians are coming. And based on the City of Brotherly Love's history, here's a few changes we can expect them to implement.
- Battery Throwing: Hurling batteries at the heads of those who earn their scorn is one of Philadelphia's most hallowed traditions. Under Comcast, we can expect attendees at red carpet premieres to receive packs of 9-volts in their swag bags, which in the event of substandard entertainment values, they can aim at the eyebrows of the cast and crew.
- Cheese Whiz: Philadelphia is one of the great culinary capitals of America, having earned the rare honor of being put collectively on a diet by their mayor. The abstemious dining habits of Hollywood will not sit well with the new bosses, who will have all Zone delivery trucks stopped at the studio gates so the guards can forcibly apply Philadelphia's beloved condiment, Cheese Whiz, to all items.
- Democracy Babylon: Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell, Constitution Hall and Benjamin Franklin. We in Hollywood, appropriately, like to shun old stuff like that, but the times they have a' changed. While Hollywood isn't old enough, thank God, to remember those days before Democracy was cool, we can certainly pretend we were there better than anyone. After all, Abraham Lincoln (he was in on the revolution, right?) lives at Disneyland. That may not be much but its a good place to start. If we want to make our new masters feel at home, we'll get into the shrine to democracy business, big-time; making use of what bits of history we can grab on to. For instance, Barry Bostwick portrayed General George Washington in perhaps the finest mini-series ever made about the life of America's big kahuna. Why not start a city-wide campaign to honor all the places touched by Bostwick, hanging plaques reading "The Man Who Played George Washington lunched here" all over town.
- Ketchup Table Talk: For decades, one of the great sources of debate for the people of Philadelphia has been the best way to pour ketchup. As Pennsylvania is the home of the Heinz company, the people of the state gape in disgust and horror at the condiment barbarians who stick knives into their bottle. Executives wishing to curry favor with their bosses should be prepared to discuss their family's method, passed down through the generations, for shaking loose a densely-packed bottle, involving rotating it a quarter-turn to the left and then-three quarters to the right, followed by two extremely delicate karate chops directly applied to the "1869" on the label. Only this will convince the new overlords that his executive possesses the proper sophistication to steer a major communications company.
- Rocky: Philadelphians love their native son, boxing legend Rocky Balboa. They love him so much that they apparently think he's a real person, commemorating his career with a statue of him in front of their art museum. If we're going to avoid embarrassing the new chiefs, someone needs to get to Stallone and tell him that if he drops the act, he's finished for real this time. Just stop by the commissary and tell a few stories about how you fended off Clubber Lang and the bosses can go back home and tell their kids, "You won't believe who I met!"
This of course is just a start. The Philidelphiazation of Hollywood is going to be a long hard road for us all and the sooner we get started the easier it will be for us all. Wearing ties to work now and then wouldn't kill anybody. And how about instead of AA meetings, we start a club to try and get a football team in LA? Anyone going to 4H tonight?