Who’s your audience? At what cost?

If you missed last night’s Oscars, lucky you!

I watched Seth MacFarlane as host — and yes, I had to Google him — and thought “Seriously?” I found him crude, sophomoric (freshmanic? even better) and deeply off-putting.

English: Seth MacFarlane at the 2010 Comic Con...
English: Seth MacFarlane at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not, however, the demographic the Academy Awards producers so desperately crave, 18 to 49 year old men. By hiring MacFarlane, and larding the show with sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic “jokes”, they thought for sure they had a win.

And they did.

But for every teen boy yukking it up out there, a million others, men and women of all ages, were tweeting and Facebooking their shock and disgust throughout, and after, the show.

Sure, grow your audience…

At what cost?

From msn.money.com:

Seth MacFarlane was full of surprises when he hosted the Oscar awards show last night. This morning came another one: TV ratings for the 85th celebration of Hollywood’s love affair with the movies were up over last year in the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

Early tallies for the show say it earned a 12.1 rating for that group, up more than from 3% from last year’s final 11.7 figure, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, citing preliminary figures from Nielsen. Entertainment Weekly notes that total ratings for the Oscars also probably rose over last year’s show hosted by Billy Chrystal. Final ratings, which may be different, will be released by Nielsen later today.

If these ratings hold, it will be a pleasant surprise for ABC and its corporate parent Walt Disney (DIS +0.22%).Some had wondered whether MacFarlane, whose TV shows and movies appeal largely to men, would turn off the mostly female Oscar audience. His song-and-dance number celebrating actresses who have shown their breasts on the silver screen may have offended some, but it was tame stuff by MacFarlane’s standards.

Best known as the creator of “Family Guy,” MacFarlane got mixed reviews for his performance.

Best Actress Academy Awards
Best Actress Academy Awards (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

For Broadside, an unpaid gig, I want an engaged, civil conversation with smart, global, interesting people. I have them! Yay, you!

For my books, I want readers of all ages simply open to new ideas, especially those interested in a new spin on old narratives — whether gun use or low-wage labor. Fortunately, I’ve found them as well.

When I write on business for The New York Times, I want readers to enjoy, think, argue, share. My stories are consistently the third most read and emailed of the entire Sunday paper. So, I’m pleased that my fairly careful targeting of the audience I seek is indeed out there.

But the pursuit of the Big Bucks, in many fields, means lowering the bar — of taste, execution, style, content, tone or intelligence.

It’s not a trade-off I’m willing to make.

How about you?

Who is your audience?

How do you try to win and keep and grow them?

Does it involve making trade-offs between your personal ethics and principles — and making a decent living?

What Sandra Bullock And I Have In Common — 'Runaway Husbands'

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 07:  Sandra Bullock...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It sure isn’t an Oscar!

The challenge is, when hubby bolts, you’re supposed to feel humiliated. Well, you do. That’s true. But he made the choice.

We both faced the nasty reality of a “runaway husband”, the subject of a new book by marriage therapist Vikki Stark, whose own husband ran out on her after 21 years.

I was with my ex for five years before we married, and our marriage barely made it past our second anniversary. He was re-married to his second wife (whom he’s still with) within the year. She’s even in my wedding pictures, his “best friend” (cue Psycho music here) from work.

I’ll spare you the grim details, but it was hell. He was gone a lot — a doctor, officially overnight “on call” at the hospital or, helping her with her young baby as a single mother, at her home. I relied on his income 100 percent, which left me unwilling to push back as hard as I needed to, let alone move out or kick him out.

For those of you whose hubbies have strayed, or you fear they might:

1) Do your due diligence before you marry. Seriously. I had plenty of reason to worry about my ex-husband when I met his family. His mother was so miserable in her marriage she told me all about it. His older brother had already bailed on two wives, each with a young child. Not a good sign! I loved my ex deeply, felt sure we’d figure it all out — and still demanded a pre-nup to seal the deal, just in case.

2) Pre-nup. If you are entering a marriage, like Bullock and many other women with assets, protect yourself. Make sure your finances, if entwined, won’t drag you into court for decades. Know his FICO score. Know what he earns, saves and invests. I was sufficiently alarmed by my ex’es family misery I wanted a pre-nuptial agreement to protect myself, having left my country, family, friends and a thriving career to marry him. As a nosy, mistrustful reporter, I went and interviewed a divorce attorney — $350/hour in 1992 — to find out my legal rights should my marriage end, especially if it ended quickly. I would, he said, have gotten nothing — after putting my career on hold and marrying someone making a lot of dough. My ex had to write me a five-figure check once he’d left, and that was before alimony kicked in. Divorce is expensive, so I calculated in: moving costs, lawyers’ fees, therapy fees and a month or two to get back on my feet.

3) Protect your assets. These include your professional skills, the one thing many women let atrophy if they stay home and mother their kids exclusively.

4) Keep your friendships strong. I was extremely isolated when my husband walked out, June 15, 1994,  a Wednesday night. Yes, I remember. I had very few friends, had quit my job and my family of origin was far away in Canada. I didn’t eat for a week (looked great, though!) and only the kindness of a compassionate, elderly neighbor I barely knew put food in my mouth after she took me into her apartment and made me a sandwich and made me eat it.

5) Keep your professional network, even sporadically, alive. There’s no excuse now. Between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can, and must, maintain some professional networks, even if you’re convinced your marriage is made in heaven and can’t possibly (hello, Titanic?) fail. Should you suddenly need income, and you will if your husband bails, a few colleagues or clients who’ll come through for you quickly is essential.

I knew my marriage faced challenges — I begged my maid-of-honor, just as we walked up the stairs to the church, “Just be my friend if this doesn’t work out.” She did and she is, celebrating her own 20th. wedding anniversary this year. Every marriage faces challenges, whether you’re clutching an Oscar or struggling with infertility or unemployment or illness or you hate his mother or he hates your sister.

The brave, loving husbands are honest enough to say, clearly and without screaming — and before bedding a skank, or a whole bunch of them — “This isn’t working for me. We need to talk.”

And we need to listen.

The Hurt Locker — On-Screen Winner, But How True to Life?

The Hurt Locker
Image via Wikipedia

Not so true?

Here’s what some soldiers in-country had to say about the veracity of “The Hurt Locker”, Oscar’s Best Picture.

From The Globe and Mail:

But the film’s admirers don’t include those who actually do the job – defusing or destroying makeshift bombs. Canadian explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) soldiers in Kandahar, one of Afghanistan’s most volatile and bomb-laden provinces, say their life is no Hurt Locker.

“First reaction was, ‘This is pretty Hollywood,’ ” says EOD soldier Lieutenant Caroline Pollock. “All of us were laughing at the movie, at parts in the movie where no one else would laugh. Like, this is ridiculous.”

The Canadians, for example, think Guy Pearce’s character – killed early on while wearing the heavy bomb suit and running from an explosion – shouldn’t actually have died.

“The guy was 100 metres away and running when it exploded? I was surprised he died,” said Leading Seaman Doug Woodrow, a 13-year Forces veteran who has donned the suit himself.

In one scene, the boys get into a sniper fight alongside some mercenaries. Sniper and EOD skills are not typically offered as a joint course, nor are bomb experts expected to clear massive industrial buildings on their own, as Sgt. James and his team do.

“I was like, ‘Who the hell does this? Can I have their job?’ ” Lt. Pollock says, laughing. “It was a good movie, but I didn’t think it was that great … I don’t think it was accurate of what EOD operators do.”

Here’s a book by a British soldier about his job defusing bombs.

Two Fistfuls of Gold — What A Sweet Sight, Kathryn!

US director Kathryn Bigelow waves to photograp...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Not just for best Picture, but best Director, for Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker.

Not sure I’ve seen so lovely a sight on television in a long, long time.

First Oscar ever for a female best director.

I loved her dedication, twice, to all those who fight and serve, from soldiers to firefighters.

May her history-making win not be the last!

Deking Out The Greedy SOBs Disney And Dolan — How We Are Watching The Oscars

3-D logo used since 2007.
Image via Wikipedia

In utter last-minute desperation, we called our relatives in Ohio — who are not being held hostage by the insane greed of Cablevision versus ABC that is denying coverage of this event to millions of residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

You losers. You greedy )(*&^%#@@ losers.

They’ve hooked up their laptop in front of their TV in Ohio — and we’re watching the Oscars on their TV by Gmail.

Thanks, Ruth and Brian!

Whatever it takes.

We Can't Watch The Oscars — Thanks To Corporate Thugs' Standoff

A reporter takes a picture of the Oscars' stat...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

This is the garbage we put up with in the sophisticated Northeast.

Pure corporate thuggery.

From The New York Times:

The distribution spat between The Walt Disney Company and Cablevision started to look more like a spat between two chief executives on Friday, a day before Cablevision’s contract to carry the ABC station in New York City was set to expire.

Meanwhile, viewers who faced the prospect of missing the Academy Awards on Sunday seemed to split their scorn in equal portions between the two companies.

“Why do we have to be subjected to this fight?” asked Jami Lieberman, a Cablevision subscriber in Searingtown, N. Y. Cablevision serves about three million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Disney owns ABC.

Tens of millions of dollars are at stake in the negotiations over a new contract. Disney wants up to $1 a subscriber a month from Cablevision for programming from the station, WABC, which is available free over the airwaves. Cablevision has offered an undisclosed fraction of that. The current agreement expires late Saturday night.

Demands by broadcasters for so-called retransmission payments are becoming more prevalent. But this dispute is becoming especially bitter. As negotiations stalled this week, Cablevision called on Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, to “stop holding his own viewers hostage” and publicly cited his salary and bonus as evidence that the company was being greedy.

Even John Kerry’s gotten into the battle, reports the Los Angeles Times:

Disney and Cablevision aren’t the only ones squabbling over this issue. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski saying that the regulatory agency should revisit the so-called retransmission consent rules that allow broadcasters to seek fees from cable operators in return for carrying their signals. Kerry told Genachowski that he does not think broadcasters should be allowed to pull their signal from a cable operator “unless the cable company is negotiating in bad faith.” The FCC, he added, would be the ones to determine whether that is the case. Kerry is chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

From The Washington Post:

As reported earlier this week, WABC-7, the local affiliate for Disney’s ABC franchise, said it would go dark for Cablevision subscribers if the parties were unable to come up with an agreement on fees paid by the cable giant to the broadcaster. ABC has said Cablevision is not offering a fair price to carry its programming.

Cablevision has said that Disney, the parent company of ABC, was seeking unreasonable terms. The company says it already pays ABC more than $200 million a year, and is being pressured to pay $40 million on top of that for no additional content.

“We want our customers to know that we will not pull this channel and we urge ABC Disney to make that same commitment,” said Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications

Our TV screen right now  — we get Cablevision — shows only a large blue and white message:

ABC has rejected our offers. We have agreements with CBS, NBC, Fox and Univision. We apologize for their [ABC’s] actions.

Like that’s going to help.