Weekend Vid Picks: Completely (Un)Forgettable Celebrity Baseball Pitches

It’s baseball season, and Will Ferrell’s most recent turn as disgraced Venezuelan pitcher “Rojo” Johnson at a minor league baseball game in Round Rock, Texas got us thinking about the most memorable pitches we’ve seen over the last few years.

Ferrell is no stranger to sports, having made comedy spoofs Talledega Nights, Semi Pro and Blades of Glory, but this was his first time pitching in a live game. Ferrell — or rather Johnson — had an ignominious minor league debut, getting tossed out of the game after bringing a bag of beer to the mound and throwing his first pitch behind the batter.

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Funny or Die Presents on HBO: Offline and Off-Kilter

[show=fodpresents size=large]Not the first site to get a TV deal, and probably not the last, Funny or Die is the latest online studio attempting to finding the secret of transferring short-form comedy to OldTeeVee. OldTeeVees with HBO (s TWX) subscriptions, anyway — Funny or Die Presents, announced in October 2009, premiered last Friday on the pay cabler.

Funny or Die faces the same dilemma College Humor did when adapting sketch comedy to a half-hour series, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of their sitcom-interruptus format (a half-hour scripted show with comedy sketch interstitials), it did have some narrative flow. FOD, meanwhile, simply treats its half-hour of airtime like a night of prime time TV, laying out the night’s schedule of sketches and serials at the beginning of each episode. All of the shorts featured are new content not findable on the web.

The approach is a much purer one, and also acknowledges that audiences at midnight on a Friday probably don’t have the best attention spans. But it means that Funny or Die Presents lives or dies based on the individual sketches compiled together. And while the first episode starts off with some big laughs, there’s some unfortunate tail-off, and the philosophy behind its programming doesn’t make much sense.

The opening schedule lays out four segments, but the balance between them is incredibly skewed, as over half of the first episode is branded as Derek Waters LOL, essentially a show within a show specifically credited to one of the site’s best sketch comedians. This section includes two advertising parodies, a new installment of Drunk History, and a sketch documenting one epic night at Margaritaville — arguably some of the funniest stuff in the pilot, as well as the most celeb-heavy (including Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle and Busy Phillips). But while it’s nice to celebrate the talent behind these sketches, from a branding perspective for FOD it doesn’t make much sense. Why single out one guy’s work instead of championing the FOD house style (evolved over nearly four years) to which LOL clearly belongs? Read More about Funny or Die Presents on HBO: Offline and Off-Kilter

Pat O’Brien Covers the Olympics — For Funny Or Die

[show=patobrien size=large]A website founded by Will Ferrell, with a soon-to-premiere HBO series and no shortage of A-list cameos, can hardly be considered an outsider in most realms. But it appears that there’s one event they couldn’t penetrate: the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Not that that’s stopping them from covering the year’s biggest sporting event, however. And they’ve even brought in some experienced talent to help them do so — live from a soundstage in Los Angeles, it’s Pat O’Briens All-Access Insider Olympics Show!

Pat O’Brien, the former host of The Insider, is now an outsider after being let go from the tabloid talk show — but prior to his move to syndication, his work as a sportscaster brought him to the Olympics multiple times, including 2000, 2002 and 2004 — which means that he’s got the patter down pat (though he still hasn’t figured out the fact that Funny or Die videos doesn’t do interstitial ads — or have stagehands to help move around chairs).

In the first full-length installment (which launched today), O’Brien does the best he can at covering the latest games updates (including Apollo Ohno’s short track win and China’s triumph during pairs figure skating) without any access to the live events or real footage from them. His highlights, therefore, are accurately reported but accompanied by a hilarious use of not-quite-B-roll — and his sit-down interview segment with “Dorothy Hamill” also fails to properly reflect… um, reality, I guess. Read More about Pat O’Brien Covers the Olympics — For Funny Or Die

Vid-Biz: Republicrats, DVDs, HDTVs

Republicrats Lands Unilever as a Sponsor; political comedy series will have an episode that features an animated I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter character. (MediaWeek)
Study: Consumers to Move from Buying to Renting DVDs; Solutions Research Group survey says consumers will also cut back on theater-going. (Video Business)
HDTV Shipments Surpass Standard Definition for the First Time; HDTV unit shipments finally overtook their standard def counterparts in 2008, and are forecast to hit 241.2 million by 2012, up from 97.1 million units in 2007. (iSuppli)
Univision Starts Mobile Streaming; Spanish language channel to feature clips from news and sports shows. (MediaPost)
Terra Wins Mobile and Online Video Rights to 2012 Olympic Games; Spanish web portal will have those exclusive rights for South America (minus Brazil). (paidContent)
VBrick Gets Funding; analog-to-IP video services provider secures $10.4 million of a $15.7 million Series F round, bringing the total raised to more than $50 million since 1999. (PE Week Wire)
The New York Times Launches HD Video Player; new video player is from Brightcove, can stream at 1.5 megabits per second and higher. (Beet.tv)

Is Will Ferrell Two-Timing Funny or Die?

Have you no loyalty, Will Ferrell? While Funny or Die toils along, branching into video games to show that it’s stronger than just your wit alone, you’re off gallivanting on iBeatYou, online video home of new mom Jessica Alba and that traitor Baron Davis (see our initial review of the site).

Ferrell showed up on iBeatYou last week with costar John C. Reilly on the set of their movie Step Brothers. They announced a staring contest, which they are currently winning, though it only has five entrants.

So what’s going on? Is there a celebrity video site roll-up in the in the works?

NTV Rerun: Funny or Die to Make Movies?

It was a year ago this week that a bottle-wielding toddler demanded rent money from Will Ferrell and kicked off a burgeoning comedy empire. Funny or Die celebrated its one-year anniversary with a celeb-studded tribute video and by sharing some plans for upcoming features.

It’s been a crazy year for the comedy site. The Landlord started the site off with a viral bang, racking up more than 55 million plays to date, but follow-ups failed to generate as much heat as the original, causing some in the industry to question whether the site was too Ferrell-dependent.

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March Madness: Get Your Startup Out of Pre-Revenue!

March Madness typically refers to NCAA college basketball, but this
month’s craziness ranges from stock market-madness to presidential primary-madness, more prez -primary-madness to movie-madness (Ferrell!), and finally, to Spitzer’s hooker-madness.

But founders have more important things on their minds — like getting your startup out of the purgatory of “pre-revenue.” My research can help. You’ll close some deals using these core sales strategies. These tips don’t involve much sweet talking, but they do demand some attention and organization.

1. Aim your sales efforts at being #2: Your goal should be a “second
supplier”. A major mistake is going for the throat too early. SSG, Second Supplier Gambit, is trying to be a #2 provider through your website. Set aside your need to be their #1 supplier and love the waitlist status you are on. If you’re #2 on enough lists, you’ll be #1 soon enough.

2. Speak at industry conferences: Industry get-togethers are always looking for bleeding edge speakers. If you’re advanced, offer to be a back-up speaker (yes you just applied SSG). Another technique is to offer content focus, speaker line-up pre-produced and almost turn-key. A more expensive option is to have a pro writer develop content for you to speak on. Google ghost writer and put up an elance or better yet visit a Local NSA (national speakers association) chapter. If your CEO can’t speak, hire an actor (kidding!). Or go to an acting class. Read More about March Madness: Get Your Startup Out of Pre-Revenue!