Posted in Andy Milonakis, Animation, Big Fat Brain, Harry Shearer, My Damn Channel, New Media, Presidential, Press, Vegas with tags , , , , on April 17, 2008 by Rob Barnett

Thanks to the NAB and especially to Ashley Howell, Chris Marlowe, and Rochelle Winters for inviting us to present in Vegas yesterday. Thanks to Jon Healey from the LA Times for moderating – and to Harry Shearer & Andy Milonakis for making the trip.

We filled a room of about 350-400 humans and started by showing a few of our original videos.  Fun seeing hundreds LOL at YSAP – up on a huge megascreen – and cool to see a crowd feel the bass of music produced by Don Was.

Harry Shearer made news – announcing “THE ALPHAS” – a project he’s been developing for 10 years – and the most ambitious new work making its way to My Damn Channel.

“THE ALPHAS” is motion-capture animation of the highest quality (Beowulf) – done in the fastest turnaround ever achieved (less than 5 day production cycles). Here’s more:

Imagine seeing the best-known people in politics and the media, every week, in hilariously private situations.  Not actors in makeup, but what looks and sounds like the real President, candidates, anchors, and the rest. That’s the idea behind “The Alphas”, a revolutionary new concept in topical sketch comedy.  Written and performed by Harry Shearer, who’s notched more than two decades as a creator of topical satire on his weekly public radio broadcast, “Le Show”, along with two memorable seasons on “Saturday Night Live”, “The Alphas” includes no makeup, no celebrity cameos.  Instead, utlizing a trio of cutting-edge motion-capture technologies–harnessed for the first time to a “week-of-air” production schedule, “The Alphas” features startlingly realistic computer-animated versions of the movers, shakers and yakkers.  They’re not lifelike–thanks to the technology and Shearer’s performances, they’re alive.  And every week, they’re deftly and drolly revealed for all their pretensions, resentments, jealousies and anxieties–all the good stuff, online just days after production.

Here’s the first news coverage from the LA Times and the Digital Content Producer Magazine with thanks for the ‘ink’ & correction to Michael Goldman.



Posted in New Media with tags , on April 16, 2008 by Rob Barnett

Peter Gabriel’s filter

The rock star hopes to shock Amazon with a new web-based recommendation service.


By Devin Leonard, senior writer

(Fortune) — There’s a reason Peter Gabriel is a household name. One of the founders of the super-group Genesis, the British rock star went on to have great success as a solo artist known for his outlandish costumes, his cutting edge music videos, and of course, his ’80s hits like “Sledgehammer” and “Shock The Monkey,” which were both artistic and commercial milestones.

What’s less known is that the 58-year-old Gabriel has done rather well since then as a digital media entrepreneur. In 2000, he co-founded OD2, which quickly became the leading European digital music provider with clients like Nokia and MSN. OD2’s owners reportedly later sold the company for an estimated $20 million.

Okay, so Sammy Hagar reportedly sold a majority stake in his tequila business for four times that amount last year. But now Gabriel has a new business that’s potentially much bigger. On Tuesday, he and a new group of partners launch the private-beta version of a web-based service called The Filter that will sort through the vast inventory of content on the Internet and recommend songs, movies, television show and web videos to its users. In May, The Filter website will be open to the public.

Ultimately, Gabriel and his partners in his Bath, England-based company have a grander vision for the Filter than telling you that if you like Sammy Hager, you might also like Van Halen’s earlier stuff with David Lee Roth. They hope you’ll one day be able to log in and find the perfect place to dine on your upcoming trip to, say, Barcelona — and a suggestion for the right clothes to wear on your night out. Now that sounds like something an art rocker like Peter Gabriel would go for — as opposed to a night of tequila swilling at Hagar’s nightclub in Mexico.

Gabriel put up $8.5 million along with England’s Eden Ventures to start The Filter because he fears that people are being overwhelmed by the web. “Everyone got really excited about the concept of infinite choice through the Internet,” he says. “The reality is a little like getting a sore thumb with your remote on your television. Too much choice is not always a good thing.”

He describes the solution to this machine-age dilemma in the sort of terms you might expect from a thinking man’s rock star. “My friend [recording studio guru to Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay] Brian Eno has been going on for some time about the increasingly important role of the curator over the creator,” Gabriel explains. “In many ways, the disc jockey has become as important as the musician, which is one of the best illustrations of that. I would like a life jockey as well as a disc jockey.”

The Filter’s founders say their service could play that role nicely, claiming its recommendation engine is more sophisticated than anything else on the market. Unlike competing services, the Filter doesn’t rely on the ratings that people assign to songs or movies online. It determines its users tastes by observing what they actually do with these items on the Internet.

The engine is particularly interested if someone buys a song, streams it or clicks on a related link. “We like to get real evidence of people’s tastes,” says Martin Hopkins, co-founder of The Filter and creator of its recommendation technology.

Hopkins also notes that The Filter’s engine doesn’t push people choices based on what they bought years ago. It slowly forgets what it learned because peoples’ tastes change. Don’t you wish Amazon’s (AMZN, Fortune 500) service did the same?

Gabriel and his partners hope to generate revenue at The Filter by selling advertising. They also hope to license their technology to other digital media companies. The company already provides recommendations to the users of its former OD2 customers like MSN (MSFT, Fortune 500) and Nokia (NOK). That’s why the service launches with a database of over 50 million transactions from which to make suggestions.

It’s a long leap from recommending music to choosing their restaurants in foreign cities. Still, the idea is intriguing. Gabriel isn’t just taking about this either. He’s putting up a lot of money to make it happen. “This is definitely something that’s worth watching,” says Gartner analyst Mike McGuire who, like Fortune, was briefed by The Filter before the private beta launch.

As you might expect, Gabriel is in the studio working on new music, too. He owes one more album to EMI. After that, he plans to release his music on his own a la Radiohead. The graying rocker is thrilled that the Internet is giving artists a new means of distributing their music — especially the ones who couldn’t get a record deal even in the industry’s better days. “I like it that the inmates are running the asylum,’ says Gabriel.

This, of course means more choices for those overwhelmed consumers that Gabriel is so concerned about. All the more reason for his new company, right? No wonder he’s so pleased.  To top of page


Posted in My Damn Channel with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2008 by Rob Barnett

We built My Damn Channel with a few of patron saints in mind. Johnny Rotten is usually painted by critics with such a simple brush. Most miss the point. John may often be brutal – but he’s alway honest. 

During the “Rotten TV” run, we walked the red carpet, as a goof on the way into that year’s VH1 Fashion Awards. Out of the corner of his eye, John spotted four important looking humans standing a few feet away from all the action, surveying the scene.

“Who are they!?” – he challenged….  I looked over my shoulder to see Sumner Redstone, flanked by Tom Freston, Judy McGrath & John Sykes.  “Don’t – just don’t,” was my hapless request, knowing full well I was screwed.  Rotten headed straight for Sumner. He grabbed his hand first. Then he shook the rest & asked the group one simple question: “How much money are you lot all making on this tonight?”

As we turned to walk on, Freston grabbed my arm and offered, “I love that show.”  It was one of the moments that was supposed to go horribly wrong, and somehow went surprisingly well. Probably just luck.

As we head to Vegas to try to haplessly explain why My Damn Channel trusts our talent – here are a few of our gold-plated rules – we’ll think of a few more before tomorrow’s event – Wed 4/16 – 2pm – here:

Never lie
Don’t hold back bad news
Don’t use ‘creative input’ as an excuse for ‘J J” (Job Justification)
Make decisive decisions
Never bait & switch 
Communicate constantly
Avoid the ‘handlers’ – go direct
Be specific
Move fast – no waiting
Work the press
Pay on time – every time
Pick up the check – almost every time


Posted in Johnny Rotten with tags , on April 13, 2008 by Rob Barnett

A ROTTEN photo symphony





Posted in Harry Shearer, My Damn Channel with tags , , , , on April 12, 2008 by Rob Barnett

If you’re in Vegas this week, or always looking for an excuse to go, My Damn Channel’s flesh & bones will be onstage at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) convention Wednesday, 4/16 at 2pm.

The NAB invited us to spend an hour talking about TRUSTING TALENT in a place called the “Content Theatre.”

Harry Shearer will be with us & we’re ‘trusting’ Andy Milonakis will show up. The session is going to be moderated by Jon Healey from the LA Times. We promised Jon we’re going to make some ‘news’ with an announcement that Harry and I will deliver Wednesday.

If ‘trusting talent’ is a radical idea that deserves to be dissected, then we’ll whip out the scalpel and slice away a bit more – here – this weekend.





Posted in Big Fat Brain, David Wain, Donnie Hoyle, Found Objects, Harry Shearer, Katie Couric, My Damn Channel, Wainy Days, Waterboardin' USA, You Suck at Photoshop with tags , , , , , , on April 8, 2008 by Rob Barnett

The NY Times calls the WEBBY AWARDS “the Oscars of the web.” 

Over 10,000 entries from over 60 countries & today’s WEBBY announcements blew us away today with 7 honors in all. 

4 nominations & 3 Honors. Only 5 others have more nominations.

Here’s the list: 

1. My Damn Channel (Honoree for Best Humor Site)

2. Harry Shearer – Found Objects / Katie Couric (Honoree for Best Viral Video)

3. Wainy Days – Episode 10 – The Future (Honoree for Best Indiv. Comedy Episode)

4. Wainy Days (Nominated for Best Comedy Series)

5. Big Fat Brain’s You Suck At Photoshop (Nominated for Best Comedy Series)

6. Big Fat Brain’s You Suck at Photoshop (Nominated for Best How-To / DIY Series)

7. Harry Shearer – “Waterboardin’, USA” (Nominated for Best Music Video)

Nominations are decided by judges….and by you – so please vote!

A bit of a bitch – but it only takes a minute – here’s how:

Click here – then register

Go to Online Film & Video


Find MUSIC (& vote for HARRY SHEARER)

Find HOW-TO/DIY (& vote for YSAP) 


Posted in Don Was, Wasmopolitan Cavalcade of Recorded Music with tags , , on April 8, 2008 by Rob Barnett


Boo! is the brand new album from Was (Not Was).

Quit working for a second & picture this: 

You’re walking down a dark road – there’s a thumping sound ahead somewhere in the distance – you shuffle a little bit faster towards the sound. A light shines in the night to guide the way.

You’re closer – you hear music playing louder. You see a church with a long name that doesn’t sound like it belongs to any particular denomination: “The House of the Happy Redemption”  

Open the door & the preacher’s voice is booming : “If life has left you a little too filled with fear, worry, loneliness, forgetfullness, and despair…..then stand up and let the music back in through the bottom of your feet to the top of your aching head.”

Remember how you used to feel before you had hard times invade your brain? Go get some musical medicine & a long tall glass of some “Crazy Water.”

We’re honored that Don Was decided to reimagine music distribution on My Damn Channel. Checkout the Wasmopolitan Cavalcade of Recorded Music – where Don has produced over 50 NEW tracks and videos – all there for you – for free.

Here’s more:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/don-was-mixmeister-flash-805742.html