A Tale of Two Vloggies

Last year’s Vloggies awards show party was one of those watershed events where I realized, “Hey, maybe this online video distribution thing has legs.” The winners had all produced quality motion picture entertainment, and were innovators as well — everyone from Ze Frank to Steve Garfield, from Galacticast to Feed Me Bubbe. OK, Bubbe’s no world beater, but as a judge my duty was to sift through all the quality nominees, and in the process I discovered my new favorite cooking show — which, along with the other entries, convinced me that the time had come when independent productions had achieved a level of quality deserving of an award show.

This year, things are much more complicated. Irina Slutsky, who came up with the idea of the Vloggies and did much of the heavy lifting to make sure fun was had by all, is no longer with the event’s host, PodTech. And the project starring Slutsky, The Vloggies Show, has been canceled. While there may be a second annual Vloggies, it simply won’t be the same — save, of course, for the red PodTech banners. And as with any breakup, fans of the Vloggies and fans of Slutsky may have to pick sides, which is always awkward.

When Slutsky left PodTech, she also had to leave behind any claim she had on the name of the awards show — Vloggies is now a service mark registered in PodTech’s name. And there’s no guarantee PodTech will sponsor an awards show at all — there was a rumor going around that a night had already been booked at Mezzanine in San Francisco, but when I called the club to confirm I was told that they were still in negotiations. Robert Scoble, a popular PodTech network personality, had complained about the expense of putting on the fete in a note to fellow videobloggers in the infamous Yahoo group.

Slutsky, for her part, is determined to do something to celebrate achievements in online video. While details at this time are still sketchy, she’s asked people to make plans to be in the greater Los Angeles area on December 1st, and to beg, borrow or steal proper evening wear for the occasion. An official announcement is expected tonight during her appearance on Johnny’s Par-tay, a live video show featuring Johnny Goldstein and friends.

I’m sure the organizers of both events will, officially anyway, wish each other the best. My emails to PodTech CEO John Furrier and Valerie Cunningham, who helped organize the first Vloggies, seeking clarification on the company’s plans were not returned. Personally, I’d go to both if possible, but I’ll be on the East Coast, and if I have to attend one orgy of self-congratulation, I have to admit, I’m partial to the one that gives me an excuse to wear my Barney’s tuxedo in Hollywood.