American Magazine Conference 2008

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: 'That Party Is Over'

Also at Magazine Conference: Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg Discusses Hollywood's 'Third Revolution'

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NEW YORK ( -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the financial bailout bill and promised a federal shield law for reporters during remarks she delivered to open this year's American Magazine Conference last night.
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi Credit: Doug Goodman

Although Wall Street will benefit from the $700 billion bailout, Ms. Pelosi said the financial sector will receive greater oversight by the government. "They have to know from now on the bright light of scrutiny is on them," she said. "It's all over for this secrets of the temple mentality."

The bill, signed into law Friday, will also protect Americans far from Wall Street who are nonetheless affected by its health, Ms. Pelosi said. "I'd rather call it a 'rescue' than a 'bailout,'" she said, later declaring that for Wall Street firms that want to privatize the gain but hand the bill for the risk to the government, "That party is over."

Not impressed
The audience of more than 400 magazine publishers, editors, advertisers and agency executives gathered at the Westin St. Francis in downtown San Francisco wasn't wholly won over. An employee of Consumer Reports told the speaker that the bill gave distressed companies "stunning" relief but only "modest" aid to distressed homeowners.

They applauded heavily, though, when Ms. Pelosi advocated a law giving reporters the right to protect their sources from investigators. "As soon as we have a new Congress and a new president, we will have a shield law," she said.

Ms. Pelosi's address was followed by a keynote interview with Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, and a conversation about Showtime's "Dexter" pegged to its ad campaign parodying popular magazine covers.

Mr. Katzenberg said digital distribution offered the movie industry great promise, but very little real business so far. "The good news is there's a lot of upside there," he said.
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Jeffrey Katzenberg Credit: Doug Goodman

3-D technology
That upside includes 3-D technology, which he called the "third revolution" in film, behind sound and color. And once the technology becomes widespread, audiences won't be wearing those old-fashioned red and blue 3-D glasses either; Mr. Katzenberg believes people eventually will have 3-D glasses as a matter of course, the way some now have bowling balls or tennis racquets. He even suggested a technology that allows one's regular eyeglasses to adjust to become sunglasses when you are outside, and then turn into 3-D glasses when you sit down to watch a movie. What annoys him about 3-D? "It can't make crappy movies good. But it can make good movies better."

The "Shrek" franchise, he noted, is "the gift that keeps on giving," and Dreamworks is readying a Broadway production based on the green ogre. Why? Broadway is cheap compared to movies; investment so far is $25 million compared to a movie's $165 million. If the play runs at least a year, Dreamworks will recoup its investment, he said. But if a show runs for five or more years, it can return more than $500 million.

Matthew Blank, chairman-CEO of Showtime, sounded a mellow note amid a lot of broader concerns over the economy and ad spending, noting that Showtime lives off subscription fees, not ads. That also means it doesn't have to worry about ad-skipping or even when people watch its shows.

"These things are not threats to us," he said.

Not fighting YouTube
That's even true of "Dexter" clips uploaded to YouTube if they remain fairly brief, Mr. Blank said. "Anything that samples our product to an audience of potential subscribers is good for us," he said, "particularly if we can control it."

The magazine industry has recently decided something similar about a website letting people upload and share whole magazine issues. It settled with the site,, which agreed to take down copyrighted material and work with publishers to post authorized content.
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