Bob Odenkirk and David Cross -- who you might know from their successful portrayal of characters in the TV shows "Breaking Bad" and "Arrested Development," respectively -- have a new book out called "Hollywood Said No!" about scripts that didn't quite make the cut.
"It's kind of a public record of our failures that we're proudly putting out there," Odenkirk jokes. "These were written for fun. These were definitely written in the same way we wrote 'Mr. Show' -- which was let's make ourselves laugh."
"Mr. Show With Bob and David" was Cross and Odenkirk's first joint venture, a sketch comedy show that aired on HBO roughly 15 years ago. The pair worked together for three years until the show folded, after which they went their separate but equally successful ways. They agree that comedy can be a notoriously tough business, but it's not much significantly harder than other entertainment.
"There's challenges on all fronts, and I don't think there's more in comedy," argues Odenkirk. "I just think when it comes to the big screen and anything that's got satire in it, that's where they aren't sure audiences want to see that. They're always looking for their 'four-quadrant movie.'" He pointed to "March of the Penguins" -- a movie with appeal in all kinds of demographics.
Cross points out that the entertainment business today is much more open to smaller movies than it was back in the days of "Mr. Show" -- just take the example of "Arrested Development"'s resuscitation by Netflix.
"You're talking about two very distinct worlds with different business models when you talk about studio films and anything else," he says. "If you went to somebody [at a big studio] and said, 'Hey we have a movie that if you put everything into it, you will make $1 million -- net, profit.' They just don't care. They don't want to make a million dollars -- they want to make 40, 50, 60, 100, 200 million dollars."
He says there's more potential for working outside the system today. "Back when we were writing these scripts there was much less opportunity to fund a project where somebody would be delighted to make a million dollars. And now there's a lot more of those, so the world has kind of opened up and changed quite a bit."
The inside scoop on 'Breaking Bad,' 'Arrested Development' Bob Odenkirk and David Cross offer some teases about their other projects. Is a Saul Goodman spinoff in the works? Will there be another season of "Arrested Development"? Read more
Cal Worthington, a man whose used-car ads rose to the level of a cultural phenomenon, has died at age 92. He was a fixture on televisions in California for decades, with zany sales pitches that drew both customers and fame.
The possibly disturbed attacker said he was going to "punch the next white person he saw," witnesses said.
Photographer Christopher Boffoli made his name with his amusing dioramas of tiny, plastic people literally dominated by food. A new book, Big Appetites, assembles more than 200 images of these tiny people and their "complex culture."
Documents released this week show how U.S. border agents can seize laptops, cameras, cellphones and other digital devices, then download data before returning them. The practice raises questions about invasions of privacy and civil liberties.
The president's prime-time speech Tuesday is probably his last, best chance to win support for his plan to launch a military strike against Syria.
Although many of its phones are made in China, Apple has struggled with sales in the world's largest smartphone market. A cheaper iPhone may attract more consumers — but it could also lose some of its cachet. The company also faces competition from Asian rivals who offer cheaper phones.
Bach replaces outgoing President Jacques Rogge, who served in the post for 12 years. He was chosen by secret ballot on the last day of IOC meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Apple's latest iPhone announcement, expected later Tuesday, shows the company is getting more incremental in its innovation than revolutionary. But that doesn't mean that the hype machine isn't in full swing.
Today on the show, Kai Ryssdal sits down with "Breaking Bad" actor Bob Odenkirk and "Arrested Development"'s David Cross to talk about a new book they've written together: "Hollywood Said No!" Odenkirk and Cross first teamed up way back in history -- we're talking pre-iPod and DVR here people -- on the HBO sketch comedy series "Mr. Show." Their new book is made up of a number of sketch scripts written back then that didn't quite make it to the big screen. Or the little one.
But while they each have extensive resumes (writing for a little show called "Saturday Night Live," among others), both are in the spotlight now for very different projects.
All those "Breaking Bad" fans out there -- and there are many in public radio land -- will know Odenkirk plays lawyer Saul Goodman on the show As the latest season wraps up, there's been rampant rumors of a spin-off show. Kai dug up the dirt:
Breaking Bad isn't the only show that made headlines over the summer. There was just as much, or even more excitement over Arrested Development, which stars a dazzling David Cross as the hapless Tobias Funke. We can thank Netflix for resuscitating the show, and a few months back, we asked Netflix's chief content officer whether he'd make all our dreams come true and release another season of the cult hit. Cross is with us on this one:
Listen to the full interview with Cross and Odenkirk about failures in the entertainment industry, covered in their new book, "Hollywood said No!"
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gets some reshuffling--Alcoa, Hewlett Packard, and Bank of America will be taken off the index and companies like Visa and Nike are being added on.
The AFL-CIO votes on whether to broaden membership to include non-union workers and even other organizations.
Stephen Hawking wrote the best-selling popular science book of all time, creating a brand for himself and physics.
There’s a shakeup in the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Alcoa, Bank of America and Hewlett-Packard will be out of the mix later this month. Nike, Goldman Sachs and Visa will be in.
The Dow bills itself as a broad benchmark, a listing of America's most prominent firms, says Bill Chambers, who teaches finance at Boston University. But there are disclaimers. Plenty of them.
“No group of 30 companies is ever going to reflect what is happening in the country," Chambers says. "They still are really quite underweighted in terms of the technology side of things."
Chambers says one of the biggest problems is that the Dow values companies based on their stock price, not on their total market capitalization. And the Dow is old, antiquated even, says Tim Ghriskey, the chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management.
“It really was your grandmother's index," he says. "It’s not what institutional investors use today.”
Then why pay attention to the Dow at all? Well, because it’s old, it’s a way to compare the past and present. Consumers follow the Dow closely. They use it as a benchmark. And consumers have a huge impact on the economy.
“All you need to do is see a five-inch high newspaper headline that says Dow falls 500 points to ruin retail sales in a given weekend,” says Mark Hamrick of bankrate.com.
Apple will unveil new hardware and software at its live product announcement event on Tuesday. Eric Limer, staff writer at Gizmodo, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to give a preview of what to expect.
Click the audio player above to hear more.
2,100 Bank of America employees are losing their jobs. This follows 2,300 layoffs at Wells Fargo announced in August. A sagging mortgage refinancing market is getting the blame.
With mortgage rates on the rise, refinancing is no longer a good deal for millions of Americans. That means banks are losing business in an area that has been extremely important lately.
“Refinancings have been critical to the banking industry,” says Columbia Business School real estate professor Chris Mayer. “Because purchase mortgages have maintained at such a low level, most of the activity has been refinancing.”
The latest numbers from the Mortgage Bankers Association show the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan at 4.73 percent. That’s more than a full percentage point jump from just a few months ago.
Numbers like those mean a large chunk of the population won’t refinance their mortgages. Banks are losing a lot of business and warning Wall Street of a rough ride ahead in the mortgage business. And unfortunately, many bank employees are losing their jobs.
Click the audio player above to hear Marketplace's Mark Garrison talk about this story with Morning Report host David Brancaccio.
Oil investors have global politics on their minds these days. Crude prices, and prices at the gas pump, have been rising, right along with President Barack Obama’s threats to retaliate against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin’s vow to help Syria if that happens. Then when it sounded like a military strike might be averted, prices fell. This is all very curious because Syria doesn’t produce much oil. It accounts for less than a tenth percent of the world’s total production.
So why do traders flip out when the U.S. saber-rattles a two-bit oil producer like Syria? “I think the markets freak out because they think the sabers are going to be extended beyond Syria into some bordering countries,” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.
Kloza and other analysts say the markets factor in a “worry premium” to oil prices. In this case, the fear is that a U.S. strike could spark a wider war in the Middle East and eventually disrupt oil supplies. “And I think yes, it is quite rational to say there’s at least that possibility,” says University of California, San Diego economist James Hamilton.
Hamilton blogs that the political situations in both Libya and Egypt remain highly unstable and if Iran and Saudi Arabia, who back different sides in Syria’s civil war, are drawn into a wider conflict, the flow of oil could threaten Middle Eastern crude exports.
Market analyst Stephen Schork thinks that fear is overblown. The oil market’s reaction is “just driven by fear and greed on the slight, slight, slight chance that dropping a couple of cruise missiles on Damascus will lead to some sort of broader regional conflict,” Schork says. “It’s a very limited proposition, yet we can never underestimate the stupidity of Wall Street money piling into this market.”
Other analysts point out that world oil supplies are fairly tight right now, and suggest that has factored into rising prices recently as well. Labor strikes and pipeline attacks in oil centers like Libya, Iraq and Nigeria have contributed to the problem. Analysts say if a military strike on Syria were to occur, it’s not clear how high oil prices would go. But Hamilton says a good rule of thumb is that for every dollar rise in the cost of a barrel of oil, gasoline prices will rise 2.5 cents.
They're struggling to reconcile the man they see presiding over the herky-jerky move to military action in Syria with the young anti-war senator they worked tirelessly to put in office. And they'll be watching his speech Tuesday night.
Also being removed from the widely watched index: Hewlett-Packard and Bank of America. Being added: Visa and Goldman Sachs. The changes reflect not only the companies' fortunes, but also the changing nature of the U.S. economy.
The survey of 10,000 men in six Asian and Pacific countries found nearly 1 in 4 men reported raping a woman. The results of the survey were released the same day a court in New Delhi convicted four men of the rape and murder that shocked India last December.
Insurance plans that carry higher premiums may be a bargain for consumers with costly health conditions. Lower out-of-pocket costs for some patients can offset the higher price of the coverage over the long haul.
When Ms. Wintour (widely believed to have been portrayed Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada") canceled Cyrus’ appearance on the cover of Vogue, she canceled some of Cyrus’ future earnings potential, according to style expert George Brescha. A magazine cover and associated photo shoot -- in Vogue especially -- can bring a whole new light and a whole new audience to a rising star.
“It’s all of a sudden, oh my God! I didn’t know she could look like that -- she looks amazing!” says Brescia. If the right people are dazzled by a cover celebrity’s different looks, it could lead to an endorsement deal or a clothing line.
If it’s a particularly dramatic cover -- like Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy cover or Demi Moore’s naked and pregnant cover on Vanity Fair -- it can launch a public career, says Steve Cohn, editor-in-chief of Media Industry Newsletter.
For magazines, covers are critical for newsstand sales and ad revenue. Some, like Cosmo and People, are “newsstand strong” says Cohn, which means 30-40 percent of sales come from newsstands. For those publications, the cover is a battlefield.
“Celebrity marriages and divorces do well,” says Cohn, “birth, death, and infidelity do well.”
But even for Vogue -- which, out of a circulation of about 1.2 million, only gets about 300,000 newsstand sales -- those single sales are key.
“Think about it,” says Jerry Guttman, president of publishing consulting firm Lexicon Group, “two out of three magazines on a newsstand aren’t sold and are destroyed. Half the price of the one magazine that gets sold might go towards distribution costs, and probably won’t cover the cost of the other two that get thrown away -- why would anyone have newsstand sales?”
The answer, he says, is because newsstand browsers can become committed subscribers, and because newsstand sales attract advertisers. “In order to sell advertising, a magazine needs to be able to tell an advertiser that it sold 300,000 copies on newsstands -- 300,000 people have picked up the magazine and are reading it.” The loss is an investment.
Since the cover is what draws the attention of the casual browser, the cover is king, and offers a barometer of interest in the magazine.
“Editors will line up covers from the past two years in a room and compare them with sales to figure out what the common denominator is,” says Guttman.
It could be the color red or blue or the logo -- or the person on the cover.
But in this case, Guttman says, it probably wasn’t sales. Vogue doesn’t need Miley Cyrus. It was either that Anna Wintour really didn’t like her performance at the VMAs, or “it’s really smart publicity that’s attracting attention over a nonexistent cover.”