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November 14, 2011 - Image 8

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8A - Monday, November 14, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

8A - Monday, November14, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

DIRECTOR INTERVIEW
Power for the people

TV/NE W MEDIA COlUMN
What late night's lacking

'Electric Car'
director discusses
auto industry story
By SEAN CZARNECKI
Daily Arts Writer
Not many people have a vision
wide enough to encompass the
entire auto industry. Even while
the Big Three are bouncing back,
a worldwide recession and a gov-
ernment bailout have left that
vision as muddled as ever. For
the people of Michigan - a state
whose identity and livelihood
are welded to the Motor City -
such uncertainty could shake the
confidence one has in the future.
With just a quick glance at
the posters and displays outside
the screening of "Revenge of the
Electric Car," it becomes evident
that writer-director Chris Paine
stands among those he chroni-
cles - individuals with the fore-
sight to plan for a sustainable
future. Not only did his first film,
"Who Killed the Electric Car?"
reveal and clarify the forces that
caused the electric car to fail, but
it also documented the direc-
tions the auto industry might
take. It was an ambitious film
with simple roots.
"In 1996, I leased an elec-
tric car (the EVi) from Gen-
eral Motors, and it changed my
thinking about cars," Paine said
in an interview with The Michi-
gan Daily.
After driving that car for five
years, its production was discon-
tinued and he wondered why.
"I wanted to make a film about
why electric cars were such a
great technology," Paine said.
"Along the way we sort of stum-
bled into this bigger story of why
the car was stopped."

But following the release of
"Who Killed," there seemed to
be a revolution: The electric car
was revived.
"GM went bankrupt and the
auto industry was reduced to
bailouts, and at one point, I think
even a CEO of a car company
went to Washington D.C. driving
in an electric car," he recalled.
"That was quite a turnaround."
Change was finally happen-
ing, and thus "Revenge" was ,
born. Whereas the first film
was concerned with what was
happening inside the industry,
Pain explains that "Revenge" is
"about character and overcom-
ing challenges ... how the inside
changes."
In other words, this film
chronicles the individuals who
will in effect govern the future
of the auto industry, and by
extension, the future of Michi-
gan. Paine believes that the hub
of 21st century auto technology
innovation - and future jobs -
could be located in Michigan.

But this story isn't over.
"The electric car touches on
so many issues, if you wanted
to do a film on this today, it'd be
like six hours," Paine said, as if
to acknowledge where "Who
Killed" and "Revenge" might fall
short. But his films are meant
to inspire interest in the topic,
not postulate on every facet the
industry and its future.
"It was better to get people
to try these things and have the
experience for themselves (rath-
er) than try to make a big dia-
tribe about why the government
messed up," he said.
So will Paine dive back into the
electric car story?
"If I find another angel inves-
tor that wants to support another
project, then I might do another
one," he said.
Then, with a smile, he added,
"But there will be many more
stories, whether they're written
by people like you or other film-
makers or television people. The
electric car story is just starting."

There's a plague seeping
over America - well-
dressed, carefully coiffed
men (and one woman) are throt-
tling the late-night airwaves,
mugging for
laughs and
sitting across
the table from
stars shame-
lessly pro-
motingtheir
upcoming
offerings. It's
the late night KAVI
talk show host: SHEKHAR
There are too PANDEY
many of them,
and their
adherence to an antiquated model
is sinking this mini-industry.
Here's the list of the current
slate of hosts: David Letterman,
Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy
Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Fer-
guson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Col-
bert, Chelsea Handler, Bill Maher
and, quite inexplicably, Carson
Daly (if a tree falls on the set of
his show, does it make a sound?).
Before delving further, full
disclosure: At the time of writing
this article, I'm pursuing a job at
NBCUniversal. Now back to our
regularly scheduled postulating.
The needless glut of late-night
talk shows became apparent
during the Conan O'Brien-Jay
Leno "Tonight Show" hoopla in
2010, aptly called "The War For
Late Night" by New York Times
reporter Bill Carter. The ground-
swell of "Team Coco" support was
surprising and inspiring- galva-
nized bysocial media outlets -
but the movement and its fallout
shone a light on the late-nighttalk
show medium and called its rel-
evance into question.
"Conan" on TBS predictably
shot off with four million viewers
for its premiere last year, before
settling into an average of nearly

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ilion viewers for its second the interview aired at 11 p.m., it
But Team Coco has lost far had been announced that Car-
ny members, averaging melo would be joiningthe New
an a million viewers in the York Knicks, so seeing him play
ar. coy with Conan was an incredibly
ere did all theviewers go? bizarre and pointless 10 minutes.
es that flocked to Conan's The late-night savior is then
at tour last summer, the Jimmy Fallon, who has built an
rat changed their Facebook idyllic home in this new-media
es to the Conan-as-Obama world (with the help of the best
ation? Though the passion band in late night, The Roots). His
generation fueled Conan's rotating comedy bits are unabash-
chance, our viewing habits edly idiotic ("Wheel of Carpet
t the old-school talk show Samples," "Lick it for Ten"),
alongside a weekly hashtag game
a model that far too many and parody clips like "6-bee" and
ms submit to - of those "Jersey Floor" that are perfectly
ms listed, six (Lena, Letter- tuned for viral consumption.
allon, Kimmel, Conan and Fallon further breaks ground
on) follow an identical for- with his requisite celebrity inter-
pen with a monologue riff- views - this is the age of Twitter
current events, follow with and YouTube, where celebrity
ing comedy bit (Letterman's underexposure is a paradox,
op 10 list, Leno's "Head- and Fallon has adapted accord-
bring in Celebrity A, bring ingly. He takes it to the next level,
er-known Celebrity B and engaging his guests with games -
vith a musical performance - like beer pong with Helen Mir-
edy act. The model was ren and "shoe golf" with Taraji P.
the past, and it's clearly Henson - and other shenanigans
rking in the present. (see: "A History of Rap"with
Justin Timberlake), unveiling the
sparsely seen goofy natures of our
ebeer on favorite celebrities.
pre p g Conan had the chance to revi-
rith M irren talize and redefine the talk show,
much like Jimmy Fallon, his "Late
Night" successor, is doing. Why
has Conan become so averse to
eakthrough moment to risk? This is the man that kept
he model's creakiness talkshows relevant for the past
ed on February 21 when two decades with creations like
tar Carmelo Anthony Triumph.the Insult Comic Dog.
ed on "Conan." Landing It's nottoo late for him to reas-
ny was a huge coup for the semble Team Coco and build his
- Carmelo was inblister- audience back - and if the rest
de discussions and the of the industry wants to survive,
ew was a perfect oppor- Team Kimmel, Team Ferguson
for Conan to probe him and the rest will have to start
,gets of information about their recruitment process.

which team he was going to join.
Problem is, talk shows almost
always tape in the afternoon and
are played at night. By the time

Pandey is gunning for alate-
night spot on OWN. To help,
e-mail kspandey@umich.edu.

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0

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An international, graduate university located on the
shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia

..

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