December 12, 2007
FoE2 Podcast: Cult Media

The final panel at our Futures of Entertainment 2 conference, on cult media, is now available fro download in audio form. The mobile panel from the first day will be made available in the coming weeks, and video on the rest of these panels will be available shortly.

The cult media panel, available here, features a conversation among Danny Bilson, Jesse Alexander of Heroes, Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner, and Gordon Tichell of Walden Media, moderated by Henry Jenkins.

The live-blogging from this panel is available here, and feedback from the blogosphere on the panel is available here.

Here is the panel description:

Cult properties have become mass entertainment. Marvel's success bringing comic book characters to the big screen and the resurgence of the space opera suggest niche properties may no longer mean marginalized audience appeal. This panel explores the politics, pitfalls, and potentials of exploiting niches and mainstreaming once marginalized properties. How do you stay true to the few but build properties attractive to the many? What role do fans play in developing cult properties for success? Is it profitable to build a franchise on the intense interest of the few and relyi on Long Tail economics? Are smaller audiences viable in the short term, or do we need to rethink the length of time for a reasonable return?

  • Danny Bilson has supplied 165 hours of original large-canvas television episodes and pilots for major Hollywood studios through his production company, Pet Fly. Bilson and co-writer Paul De Meo created and executive produced these various series, while Bilson directed pilots and key episodes. Their work includes The Flash (Warner Bros./CBS), Human Target (Warner Bros./ABC), Viper (Paramount/NBC/First Run Syndication), The Sentinel (Paramount/UPN), as well as film such as Trancers and Zone Troopers, the latter of which Bilson directed. The team wrote the screenplay for Disney's The Rocketeer and contributed drafts for Paramount's The Italian Job and have more recently been working on the screen story for DC Comics character Sergeant Rock with Warner Bros. He also directed an episode of the reality series On the Road in America and the action unit of Dukes of Hazard 2. Bilson and De Meo also work in comics, most recently relaunching The Flash for DC and releasing the original graphic novel Red Menace. Bilson has also worked in video games since 1999, serving as co-producer of Electronic Arts' The Sims. As VP of Intellectual Property Development for EA, Bilson provided creative direction, concept design, story, and scripts for franchises such as Harry Potter, James Bond 007, and Medal of Honor. After leaving EA, Bilson has focused on developing transmedia stories and serves as a faculty member at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, where he leads the interactive fiction section.

  • Jeff Gomez is the CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a content development and production studio based in New York City. An expert in the field of transmedia development and creator and producer of highly successful fictional worlds, Gomez exponentially increases the value of intellectual properties by preparing them at early phase to be extended across a wide variety of entertainment platforms. He has written and produced elaborate trans-media universes (including content such as feature and episodic animation, video games, comic books, novels, and web portals) for 20th Century Fox, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company, Acclaim Entertainment, Mattel, Hasbro and Scholastic. Gomez has worked on such properties as Turok, Dinosaur Hunter, Magic: The Gathering, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hot Wheels, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney Fairies, and Coca-Cola's Happiness Factory.

  • Jesse Alexander is a co-executive producer and writer on Heroes, NBC's epic saga that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who are discovering they possess extraordinary abilities. He is also an executive producer on the exciting new Heroes spinoff, Origins. Previously, Alexander was an executive producer on ABC's Alias, alongside college friend J.J. Abrams. Abrams then enlisted Alexander as a co-executive producer on ABC's Emmy award-winning drama Lost. Other past projects include the film Eight Legged Freaks, starring David Arquette, and Sony Playstation's Apocalypse video game, featuring Bruce Willis. His first professional job as a writer was creating a new opening sequence for Pamela Anderson's Barb Wire at Dark Horse Entertainment. A self-admitted "fan boy from way back," this Santa Barbara native began his career creating Super-8 movies with his Star Wars action figures. Alexander studied film at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and the American Film Institute.

  • Gordon Tichell is the EVP of Business Development for Walden Media, a motion picture production company specializing in family entertainment. In this role, he oversees Walden's education, outreach, and interactive initiatives, working with teachers, museums, and national organizations to develop supplemental educational programs and materials associated with its films and the original events and/or novels that inspire them. Over the last 10 years, Tichell has also worked for USA Films, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, and Working Title Films. Currently commuting between Walden's Los Angeles and Boston offices, he has developed a very strong yet antagonistic relationship with the Boeing 757.