Entertainment Today
August 1999

"Technology Is/Is Not Your Friend"

Each time I resolve technology is going to be our planetary downfall—that some evil whiz kids from Novosibirsk are going to come here on a scholarship to Julliard and blow up New York with a bomb they made from beaver urine—I get some new high-tech toy and convince myself everything is just peachy.

I am the kind of person who actually worries that some chemist for the CIA’s Chemical Warfare Division has whipped up a new toxin that will make members of the Green Party eat cheeseburgers until their aortas explode. I despair over pollution and the gnawing, daily fear that Los Angeles is soon going to be like Mexico City or Indonesia: possessing year-round ale that looks like everyone is simultaneously having a Dionysian cookout, using extra lighter fluid. And without that inviting, smoky flavor.

Just when I envision some new designer drug coming out of a lab in San Berdoo that will turn teenagers’ hands into hooves and lead them to slurp the blood of their parents, I get hooked up with something like www.Prepub.com. And I feel all is well with the world.

The brainchild of New York literary agent, Noah Lukeman, Prepub.com is a Web site that enables the user to access a database of info on books about to be published. It is searchable using key words for editor, publisher, agency or agent. In addition to number of pages, pub date and author, you can sometimes lick your chops and note sales figures.

I have to figure that book scouts, producers and, yes, even writers of books and scripts will benefit from this service, which provides more voluminous research than that gleaned from the "Rights" column of the venerable Publishers Weekly.

It was indeed pleasant to search through certain agencies, noting the variety of upcoming titles in diverse fields such as self help, memoir, fiction, short story and even the recent carnage in Kosovo.

Yes, I’m just a wee bit dismayed by this plethora of touchy-feely books like Chicken Soup for the Hermaphrodite’s Soul and Conversations with Angels, Aliens and My Dead Uncle which unfairly clog up the New York Times Best Seller List, when the top 10 should be populated with wrenching narratives about Milosevic stalking the Balkans in a genocidal trance.

You see, that feel-good buzz one gets from new technology wears off fast.

And that’s why I want less books about tv and film stars who beat bulimia, crack cocaine addiction, sadomasochistic sex club binges and the incessant urge to pick at scabs. I want more reminders of the misery we have brought upon ourselves.

Although, I have really enjoyed getting a review copy of the CD-Rom Automated Contacts for the Film and Television Industry, written by attorney Mark Litwak. Released by Entertainment Publishers (www.entertainmentpublisher.com), it contains 60 "fill in the blank" contracts in such areas as literary submission and sale, artist employment, production, distribution and merchandising. It’s the kind of useful technology that makes one wonder how we got along before its invention.

It’s Y2K compliant as well, which is most useful since we all know around Jan. 1 the world will be plunged into a hyper-vortex of techno-ruination, ending life as we know it.

But until then, I’m kind of digging my computer.


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