The Padded Cel: Down and Out at MIPTV/On the Riviera

Necessity is the mother of invention, and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of showbiz trendsetting. The economic meltdown has pushed Hollywood ‘haute couture’ over a cliff’where it is falling so fast it just passed the Dow. Frugality is becoming ‘in.’ Coupons are the new Kruggerands, Costco the new Neiman Marcus and Tiffany now specializes in house-arrest ankle bracelets. CEO now stands for Crooked Entitled Oblivious. Richie Rich proudly drives a beat-up Kia bearing the vanity plate ‘RICHIE2RAGS.’ The new ethos is … if you don’t have it, flaunt it!

Look for a major battle front in the Frugality Revolution on the streets of Cannes this month. That’s where TV buyers, sellers, producers’plus wannabes, wouldabeens and should-never-have-trieds ‘gather for the mother of all reality shows: The program market known as MIPTV. MIP has always epitomized glamorous excess in our business. Although recent years have seen a steady decline in the scope of the parties, the value of the swag and the size of the kickback offers, we suspect that the vibe at this MIP will truly constitute a sea change. The New Frugality flies in the face of everything that MIP once represented. Nowhere is there more pressure to appear flush with cash’and in no year has more cash already been flushed.

Your first indication that things have changed will be when you take that jetlagged first-evening stroll down the Croissette’and the local beggars give spare change to you. And why do some of them look so familiar? Wasn’t that the guy from Nickelodeon you pitched at MIPCOM? Here are a few other changes we’d expect to see:

Lodgings: While there will be an equivalent number of attendees rolling their luggage through the front door of the exorbitant status-symbol Majestic Hotel’most of them will sneak through the lobby, skulk out the back door and into the one-star Hotel Darfur’where they are sharing a room with eight colleagues using innovative sleeping configurations perfected in the Mumbai slums. Here’s a hot tip: Savvy sellers should finagle a way to share lodging with buyers’in the Tent City being set up on the Croissette.

Meals a la Cart!: Several large studios are reportedly seeking alternatives to their execs eating in outrageously expensive Cannes restaurants. One company is rumored to have negotiated a bulk purchase of surplus airline meals’which have been languishing in frozen storage since the airlines stopped serving them’and will set up a serving cart in a local park for its staff. Not to worry: the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were prepared long before the salmonella outbreak. If a seller experiences debilitating waves of nausea, it can be attributed solely to the prices they are getting for their shows.

Promotion: Typically there are huge, glitzy billboards promoting various shows posted everywhere along the Croissette. This year, frugal sellers will be promoting their wares the old fashioned way’by hand’on the walls of bathroom stalls. (This is exciting news for many Animation Magazine readers: If this trend continues, it may become cost-effective to send artists to MIP!) Meanwhile, last year’s posters remain on the billboards’hyping ‘new hit’ shows which already flopped. Knight Rider anyone? And speaking of cars…

Transporation: Many will be foregoing taxis in favor of a massive new fleet of dirt cheap, hand-pulled rickshaws’direct result of the French government’s own economic stimulus package. Hot tip: Our Padded Cel Rickshaw is one of the few with padded seats. But I don’t do hills.

Media Coverage: Fewer publications can afford to send correspondents to Cannes. Look for an increase in ‘virtual coverage.’ Unethical journalists will stay home and rely upon a combination of Google Earth, CroissetteCam and tarot cards as their sources to imply they are right there on the spot covering the market! (Note: The Padded Cel condemns deceptive practices and non-disclosure regarding breaches of journalistic ethics and betrayals of public trust. (We stand proudly behind our unblemished record of fully-disclosed fraud, breach and betrayal.)

Veteran TV exec Robby London will be sharing a room with Bernie Madoff at the Carlton Hotel’s newly renovated Cinar suite during the MIPTV market.