Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This American Life can't find American stories?

Ira Glass is a public radio star whose show called This American Life got turned into a series on Showtime. He and his team go out into "America" and find the kinds of interesting, offbeat stories that were the fodder of the tabloid television era and that the old media usually overlooks: "traveling to Iowa pig farms, following a first-time filmmaker in California, photographing a raucous night at an Illinois hot dog stand. The result is true stories that are dramatic, emotional, and often funny."

As in the tabloid television era, a lot of the stories from This American Life get turned into movies. They do six half-hour shows a season. But Ira says he may be cutting back from a mere six to a few specials a year because they can't find enough stories.

He tells Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel:

"We need stories with real drama, things unfolding, something at stake and characters we can relate to — ideally, with people doing something that has a visual component to it. It's incredibly important to have something interesting to look at."

Something's not right here. In the tabloid days we'd find a half dozen of these stories a week. Does Ira need a new research staff or does it have something to do with the Showtime deal?

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